I hope you guys can help me out. I'm a computer science student, but I've only worked with software. I am looking to build a home media server. This is my first foray into the hardware world, and I'm hoping you guys could give me some much needed direction. I have been looking online for decent information regarding this project, but up until stumbling across this site all I have found is useless posts and information more than 5 years old.
I am looking to create a home media server with a twist. I want it to be able to do all the standard things you would expect of a home media server:
- Stream movies to the TV through HDMI (not wireless, unless there is a cheap and easy way to do that that I haven't seen yet)
- I would like to be able to stream movies from the server to my laptop, over the house wifi. Would it be possible to do this? Another option would be to download the movie from the server and then play it on my laptop, though streaming would be much preferred.
- I want to play music from the server, so I will hook up speakers to it. I'm not an audiophile or anything, I just want standard quality music.
- I want to be able to back up any and all files wirelessly. So I could send my music library that I have on my laptop to my media server without having to directly plug it in. Also the same with downloading, I would want to be able to pull any files I wanted off the server and onto my local device.
- I would like to use a free operating system, I have Ubuntu in mind but I am open to suggestions. I don't want to go with too specialized an OS though, because I want to be able to run scripts I would write on this server.
- For now I wont be going with a raid array, as I am still a college student and can't afford to buy so many hard drives. But I would like to keep that option available.
An additional requirement I have for this project:
- I need to be able to run a web server from it. Nothing too crazy, really just a few commands I would send from my laptop or smart phone. But for this reason I don't want to buy a stock device, I want it to be an actual computer that functions as a media server. I believe the term is HTPC? Basically I am building this in part to store my media files, and in part to learn about computer networking and hardware.
So I have these ideas for this project, but I've been struggling to find a place to start. Like I said most websites are either many years out of date or provide no information, they just say load windows server OS and nothing else.
I am curious about what the hardware requirements would be for this. If, for example, 2 people were streaming movies at the same time, what kind of mother board would I need to handle that load? My goal would be to support up to 2 video streams, as well as running the webserver, and, if possible, streaming music. I really have no idea if this is a reasonable goal though, so I am open to changing it. And what about the router? I assume I would need special equipment to handle this much traffic?
I am a computer science student so I am doing this in part as a learning exercise, but also because I think its cool. Up until now I've only worked with software, so I'm pretty new to the concerns of hardware. I'm feeling somewhat overwhelmed by all the acronyms and its hard to keep straight what everything means when reading hardware specifications. I could really benefit from some good learning material and advice.
Thanks for reading all this. I hope you all can help me!