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HTPC Confusion

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I am confused on this setup.

I am thinking of creating a vm of Windows 7 on my server to act as a HTPC. I have an AV8801, Oppo 103 Blue Ray Player, Panasonic 60ST50 plasma TV, Synology 1812 NAS and I bought JRiver Media Center. I understand that I will need to install JRiver on the HTPC. Here are my questions:

1) Is it best to have a HTPC with this setup? I have movies on the Synology NAS and we stream Netflix and VUDU through the Oppo 103.

2) Do I need a video connection from my HTPC to the Marantz AV8801 or can I just play the videos through ethernet?


I also cannot find any information that tells me if the cpu in my server has integrated video, and if it does will it be powerful enough to do everything a HTPC needs to do. My cpu in the server is an AMD Opteron 6212. The server is on the opposite side of the house and all components are hardwired with gb ethernet.

Can anyone please help? Thank you
Edited by planetbrian777 - 2/25/13 at 6:34pm
post #2 of 8
I'm a bit confused about what you're trying to do. Can you describe what your goal is?

JRiver has a wide range of functionalities. First of all, it contains a 10-foot interface so you can use it as an HTPC front end. This would require you to hook your server up to your TV over HDMI. I would strongly discourage you from using your server as an HTPC front end, and it might not even be technically feasible. If you really want to use JRiver as a front end, I recommend building a separate HTPC.

JRiver also can act as a DLNA server. The Oppo could then access your media over your network over DLNA. This is a much simpler approach. The difference is instead of a fancy HTPC interface you just see a simple list of your media on your Oppo. I have no experience running JRiver in a virtual machine though.
post #3 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by planetbrian777 View Post

I am confused on this setup.

I am thinking of creating a vm of Windows 7 on my server to act as a HTPC. I have an AV8801, Oppo 103 Blue Ray Player, Panasonic 60ST50 plasma TV, Synology 1812 NAS and I bought JRiver Media Center. I understand that I will need to install JRiver on the HTPC. Here are my questions:

You can passthrough a video card to a VM. I've not actually tried that, but people use this all the time to play modern 3D games through a VM. I don't understand why you would "need" to install JRiver Media Center. Windows Media Center comes free with most versions of Windows 7. But since you've already paid for the license, you might as well use it.


Quote:
1) Is it best to have a HTPC with this setup? I have movies on the Synology NAS and we stream Netflix and VUDU through the Oppo 103.

For simplicity's sake, yes a dedicated HTPC will work, but if you are adamant about using a VM, then it will work.

Quote:
2) Do I need a video connection from my HTPC to the Marantz AV8801 or can I just play the videos through ethernet?

Yes, you need a video connection from your HTPC or VM to watch anything. To play video through ethernet, you would need something on the receiving end to play videos. The simplest solution is to build a dedicated HTPC, connect it to your audio receiver and TV, and stream videos from your NAS.

Quote:
I also cannot find any information that tells me if the cpu in my server has integrated video, and if it does will it be powerful enough to do everything a HTPC needs to do. My cpu in the server is an AMD Opteron 6212. The server is on the opposite side of the house and all components are hardwired with gb ethernet.

Can anyone please help? Thank you

No, your Opteron does not have integrated video. Your motherboard might, but if it's a server-class motherboard, it's usually pretty bad for video playback, as it's designed for simple server console control. If you want to do the HTPC as a VM, then I would suggest a cheapo Radeon 6450 video card, pass it through to the VM so it has direct control of the card, and then run a really long HDMI cable back to your TV. Long HDMI cables cost a good bit of money, and you may also need an HDMI amplifier. With the money spent on the long cable and amplifier, you could have probably already paid for a simple dedicated HTPC. Then you also have to deal with getting the remote control and/or mouse/keyboard back to the VM server.

The only real benefit to running a HTPC as a VM is to have a stable back-end for recording purposes. I'm afraid it's much easier to just build a real dedicated HTPC to provide the video playback.


I use a HTPC as a VM just to provide for a couple of Windows Media Center extenders for my kids. Since I don't want them to have access to all the channels we receive through cable, I can customize the TV guide to the channels I want them to have. My main HTPC has access to all the channels.

If you are looking for ways to put that Opteron to good use, I can throw you some ideas for VMs.
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lockdown571 View Post

I'm a bit confused about what you're trying to do. Can you describe what your goal is?

JRiver has a wide range of functionalities. First of all, it contains a 10-foot interface so you can use it as an HTPC front end. This would require you to hook your server up to your TV over HDMI. I would strongly discourage you from using your server as an HTPC front end, and it might not even be technically feasible. If you really want to use JRiver as a front end, I recommend building a separate HTPC.

JRiver also can act as a DLNA server. The Oppo could then access your media over your network over DLNA. This is a much simpler approach. The difference is instead of a fancy HTPC interface you just see a simple list of your media on your Oppo. I have no experience running JRiver in a virtual machine though.

Thank you....what you said helps.
post #5 of 8
Additionally, I believe you could just access your media from your Oppo over SMB. That wouldn't even require JRiver at all.
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Puwaha View Post

You can passthrough a video card to a VM. I've not actually tried that, but people use this all the time to play modern 3D games through a VM. I don't understand why you would "need" to install JRiver Media Center. Windows Media Center comes free with most versions of Windows 7. But since you've already paid for the license, you might as well use it.
For simplicity's sake, yes a dedicated HTPC will work, but if you are adamant about using a VM, then it will work.
Yes, you need a video connection from your HTPC or VM to watch anything. To play video through ethernet, you would need something on the receiving end to play videos. The simplest solution is to build a dedicated HTPC, connect it to your audio receiver and TV, and stream videos from your NAS.
No, your Opteron does not have integrated video. Your motherboard might, but if it's a server-class motherboard, it's usually pretty bad for video playback, as it's designed for simple server console control. If you want to do the HTPC as a VM, then I would suggest a cheapo Radeon 6450 video card, pass it through to the VM so it has direct control of the card, and then run a really long HDMI cable back to your TV. Long HDMI cables cost a good bit of money, and you may also need an HDMI amplifier. With the money spent on the long cable and amplifier, you could have probably already paid for a simple dedicated HTPC. Then you also have to deal with getting the remote control and/or mouse/keyboard back to the VM server.

The only real benefit to running a HTPC as a VM is to have a stable back-end for recording purposes. I'm afraid it's much easier to just build a real dedicated HTPC to provide the video playback.


I use a HTPC as a VM just to provide for a couple of Windows Media Center extenders for my kids. Since I don't want them to have access to all the channels we receive through cable, I can customize the TV guide to the channels I want them to have. My main HTPC has access to all the channels.

If you are looking for ways to put that Opteron to good use, I can throw you some ideas for VMs.

Thanks for the help...just what I needed.

I would like to here your ideas for putting the Opteron 6212 to good use. It's a Supermicro H8DG6-F MB, 32gb ram, 8 1tb Ultrastars, LSI 2008 controller. Getting ready to install Windows 2012 with a Hyper-V of Exchange 2013. I could do much more with it.

Oh yeah...I don't have a need for any WMC extenders as we have no kids.....right now anyway. Glade to know that option is available though.

I am using JRiver because from what I have read, JRiver is one of the very best at playing hi-rez music. I will soon see I guess.
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lockdown571 View Post

Additionally, I believe you could just access your media from your Oppo over SMB. That wouldn't even require JRiver at all.

Yes, you are right and I have been doing that. The problem is that the Oppo will not play all the video formats. The Oppo interface is better looking than the Marantz, but still basic.

I have just recently gotten back into home theater and music after a leave of about 7 years and things have changed a lot. I am still trying to put all this together and understand how it all integrates.
post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by planetbrian777 View Post

Thanks for the help...just what I needed.

I would like to here your ideas for putting the Opteron 6212 to good use. It's a Supermicro H8DG6-F MB, 32gb ram, 8 1tb Ultrastars, LSI 2008 controller. Getting ready to install Windows 2012 with a Hyper-V of Exchange 2013. I could do much more with it.

Hmmm... Hyper-V is fine for virtualizing Windows OS, but not for anything else. I would highly recommend using VMWare ESXi on that beast. You can then run Server 2012 as a VM, and you could possibly even nest the VMs, so that Server 2012 is still able to provide the Hyper-V layer if you wish. Is this for reliable use in your home, or is this to provide a "playing-around" learning lab?

I don't know what kind of ISP connection you have, but I have 50Mb/s fiber optic service and your run-of-the-mill router would not keep up. So one of the first VMs I always setup is a virtual router (you need two physical NICs in the VM server for this.) You can use any linux distro, but there are some special made ones that work really well as a router. I use IPFire as it works very well for my purposes. I almost got IPFire to work on Hyper-V, but it would lock up if I started transferring more than 35Mb/s on my internet connection. Hyper-V doesn't play well with Linux.

Another VM I would suggest is a media server. There are plenty of options out there for this. You can use Server 2012 to play around with Storage Spaces. You can experiment with Amahi, OpenMediaVault, Zentyal, or even ZFS (highly recommended!)

Yet another VM I would run is a dedicated OpenVPN box. I run a simple Ubuntu box that has very reliable OpenVPN support. You could probably fold this into a linux router distro too, but I like to leave each VM to one specific task to prevent downtime if I have to work on something.

Want to host your own Web server? Create a DMZ with your Linux router VM and put the web server VM out there. If you backup your VMs regularly, then you really don't have to worry about security on the web server unless you depend on it being up all the time.

Do any downloading, TOR, or "fringe" activities? Then build an XP or Windows 7 scratch VM. Just RDP into it whenever you want to do something risky on the internet. Stick it on the DMZ as well so you can't affect your internal network.

You can use a completely isolated virtual network within the VM server to test out architecture and builds you would like to play with. I could go on and on... that's one of the beauties of running a VM server is that you can play to your heart's content and don't have to worry about taking down your production VMs.
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