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Need help /suggestions for DVD server

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone,

I'm looking for help/ sugestions for a media server. I am building a new house and want a dvd/ HD video server. I will need video to be distributed to at least 4 zones (master bedroom, family room, theatre room and a secondary BR).
-I would like the capability of viewing different movies simultaneaously in different rooms.
- Should be able to stream HD video (1080P)
- Should be able to control/ select video from different rooms
- Should be able to store all my DVD's (ISO/ VOB ) files in a central location (Ready NAS hard drive etc)- and access the videos from all locations from that drive. (Want to store 300- 400 DVDs at least)

I havent used any media streamer before and am not familiar with them. So please help me configure a system which can meet my needs. All suggestions will be greatly appreciated as I'm very new to home networking/ media streaming.

Thanks
mani
post #2 of 9
There may be other/better solutions than what I'll suggest now. If there are, hopefully somebody else will mention them. FWIW, I've just built a server which can hold up to 11 hard discs. If you need to go crazy on capacity, you could put 11x 1TB harddisks in, which would give you 10TB capacity for movies. That would be around 1500 DVDs, or 600 HD movies. I'm using this server only as a big harddisk, nothing more. It has a gigabit LAN cable which I plug into my gigabit switch. Here's the server technology I'm using:

http://lime-technology.com

If you decide to go a similar route, of course you still need media player boxes in all the rooms where you want to watch videos. E.g. check out the Tvix M-4100SH, which is a favourite here in the forum. These media player boxes play files from network storage. So when using such a box you don't need a server which streams the video in a specific form to the clients. Instead a simple file server is all you need then.

P.S: 1TB harddisks are still rather expensive now. If you want the best bang for the buck, I'd suggest getting e.g. a bunch of Samsung 500GB harddisks. That will save you maybe 60% on harddisk cost (when calculating TB per dollar). But the max capacity with 500MB harddisks is "only" 5TB. Of course you could still swap the 500GB harddisks for 1TB harddisks later when the 1TB harddisks get cheaper.
post #3 of 9
the big problems with 3-400 DVDs is storage space and ripping time.

300 DVDs at 5 gig each = 1.5TB, but if they are 7 gig each (which is what my iso rips average), you're at 2.1TB. No affordable NAS has that stock. And that's just for DVDs.

I've got an unRaid server at home. Pros: easy as pie to set up. Cons: not free software, slower than a real raid. I've also got a software raid 5. Pros: fast! Cons: PITA to setup.

Rip times is a big deal too. Non-sony DVDs take me about 20-25 minutes each. Best case, 300*20 minutes = 100 hours of ripping. Luckily while I was working from home, I was able to rip quite a few each day.

Sony protected DVDs take me about 45 minutes each (and it's a two step process, rip then package in .iso). If I reauthor the dvds (to strip things), there goes another 30-60 minutes (and it's interactive minutes, not "./rip movie_name" like when I rip on my server).


As far as front end clients, I still think that there are no good choices in the commercial market (which REALLY surprises me). For everything but HD stuff, XBMC continues to be my front end of choice, for HD stuff, I'm playing with MythTV.
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hi Madshi
Lime technology sounds interesting. If I use Tvix in every room, can i play different movies in different zones simultaneously?

Thanks
Mani
post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by mani View Post

Lime technology sounds interesting. If I use Tvix in every room, can i play different movies in different zones simultaneously?

As long as network and server are fast enough: Sure! I think you should invest into a Gigabit switch, if you don't have one already. Gigabit allows about maybe 700 Mbit/s in real life. So with Gigabit the network should be fast enough for >10 even HD movies at the same time. So the next question would be how fast the server is. I've just finished builing my unRAID server, so I'm not sure about that yet. Maybe goofygrin can comment on that? But I'm quite positive it should be fast enough to server multiple SD and even HD videos at the same time. It may not be able to keep pace with Gigabit capacity, but that's probably not really necessary, anyway...
post #6 of 9
Your network will typically be the bottleneck, so I heartily recommend gigabit all the way.

That said, I have a MythTV box that records OTA HD (over gigabit) to my unRaid box and my front ends also play from that same unRaid box. The unRaid uses SATA 3.0 drives and it appears to handle the load without any issue, although since it uses ReiserFS, I have to enable 'slow deletes'. I've had a couple front ends running simultaneously and it's seemed to keep up pretty well. There've been some discussions on the unRaid forums about it, and it seems that most people haven't had any issues.

The main place I notice speed differences is when I'm moving files around *on one computer* -- over the network, I'm limited to the speed of the network for all practical purposes -- or when I'm scanning then entire drive (to figure out how many files I've got when moving stuff from one server to the other or doing a "df" or "du").

The benefits of unRaid -- ease of adding new drives, array made of different sized drives, auto-spin down of drives, ease of installation -- outweight the negatives -- cost, security issues, speed, not one big volume -- for me, but you have to make that determination yourself.

I looked at FreeNas (installed it on a test box), but I had a couple concerns:
- raid support seemed to be pretty weak, so I was concerned for my data
- I wanted to create my new server on the cheap, and buying 10 500 gig drives at one time was quite unappealing (and highly not wife-approved). Adding drives to the array in FreeNas is a "backup and pray" maneuver.
- It ran on FreeBSD, so I was less comfortable with it than unRaid, which uses Slackware, which was the first distro I ever used (a LONG time ago).
- It was pretty quick to get up and running though!
post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by goofygrin View Post

although since it uses ReiserFS, I have to enable 'slow deletes'.

Can you give me a bit more information about that? What is "slow deletes" and why do you have to enable that?
post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by madshi View Post

Can you give me a bit more information about that? What is "slow deletes" and why do you have to enable that?

File systems like XFS simply remove the entry in the file table when you delete the file (hence it's very fast). ReiserFS does this plus it overwrites the file on the disk (my understanding), so it's a little slower deleting large files.

Since MythTV can produce very large files (HD and such), you can enable "slow deletion" so that it doesn't hang when deleting a file (it removes a part at a time, slowly truncating the file until it's gone).

It's not like it take 10 minutes to delete a file, but it's "slow" in computer terms.
post #9 of 9
Ok, thanks. Haven't noticed any delay in deletion yet, but I'll keep an eye on it.
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