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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
ok, i originally posted this in another thread but it got lost in the jostling over there, so I'm reposting it as its own thread. Those of you who expressed support in the other thread, please repost your support here.


My idea was to hack the Linksys NSLU2 network storage device into running as a DVArchive server, so we could watch from networked RTVs or PCs without running a PC all the time. The full Java DVA would not really be needed, just the serve-up-these-files portion and secondarily perhaps to serve up (it already includes a webserver) the remote online scheduling software.


Hopefully, Gerry (DVA author) could comment on whether he could offer up a peek at the relevant code so that these sections could be recoded in C to run on the NSLU2's Linux OS directly without reinventing the wheel too much.


I'm not really a coder but think this would be a really good idea and that if implemented, most of those using DVA would use this as their server section while continuing to use DVA as the front end to manage their shows, etc. Perhaps some real coders could give an opinion on the actual feasibility of such a project.


Even more interesting would be to get WiRNS up on this thing.


Introduction to hacking this thing:
http://www.tomsnetworking.com/Sectio...le85-page1.php



thanks for your consideration.
 

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In another thread here Gerry said this:

Quote:
Being a ReplayTV streamer is a non-trivial job -- it represents a fair amount of code in DVA (guide generation, publishing, serving all the various necessary services, advertising the unit, etc).


I'm sure it can be done. but it's a non-trivial piece of work.
I too would love to see this happen. The NSLU2 is a nice little device, and people have already hacked an itunes server to run on it. It would be nice to add DVArchive. I would be willing to work on it as a project once I get my own NSLU2, but it's probably more than I have time to code on my own.


I wonder if their move to OpenSlug/OpenEmbedded would help make the development easier (from the more standard development environment)


More info here as well: http://www.nslu2-linux.org/
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by dewolfxy
Alternatively, instead of recoding into C what about getting the NSLU2 to run some sort of scaled-down JRE for embedded systems? There are plenty of things, like cell phones and PDAs, which have limited memory but still run Java (at least a subset of Java)

http://www.geocities.com/marcoschmid...-embedded.html
But DVA on its own would probably be too heavy of a program to run on an embedded JRE. Since we don't have access to Gerry's code we probably can't recycle individual poritions anyway. I think our best bet would be to start with a C based system.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Scyber
But DVA on its own would probably be too heavy of a program to run on an embedded JRE. Since we don't have access to Gerry's code we probably can't recycle individual poritions anyway. I think our best bet would be to start with a C based system.
Yeah, I thought that too, but just wanted to throw the embedded JRE option out there.
 

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Plus, good luck getting Gerry to share the DVA source...
 

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ReplayPC
 

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Why reinvent the wheel though? It'll be easier to just pick a platform that actually CAN run Lava in the first place and then stick DVA on it, then incipidly trying to get this StinkSys POS to do something it probably can't.


Streaming a show is a hell of a lot different than fileserving via NFS, I don't know about you, but my idea of a fun & worthwhile challenge does not include needlessly writing a streaming driver (that's worth a s**t, and, that's no trivial task either...) when I've already got a f--king great one at my fingertips thanks to Gerry.


Start with a better box, with a better processor & more memory (like a 106 w/ 64Mb as a starter), stick Lava on it, run the same full-featured version of DVA as every other frickin' computer out there, hook it up to your network, start it up, watch it work like a charm, then go spend the rest of the evening using it and your ReplayTV's for their intended purpose when you bought them - rather than spending months pissing in the wind and having it spray all over your friends...


Eveyone's entitled to their own opinion though - and that's just mine - so do whatever the hell you want to... ;)
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by rm -rf *.*

Eveyone's entitled to their own opinion though - and that's just mine - so do whatever the hell you want to... ;)
The hell I will! Oh wait, that didn't come out right ... but after your, shall we say "colorful" language, I felt it was necessary to use "hell" in the response.


I'm certainly not tied to using the NSLU2, but my requirement for such a box would be that it's small, accepts modular hard drives, uses little power, and is inexpensive. If I wanted to built a HTPC using a mini case I could do that, but it would cost more and the power usage would be higher. Not what I'm looking for.


The NSLU2 already runs an iTunes streaming server (mt-daapd), which is no doubt easier than streaming Replay services & video, but nonetheless a decent proof of concept. In any case, this is just idle speculation on my part, but I don't think it's a foolish idea. If I had $200-$300 to spend and wanted a large box, I would just buy a replay or build a HTPC. I would like to spend under $100 for the server (I have the hard drives) and have a small device. It can also act as a backup location, serve iTunes files, etc. These are all useful to me.


If there are other small network devices that could run DVArchive without rewriting it, then it's certainly worth consideration, and I would be interested to hear what possibilities there are (what is a "106" anyway?). But if you're just saying "use a PC" then the comment strikes me as no different than someone who says that to people who want to use a Replay or Tivo. Yes, they could use a HTPC, but there are distinct reasons not to. To each his own.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by dewolfxy
The hell I will! Oh wait, that didn't come out right ... but after your, shall we say "colorful" language, I felt it was necessary to use "hell" in the response.
Listen babycakes, before I got the idiotic idea to go work in the computer/electronics/chip-design world, I was a sailor, so if you think that's colorfull, you got another thing comming... :p

Quote:


I'm certainly not tied to using the NSLU2, but my requirement for such a box would be that it's small, accepts modular hard drives, uses little power, and is inexpensive. If I wanted to built a HTPC using a mini case I could do that, but it would cost more and the power usage would be higher. Not what I'm looking for.
Yes, I gathered that a long time ago...

Quote:


The NSLU2 already runs an iTunes streaming server (mt-daapd), which is no doubt easier than streaming Replay services & video, but nonetheless a decent proof of concept. In any case, this is just idle speculation on my part, but I don't think it's a foolish idea. If I had $200-$300 to spend and wanted a large box, I would just buy a replay or build a HTPC. I would like to spend under $100 for the server (I have the hard drives) and have a small device. It can also act as a backup location, serve iTunes files, etc. These are all useful to me.
Streaming iTunes is in no way shape or form proof of concept that it could stream an HQ or MQ or even SQ replay file without choking - among other things, I'd say there's just a _minor_ difference in bitrates...


The idea of what you're dreaming of isn't foolish at all, using this particular device might be, it's hard to say, but the entire idea isn't.


If you must know - been there, done that, got the tattoo. Burried within my cynical replies are some random project notes from a year or so back. Remember the NewCom WebPal's? I've got 4 of them with various levels of additonal wiring, reflashed chips and s**t hanging off of them to hook up lab equipment to...

Quote:


If there are other small network devices that could run DVArchive without rewriting it, then it's certainly worth consideration, and I would be interested to hear what possibilities there are (what is a "106" anyway?). But if you're just saying "use a PC" then the comment strikes me as no different than someone who says that to people who want to use a Replay or Tivo. Yes, they could use a HTPC, but there are distinct reasons not to. To each his own.
Who said use a PC? "Not I" said the wabbit...

(For what it's worth, I personally happen to use a few Sun UltraSPARC's...)

(You know what "PC" stands for right? "Piece-o-Crap")


While this wasn't the case a year and a half ago; today there's a bunch of different platforms out there that can handle embedded Linux+Java ("Lava") so that you wouldn't have to write your own version of DVA. If they can be had for $100 a peice yet is something that I can't realy answer - mabey, I haven't looked for a sub-$100 pacakge yet so I can't

say.


A "106" is another (type of) embedded processor, it has more memory and MIPS to throw around than what's in the these StinkSys boxes - IMHO, it's about the minimum that you'd want to futz with if you're trying to run Lava.

To some, that minimum is one notch down at the 104 - I personally don't agree, not because it can't run the Java component, becasue it CAN; but because it's a bit too slow for my liking.


You might have this information already, but for the benifit of the poor saps trying to follow what were babbling about:
http://www.linuxdevices.com/articles/AT3749789286.html

That's someplace to start reading - gotta start somewhere...


Once I find them again, I'll send some more specific links regarding processors and single boards this way.
 

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What about using a VIA EPIA motherboard. They are small, under $100 including the processor, video, ethernet, usb, udma100, TV-out, audio out. Some even have digital audio out.


The EPIA-M boards even have an MPEG-2 accelerator in the video chipset so this could be hooked into a TV for playback as well. Given that you would have everything you need to run DVArchive and do playback with Xine as well.
 

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Thanks for the comments, rm -r .... wait a minute, I'm not going to get tricked into typing that username.


You're point is well taken, streaming iTunes requires bitrates MUCH lower than replaytv. Perhaps that alone would make the task beyond the capacity of the device. If one was to make a stab at it, it would DEFINITELY need to be coded directly in C then and probably would require an awful lot of optimization.


I guess looking into some various embedded linux systems is worth my time. I just don't want to wander too far down the "buy this motherboard and that case and then this fan which is really quiet and ..." road. Certainly a reasonable option, but not really to my taste.


Truth be told, I have this nice small shelf in one room that would hold a NSLU2 (or comparably sized device) and external hard drive easily, and there's already an easy way to run Cat5 there. So I'm interested in something like this (and not a HTPC) mainly because it would fit in that space. Power issues are a concern as well, though. Anyone know how the power consumption compares between a small PC system with minimal devices and a NSLU2 + external HD?
 

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You might want to try using a buffalo linkstation instead. It also runs linux and has significantly more memory and processor power.


You can find hacking information in the yahoo groups.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by wmelnick
What about using a VIA EPIA motherboard. They are small, under $100 including the processor, video, ethernet, usb, udma100, TV-out, audio out. Some even have digital audio out.


The EPIA-M boards even have an MPEG-2 accelerator in the video chipset so this could be hooked into a TV for playback as well. Given that you would have everything you need to run DVArchive and do playback with Xine as well.
Those are the Micro-ITX boards right? 5-1/4" square PCB for the whole shootin' match if I recall correctly. I forget what the cooling & power req's are offhand though.


Those are pretty damn impressive little packages - been meaning to look into them one of these days myself...
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
following up the suggestion of the buffalo linkstation, i found this site:

http://www.revogear.com/index.html


which sells the linkstation hardware shell as a development platform with some dev tools as well. This may be a better target for this project because the hardware specs look much stronger and the open platform would make dev easier. with a 200Mhz PowerPC, it should be up to the streaming task...i couldn't find the specs on the 4xxx/5xxx RTV hardware, but this CPU should be comparable to the one inside the RTV. price for the development platform is $160.


It has the following specs:

PowerPC MPC8241/200Mhz

RAM 64 MB

Flash 4MB

10/100 Mbps ethernet

USB 2.0/1.1

internal 6 pin serial port


17W power supply


Linux v 2.4.17

services: samba, netatalk, telnet, ftp, thttpd, perl

interface: web, telnet

DHCP client
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
some software projects that may be relevant:


qvision: http://qtech.liveserver.com/

seems like a dead project, perhaps they can offer up some code


RTV Recording Scheduler
http://stargate.logh.net/schedule/

would be good to check out the programming protocols


seems like there was alot of good info at molehill.org but the site seems gone

google cache: http://66.102.7.104/search?q=cache:b...rotocols&hl=en

anybody know where this went?


in googling around, i found mention of a replayserver project that seemed to provide the type of functionality we're looking for, but the links were dead.
 

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More info on the VIA EPIA motherboards here , 17cm x 17cm, "mini-ITX"

Morex sells mini-ITX cases that are pretty nice - dimensions are 2.5" (H) x 8.25" (W) x 10.75" (D). The case runs about $80.


VIA also makes a 12cm x 12cm "nano-ITX". Looks like (from a quick google search) the nano-ITX stuff is pretty new.


These power supplies seem to be something like 50W during normal usage, according to some stuff I read. Here's one case's specs - Output (DC 12V, 4.58A) 55W. I looked at the linksys NSLU2, and it's DC 5V, 2A = 10W. I found a hard drive enclosure (some random one, no fan though) with 12 Vdc, 1.7A = 20.4W. So I guess we're looking at 30W roughly for the NSLU2 solution, and 55W for the mini-ITX solution. I'm not that great at these calculations, am I missing something? If not, it seems to me it's not that big a difference to go with a mini-ITX PC. The price will be higher, but I can actually run a full OS with lots of services on it. It will be about the same size as the NSLU2 + external drive combined. And if the power is close, maybe that's worth it for a compact home server. I could always add external drives for extra space if needed. And if I can find reasonably priced nano-ITX cases & MBs, I could get even smaller.


Any thoughts? Are those power consumption comparisons right? It this what a lot of people use as a HTPC/home server where they're leaving it on 24/7? I guess I would just have a normal PC setup, but for me I don't have anywhere to put a full-size PC and I don't want to use so much power.
 

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Using a mini-ITX formfactor (or even nano) seems like a really good way to go. They are getting cheap and you don't need a high power unit -- DVA would be happy downloading and serving video up on a 300Mhz PII system so todays hardware will easily outclass that. And you can get very small cases with small, low wattage power supplies. Stick a laptop harddrive in there to boot from (or get a CompactFlash->IDE adapter and eliminate moving parts completely) and you're ready to run Window or Linux (linux is probably better suited for these things -- it can be pared down easily to reduce the resource load).


Run a virtualVNC desktop with DVA on it and you don't even need a keyboard/mouse/monitor -- just use VNC to connect in and manage it. Mount the main HD/flash drive readonly (use a RAM disk for /tmp) and you've got an appliance that should be very reliable (i.e. recover from power fails, un-natural shutdowns, etc). Just use a remote systems disks for storage (NFS or SMB) or get a slightly bigger case and stick disks in it.


The nice thing is then not only do you get DVA streaming, but you get web access, TV listings, conflict analysis, etc. All in an "appliance" -- just two connections -- power and network (put 802.11g and you can even cut that down, though I wouldn't recommend it).


Not sure on the costs, but this is all pretty stock stuff and you can easily "one-stop-shop" it. If you've ever futzed with a PC, you should be able to assemble one in about an hour or so.


Writing a core DVA style video server is a bit more complex than it might seem. Other than DVA, no other project out there streams video back (they all do downloads). It's not because it's impossible or DVA does anything secret/magical, it's just a *lot* of work. While I do encourage people to give it a shot, I think by the time you fleshed it out, you'd find you'd need enough power that you'd wind up with hardware capable of running DVA anyway.


I still think it would be a fun project -- I started a C version of something like this a long time ago, but eventually dropped it because of the sheer volume of code that needed to be written. I'm just not sure how much of a savings it would result in.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by rm -rf *.*
Listen babycakes, before I got the idiotic idea to go work in the computer/electronics/chip-design world, I was a sailor, so if you think that's colorfull, you got another thing comming... :p




Yes, I gathered that a long time ago...




Streaming iTunes is in no way shape or form proof of concept that it could stream an HQ or MQ or even SQ replay file without choking - among other things, I'd say there's just a _minor_ difference in bitrates...


The idea of what you're dreaming of isn't foolish at all, using this particular device might be, it's hard to say, but the entire idea isn't.

Don't be so sure, Twonkeyvision's server runs on that box and it DOES stream mpeg2. Sorry to burst your bubble.


Now I agree turning this into a dva server might not be an easy task, and the result may not be desirable, but I wouldn't discourage anyone from trying , I'm fairly confident porting a jre version isn't going to work, this box IS to limited.
 
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