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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have 3 different upgrade ideas I've been mulling and I'm wondering if it's possible to combine them:


1) a powerful desktop PC for video encoding (I Handbrake all my movies and shows and sometimes author backups too and although my i7 laptop has been perfectly serviceable for these tasks I'd like to free it up to be a laptop again)


2) a server that would allow family members access to stream some of my content, including transcoding, without choking if 2 or 3 other people besides me are accessing it at the same time (my current unRAID server's AMD C-60 processor is definitely not up for that)


3) an HTPC with the processor and graphics capability to run MadVR to upscale my DVD content to 1080p and give me the best picture possible (at which point my Celeron NUC running openelec will probably get gifted or re-purposed for light desktop duties).


Recent exploration into the server upgrade idea led me to start thinking about a Haswell Xeon e3 build (probably e3-1230 v3) which would certainly give me enough muscle for the video encoding too. But my lab/office now is a detached studio that's only powerline connected to my router and entire AV setup inside the house. So unless I want to take on the whole project of running ethernet out here (I don't at the moment) I have to look at options for running it headless and that's where I'm out of my depth. If I can figure that part out then the HTPC piece on top of that I would think would be easy once I throw in a graphics card. (That part of it I'll probably save till later anyway though since the bigger priorities now are the server and PC upgrades).


So is it possible to do this? It would be a pretty specialized machine as far as desktop duties go because I'd still be doing all my web browsing and light day to day stuff on my laptop. Basically I want to be able to rip a movie on my laptop, copy it over to my server and let it do all the encoding without having to login to it separately. (I suppose on rare occasions I may want to access it directly using my TV as monitor however for the most part I don't like the idea of doing desktop computing through my TV and I know my wife would hate it.) If it is possible, could I do it with Windows? I'm still a total noob with Linux so I don't have much confidence it would work out well if I have to do a lot of command line stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by wiley165  /t/1525823/headless-pc-server-htpc-doable-how#post_24567852


It's rather simple to set up a headless server, it essentially acts as a NAS.


Take a look here to get additional info:

http://assassinhtpcblog.com/server-hardwarebios/


The exact methods on how will be determined by what OS you choose.

Yeah the headless server part I understand. The unRAID server I run now is headless. What I don't know how to do is remotely throw it desktop computing tasks like video encoding. Especially with Xeons it seems like there should be a lot of possibilities for remote control w/IPMI and virtualization/ESXi support but honestly I don't know any of that stuff works yet. So I've got a lot of homework to do but I was someone here could help get me pointed in the right direction.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·

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Originally Posted by potts.mike  /t/1525823/headless-pc-server-htpc-doable-how#post_24567985


Have you looked at whs 2011 with mymovies...

Not yet but I'll check it out. Can you run regular win7 desktop apps on WHS (handbrake?) and does it provide a RAID 5 solution or would I have to look at something like flexraid separately? As I said I would like to stick w /windows if I can but I want it to be able to be more than just a dedicated NAS.
 

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WHS 2011 will run most programs that you would run in a desktop windows environment.

The major exception being Anti-Virus (Microsoft Security Essentials is available, and I've read ESET programs will work).


I run WHS 2011 with FlexRaid, along with MB3 Server and Plex Server.

It's not that different from running any other Windows OS, so I don't see why Handbrake, or any other Workstation application (for the most part) wouldn't work.


If you would want to run a more traditional RAID setup, then would be dependent on the Mobo/Raid card (Hardware) capabilities.

I have a flashed IBM m1015 card running in IT mode with no issues, so a normal RAID card should work just fine.
 

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It's possible to do audio / video encoding on unRaid machine using ffmpeg,, lame and x264. You can create some shell scripts and cron job to automate process. I have all three installed on my machine and I tried flac encoding with ffmpeg, however I never tried x264 encoding, but I believe it's possible


Google to get this packages:


ffmpeg-2011-12-08-i486-unRAID-1maa.tgz

lame-3.99-i486-1sl.txz

x264-2011.12.27-i486-1maa.txz
 

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I run my flexraid server headless all the time. It has no monitor or keyboard installed on it.




I actually can do the same with my HTPC too.


I have triple monitors. I can run the 3570K i5 HTPC on one screen. The 2600k i7 Flexraid server on the other. And my 4770k i7 on the main monitor. Do three encodes at once



Building a server- running it headless- remoting into it setting up a queue of encodes - then closing out of it is super easy if that is all you want to do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick  /t/1525823/headless-pc-server-htpc-doable-how#post_24573561


Building a server- running it headless- remoting into it setting up a queue of encodes - then closing out of it is super easy if that is all you want to do.

Great! So how do you do it? I realize I'm being a noob here so dumb it down for me please. What OS are you running the flexraid server on top of and what do you use to remote into it from your haswell i7?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by mpcdigitize  /t/1525823/headless-pc-server-htpc-doable-how#post_24573498


It's possible to do audio / video encoding on unRaid machine using ffmpeg,, lame and x264. You can create some shell scripts and cron job to automate process. I have all three installed on my machine and I tried flac encoding with ffmpeg, however I never tried x264 encoding, but I believe it's possible


Google to get this packages:


ffmpeg-2011-12-08-i486-unRAID-1maa.tgz

lame-3.99-i486-1sl.txz

x264-2011.12.27-i486-1maa.txz

Thanks. As I said, Linux and all the command line stuff isn't really in my wheelhouse but it is great to know you can actually do any encoding on an unRAID server since that would never have occurred to me otherwise.
 

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If you think about, unRaid is just another flavor of Linux. so in theory it should work the same way as other distributions. Audio / Video encoding is bit more complicated, because both streams would have to encoded separately and muxed. I don't think there is any other tool that can do it (like mkvmerge). Instead of using command line, it would be better to create a plugin that would provide interface for codecs. For example, headphones can convert flac files to mp3 automatically and you can set this option within addon.


Most people use low end CPU's for their servers and they really do not have enough power for video encoding. This is probably the reason why there is very little interest in developing such a plugin for unRaid.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElJimador  /t/1525823/headless-pc-server-htpc-doable-how/0_100#post_24578247


Great! So how do you do it? I realize I'm being a noob here so dumb it down for me please. What OS are you running the flexraid server on top of and what do you use to remote into it from your haswell i7?

I run 2011 WHS on my server. But I could run windows 7 and have the same thing. It's basic RDP -- it's built into windows. There isn't much you need to do other than have a machine and OS that supports RDP and a second machine that does also.


Flexraid doesn't matter. And Flexraid can run on basically any OS too.
 

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Step 1: Build Server. Install OS that supports RDP

Step 2: Remote into it from another machine.


Done.


You would want a mouse and keyboard and monitor when setting up the server initially- but then I removed them once it's up and running.



Splashtop is another option. They even have nice mobile and tablet applications.


Check out splashtop personal. Google it. Try it out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick  /t/1525823/headless-pc-server-htpc-doable-how#post_24579261


It's basic RDP -- it's built into windows.

See? I knew there was something totally obvious that I was missing.
Thanks Mfusick. I'll play around with Remote Desktop and will look at Splashtop too. Sounds like the remote control through my laptop though will be a snap though as long as I'm running Windows which was my preference anyway.


Now I'm just trying to figure out if I want to wait for Broadwell. My thought on the Xeon e3 was that I don't need integrated graphics for the a server and that I'd eventually add a dGPU when I wanted to add the HTPC functionality because I'd need that to run MadVR anyway. But if the improved graphics promised by Broadwell can bring MadVR within reach without needing a dedicated card that would actually be my preference. Any thoughts on that (keeping in mind that I'm not interested in 4k and that the goal is just to upscale SD to 1080p at the best quality possible)?


If I didn't need a graphics card that would also give me the option of just installing a new board and CPU into the Fractal Design node 304 case I'm using for the unRAID server now instead of doing an entirely new build. I'm thinking my preference is probably a new build regardless, however it would at least be an option. (The node 304 can't fit a graphics card when all 6 hard drive bays are in use like they are for me now).
 

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Try splashtop too. It's awesome at audio and video streaming. I access my PC from my iPad with it too , or my server which is great when I want to make a quick tweak from bed without getting out of bed.


Splashtop is free on local LAN control; I pay for access over the web and it's worth it. Team viewer sucks in comparison IMO.
 

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I recently kicked my WHS to the curb and switched my "NAS" to Windows 8 and have not looked back. I find it much more usable than any other NAS type setup. Even though it is not a real powerful computer I can have it run tasks for me since I can start something and just come back at a later date/time. I do run a dedicated HTPC out in the living room that runs MCE (TV) and Media Portal (Movies). To your point though, my "NAS" is headless and the way I handle this is using Team Viewer. As long as it is non-commercial it is free and I have found it works great. I can connect to any of my computer from any of my computers. This includes doing some basic stuff even from work. I find the ipad app is even useable to do simple stuff as well. The great thing about Team Viewer it even seems to work when the computer is locked and best of all I can literally do a reboot and when the computer comes back on line the Team Viewer dashboard will tell you so and you know exactly when you can go back into the computer. The only time I can't use it is when installing the OS, but that seems to be common sense. The only concern I have is that if the software stops being free or if it stops being produced I will need to figure something out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks rmerikle. It does seem like Win 8 Pro would have some advantages, particularly the drive pooling with Storage Spaces and Hyper-V (even though I still have no idea how I would take advantage of virtualization yet, I'm convinced that somewhere down the road I will want to.
). I just wish it was cheaper compared to WHS 2011. Still, Win 8 probably is my lean at this point just to have more flexibility than WHS + the additional features it offers over Win 7 Pro.


BTW I figured out why I had never heard of Remote Desktop before. I've only ever run the Home Premium versions of Windows so I never had a machine where I could run it as the host. So at least now I know I need to step up to the Pro version if I do go that route over WHS.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick  /t/1525823/headless-pc-server-htpc-doable-how#post_24584894


Did you try splashtop yet ?

Not yet. I've been stuck at work and their website is blocked from here. Will splashtop let me set up my Win 7 home premium laptop as host? Otherwise I'm not sure how I'd be able to test it.


Anyway, I'll check it out from home tonight.
 
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