AVS Forum banner
1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
873 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was thinking of using my old Mac Dual 450G4 as a media server. I am running 10.3.9 on it now, and have some old drives that would need replacing.


Has anyone converted an old G4 to use as a server?


I have a Pioneer VSX-94TXH that does WMV and DLAN (no real help-or is it?)

I also have a PS3 80g (1.3yrs old) running upto date firmware.


I have been a Mac user since '87 and have never spent a $ on a windows machine (work gives me one).


I am "eyeing" Elgato but don't really have a direction.


I would love to turn the media server into a DVR as well and send my wifes Soaps to the bedroom tv so she can watch them at night while Ironing! (I am a pig).


Anyway this may all be a mute point after MacWorld. I need help and the more I research the Mac HTPC threads the lost-er I get.


Thanks
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
873 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted Todorov /forum/post/15440849


Really trying to make plans with Macworld days away makes no sense. Wait until Tuesday afternoon, when the dust starts settling.

???


Macworld starts in 72 hours, really not long to wait, and I imagine I won't purchase item ONE for atleast 30 days while I research.


Thanks though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,205 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by stubeeef /forum/post/15439280


I was thinking of using my old Mac Dual 450G4 as a media server. I am running 10.3.9 on it now, and have some old drives that would need replacing.


Has anyone converted an old G4 to use as a server?


I have a Pioneer VSX-94TXH that does WMV and DLAN (no real help-or is it?)

I also have a PS3 80g (1.3yrs old) running upto date firmware.


I have been a Mac user since '87 and have never spent a $ on a windows machine (work gives me one).


I am "eyeing" Elgato but don't really have a direction.


I would love to turn the media server into a DVR as well and send my wifes Soaps to the bedroom tv so she can watch them at night while Ironing! (I am a pig).


Anyway this may all be a mute point after MacWorld. I need help and the more I research the Mac HTPC threads the lost-er I get.


Thanks

Take a look through the forum here, and most of your questions will be answered. If you want to use it strictly as a file server, you should be OK. My Mac Mini won't do full HD with the ElGato EyeTV Hybrid, nor will my MBP, so the G4 is probably a no go, either for HD material, but could work for SD stuff.


I wouldn't worry much about Macworld, as I don't think what you seem to be looking for is likely to be announced, and if you are going to recycle a G4, the pricepoint for what we're hoping will come out won't be acceptable to you, I imagine.


I'm in a similar boat, but want a whole house media server solution, not interested in PVR from the Mac at this time. That is something that's likely to come out at MW, or I'll start looking at the HP MediaSmart.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
873 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks.

I have been a Mac user for a long time, not too shabby of a knowledge base, but not a programmer either.

It seems the searches I do; gets me to threads that are up to 5 years old, and others I just don't seem to follow well. The people here are obviously a wealth of experience and knowledge.

I don't have a need to use the ole G4 due to $$, it is able to have a PCI card or two, is on my wireless network, and could be a shell for some replace hard drives. I guess I could grab a newer intel machine if that is all it took.

I have been researching alot and getting less stupid, but am really learning that what I want is both a pipe dream, and what many others want too.

A Drobo hooked up to a mini or other box that can be the brains.

If I could record tv shows and access them easily from FrontRow at other points in the house-I would be a happy user.

The local Apple guy in BestBuy (is that weird or what-BB?) was thinking we could use a usb TV stick and automater to process it to iTunes and suck it up with an AppleTV at the wife's TV, and I could load my DVD's for use in the HT.

Anyway I wish they would blend the appletv/mini/extreme/TiVo and get the one box with a raid and be done with it. Oh well, I can wish can't I?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
873 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by nightowl /forum/post/15444471


I'm in a similar boat, but want a whole house media server solution, not interested in PVR from the Mac at this time. That is something that's likely to come out at MW, or I'll start looking at the HP MediaSmart.

These are nice too.
G-Tech
Drobo
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,025 Posts

Quote:
Anyway I wish they would blend the appletv/mini/extreme/TiVo and get the one box with a raid and be done with it. Oh well, I can wish can't I?

What I suggest is you crawl before you walk, and walk before you run, but start crawling no matter what. Wishing for something like that, for some "ideal, do it all, solve all my problems for me" device, usually means you're always going to be sitting on the sidelines, with convenient excuses not to buy this or that Mac, not to start doing the home theater Mac thing which most of us "in the game" find very enjoyable. You don't want to be one of the guys around here who never bought a Mini because it didn't have this or that feature, and never bought an Intel Mac because they're waiting for the next upgrade, never recorded any high def with their Mac and still rent cable DVRs, etc. They're still waiting and have no idea what it's like to sit in their living room with Apple remote or iPod touch in hand. That's what you need to start doing, to get some actual experience under your belt, to be able to figure out where to go next. That can't be decided hypothetically, that can't be researched. That has to be experienced first hand.

Quote:
I have been researching a lot and getting less stupid, but am really learning that what I want is both a pipe dream

I'm not sure pipe dream is the case, it's just we don't really know what you already know and are doing when it comes to the home theater game. If you aren't doing anything yet--then you are way behind the curve. Most newbies here have already ripped and played back dvds or use iTunes for music or tried Front Row with their Apple remote--but it seems from your comments you've managed to avoid even this. And if that's the case, you're right, it is A LOT to take in and try to process, but since most of us started doing the Mac and home theater thing 5 years ago we're in a pretty good position to help you navigate.


So your issues, as I see them:


1) does it make sense to use that old G4 to store and serve media?

2) how well could it handle DVR duties?

3) what would you serve this content to for playback?


3) is the easiest to answer: most of us put a small Intel Mac (mini or Macbook) or an aTV wherever we have an HDTV, and generally we're happy living within the rules of the Apple and iTunes ecosystem (i.e. rather than hacking just convert everything to x264 in m4v.) If you have 2 viewing locations, you need a device for play back in each location, hooked up to each display and connected to your home network. Wired is MUCH BETTER than wireless. Though there's an increasingly vocal contingent here of fans of alternatives to Front Row, like Plex and Boxee, and these do open up other nice options, for instance watching Hulu videos on your aTV. I'd give yourself some time just working within the Apple walled garden before you jump right forward to experimenting with hacks and alternatives and plugins, though. Do it the approved and supported way first, then decide if you need to stretch the boundaries a little.


These devices can also store content locally, but one way to think about things is that your media can "live" anywhere on your network--it doesn't have to be stored locally, though it all could be directly attached to one of your Macs. It's totally your choice--you could even plug hard drives into your Airport Extreme and share them.


As far as 1) I use an old G4 to serve up content around the house and I'm very happy with it--but it's "newer" than the model you have and was significantly more capable right out of the box: a dual 1.25 MDD, with gigabit, firewire 800, no inherent drive size limitations, runs Leopard easily and has a relatively fast bus for a 6 year old computer--all things your dual 450 doesn't have. (That machine is what, 9 or 10 years old?) That means whatever you do, potentially, means you'll have to spend money on PCI cards to upgrade and that calls into question the value and return on your investment. What I wouldn't do is plan on serving up the content on your dual 450 wirelessly. That's gonna be painful.


For my MDD it was very easy and cost nothing additional to pack it full of older PATA drives and plug in some externals I already had and set it up to share over the network. Noise wasn't a concern because it could be located anywhere. Faced with spending $500+ just for a storage/NAS-type device like a Drobo or ReadyNAS--and then adding the cost of drives on top of that--well, it seemed an easy choice to hang on to and repurpose the MDD. That was a decision I made 4 years ago, though--and made sense then. Today there are more options. I liked my first MDD so much I picked up a second one cheap on Craigslist two years ago, I think I paid $200 for that one, so I'd have spare parts and more flexibility. At the moment that one sits tucked away in a cabinet recording 3 high def streams simultaneously and serving its content around the house over gigabit.


As far as 2) goes, and:

Quote:
If I could record tv shows and access them easily from FrontRow at other points in the house-I would be a happy user.

many of us do this. But it isn't always so seamless. In your case, since your G4 PowerMac model predates USB2 and USB tuner sticks don't work well with add-on USB2 PCI cards, you're looking at an HD Homerun as your best EyeTV bet and yes, I think your dual 450 could control it if both are on your ethernet network. There's a plugin for EyeTV to insert it into Front Row as an menu option and I think it's quite nice. Again, though, this won't be doable over wireless.


Which brings you back to what you're willing to spend on the devices that you actually hook up to your HDTVs and use as extenders to play this content back. To play back EyeTV high def recordings you need at least a C2D 2.0--anything less skips frames.


And as others have said, really, you're not asking anything that hasn't been discussed and debated for years--you just have to process those threads and start making decisions about your budget, and the time you have available to troubleshoot and solve problems and maintain whatever system you set up. Things like Plex and Boxee and hacking all take time and are buggy--so don't even consider that yet. Start playing by the rules, pick up an Intel Mac and an aTV and start simply, but start doing. Then ask some specific questions after you've already tried stuff.


And yes, an aTV for the wife's bedroom TV, an Intel Mac in your HT, and that dual 450 somewhere in the house to store and serve up content, is very doable. I'd recommend you leave the Power Mac conversion for last, though, get everything else up and running, have storage directly connected to your Intel Mac and have it control the HD Homerun, and live with that for awhile. See first hand what you can do over wireless and what you can't. Then revisit whether it makes sense financially to overhaul the G4.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
873 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/15446574


What I suggest is you crawl before you walk, and walk before you run, but start crawling no matter what. Wishing for something like that, for some "ideal, do it all, solve all my problems for me" device, usually means you're always going to be sitting on the sidelines, with convenient excuses not to buy this or that Mac, not to start doing the home theater Mac thing which most of us "in the game" find very enjoyable. You don't want to be one of the guys around here who never bought a Mini because it didn't have this or that feature, and never bought an Intel Mac because they're waiting for the next upgrade, never recorded any high def with their Mac and still rent cable DVRs, etc. They're still waiting and have no idea what it's like to sit in their living room with Apple remote or iPod touch in hand. That's what you need to start doing, to get some actual experience under your belt, to be able to figure out where to go next. That can't be decided hypothetically, that can't be researched. That has to be experienced first hand.

WOW! First thanks for the amount of time you have spent on this, it was obviously extensive!

I hope that my post didn't make others think I don't buy Macs and that my ONLY mac is an 8 yr old dual G4 450. presently I have 5 macs on line in my house from the ole dual G4 & 12inch 1.33 laptop to Intel Core2duo's.

I can assure you that I DO NOT rent a DVR from anyone! It I still record on VHS Std def for the wife on a small all-n-one near the Ironing Board. I am not Hooked on any TV series and only need DVR type technology to replace the ole VHS. I'm sure I will find other uses because it is there.

The only reason I don't own a MacMini is I don't need one! My daughters have eMac's and 2nd gen iPod touches that do everything they need, I have an iMac in the kitchen and some old macs in the home office. I am thinking of a Mini now that an update is coming, but was also looking at MacPro's on ebay & apple store clearance today.

I am guessing I will get a mini with some sort of TV tuner usb stick and something like a Drobo or Gtech raid. Then a couple of Apple TV's to port stuff where I need it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/15446574


I'm not sure pipe dream is the case, it's just we don't really know what you already know and are doing when it comes to the home theater game. If you aren't doing anything yet--then you are way behind the curve. Most newbies here have already ripped and played back dvds or use iTunes for music or tried Front Row with their Apple remote--but it seems from your comments you've managed to avoid even this. And if that's the case, you're right, it is A LOT to take in and try to process, but since most of us started doing the Mac and home theater thing 5 years ago we're in a pretty good position to help you navigate.

Well as an extensive Mac user since '87 I have over 100gb of iPhoto, iTunes and movies on the ole drive. I don't use FrontRow because I don't need it to use what I use. I do port iTunes to 3 apple expresses around the house and to the home theater. I have played with MediaLink to suck movies/photos/tunes to the HT but it is really cludgy at best. Even low res movies are choppy for me, coming off the core2duo to the PS3 over wireless via Apple Extreme.

I haven't ripped DVD's yet because I have no storage/NAS yet. Just getting to the research stage. As I stated earlier, searching and reading here has only made me a little more confused in all honesty. The level of user here is fairly advanced and a HTPC user-I am not only not advanced (one of the reasons I have always loved Macs) but haven't gotten to the HTPC stage till now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/15446574


So your issues, as I see them:


1) does it make sense to use that old G4 to store and serve media?

2) how well could it handle DVR duties?

3) what would you serve this content to for playback?


3) is the easiest to answer: most of us put a small Intel Mac (mini or Macbook) or an aTV wherever we have an HDTV, and generally we're happy living within the rules of the Apple and iTunes ecosystem (i.e. rather than hacking just convert everything to x264 in m4v.) If you have 2 viewing locations, you need a device for play back in each location, hooked up to each display and connected to your home network. Wired is MUCH BETTER than wireless. Though there's an increasingly vocal contingent here of fans of alternatives to Front Row, like Plex and Boxee, and these do open up other nice options, for instance watching Hulu videos on your aTV. I'd give yourself some time just working within the Apple walled garden before you jump right forward to experimenting with hacks and alternatives and plugins, though. Do it the approved and supported way first, then decide if you need to stretch the boundaries a little.

Good advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/15446574


These devices can also store content locally, but one way to think about things is that your media can "live" anywhere on your network--it doesn't have to be stored locally, though it all could be directly attached to one of your Macs. It's totally your choice--you could even plug hard drives into your Airport Extreme and share them.

Yep!

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/15446574


As far as 1) I use an old G4 to serve up content around the house and I'm very happy with it--but it's "newer" than the model you have and was significantly more capable right out of the box: a dual 1.25 MDD, with gigabit, firewire 800, no inherent drive size limitations, runs Leopard easily and has a relatively fast bus for a 6 year old computer--all things your dual 450 doesn't have. (That machine is what, 9 or 10 years old?) That means whatever you do, potentially, means you'll have to spend money on PCI cards to upgrade and that calls into question the value and return on your investment. What I wouldn't do is plan on serving up the content on your dual 450 wirelessly. That's gonna be painful.

Ya, just looking for a use for the ole gal. Was a 40yr old bday present, as it ages it reminds me of my age-argh.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/15446574


For my MDD it was very easy and cost nothing additional to pack it full of older PATA drives and plug in some externals I already had and set it up to share over the network. Noise wasn't a concern because it could be located anywhere. Faced with spending $500+ just for a storage/NAS-type device like a Drobo or ReadyNAS--and then adding the cost of drives on top of that--well, it seemed an easy choice to hang on to and repurpose the MDD. That was a decision I made 4 years ago, though--and made sense then. Today there are more options. I liked my first MDD so much I picked up a second one cheap on Craigslist two years ago, I think I paid $200 for that one, so I'd have spare parts and more flexibility. At the moment that one sits tucked away in a cabinet recording 3 high def streams simultaneously and serving its content around the house over gigabit.

I have a buddy who runs his business on Macs and on occasion has something he is dumping out that I can grab. But knowing the amount of storage and the desire to use more HD content, I am guessing that I will need something newer as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/15446574


As far as 2) goes, and:


many of us do this. But it isn't always so seamless. In your case, since your G4 PowerMac model predates USB2 and USB tuner sticks don't work well with add-on USB2 PCI cards, you're looking at an HD Homerun as your best EyeTV bet and yes, I think your dual 450 could control it if both are on your ethernet network. There's a plugin for EyeTV to insert it into Front Row as an menu option and I think it's quite nice. Again, though, this won't be doable over wireless.

Well the Dual 450 is out so I will move on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/15446574


Which brings you back to what you're willing to spend on the devices that you actually hook up to your HDTVs and use as extenders to play this content back. To play back EyeTV high def recordings you need at least a C2D 2.0--anything less skips frames.

Thanks, good to know the minimum! I can drop a couple of grand before the wife notices.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/15446574


And as others have said, really, you're not asking anything that hasn't been discussed and debated for years--you just have to process those threads and start making decisions about your budget, and the time you have available to troubleshoot and solve problems and maintain whatever system you set up. Things like Plex and Boxee and hacking all take time and are buggy--so don't even consider that yet. Start playing by the rules, pick up an Intel Mac and an aTV and start simply, but start doing. Then ask some specific questions after you've already tried stuff.

Have both intel mac and hdtv's and will get some EyeTV to start.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/15446574


And yes, an aTV for the wife's bedroom TV, an Intel Mac in your HT, and that dual 450 somewhere in the house to store and serve up content, is very doable. I'd recommend you leave the Power Mac conversion for last, though, get everything else up and running, have storage directly connected to your Intel Mac and have it control the HD Homerun, and live with that for awhile. See first hand what you can do over wireless and what you can't. Then revisit whether it makes sense financially to overhaul the G4.

Once again, thanks for the thoughtful post.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
181 Posts
Just speaking for myself, I found a list of goals very helpful: I will be able to 1, 2, 3, 4. A couple quick questions. Are the soaps in HD? Does she watch every day's episode? Does she have some other way to watch them if a recording fails? If she watches every ep but not necessarily that day, how big a backlog grows?


With EyeTV you should expect: occasional recordings will fail for no reason; an hour's recording in HD will consume 5-7.5GB; her viewing habits may expand past soaps because the software is easy to use and doesn't require much maintenance (your guess is as good as mine as to whether or not my paranoid weekly restarts actually help or not, and maintenance needs jump quickly if the recordings can't all be stored on one drive).


From what I've read, the Drobo is built for convenience and not for speed. I'd search for a first-hand account of streaming HD files before putting chips on that table. If I had the cash I'd look to ReadyNAS, QNAP, Synology to serve if you're outputting to multiple screens, record/edit on one Mac and save to the NAS. Try to plan a setup that doesn't *require* any editing or moving of files before everyday kind of playback.


I edit shows using MPEG Streamclip, freeware, well worth the required Quicktime $20 MPEG-2 plugin from Apple, and I don't find that editing on a 2Ghz Core2 Duo iMac is incredibly faster than editing on a G4 Mini. Certainly faster, but not amazingly so. Editing is nice for saving space, and it's certainly the nicest viewing experience, but it also takes a lot of time. Shoot for simple.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
873 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by druber /forum/post/15469521


Just speaking for myself, I found a list of goals very helpful: I will be able to 1, 2, 3, 4. A couple quick questions. Are the soaps in HD? Does she watch every day's episode? Does she have some other way to watch them if a recording fails? If she watches every ep but not necessarily that day, how big a backlog grows?

First Djibouti? (I am a recently retired Naval Reservist-xAviator)

Second> She doesn't watch in HD, but I would only buy/setup something that can record and playback HD.

Third>YES EVERYDAY!

Fourth>Not really, but they are available to watch online

Fifth> The backlog is usually not more than a few days, present tech being a VHS builtin, she can only accumulate a couple of days before the tape fills!

Quote:
Originally Posted by druber /forum/post/15469521


With EyeTV you should expect: occasional recordings will fail for no reason; an hour's recording in HD will consume 5-7.5GB; her viewing habits may expand past soaps because the software is easy to use and doesn't require much maintenance (your guess is as good as mine as to whether or not my paranoid weekly restarts actually help or not, and maintenance needs jump quickly if the recordings can't all be stored on one drive).

Storage being so cheap now, I can find 500gb-1tb within budget. She doesn't keep them, watch and records over the latest show. So killing the old will be OK.

Quote:
Originally Posted by druber /forum/post/15469521


From what I've read, the Drobo is built for convenience and not for speed. I'd search for a first-hand account of streaming HD files before putting chips on that table. If I had the cash I'd look to ReadyNAS, QNAP, Synology to serve if you're outputting to multiple screens, record/edit on one Mac and save to the NAS. Try to plan a setup that doesn't *require* any editing or moving of files before everyday kind of playback.

Ya, the Drobo seems slow evidenced by the USB.

I was hoping to use something like automator to take a recording and put it in iTunes, then access it via aTV. Watcha think?

Quote:
Originally Posted by druber /forum/post/15469521


I edit shows using MPEG Streamclip, freeware, well worth the required Quicktime $20 MPEG-2 plugin from Apple, and I don't find that editing on a 2Ghz Core2 Duo iMac is incredibly faster than editing on a G4 Mini. Certainly faster, but not amazingly so. Editing is nice for saving space, and it's certainly the nicest viewing experience, but it also takes a lot of time. Shoot for simple.

I can see myself recording the odds and ends TV event, I do want to rip my DVD's to a "server" or NAS, I don't want to do a bunch of editing>no time in my schedule.


Let's see what tomorrow brings (MacWorld) and I am guessing I will grab a MacMini>NAS>AppleTV to start things off. I did just download the alpha for Boxee to play with.


Thanks for the help, and if Deployed, B Safe!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,025 Posts

Quote:
the Drobo seems slow evidenced by the USB
Quote:
From what I've read, the Drobo is built for convenience and not for speed. I'd search for a first-hand account of streaming HD files before putting chips on that table.

The first Drobo model was USB only, this summer a version with FW 800 was released.


Just remember, the fact that it protects against a single drive failure isn't enough--you still need a backup strategy. The Drobo, of course, can serve as a backup for media and content that also lives elsewhere--but if you're planning to keep anything important on the Drobo, like say your shared iTunes library, you should also have at least one copy of it elsewhere. (Just to protect against other things like data corruption or complete data loss.)


A couple of people in this forum have the Drobo, Ted Todorov has one of the newer FW 800 models.

Quote:
I am guessing I will get a mini with some sort of TV tuner usb stick and something like a Drobo

I'm a little leery of the Drobo--not because of the price, $500 + $200 (if you want optional NAS functionality)--nor because there's a better value out there--but because of this strange decision: Drobo closed all public access to their active discussion forum--even read only--so now you have to own the device already and register merely to be able to "read" the discussions and user experiences. I prefer a little more transparency.
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top