View Full Version : Looking for Expert advice on home media server setup.

jts telecom
Jul 6, 2011, 10:51 PM
Hi, thanks for your help in advance.

I am looking to create a server in my home that will be loaded with all the movies, audio, and photos that i have, and be accessible from all my tv's, iOS devices, and computers. Here is a list of the hardware i have already:

Airport Extreme 4th Gen (Dual Band)
2 x Airport Express's (for extended range)
3 Vizio WiFi 802.11n TV's
2 iPad's, 2 iPhone 4's, and 1 iPod 4th gen (all Wireless N)
2 3TB hard drives (raw)
1 MacBook Air 13.3 2nd Gen

I am considering buying a Mac Mini Server to do all the work, but...

Here are the questions i have:
1. If i get a Mac Mini, what is the best way to attach the hard drives and the Mac to the network? Through the mini, or Gigabit to the AEBS?
2. Even if i do use the Mac Mini, how would i access the server from my Wireless TV's?
3. How would i access from iOS devices?
4. Can i use Lion, or do i need Lion Server?

I want my 2 kids to be able to just select movies from a menu on the TV or iPad and watch them, so i don't have to help them every time they want to change a movie.

Thanks for your time.


Jul 7, 2011, 07:43 AM
You shouldn't need a server to do this. I know iTunes can share out to I believe all your i* devices from whatever machine you have. As for your TV's I'm not sure, but I'm sure someone here has done something like this already.

You can connect your drives to whatever machine you use (mini server or regular mini etc) via USB/Firewire, or you can buy a small NAS enclosure that would plug right into your network and some have iTunes integration in them.

Jul 7, 2011, 12:05 PM
You'll need a DLNA server for those devices that don't support iTunes or Airplay directly.

There are free ones, but the better ones tend to cost SOME money (though inexpensive). My favorite is Twonky Media Server. Quite of few of these are platform-specific, but Twonky will run on Windows, Linux, or OSX.

As the user interfaces for this on TV remotes tend to be pretty awful, I'd recommend getting a "DLNA controller" app for your iPad. That way, you can use the touch-screen interface to choose media to play. Using a DLNA Controller you can pick media off of your server and send it to one of your DLNA-compatible devices.

TwonkyBeam is a nice accessory to have, though currently incompatible with FireFox 5, and I'm afraid the new accelerated Firefox release schedule is going to make this a recurring event. TwonkyBeam is a plugin for Firefox that allows you to select media in Firefox and send it to your TV.

Put the hard drive on the Mac Mini. You certainly don't need, or, really, have any use, for OSX Server. The main thing that distinguishes Server is the inclusion of a bunch of servers (small-S servers...) that are useful only in an Enterprise setting.

Jul 7, 2011, 03:11 PM
A linux box will do all of this and more - like act as a time machine backup(netatalk (http://www.kremalicious.com/2008/06/ubuntu-as-mac-file-server-and-time-machine-volume/)) and give you outside access to your stuff. A 3TB drive in any old ex-windows box will get you pretty far with the added benefit of giving you more redundancy. I run an ubuntu box with an old Pentium 4 to do this.

For 24/7 operation a basement would be a good location for whatever equipment you choose. External drives with no fan are a no-no.

The 3TB won't fit in the mini because the mini only has a 2.5" bay. (at the time of writing there are no 3TB 2.5" drives on the market)