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sulliweb
Aug 27, 2011, 01:47 PM
I'm considering, like another recent post, getting a Mac Mini to host iTunes. I just want a dedicated machine that I can always have on and not have to think about... that sort of thing.

My current setup is a Win 7 machine hosting my iTunes Library off of a Drobo FS. It's a great setup, but it means leaving my PC running. Apple's stuff is typically lower power, less heat, less stress on the machine to be on and not in use, and won't require a reboot quite as often... To add to this, I've got a lot of videos, home movies, some DVD's etc. I've put them in iTunes and added all the tags. Though, to the best of my knowledge, iTunes seems to keep that in the library and not write it back to the actual file. Or am I wrong about that? I'm still learning some of this stuff...

I know I can transfer it, but with a NAS and Mini, will it do an in place transfer? Let's just say at this point, I don't have enough space to allow it to copy every file, and even if I added space to do that (which will happen eventually), I don't really want to take the days that that might take. I have over 2 TBs worth of iTunes data between music, movies, and TV Shows.

Is there a good solution? Or am I just left with bad choices?

Any advice or thoughts would be appreciated. :confused:

Thanks!



DustinT
Aug 28, 2011, 08:01 AM
I think in essence, you've got the right idea and I think you'll be fine. Yes, a Mac will access a PC's itunes folder. It should just work. Your metadata will come over as well and you shouldn't have to do anything special to make that happen.

If you have been manually editing your media to have the correct metadata you'll probably love a program for your Mac called iFlicks. it automatically handles that and all your transcoding needs quite well. Its a terrific program and I prefer it to Handbrak even though it costs money for iFlicks.

Mawal
Aug 28, 2011, 08:24 AM
It is absolutely no problem to migrate an Itunes / Win environment to an Itunes Mac environment, including all tags, ratings, cover art an so forth.

I did pretty much the same thing as you plan to do, coming from Windows, I bought a Mac Mini as a dedicated Itunes machine and migrated all my stuff to it. Zero data or meta data loss, just amazing.

A Mac mini, can be an older model, and an external usb disk is all you need.

rowley
Aug 28, 2011, 08:38 AM
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8J2 Safari/6533.18.5)

A lot of people are going down that path. A mac mini would certainly suit your needs.
As an iTunes server sharing is great between laptops and desktops.
I would also recommend air video for playback on iOS devices off the same kit.

sandyjmacdonald
Aug 28, 2011, 12:08 PM
Haha. Just been out and bought myself a Mac mini and I'm in the process of setting it up as a media server connected to our TV. Saves me having the iMac switched on all the time in the bedroom to stream to the Apple TV.

ftaok
Aug 28, 2011, 12:12 PM
If you're only looking for the mini to be an iTunes server, you might want to thing about getting a cheapo netbook instead. I have my iTunes server running on an old 15" P4 laptop. The advantage to using a laptop (or netbook) instead of a desktop is that it has a battery. In the event of a power outage, my iTunes server keeps going and doesn't require a trip down to the basement to reboot.

To me, the mini is much too expensive to use just as an iTunes server.

AdrianK
Aug 28, 2011, 12:43 PM
My advice would be to pick up a cheap 40GB Apple TV, install OS X Tiger and iTunes 9.12 then plug your drobo in via usb and set up sharing (you'd need a USB hub for KB+mouse+drobo).

Total cost shouldn't be much more than $100.

A mac mini is just overkill.

Bill.the.Cat
Aug 28, 2011, 01:52 PM
Another vote for what AdrianK said, though you can also go with Leopard 10.5.8 which allows you to install iTunes 10.4.1 (the current version).

Mine draws 14~15 watts and that includes powering a bus-powered external USB drive that holds my iTunes library. Set it up once using a hub/kb-mouse-monitor then disconnect and administer it using VNC ("Screen Sharing" in OS X) via your LAN thereafter.

Note that the ATV1 lacks power management--if you want it to shut down at night and start up in the morning you can just use a Xmas-light timer (the mechanical ones pull 2~5 watts on their own so if you're power/heat-conscious pick a digital one).

sulliweb
Aug 29, 2011, 08:03 AM
Well, I hope that's not the only use that I'll have for it, so I don't consider it overkill, and I'm not looking for a pieced together solution. I want something that will consistently work and easy to set up.

Ok, so I suppose my next question would be, what model Mac Mini should I be looking at? Is the base model good enough to stream to two ATV's. I'm single, so it won't be often that they're both playing at the same time. Still, I don't want to rule it out either.

Just trying to get an idea for a base spec that I'll need on it.

Thanks!

CylonGlitch
Aug 29, 2011, 09:03 AM
My advice would be to pick up a cheap 40GB Apple TV, install OS X Tiger and iTunes 9.12 then plug your drobo in via usb and set up sharing (you'd need a USB hub for KB+mouse+drobo).

I just did this over the weekend, really quite easy. Although I purchased a 160gb model for $60 on eBay, but that's because I have 40gb model that got turned into the server -- using the 160 for private movie storage in the master suite.

The AppleTV isn't super speedy, but it gets the job done and does it perfectly. I am running the latest iTunes on it and manage it via VNC. I have an unpowered hub that I use for Keyboard, mouse, and hard drive (although K&M are typically disconnected).

It's a great little solution for a low cost. Although I am considering upgrading to a MacMini eventually as I expand my home office; I want the mini to be the web server, email server, and database . . . but that's a different project.

Dhelsdon
Aug 29, 2011, 12:30 PM
I have my gaming PC acting as a file/itunes server right now (WHS 2011) and my SMB shares keep dropping off my MBP. I own a ATV1 40GB, how would I go about putting Tiger or similar onto the ATV. I didn't know you could use the ATV as a physical machine.. and would it be more stable using an apple device for this rather then a windows server?

Please explain! :)

CylonGlitch
Aug 29, 2011, 02:58 PM
Here you go. (http://***********/?q=install+tiger+on+apple+tv)

tbayrgs
Aug 29, 2011, 06:18 PM
Well, I hope that's not the only use that I'll have for it, so I don't consider it overkill, and I'm not looking for a pieced together solution. I want something that will consistently work and easy to set up.

Ok, so I suppose my next question would be, what model Mac Mini should I be looking at? Is the base model good enough to stream to two ATV's. I'm single, so it won't be often that they're both playing at the same time. Still, I don't want to rule it out either.

Just trying to get an idea for a base spec that I'll need on it.

Thanks!

For your situation, you can use an older machine and get great results. I'm using an early 2009 base Mac Mini to serve my media to 3 :apple:TVs and another Mac and it's used to watch 1080p content on the living room plasma TV, all without issue.

Nightarchaon
Aug 30, 2011, 01:32 AM
Correct me if I'm wrong . But the drobo FS has a built in media (iTunes) server , so just drop it on your network and set up sharing via that

http://www.drobo.com/products/drobo-fs.php

On the " showcase " tab It says :

?To Serve and Protect
Download Music, Photos and Video, and more. Enjoy DroboApps at home with FireFly, an iTunes-compatible media server, CTorrent a BitTorrent client, and Fuppes, a UPnP/ DLNA server.

So no need for a separate machine to serve the content

Saved you some money there

Mawal
Aug 30, 2011, 03:48 AM
actually there is no such thing as an Itunes server on a NAS.

you need a pc or a mac to run itunes.

What is referred to as an itunes server, is nothing but shared music to to computers on the same network.

slothrob
Aug 30, 2011, 05:26 AM
I wish hard drive manufacturers would stop misleading people with that "iTunes Server" nonsense.

Omne666
Aug 30, 2011, 05:28 AM
Actually not quite true. There have been NAS drives with an iTunes service built in. The problem with most of these services are that normal iTunes gets updated and has new capabilities or does things differently which breaks the way devices may have to hook into them. The NAS iTunes service becomes useless.

sulliweb
Aug 30, 2011, 02:43 PM
In the case of the Drobo... It does have a server that works wonderfully, for music... but not with Apple TV's. It doesn't use Home Sharing as such, to the best of my knowledge, so it's not what I need.

Thanks for all the advice... I still don't think I'm comfortable using the 1st Gen ATV solution, but I may look for an older model Mac mini... My only concern with older stuff is that Apple has a growing habit of just dropping support for older models. I want this to be in place and up-to-date for a good long while. Thus, I'm willing to pay a little more to insure that. ;)

DustinT
Aug 30, 2011, 06:18 PM
Well, I hope that's not the only use that I'll have for it, so I don't consider it overkill, and I'm not looking for a pieced together solution. I want something that will consistently work and easy to set up.

Ok, so I suppose my next question would be, what model Mac Mini should I be looking at? Is the base model good enough to stream to two ATV's. I'm single, so it won't be often that they're both playing at the same time. Still, I don't want to rule it out either.

Just trying to get an idea for a base spec that I'll need on it.

Thanks!Man, your thread has gotten taken OVER! Sorry!

I just picked up a Mini because I don't want to hack. I'm looking for something that works so I picked up the mini. It works pretty well. I got it because I need the iTunes system, I like the builtin Time Machine server and, in case my MBP goes down, I've got a backup system I can use.

Anyway, enjoy it. I got a base Mac Mini and its more then enough power to handle several ATVs. I did find the RAM a little light, so grab 8g online and add it in. You'll be fine.

Bye Bye Baby
Aug 30, 2011, 06:45 PM
I am running a drobo and mini setup at the moment. My iTunes collection is only about 1 TB, but my plex collection is over 4TB.

I split them up- I have my iTunes on a HP media server running Firefly while my drobo serves Plex.

I can access content via my ATV 2 running plex. Also on my iPhone, iPad (still waiting) and all my other computers.

Great setup.

mr.iso
Sep 28, 2011, 02:54 PM
You could build a little Intel Atom based machine and install Windows 7 on it. Would cost you about $390 total + shipping and possibly tax depending on where you live.

----

Case/Board/Processor - $120
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856119037

RAM - $33
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820145590

3 TB hdd - $130
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822145502

DVD Burner - $18
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827136236

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit OEM - $100
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116992

----

Build it, Install Windows, install iTunes, and you're set. Use TightVNC (free) to run it headless. It's more than powerful enough, I'm running a similar system, but based off of an Atom 230, which is an older single core processor.

This will most likely draw a lot less power than a Mac mini setup, and i wouldn't call it "pieced together" as it's basically just a Windows desktop computer running iTunes.

Keep in mind I might have picked RAM that is incompatible with the Mobo up there, but I'm pretty sure it's the right kind.

-Iso

tentales
Sep 29, 2011, 02:15 AM
I think sulliweb has the right idea to begin with. Stick to the Apple eco-system and find other uses for a MacMini Server solution, like offloading 24/7 handbraking sessions to it via Screen Sharing or VNC.

In the past I've tried with cheaper Win7 hardware, but I always found it to be too tedious and too much maintenance. The cost factor is less critical over time if you want/need the right system.

Here's what I ended up with:

1) refurb 2010 MacMini Server $749 incl 2 x 500GB 7k2 drives. $749
2) 2 cheap Costco bought 2TB WD USB drives. Each $99
3) a refurb OWC FW800 RAID-0 enclosure for $79 containing the Costco drives.
4) 2 external 2.5" 1TB USB drives ($99 each) containing all movies & lossless iTunes lib
5) 2 Apple TV 2 (black) in the house as clients.

The 4TB Raid-0 is the staging ripping/encoding platform, the slower USB drives totally up to the task of delivering 1080p M4V Video.

When I'm not encoding, the OWC drive is off and the MM is on a timer that comes on at 6pm and goes off at 3am. No problems thus far.

I don't jailbreak or futz around with compatibility/stability issues anymore. I just enjoy my own Blurays/DVDs. And before anyone reminds me not to steal content, I own each and every film either on DVD or BR. I just can't stand waiting thru 10mins of warnings, notices and forced Previews BS.
Just the movie m'am!

I don't see the point in a Drobo. What? $600 for an empty box ? That buys you a basic new MacMini and off-the-shelve drives are cheaper. The NAS functionality is built-in to OS X and you have control via UNIX terminal commands of the full system and don't need to wait on 3rd party firmware, orig or hacked.

Also, my MacMini's HDMI port is hooked up to my AV Receiver->Plasma, so I can VLC 1080p stuff or browse the web using my iPhone Remote to control it.

just my 2cents YMMV

ComanWilson
Sep 29, 2011, 12:31 PM
For those that have loaded Tiger on a ATV1, how is the performance? Have you ran into any issues with playback to the ATV2?

I am constantly having to restart iTunes on my current media server (old headless vista laptop) I am looking for a reliable alternative and a weekend project.

Dhelsdon
Sep 29, 2011, 12:45 PM
Another question to add with what ComanWilson said, I have a 40GB ATV. I haven't begun to put tiger on it yet, but am I restricted to the stock ATV drive or can I easily upgrade the drive. I know if you are upgrading it normally, there are only specific drives that can be used and you need to clone the old drive or something...

Has anyone put in a larger drive when running tiger?

Bill.the.Cat
Sep 29, 2011, 01:05 PM
To answer the two posts above:

@ComanWilson - I run Tiger 10.5.8 on an ATV1. Zero performance issues streaming to ATV2, pretty much all of my library is Blu-ray sourced. Just make sure files are compatible; Blu-ray rips run through Handbrake on the ATV2 setting have never given me problems. Files that are already x264 can often be repackaged (via MP4Tools or similar) if the bitrate is compatible. Again, as long you run things through Handbrake you should never have any trouble. One caveat, all of my gear (ATV1, both ATV2s) is wired though Cat6, Gigabit switch, Gigabit router. ATV1 runs headless in my network closet (converted area in the ceiling above our pantry). Can't imagine any wireless issues would be the fault of the ATV1 if you connect it directly to your router.

@Dheldson - You shouldn't limit yourself to the rapidly dwindling choices available for PATA 2.5" drives. You will be just fine with your 40GB internal for the OS and then attach external USB storage for your iTunes library--this also has the added benefit of making your entire library portable. I use a bus-powered 500GB external USB drive and works perfectly. I detach it every once in a while to do a backup to another drive, and when I outgrow the space I can just buy another external drive.

Dhelsdon
Sep 29, 2011, 01:11 PM
To answer the two posts above:


@Dhelsdon - You shouldn't limit yourself to the rapidly dwindling choices available for PATA 2.5" drives. You will be just fine with your 40GB internal for the OS and then attach external USB storage for your iTunes library--this also has the added benefit of making your entire library portable. I use a bus-powered 500GB external USB drive and works perfectly. I detach it every once in a while to do a backup to another drive, and when I outgrow the space I can just buy another external drive.

Duh.. It totally slipped my mind about the external drive. One other question, this will always need to boot from usb right?

If I plug in my external drive and my usb boot into a hub I shouldn't have any issues right?

AdrianK
Sep 29, 2011, 01:11 PM
Another question to add with what ComanWilson said, I have a 40GB ATV. I haven't begun to put tiger on it yet, but am I restricted to the stock ATV drive or can I easily upgrade the drive. I know if you are upgrading it normally, there are only specific drives that can be used and you need to clone the old drive or something...

Has anyone put in a larger drive when running tiger?

The original drive is just a 2.5" IDE drive, so any other 2.5" IDE should work.

edit: bah, too late.

edit2: don't mean to derail, but I see that a lot of users here do have 10.4 running on ATV1, did you have to boot the ATV drive on your mac? (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1235900&highlight=)

Bill.the.Cat
Sep 29, 2011, 03:56 PM
If I plug in my external drive and my usb boot into a hub I shouldn't have any issues right?

I would highly recommend not booting from USB, it really creates a ton of headaches in both installation and subsequent operation.

Buy a cheap small torx set, pull the original drive, clone "the" 10.5.8 image to the original drive using CCC (you'll need some sort of 2.5" PATA<->USB adapter to temporarily attach the bare stock drive to your Mac), replace the drive in the ATV, boot. Once you have everything configured you can attach external storage and start setting up your library.

@AdrianK - Most people running OS X on the ATV1 are using Leopard, not Tiger. You will avoid a lot of headaches by just using "the" 10.5.8 image: no need to boot it attached to your Mac, just clone and go.

Dhelsdon
Sep 29, 2011, 08:03 PM
I would highly recommend not booting from USB, it really creates a ton of headaches in both installation and subsequent operation.

Buy a cheap small torx set, pull the original drive, clone "the" 10.5.8 image to the original drive using CCC (you'll need some sort of 2.5" PATA<->USB adapter to temporarily attach the bare stock drive to your Mac), replace the drive in the ATV, boot. Once you have everything configured you can attach external storage and start setting up your library.



I have an 80gb pata drive, I used disk utility to clone the image to the drive. it booted with the question mark.. Selected the 10.5.8 dmg as source and 80gb drive as destination, GUID partition and it didn't work..

If I use CCC will it be any different?

Bill.the.Cat
Sep 29, 2011, 08:36 PM
...GUID partition and it didn't work...

I think you may have a partitioning issue, check your PM.

Dhelsdon
Sep 29, 2011, 10:17 PM
Another question.. I plan on using my ATV server as an iTunes file server (duh)
should I just use a folder to store my library, then map my iTunes to the server or.. Should I add all my media to iTunes (on the server) and if that's how I do it, how would I sync my iPhone with that library?

bt22
Sep 29, 2011, 10:55 PM
iCloud should solve that problem for you. iCloud is going to update all your devices over the air... you will not have to sync.

Dhelsdon
Sep 29, 2011, 10:57 PM
I know, but for right now should I just use a shared folder or some other way?

Bill.the.Cat
Sep 30, 2011, 10:19 AM
then map my iTunes to the server or.. Should I add all my media to iTunes (on the server) and if that's how I do it, how would I sync my iPhone with that library?

If you already have all your media on an external drive, just set up your machine, run iTunes, and change the default library location to your external drive. If you don't mind iTunes messing with your folder structure you may want to let iTunes take control of file organization as well. Then ensure that you have enabled file sharing for that folder.

The way I manage mine is by setting up the external drive as a shared volume on my network. I do all my Handbrake encoding on a quad-core Hackintosh, then once the file is done (transcoded, subtitles added, tagged) I drag it (via Finder) over to the "Automatically add files to iTunes" folder that iTunes will create on the external drive and will make available on the network. The file copies to that folder and then "disappears" once iTunes (running on the ATV1 server) sees it, adds it to your library, and places it in the appropriate location within the existing folder structure.

Really is very slick means of media transfer and management! One of the reasons I love OS X.

flatfoot99
Oct 1, 2011, 09:06 AM
I too am throwing around the idea of a mac mini. I intend to replace a PC with it that is only used for itunes and storing photos.

Few questions...

Can I run hdmi from the mini to a nearby reciever and play audio? Maybe using "remote" app?

Mac mini has a headphone jack that can be used as a digital optical out? Never heard that one before... howd they do that?

In the near future id like to start ripping and storing my Blu-ray collection to some kind of storage unit. Ive read the mac cant do the newer audio codecs? Is that true? Can it at least bitstream them?

thanks!

mr.iso
Oct 1, 2011, 09:57 AM
Can I run hdmi from the mini to a nearby reciever and play audio? Maybe using "remote" app?
Yes.

Mac mini has a headphone jack that can be used as a digital optical out? Never heard that one before... howd they do that?
Mini TOSLINK (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TOSLINK#Mini-TOSLINK)


In the near future id like to start ripping and storing my Blu-ray collection to some kind of storage unit. Ive read the mac cant do the newer audio codecs? Is that true? Can it at least bitstream them?
I don't really have an answer for this...but if you're ripping them, you can encode them with whatever codec you want, so it shouldn't be an issue, you just might not be able to rip on the Mac?

flatfoot99
Oct 1, 2011, 10:11 AM
Yes.


Mini TOSLINK (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TOSLINK#Mini-TOSLINK)



I don't really have an answer for this...but if you're ripping them, you can encode them with whatever codec you want, so it shouldn't be an issue, you just might not be able to rip on the Mac?

Thanks! That mini toslink is really cool! Anyone else know about the blu-ray rips?

Bill.the.Cat
Oct 1, 2011, 10:12 AM
just might not be able to rip on the Mac?

MakeMKV works fine, you just need a blu-ray drive.

flatfoot99
Oct 1, 2011, 10:55 AM
MakeMKV works fine, you just need a blu-ray drive.

Great! I just want a rip of strictly the movie and the sound. Will I have any issues with high resolution audio. What about 3d?

Bill.the.Cat
Oct 1, 2011, 02:40 PM
Great! I just want a rip of strictly the movie and the sound. Will I have any issues with high resolution audio. What about 3d?

Not sure about 3D, never tried it. HD audio has been supported in the mkv container for a while now and MakeMKV does support it as part of the ripping process, but of course playback will depend on the software you choose.

flatfoot99
Oct 1, 2011, 03:05 PM
Thanks Bill! Maybe I'm too new to this stuff or simply not understanding it. I just read on another forum that you can rip a blu ray with the mini, but there is no way, at this time, to play back any of the new audio codecs (especially dts-ma) either by decoding it on the mini or streaming the bitstream to a receiver. Is that not correct? Thanks again for your help!

NorCalLights
Oct 1, 2011, 03:39 PM
You could build a little Intel Atom based machine and install Windows 7 on it. Would cost you about $390 total + shipping and possibly tax depending on where you live.


@iso at 85W max power consumption and only 11W at idle, you'd be hard pressed to beat the green credentials of the new Mac Mini's, even with an Atom machine. Add in that it's not difficult to imagine one of these Mini's serving up content for six or seven years, and there are some serious cost savings to be had there.

YMMV.

ComanWilson
Oct 4, 2011, 06:38 AM
Ok..... I installed Leopard on my ATV1 and it is working great, easiest hack I've ever completed.

My next question is whether any one knows of a pata to sata adapter that is compatible with the ATV1? I have a spare 1Tb sata hdd and would love to use that to hold the OS and media files, while using my external as backup.

mr.iso
Oct 5, 2011, 09:43 AM
@iso at 85W max power consumption and only 11W at idle, you'd be hard pressed to beat the green credentials of the new Mac Mini's, even with an Atom machine. Add in that it's not difficult to imagine one of these Mini's serving up content for six or seven years, and there are some serious cost savings to be had there.

YMMV.

While those are good numbers for the Mini, OP said 2TB+ of media was in his/her library. You're not accounting for that storage in your power usage numbers. Also, the initial cost of the machine goes up from the $599 price vs the cost of the machine I proposed, which included 3TB of storage.

As far as the mini serving up content for 6 or seven years, how do you figure that would be any different than the machine I proposed? In fact, going by Apple's track record, you'll only be able to update the OS for another 3 years. Not sure how far back iTunes updates will work, but as of now, it only supports 2 OS revisions (10.5, which works out to 4 years time.) iTunes on Windows, however, goes back to XP, which was released 10 years ago (granted, it is SP 2, but any machine that can run XP initial release should be able to run XP SP 2.)

Personally, I would prefer a Mini as well, but to me the cost just wasn't justifiable and I believe I'll get a longer life out of a Windows/Atom machine for this purpose.

YMMV :)

sulliweb
Oct 6, 2011, 10:12 AM
And Mr. ISO is the winner... Though, I didn't build a machine. I ended up not getting the Mini. It hadn't shipped yet, and I was able to cancel the order. I use my Drobo for too many other things to have it solely dedicated for media streaming.

I ended up going with a $330 Acer AspireRevo 3700. It has Win 7 on it, and while it isn't the work horse a Mini might end up being, for the price, it'll do the big stuff that I wanted out of the Mini and a little more. I just hook it in as another source in the monitor for my real computer, and it switches over just fine, plus it has an HDMI port if I ever decide to put it by the ATV at the TV.

Anywho, thanks for all the responses, but for now, I think this is the best option I could get that'll run well with the Windows hardware I already have.