iTunes Server for apple TV

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by nevermind50, Feb 5, 2009.

  1. nevermind50 macrumors member

    Feb 2, 2009
    I've been thinking about the ideal iTunes server for my apple TV and I've come to the conclusion that most modern computers are overkill for the job. At the moment, I use my PowerBook with an external HD to stream content to the Apple TV, but it's not ideal. Many people use old Windows PC's running iTunes or Linux with iTunes compatible server software, but I want to stay with Macs if possible. I've considered a Mac Mini of course, but it's generally too much for a job like this.

    So I got to thinking that if I installed the desktop version of OSX on an Apple TV and upgraded the HD to 250GB, and then ran iTunes on it, I'd pretty much have my iTunes server right there. The price of the set-up would be quite low compared to a Mac Mini solution as is the power requirement. And you don't have a large power brick sitting behind your TV.

    I wondered if anyone has experience in using an Apple TV in this way. Will it have enough power to serve multiple clients?

    Any idea's would be gratefully received.

  2. JonHimself macrumors 68000


    Nov 3, 2004
    Toronto, Ontario
    This doesn't necessarily fit with your point about your plan being cheaper than buying Mac Mini, but does help if you plan on expanding your library. I've read about this in a couple threads on here and feel like not nearly enough people know about it, but I would buy the HP MediaSmart server. I bought a NAS (DNS-323) and use that for my video and audio (I keep just audio on my mbp) but still have to keep my laptop on to stream the content from the NAS. With MediaSmart you can install iTunes and stream to the AppleTV from the MediaSmart as if it were a computer (ie your laptop can remain off). I assume you can use Remote Desktop or something to update that MediaSmart iTunes library as well.
    It's more expensive (I think on par with buying a Mac Mini) BUT you don't have to screw around with the AppleTV AND you don't have to worry about using your laptop to serve content. Also, if you ever wanted to expand your hard drive space it's a hell of a lot easier to expand the MediaSmart than it would be to have to install a bigger drive (bigger than 250gb I mean) in the AppleTV.
  3. mdgolom macrumors 6502

    Oct 26, 2006
    I bought an MSI Wind desktop ($140) and a 1TB HD ($100) and built an iTunes server. I was able to install OS/X Leopard on it (windows would work as well). The only problem with it is I can only get 800x600 resolution and I can't screen share to it (kernal panic). It then feeds me AppleTV and other Macs using iTunes.

    I'm sure I can resolve the kernal panic and resolution, but it's not the end of the world for me since I can work around them.
  4. iowamensan macrumors 6502

    Feb 19, 2006
    I use a G4 PowerMac circa 2003 for an iTunes server. Got it free, bought a USB 2.0 card and some external drives and that is my iTunes server. It's running 10.3 and use file sharing and screen share to it from my Leopard PowerBook to add movies to iTunes.
  5. gkarris macrumors 604


    Dec 31, 2004
    "No escape from Reality..."
    I use an old Compaq Presario Desktop with an AMD Sempron and Windows XP home I bought new on-closeout for $199... has a 160Gig internal drive. Since it has my entire iTunes library on it, I also use it to sync with my iPhone ( the PC has Outlook on it as well).
  6. rhett7660 macrumors G4


    Jan 9, 2008
    Sunny, Southern California
    I have a dell computer as my itunes server per say. 3.5gigs of ram and it has 2 hard drives. I then have a esata box connected to it with four hard drives. Good stuff! I really wanted to do a 15 bay nas box but I couldn't justify the money at this time. So this was the next best thing.
  7. unknowng macrumors member

    Jan 17, 2008
    MSI Wind Desktop

    I'll second the MSI Wind Desktop. It's being feed by a DNS-323 with 2 1.5 tb drives. For 150 bucks, this little desktop is perfect for serving iTunes. Plus it's low on the power consumption (~45w at load, 15 at idle). I've got it set up in my network closet running headless and I VNC into it when I need to make changes (though I rarely need to touch it). I've also got a little script running that checks for new content. Other than the AppleTV, it's probably one of my best investments for my house wide audio/video needs.

  8. mdgolom macrumors 6502

    Oct 26, 2006

    Just curious, are you running OS/X or Windows on the MSI?
  9. nevermind50 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 2, 2009
    I can see the advantage of this kind of product, one of the most limiting things about iTunes/iPhoto is that they are designed to run on a single machine. So media ends up being distributed over various machines on the home network. To be sure, Apple has made it simple to see media on other computers using bonjour, but the fact remains that the computers need to be left switched on. Hence the need for some sort of 24/7 server. If the MediaSmart is able to automatically take copies from these disparate libraries and aggregate them where the Apple TV can stream them, then I think this is a good step forward.

    I don't think the price of this kind of device can be justified however, and the main reason I'm doubtful that Apple will release anything similar. I'd rather use an old computer or a modified Apple TV running full OSX 10.5 and then have a script running to look for new media on the network to copy up to the server.
  10. nevermind50 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 2, 2009
    The price is certainly more sensible than using a built for purpose MediaSmart server. Here in the UK however, we don't seem to be able to get such low prices :)
  11. unknowng macrumors member

    Jan 17, 2008
    I'm running a very stripped down version of WinXp. I've basically got iTunes and AVG installed and that's it. 2gbs of ram, a small 40 gb HD for the OS, and all content is pulled from the DNS-323. The good thing is that when I add another DNS-323, it's as easy as mapping the network drive and point iTunes to it. It's running 24/7 and I've not had a single problem with it. It's probably my most reliable machine (though some of that is probably because I don't mess with it)

  12. BoulderBum macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2008
    I'm still holding out for an Apple media server (which I hoped they'd announce last Mac World).

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