Mac Mini- Media Server, HTPC AND Wake-On LAN?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by duncyboy, May 3, 2009.

  1. duncyboy macrumors 6502a

    Feb 5, 2008
    OK, I'm thinking of getting a Mac Mini as an HTPC and for holding my iTunes library and AVI's.

    I currently have an upscaling DVD player that also has a USB socket for DivX stuff and would like access to my iTunes library also. I was thinking of simply adding an AppleTV to the set-up but I've been considering a Mini also.

    My questions are:

    1) If I have a Mini in the living room with all my AVI's and iTunes stuff on it- can I Wake-On LAN it using a Mac laptop, my iMac or an AppleTV in another room to access my library if it's sleeping? If I wanna watch a movie in bed on an AppleTV I don't want to have to nip downstairs to wake my Mini 'cause it's power-saving.

    2) Would a Mini work well as an iTunes media server? Not bothered about accessing it from the internet, just want access through wired and wi-fi within the house.

    3) Could I control the Mini remotely from the iMac or laptop over the network to save connecting a keyboard/mouse to it? For example if I need to perform a software update or move some files? I can do that over the network with another Mac, right? Sort of remote desktop?

    4) Could I control the Mini, purely for playback, from Remote on an iPod Touch?

    5) Is there a hack/fix/workaround to add AVI's (DivX and xVid) to Front Row? I understand these wouldn't be playable on the AppleTV.

    Thanks for any replies. I've tried searching for individual answers to the above but it's a bit confusing. I'm not sure of the difference between Back To Mac or Apple Remote Desktop. And I'm not sure about the WOL stuff either :eek:
  2. Chris Rogers macrumors 6502a

    Chris Rogers

    Jul 8, 2008
    my house

    My Mini is on its way this week. I've been researching myself and will try my best to help.

    1. A little too technical for me. You can opt for one of these or I'm leaning towards the second one. I'm certain you'd be able to wake with the keyboard.

    2. You can share libraries from all of the house.

    3. Yes, but I gave up. See recommendation for #1. i hope someone else can provide some input here.

    4. I think you'd only be able to access your iTunes library with it (iTunes has to be running)

    5. I have apple TV now and solved that problem by installing a program called Boxee, it's AWESOME. When my mini comes I will be installing Plex on it (I find it runs much smoother). Both programs will play ANYTHING. and (you have to be invited to Boxee though)

    Try doing a google search for mac mini media server or something of the sort. I've been doing that for the past couple of days. Actually, believe it or not, youtube is quite helpful as well.
  3. Michaelgtrusa macrumors 604

    Oct 13, 2008
    You can just download boxee from their site. It's free.
  4. duncyboy thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 5, 2008
    Thanks for the replies. Will do a little more research :)
  5. Chris Rogers macrumors 6502a

    Chris Rogers

    Jul 8, 2008
    my house
    I realized that if you have the airmouse app on an iPhone or iPod Touch, it would suffice as a keyboard/mouse
  6. googdot macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2005
    Aotearoa...Land Of The Long White Cloud
    I have a very similar setup using an old G4 mini as my itunes/movie server so will try to answer as best I can.

    The mini needs to be wired into your network as WOL will not work through wifi/airport access (the wifi card is asleep with no power and thus does not know to wake when you try to send it a packet). I simply leave my mini on 24/7 as my house is wifi only and the power draw is minimal running headless (putting disks to sleep when not in use), and its been going strong this way for a few years now.

    Yes - it works perfectly. No probs here at all.

    Yes - I use Screen Sharing in 10.5 and Chicken of the VNC in 10.4 as a remote client on my laptops to access the mini. It gives me the remote desktop setup to fully control the mini without keyboard/mouse (my mini is sitting headless in the lounge). Very easy and works every time.

    Yes - I do this and it works fine. You just need to use the VNC client/screen sharing to open the program on the mini, then use the touch to control from there.

    Not sure on this one as I don't use front row given my mini is only G4. I do stream movies and avi's to my cinema display/laptop in another room (simply by opening them in dvd player) without issue at all.

    Anyway, hope this helps you out. :)
  7. duncyboy thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 5, 2008
    Thanks for the answers- that's fantastic :)

    Really helpful reply and good to know, especially the WOL stuff. I plan on having a wee network using Powerline mainly and, by the looks of things, it should all work a treat.

    Thanks again!
  8. BPresley321 macrumors regular

    Nov 23, 2007
    Fort Worth, TX
    Good thread...I just picked up a mini this weekend to use as an HTPC and have been working through the same questions.

    1. I agree with above poster - leaving the mini on 24-7 shouldn't be a problem.
    2. Yes, just like on any other machine.
    3. I currently use screen sharing and it works great.
    4. Haven't tried it but have controlled itunes on other machines with Remote no problem. Makes no difference if the machine is headless, etc.
    5. Try Plex - I just installed it and loaded up my media and I really like the software.

    I hooked my mini up to an extra monitor until I got all software installed and configured THEN moved it and hooked it up to the TV for HTPC use. Much easier this way.
  9. Digitalflick macrumors regular

    Aug 19, 2002
  10. nigelhop macrumors newbie

    May 16, 2009
    Great thread. I use a Mac mini as a media server, and use a number of the apps mentioned. My suggestions, after 2 months of messing around with the mac running Front Row, Plex, trying to run AVIs and ripped DVDs I recommend the following.

    Install Perian, you may also need to install one (or all) of the following depending on the codec used to rip the media. I found that when I had problems with Perian the others worked, specifically the xvid component.


    For playing DVD rips I use VLC. Although I have not used it there is also a small program called DVD Assist that allows one to launch a VIDEO_TS folder from within Front Row and play it through Apple’s DVD Player.

    I use Plex, excellent takes a little getting use to but superb. I also played with Front Row and use movie2itunes to populate TV Series and movies into itunes. Good piece of software as it does not require you to convert files to mp4 they play in itunes and Front Row using the native file formats.

    A great tip for front row, if you use NAS storage is to create an alias for the folder on your NAS device, copy the alias to your local disk and the Mac sees the alias as a local folder.

    I also have an iPhone and use awake to wake on LAN as well as AirMouse as a remote keyboard. The iPhone also has Apples Remote software for controlling iTunes.

    To control the Mac mini I have a bluetooth keyboard and mouse, AirMouse on my iPhone but I also use Screen Sharing on my MacBook when needed. I also have WakeonLAN ( software on my MacBook.

    I think the Mac mini is the best media device around, unobtrusive, plays upscaled (to 1080p) with no problems and with Plex an excellent media player, the scraping for TV shows on my NAS devices is superb. Final point all the software I have used, with the exception of AirMouse (you can get free alternatives RemotePad being one, is FREE.

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