Many people are dreaming about consolidating all media files (video, music, pictures etc) in a single place. For some it is a huge full of DVDs, CDs and photos. Others buy hardware media servers and store all files in them. I chose a solution based on Archos 605 WiFi and a Linux Server running UPnP Media Server. Here’s how it works …
So, the solution consists of
- Archos 605 WiFi PMP. I can copy files from my media server via Samba and take them in a trip. Instead of carrying a box with 10-20 DVDs I can carry all that stuff in one compact device altogether with music and photos. Also I can copy files from my digital camera to Archos when the CF card is full. When necessary I can play video from Archos on a TV in a hotel or on DVD player in the car. In very special occasions I can also record video from any external video source (I’ll post this project later)
- Archos DVR Station. It allows playing video and simple flash games on TV, recording TV programs, scheduling recording using TV Guide, browsing web on the TV and a few other things. Since DVR requires external power and is pretty bulky the best place for it is at home – don’t take it in field trips and vacations.
- OpenSuSE Linux with FUPPES Media Server. It streams all media available on multiple hard drives to Archos, so instead of flipping many DVDs I’m scrolling many files and choosing which one I want to see. Since Archos can even display thumbnails of the videos this is very easy to use feature especially when you’re looking for that particular family video.
I already described many (primarity financial) cons of Archos. At the same time it has one huge pro: in combination with necessary plugins and accessories it does what I need. In particular application of consolidating all media in your home it plays the main role. Archos receives content from multiple sources in my home and outputs it to TV. As I mentioned before the best way to feed content to Archos is using UPnP media server. In Windows world everything is pretty simple and well documented in the manual. In Linux World, however, there are too many options provided. Some are free and some are not. Some work with Archos and some don’t. Some work better and some work a bit worse. After evaluating couple of packages I found two media servers that work just fine with Archos.
The main benefit of this media server for me is that it can be installed via YAST without messing with compilation, writing startup scripts etc. You just install it and Archos picks it up in seconds. However after a few days of using it I decided to keep looking for a better solution. Here are the reasons that forced me to abandon MediaTomb:
- If, because of some reason, the disk with the media is not mounted, then MediaTomb just “forgets” about it. Even if you reattach the disk later you still will have to add its content to MediaTomb manually. It just won’t recall it.
- While playing content streamed by MediaTomb Archos doesn’t allow navigating inside the file. You can’t rewind, fast forward or jump to a random place in the file. Everything you can do is just play or pause.
- This is minor, but don’t forget to change the config file and provide fixed HTTP port in it. Otherwise MediaTomb will be choosing random port for HTTP interface on every start
- I don’t like skulls in the user interface. Especially the ones blinking with red eyes.
- If you add a folder to MediaTomb it will scan it recursively and list all files altogether in single plain list. I.e. It doesn’t support tree structure, at least when you add filesystem directories as is
So, after testing a few more packages I found …
This software also has couple of drawbacks like
- At least in Open SuSE you have to compile it. I was not able to find a ready-to-use package. Don’t forget to include
--enable-libnotify and --enable-default-http-port=81in the configure parameters. You’ll need libnotify installed of course.
- You’ll have to write your own startup script. “cd /etc/init.d; cp skeleton fuppes;vi fuppes;chkconfig fuppes on” and test the startup script.
- I can’t remember its name and need to sneak at the bookmarks all the time :(
At the same time it solves all the problems with MediaTomb. What a great piece of code!
Once you have compiled and installed the media server selecting and playing content on your Archos media player takes just seconds. What a relief after necessity to browse thru a few dozen of DVD and CD disks!