Sunday, May 15, 2011

Considering NAS and DLNA servers

My current network consists of a 24/7 Ubuntu workstation (with a dual 1 TB RAID) and Win7 HTPC (also with dual 1 TB).  I am also seeding a bunch of torrents (mostly Ubuntu distros) and hosting the Squeezebox server for the Logitech Radio in our kitchen.

I am considering scrapping the Ubuntu workstation and reinstalling it with Win7 and an SSD.  I would like to save on our electricity bill and improve the file-sharing and backup.  So I am investigating Network Attached Storage (NAS) options.  So far the Netgear ReadyNAS seems like the best option as it's a Linux-based OS with add-ons for all the major services.  Right off the bat it has Tivo and DLNA support, and there are also plug-ins for the Transmission bittorrent app as well as for the Squeezebox server.  The ReadyNAS Ultra 2 has a single-core Intel Atom while the Ultra 2 Plus has dual-core.

The one thing the ReadyNAS wouldn't be able to do is host my new weather station (really just a Oregon Scientific RMS300A three-source temperature and humidity monitor).

I am also debating the usefulness of DLNA.  One of my friends has a new Samsung plasma HDTV with DLNA support and such a thing should -- in theory -- negate the need for an HTPC (and XBMC).  The problem seems to be the limited codec and encoding support in DLNA.  I assume this was on purpose, to prevent people from downloading ripped content and directly playing it on DLNA players.

Fortunately there's a workaround -- a DLNA server with transcoding!  Windows 7 includes Windows Media Center which already includes a DLNA server, but unless the original files are already in DLNA-compatible formats you won't be able to play them on something like the Samsung TV.  I also already own the Nero 9 Suite which includes the Nero Home DLNA server, but again I don't think that includes transcoding.

Instead, I have found the following two options for DLNA transcoding:

Mezzmo, $30

iSedora, $17 (single-device) / $48 (multi-device)

At this point the whole investigation is moot since I'm not about to scrap my primary workstation!  Since it's running Ubuntu 10.10, though, it'll eventually lose support/updates and that will certainly force my hand.

1 comment:

Craig said...

I just bought a ReadyNAS NV+ this weekend and have streaming videos to my Samsung TV without problem. As long as the TV can play it from a USB HD it can play it over DLNA, I think.

I haven't exhaustively tested everything though, so I still may find some incompatibilities...