My home streaming solution with MediaTomb + Popcorn Hour + BubbleUPnP
For a few years now I have been extremely satisfied with my Popcorn Hour (which I will from now on call PCH, for short): I can stream any kind of media from my Fedora desktop to my TV (I don’t have one of those smart TVs yet), it serves as a nice torrent server, and never gave me any headaches. A few days ago I decided it was time to “revamp” my setup, and try something new, so I came up with today’s solution.
I can use my Android phone not only to stream audio and video from my desktop, but also to control what is currently being played on my PCH.
Actually this all started when I decided it was time to use UPnP to play my music files, instead of direct NFS mounting (like I have been doing on the PCH since the beginning). NFS has been working just fine, but for music it’s incomplete: you can only see music the way the files are lay down on the hard drive. Using UPnP you can browse by artist, albuns, genres, etc. It’s a whole new experience.
Since I recently gave up on using Rhythmbox (which has an internal UPnP server) in favor of Banshee (which doesn’t), I had to use an alternative solution. After some quick consideration, given past experiences, I decided going with MediaTomb. Honestly I bet whatever I describe here applies to any UPnP server, but this is what I am using now.
During the course of setting up MediaTomb, I was tired of walking back and forth to the PCH (they’re not on the same room), so I decided to try an Android UPnP client. I didn’t browse the market for too long, and just installed whatever seemed reasonable. So far I’m satisfied with what BubbleUPnP does. Like with the UPnP server, I guess most (not all) of the UPnP clients will do what I describe here.
I set up MediaTomb by just reading pieces and bits of the documentation. Should not be too hard, but if comments in this post requests, I can write a small tutorial.
I like to say that UPnP is some kind magic protocol that make stuff work without hassle. So once MediaTomb was finally correctly configured I could see it from my Android phone, and I was able to play some music.
Then I notice something interesting: BubbleUPnP allows me to select a library (where the data comes from) and a renderer (where the data is “played”). When I saw the list of available libraries and renderers I notice the magic: I could select MediaTomb as library, and PCH as rendered. “Oh, what does it do?”
MAGIC. Now I can select files on my phone, hit play, and it will start playing on the PCH connected to my big TV and a great sound system (actually a 2.1, but it does sound great). The nicest thing about all of that is being able to browse through my files directly from my phone, then select what I want and play. It fixes one of the biggest PCH’s shortcomings while playing music: you can’t browse your library during playback.
Now you can think: if I have access to the remote control, why going through all this hassle? Actually it not only helps with the media selection problem I described before, but also I can select the next music from anywhere I am while walking around in my apartment. Also it totally integrates all my media players: I can see all files I have stored on the desktop, phone, PCH, PlayStation, whatever. It’s so fun.
Before you ask: I do intend to have a NAS at some point, and concentrate all my media files in one place. However there are some files that need to live separately on either one of my devices due to how they’re stored or what do with them. I won’t bother you with the details.
Next: I’m going to try to stream my music over internet (no music services, just plain old dynamic DNS + ssh).
Oh, please let me know about your home streaming solutions. I’m curious about how you guys do it. Just remember: no Mac or Windows.
Well, anyway, this is fun, so let me go back and play.
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