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gargamel 12-30-2013 08:11 AM

HTPC, Audio and Video Streaming: Recommendations for Software and Setup?
 
Hi everyone,

one little (?) project on my list for 2014 is to set up a flexible multimedia multiroom streaming solution with maximum audio quality and comfortable support for DVB-T television recording. As I have virtually no experience with the topic I would like to request some advice.

A first quick web research gave me an overwhelming number of hits. There are obviously countless ways to achieve in principal what I want. However, I found little information, what the best approach or solution would be for my requirements on Slackware.

Requirements
  • Maximum audio quality. MP3-only solutions are out of questions. Support for FLAC, and possibly Opus is required, support for Ogg/Vorbis would be nice to have.
  • DVB-T support. Some programs for television only support either satellite tv or analog TV. Others are incredibly slow in scanning or switching channels. This is the main reason, why VLC is no option. Switching the channel should be as quick as in Kaffeine.
  • Streaming local and remote files in various formats. Avoid limitations, such as support for compressed file formats only. Support playing local and remote files in various formats.
  • Sharing streams and broadcasting. A server receives films or music via DVB or internet and streams it to multiple rooms. So only one machine needs to have the capability to actually receive the stream from an external source, while it share the content with multiple clients.
  • Multi-user multi-stream support. Not sure, what the correct technical term is, here. What I mean is: Different users should be able to receive different streams from the the same or different resources, regardless if the respective source is a network or DVB stream or a local or remote file. In other words, users should be able to hear different music or watch different films at the same time. I expect a maximum of six concurrent users at peak times, most of the time there will be no more than three.
  • Minimum effort with setting it up and keeping it up-to-date. I'd prefer a solution, for which Slackware packages or SlackBuild scripts exist, that are actively maintained, over one the involves make, make install etc.
  • Maximum user comfort, simple-to-use client software. Switching channels, selecting new music etc. should be easy and comfortable even for "non-computer literate" people. And, of course, there must be no drop-outs for other users etc. This is even more important for music than for video.

What I have looked at, so far:
  • Kaffeine. A favourite program of mine, with basic streaming functionality. Too basic, unfortunately, as I cannot open audio files from my NAS via SMB (MPlayer can do this).
  • MPlayer. Don't like the GUI, but it seems to play just about everything in good quality even from remote sources. But streaming...?
  • VLC. Great sound quality, streaming works, but selecting channels in DVB is way too slow.
  • Mythtv. Available from SBo, I haven't tried it, because it has a huge amount of dependencies. Before I try I would like to hear opinions from more experienced users, if it is really what I am looking for.
  • XBMC. Same as Mythtv. Lots of deps, not sure, if I need them all, and if the result is what I want.
  • VDR. Reading about it, I think this would cover my tv needs quite well, but I haven't found packages or up-to-date information for Slackware. All the information I found about it is from 2009 or older, and even goes back to Slackware 10.x.

I'd appreciate some comments and recommendations from those of you, who have set up HTPCs and home streaming infrastructure. This includes recommendations for hardware specs, as I have no idea, if my current gear is up for the task. (It's not precisely new...).

Thanks in advance, everyone, and all the best for 2014 to the great community at LQ in general and the Slackers here in particular!

gargamel

kingbeowulf 12-31-2013 01:51 AM

If you want any easy tuner support, I'd go MythTV. I'm setting that up soon once I get HDHomerun device (I just cut the Dish Network cord). Once set up (I hear) it should be fine for the "non technical" to use (I'll find out soon enough!!). Nice thing: the backend server (powerful box in a closet somewhere) can be separate from the clients for multiple streams (simpler boxes next to each TV).

Minimum effort? Slackware? *giggle* You might want to play with Mythbuntu, or LinHES to get a feel for MythTV. I've played with these in a VM, so I am exited to build a few SlackMyth Boxes.

I've used XBMC for a bit: not bad, interface is a bit rough trying to organize media and stream via NFS/SAMBA, and some of the plugins are a bit odd (wide variety), but it works well once you get used to it. A non-techie will find it frustrating. No tuner support.

Have Fun !

STDOUBT 12-31-2013 04:53 AM

I have had excellent results with a 2011 Lenovo desktop:

Lenovo M75e (SFF business-class desktop with an Athlon II X4)
WinTV-HVR-2250 (TV tuner card)
Quadro FX 380 ("outdated" workstation graphics card)
Dell UltraSharp U2412M 24" LED LCD (not too big but works for me)

Maximum audio quality:the on-board Realtek HD chip does fine with anything from ogg to FLAC.
For audio output I use an old Bose tuner. I'm not an audiophile, but this thing rocks!
DVB-T support: I don't know what this is, but the WinTV-HVR-2250 is pretty fast at switching channels.
Streaming local and remote: No issues.
Sharing streams: This is basically a function of your LAN capabilities.
Multi-user multi-stream: Again, your LAN and the capabilities of your client machines.
Minimum effort: Mythbuntu is what I use. Setting this up with Slackware would be an excersize for
someone with very few responsibilities and/or women in their lives...
Maximum user comfort, simple-to-use client software: The GUI in MythTV is brain-dead simple to use once
set up. You'll want a nice wireless keyboard/mouse that's hand-held.
I recommend an ipazzport mini "air mouse" keyboard.

One day, I'd like this machine to run MythTV on Slackware, but since I don't consider it a real computer
but rather an entertainment device, I can live with Mythbuntu.
As for video client software, I've had the best experience with SMplayer GUI.
Mythbuntu comes with the XFCE desktop, upon which you can build a very capable system.

gargamel 12-31-2013 01:17 PM

Thanks, very helpful. So far Mythtv is in the pole position, it seems, whereas XBMC is not on the short list, because of a lack of features. From my research so far I have never been sure, what are the differences in functionality between the two, and now I know, why one source I found even combined the two, although there is some overlap in their capabilities. Mythtv was embedded into an existing XBMC infrastructure in order to add a tuner and DVB-T support.

BTW: DVB-T stands for Digital Video Broadcast-Terrestrial, whereas DVB-S would be the peer for satellite TV. It's an international standard for TV, popular mostly in central and wetern Europe, AFAIK.

Thanks so far, your replies already give me some kind of orientation. Before declaring Mythtv the winner, however, I'd be interested in some feedback regarding VDR. But I guess it's less popular among Slackware users, as I haven't found a package or SlackBuild script for it.

gargamel

STDOUBT 12-31-2013 04:58 PM

If by "VDR" you mean this: http://www.tvdr.de/
well, it looks pretty neat! I don't know how or if it could compliment a MythTV setup.
MythTV certainly can record and pause live TV. We do it all the time. We are, however,
pretty casual users, and don't know all about standards, etc.
I don't recall what format the recorded shows are saved into, but they play back just
fine with whatever video playback software I've used (mplayer, vlc, totem).

MythTV's front end is really extensive, BUT I do not use it for things like "cataloging" my
music or any abstract functions, though I'm sure it's capable. Sometimes SMplayer is better
for some DVDs, sometimes MythTVs built-in "watch a disk" function is better--not sure why.
I recommend just playing with it............you can always switch it up later.
BTW, I did try XBMC prior to MythTV and I just didn't see the point of it, frankly. MythTV
is waaay more sophisticated.
Have Fun!

gargamel 12-31-2013 07:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by STDOUBT (Post 5089855)
If by "VDR" you mean this: http://www.tvdr.de/

Yes.
Quote:

Originally Posted by STDOUBT (Post 5089855)
well, it looks pretty neat! I don't know how or if it could compliment a MythTV setup.

Well, I consider more an alternative than a complement for Mythtv. Apparently it can be set up to team up with XBMC.
Quote:

Originally Posted by STDOUBT (Post 5089855)
MythTV certainly can record and pause live TV. We do it all the time. We are, however,
pretty casual users, and don't know all about standards, etc.
I don't recall what format the recorded shows are saved into, but they play back just
fine with whatever video playback software I've used (mplayer, vlc, totem).

Good info, I'll research for the file and media formats supported by MythTV, but the core functionality seems to meet my requirements.

Quote:

Originally Posted by STDOUBT (Post 5089855)
MythTV's front end is really extensive, BUT I do not use it for things like "cataloging" my
music or any abstract functions, though I'm sure it's capable. Sometimes SMplayer is better
for some DVDs, sometimes MythTVs built-in "watch a disk" function is better--not sure why.

Could you, please, elaborate a bit on this? Better in which way? Image/video or audio quality, or other things?

Quote:

Originally Posted by STDOUBT (Post 5089855)
I recommend just playing with it............you can always switch it up later.
BTW, I did try XBMC prior to MythTV and I just didn't see the point of it, frankly. MythTV
is waaay more sophisticated.
Have Fun!

Thanks, this is very hepful information. I already had come to the conclusion that XBMC is probably not for me, see above, and you seem to confirm me in that decision.

gargamel

gargamel 12-31-2013 07:17 PM

Thanks, guys, you gave me the orientation I needed. I now have MythTV on top of my short list, but before I install and set it up on Slackware, I'll try it out with Mythbuntu, as you suggest.
Evaluation will take time, but I am not in a hurry. Thanks again, my questions are anwered, therefore I close this thread and mark it as SOLVED.:)

gargamel


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