9 Replies Latest reply: Apr 28, 2010 8:22 AM by David DeCristoforo
JCT Level 2 Level 2 (400 points)
Hi all,

Been going back and forth on this for awhile and I'm finally ready to take the plunge.

I have a nice network setup at home, anchored by an Airport Extreme with 2 AEXs as extenders in a "roaming" config. House is wired from attic (AEB) to first floor with the big plasma screen hooked up to an Apple TV.

My goal is to finally combine our large ripped DVD collection (all in Apple TV format), music and collected EyeTV recordings into one central iTunes library running on it's own server. I am in the process of moving all of the relevant files onto a 1.5TB drive (it's in a dual drive enclosure with a 2nd 1.5TB drive to back it all up).

The eventual goal is for anyone in the house to access these files via wireless or wired hookups and play music or movies on their laptops or iPad/iPhone. I would also like to run Squeezebox on this central server. This would also be the central repository for the video library for the Apple TV (if this works we will add a second aTV to the other TV in the house.

We had originally planned on going with a HP Mediasmart 495EX, but my better half felt it was overkill and judt didn't want to deal with Windows (took me long enough to get him to go to Mac...).

We have one of the original Minis, but the RAM is minimal and the Airport isn't "n" and the ethernet is not Gigabit. Then considered an older G5 PowerMac, but it is tweaky and draws a ton of power (I want the server to always be on). So these were nixed and now I am probably going to buy a basic Intel Mini for this purpose. The dual drive enclosure is FW800 and will be attached to the Mini.

Does anyone have any configuration suggestions, pitfalls or warnings? They'd be greatly appreciated now that I have finally decided to go all-Mac for this,.

Thanks,

JT

Mac Pro 2.8 Quad, 15"MBP and MBA, Mac OS X (10.5.8)
  • 1. Re: Help designing a Media Center?
    David DeCristoforo Level 5 Level 5 (6,175 points)
    I just went through this myself. I used a new Mini and a "Newertech" 1TB USB hard drive. I didn't want to have to deal with a keyboard and/or mouse so I set up screen sharing and control the Mini from my Mac Pro desktop. But I also have the "iTeleport" app on my iPhone which gives me full control (and a graphical touch screen) of the Mini from my phone. I have the Mini connected to my TV via DVI so if the TV is on, I use the Logitech "TouchMouse" app which basically turns the iPhone into a trackpad/keyboard for the Mini. The iTeleport app uses VCN (screen sharing) and the Logitech app uses it's own "server" which is installed on the Mini. Both work really well. The mini's audio output goes to my amplifier and I just ordered a mini toslink cable so that I will have digital audio output.

    I have the Mini set to sleep when not in use so I had to install an app to wake it up from my desktop machine (WakeOn Lan). A guy over on the scripting forum gave me a script that launches WakeOnLan, pauses ten seconds while the Mini wakes up and then launches the screen sharing app and connects to the Mini. I saved it as an application and put it in my dock so that waking the Mini and getting the screen sharing running is a "one click" operation.

    Other than my lack of understanding on a few technical issues (for which I received amazing support on this forum), this has been a painless system to set up and I could not be happier with it.

  • 2. Re: Help designing a Media Center?
    JCT Level 2 Level 2 (400 points)
    That's really encouraging, Gary! I'm going to check into the programs you mention for remote access as my Mini will also be headless and without a keyboard!

    I'm still chewing over what to assign to the aTV and what to let the Mini handle with respect to audio, may require some testing/fiddling.

    Thanks,

    JT
  • 3. Re: Help designing a Media Center?
    Jolly Giant Level 7 Level 7 (25,440 points)
    JCT wrote:
    my Mini will also be headless and without a keyboard!


    you could do that using *screen sharing* - it's built into any Mac and is free

    JGG

  • 4. Re: Help designing a Media Center?
    JCT Level 2 Level 2 (400 points)
    In all honesty, in the past I have found screen sharing to be pretty tweaky.

    Probably should revisit it...

    JT
  • 5. Re: Help designing a Media Center?
    David DeCristoforo Level 5 Level 5 (6,175 points)
    +"...I have found screen sharing to be pretty tweaky..."+

    That's been my experience too. But it seems to be pretty well implemented in 10.6. I started out using the vine server and Chicken of the VNC but the 10.6 screen sharing app works very smoothly so I stopped using vine and Chicken and just use the Apple VNC apps.

  • 6. Power OFF on powerbutton not available!?
    jojo25j Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I'm missing the option to power off the MacMini on pressing the powerbutton in MacOS. Anytime I have to take out the keyboard/mouse and shutdown the computer in the menu.

    Thats not comfortable!
  • 7. Re: Power OFF on powerbutton not available!?
    David DeCristoforo Level 5 Level 5 (6,175 points)
    +"I'm missing the option to power off the MacMini on pressing the powerbutton in MacOS. Anytime I have to take out the keyboard/mouse and shutdown the computer in the menu."+

    Not understanding exactly what you mean. On my system, I can shut down, restart or sleep the Mini from the "Apple menu" in screen sharing. I don't need a keyboard to do this. In fact, it seems like the only thing I can not do remotely is power the Mini up. I have to go over and press the power button to do that. But since I leave the Mini running pretty much 24/7, that does not happen too often.

  • 8. Re: Help designing a Media Center?
    LooseBrick Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I own an Intel Mac Mini had set it up as a Media Center.

    For control, I use Remote Buddy which let me use the Apple Remote to do basically everything, including mouse movement, and keyboard entry. It display a on-screen keyboard for using the Apple Remote to select and tap keys.

    Shut down works without additional key presses.

    My Mac Mini is connected to my AV amp via Toslink and a USB DAC (Styleaudio Carat HD1V). Remote Bubby has a handy Audio Output selector.

    I use iTunes for music, Plex for video. Remote Buddy has behaviours built-in for these applications.

    I only use screen sharing from my iMac when I need to manage files on the Mini or run software updates.

    My iPhone syncs on my iMac with iTunes loading the iTunes Library from the Mini, so the Mini has no contacts, calander or email.

    Hope these helps.

    LooseBrick
  • 9. Re: Help designing a Media Center?
    David DeCristoforo Level 5 Level 5 (6,175 points)
    +"For control, I use Remote Buddy..."+

    That's actually a great app. I did not go with it because I rarely have my TV on. Just when we watch a movie which is only about once or twice a month. So VNC is a better option for my setup. Besides, my TV is an older 42" 720p plasma so as a computer display it's not all that great!