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All posts for the month February, 2009


With Leopard Apple introduced its version of backup software for the Mac called Time Machine along with some hardware called Time capsule.  Adorned with coverflow as an interface it is simple to use and configure.  Periodic backups are displayed through a coverflow interface which allows users to go backwards in time to any point they desire.  Simply attach a usb drive to the local machine and Time machine does the rest.  By default it is not meant to be used with a Network Attached Server (NAS) server (other than Apple Time capsule).  However, it can certainly be done.

A Little background to the Time Machine process.

What time machine does is creates a disk image (sparsebundle) on the usb drive which is initially set at a small size than is allowed to grow until it reaches a size below the remaining disk space on the drive.  Only one image can reside on a given disk partition. For a one mac configuration this is not a problem.  However in a multiple mac environment this is not practical.  In this type of environment a NAS server is best suited.  For a one partition NAS setup see basic setup. For a multiple mac backup setup see Advance section

Getting Time Machine to work on a FreeNAS server (BASIC SETUP)

  1. Build a sparsebundle.  In terminal Type the following. Filling in the parameters for size $MACHINENAME_MAC_ADDRESS.  Where $MACHINENAME is the name give in Network preferences and MAC_ADDRESS is the mac address of your ethernet port.

tom$ hdiutil create -size $SIZEg -fs HFS+J -type SPARSEBUNDLE -volname “Backup of $MACHINENAME” $MACHINENAME_$MACADDRESS.sparsebundle

for example:

tom$ hdiutil create -size 70g -fs HFS+J -type SPARSEBUNDLE -volname “Developer” Developer_001a629dd5c3.sparsebundle

Then move the newly created sparse bundle to the NAS Drive
2.  Open a terminal session and type the following to allow time machine to use the NAS

Terminal Time Machine NAS

3.  Open Time Machine application and select change disk.  You should see the NAS drive as an option.

Getting Time Machine to work on a FreeNAS server (ADVANCED SETUP)

!!!!!!!!! Warning proceeding past this point will destroy all data on the drive !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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1.  FreeNAS does not support disk partitioning.  To do this you have to use a Partitioning application such as SuperFdisk.  It comes as a iso image that can be burned to cd.

2. Once SuperFdisk is burned to cd boot the NAS into it.

3.  Selecting the Hardisk should show the partitions already on the drive.

4.  Erase the Master Boot Record and create the new partitions.

Each new partition will be a primary partition for which there can be a maximum of 4. So if you have 3 Macs running time machine you will need a minimum of 3 partitions

5.  Once finished reboot into the FreeNAS and proceed to the FreeNAS web interface and configure FreeNAS to setup and format the new partitions.  Once in the Web interface go to Disk then Mount Point.  Click on the plus sign to add a mount point.  The mount point will refer to one of the partitions in on the disk.  The add mount point window will display.  Select the Disk then go to the Partition and select 1 from the pull down menu for partition 1.  Select the File system for the partition to be formated in  (ufs is preferred).  Give it a share name and a description.  Then click add.  Repeat for additional partitions.

6.  Now that the partitions are complete. Go to the Basic setup above and create a sparsebundle for each Mac, copying them into there respective partitions that were just created.

Last updated 09/07/10
Currently the original article is somewhat fragmented with updates. I will try to rewrite the article once the changes stabilize.
**Update 09/07/10** Serviio Meda Server works with this TV. After searching long and hard for a working implementation of a DLNA server to use with this TV, I finally found one with Serviio. It provides support for streaming native formats to the TV as well as transcoding unsupported formats. I had to make a few adjustments to the config file but the results are very good. With this server, Handrake encoded x264 files work through transcoding. Please read in the config area of this page for more info. Also, for those who were following, I have suspended development of my DLNA server project as Serviio provides a good answer for this tv. There will be no further updates for my server.

Following another reader’s recommendation for a DNLA server, I tried Wild Media Server. It is primiaily a Windows application but can be run under OS X through the use of WineBottler. It really works well with all video I tried. It has a lot of check off GUI configuration options as well as plenty of built in profiles for different devices. However, under OS X, having to use the wine to run wild media server and transcode is a lot of overhead. I wish Serviio had as many click and go options in the GUI as this one does.

At least now we have some workable servers.

What follows is the original article written in 2009 with the updates noted

A few weeks back I replaced my broken LG Plasma TV. As a replacement I purchased the Samsung LN52A750 52-Inch 1080p DLNA LCD HDTV with RED Touch of Color. This is a really nice television with a lot of bells and whistles. My decision for this TV over the a650 is that it has an ethernet port as well as WiseLinkPro a DLNA (UPnP) client. DLNA (UPnP, I know they are not technically the same however most UPnP servers are also DLNA compatable) allows a server to stream video, music and pictures to a DLNA Client. This feature I hoped would free me from my past solution of using a mac mini as a mediacenter and give me clean uncluttered installation. The TV comes with its own windows dlna server software. However, being A mac user I knew I would have to explore a different route. Having some experience with DLNA I was certain I could make it happen. Not so easy.

After numerous attempts with various DLNA servers and a lot of Googling, getting use out of this feature would prove to be a real challenge. In this article, I detail my experience, testing and results and a final solution. To be honest I used PC Share manager only to sort out what video works than concentrated on getting Twonky working. Twonky works beautifully with a few modifications to configuration file. However, I am currently working on moving to fuppes as my FreeNAS server uses this server.

After days and weeks of installing configuring and running various DLNA servers including Samsung’s own PC Share Manager I concluded that in most cases it had more to do with video codecs that anything else. The DLNA client Wiselinkpro is very picky about the codec being used. Disregard any officall list that Samsung has published; it will only add to the confusion.

Compatible files: DLNA-supported file types and extensions are listed below.

Music – MP3 (.mp3)

Photos – JPEG (.jpg, .jpeg)

Video – MPEG1 (.mpg, .mpeg) MPEG2 (.mpg, .mpeg, .trp, .ts, .tp) DIVX (.mpg, .mpeg, .avi)

MPEG4 AVC (.mpg, .mpeg)

Taken from samsung dlna_guide.pdf

While some things on this list are true, the video portion is very misleading especially the MPEG AVC portion (read on to see what I mean). Also you may have found in the TV’s manual as well on the internet a more thorough list of files and extensions supported by WiselinkPro. These list are refering to Wiselink pro USB only. Please keep in mind that Wiselink Pro DLNA IS NOT the same as Wiselink pro for usb. Samsung does not make this very clear in their writings. They also seem to use the WiseLink moniker interchangeably.

Before I dive into the video codec, let me provide a run down of the DLNA servers I used. I will provide a detailed setup later in the article.

1. PC Share Manager

  • Shows up on TV works as expected.
  • Video Plays (with the right native video!!!!)
  • Pictures work
  • Music works

2. Twonky Media

  • Shows up on TV
  • Plays Video (with the right video and settings in client.db)
  • Plays music
  • Displays Pictures
  • No Transcoding support

3. Tversity

  • Shows up on TV
  • Video -unclear on what the problem is -update later
  • Music
  • Pictures

4. Fuppes

  • Shows up on TV
  • Plays native video (native divx support requires a change to the config file–see config section below)
  • Music OK
  • Pictures OK
  • Transcoding is possible (09/07/10 somewhat) but must be compiled with transcoding option
  • ****Fuppes on FreeNAS must be installed on Hard drive not in embedded fashion to edit fuppes.cfg

5. Mythtv Media Server UPnP

  • Shows up on TV
  • Plays recordings (Mythbuntu 9.0). recordings play well
  • Video NO. (I could not find a config file to adjust, just simply does not work)
  • Music NO
  • Pictures NO.

6. EyeConnect

  • Shows up on TV
  • Video OK (with the right video!!!!)
  • Music OK
  • Pictures OK
  • ***This turned out to be easiest to use -no setup needed and divx extensions supported however no transcoding support

7. Serviio

  • Shows up on TV
  • Plays Video. Support for native divx files. Transcodes unsupported formats
  • Plays music
  • Displays Pictures

There are others I have tried with no success. These include:

  • MediaLink
  • iSedona
  • TvMobili
    • To be fair I could not get it recognized by my test system so I moved on.
    • weird configuration

    The Biggest problem first. Video.

    . If you have fought any with WiseLinkpro you know that it will present you with one of 3 errors when it encounters a file it cannot play.

    • “Not supported video format” unrecognizable extension
    • “Not supported video codec” the extension is acceptable but the video encoding is not.
    • “Not supported Audio Codec” the audio encoding is not acceptable. MP3 AC3 and ACC are acceptable. MP3 (Lame) and others are not.

    Finding which codecs it supports was ridulously hard. In order to solve this problem I made well over 100 different encoding of a small clip in various formats. Another interesting discovery I made during this process is that once you have the right codec it does not matter what extension (so long as it is one that Wiselink supports) you put with it because Wiselink pro will read the internal file container. What I mean by this is that you could encode a divx file and use .avi, .mpg or .mpeg. It will work.


    Here is what works.

    1. DIVX

    • If you want a codec that absolutely works this is it. It works from any (that I have tried) front end GUI that uses this codec. example is Divx’s own DIVX Converter (Windows and Mac) and Roxio Popcorn.
    • it must be presented to the client with a .avi extention which means that in PC Share Manager it must have a .avi extention. However in others such as Twonky or fuppes you can configure it to present a .divx file as a .avi through mime type definitions (see Twonky setup below). EyeConnect does not need any changes. You can use the .divx extension and it will present as .avi to Wiselinkpro. Read more in the Twonky and fuppes setup below
    • As a note if you are encoding standard DVDs the best setting is as follows

    Divx Codex Initial Window

    Divx advanced Setting

    Divx codec settings

    Using these settings will give you a full screen view with optimal settings. Increasing the bitrate will increase quality but will result in larger file size. Be mindfull of the 720 x 400 resolution as anything larger will play but will result in pretty bad distortion. Using the HD settings for Standard DVD’s is not good.

    • Xvid does not work.

    2. The .mp4 mess. H.264 Here is were the frustration begins.

    • You would think this would be simple but it is not. If you think anything with a .mp4 extension will work you are wrong. When Samsung refers to MPEG4 they are referring to MPEG4 AVC thus h.264. Only .mp4 encoded with h.264 encoder works and specifically Apple h.264 codec through quicktime.
    • all h.264 codec containers are not the same and all GUI’s that use the same working codec do not produce a working file. What?????? OK let me try to sort this out. The Apple supplied codec through the Quicktime export function works. However, Roxio popcorn uses the same codec, but does not work. Why?. I can only assume that there is something placed in the final .mp4 container file that WiseLinkPro does not like.
    • Only the .mp4 extension is allowed
    • The .m4v extension does not work but some video’s encoded with a .m4v extension can be changed to .mp4 extension and will work. Example is Apple supplied coding headstart video’s. Why? I have no idea
    • Handbrake and FFmpegX h.264 (x264) produced files do not work natively. These two offer either ffmpeg or mencoder or a combination of the two. **Update 09/08/10** ffmpeg encoded video’s work with Serviio and Wild Media Server through their transcoding feature. However when encoding with Handbrake (ffmpeg) only encode one audio stream. I have found that encoding the 1 stream in aac works well.
    • I was unable to find a windows software (very long list) that could encode a working h.264 file.
    • If you want to encode to a working h.264 .mp4 file use the quicktime export function as follows

    Quicktime export

    QuickTime h.264 settings

    Again as with divx using resolutions higher then 720 x 400 for standard DVD’s does not work well. They will play but be unacceptably distorted.

    3. MPEG2

    • works
    • .mpeg, mpg extensions work.

    all mpeg2 encoders seem to work fine. As a side note mpeg2 does not support meta tags so that could be the reason the tv is so picky about h.264 video. It could be that the various GUI’s for the same working codec produce unrecognizable files.

    Video_TS to Divx or Apple h.264

    • For Video_TS to Divx use Roxio PopCorn
    • For Video_TS to h.264 MPEG2 Works 4 Advanced with instructions here. This is really a great piece of software and highly recommended. Or you could use mplayer to open video_ts then export to mpeg2 then use quicktime to export to h.264. (Time consuming)
    • Windows Users can purchase the mpeg2 plugin for Divx Converter and it will be able to read Video_TS folders.

    DLNA (UPnP) Server Setup

    1. Twonky

    • Runs on OS X.
    • Commercial application cost $29.99
    • Configuration file = clients.db (Go to applications control click on TwonkyMedia and select Show package contents then MediaServer then resources. Open in text edit.)
    • Tries to automatically id client. It works for LN52a750. Identifies as Generic DLNA 1.5.
    • for divx change the file extension to .avi or add MT:avi,divx video/x-divx under ID :052 (near the bottom of file) Generic DLNA 1.5 in the client.db file.
    • for MPEG4 h.264 add MT:mp4 video/MP4V-ES under ID :052 (near the bottom of file) Generic DLNA 1.5 in the client.db file. My entry looks as follows.

    ID:049

    NA:Generic DLNA 1.5

    HH:DLNADOC/1.50

    HP:chunked

    XM:DLNA15

    DB:AUTO

    MT:avi,divx video/x-divx

    MT:mp4 video/MP4V-ES

    • VERY IMPORTANT Run only one instance on a network. Starting Twonky on another system on the same network will block the other one.

    2. Fuppes

    • It supports mpg formats with no adjustments.
    • It supports divx format natively with the following changes to the config file. Video extension must be changed to avi

    • </file>
      <file ext="avi">
      <type>VIDEO_ITEM</type>
      <mime_type>video/x-divx</mime_type>
      </file>

    • **Update 09/08/10** Currently I have a limited working config for transcoding. It is limited because fuppes does not provide for the necessary ffmpeg options in config file. As a result video fps and audio are not currently right. My understanding is that fuppes tries to handle the remaining details automatically, but it does not work for this tv. The following changes are needed to the config file

      <file ext="mp4">
      <type>VIDEO_ITEM</type>
      <mime_type>video/mp4</mime_type>

      <transcode enabled="true">
      <transcoder>ffmpeg</transcoder>
      <ext>mpg</ext>
      <mime_type>video/mpeg</mime_type>

      </transcode>
      </file>

      Fuppes must be complied with the transcoding option and ffmpeg support for transcoding to work

    3. EyeConnect

    • Mac OS X only. Installs as a system preference pane with all configuration done through GUI. Comes with a trial period ***after the trial period it will not share video***
    • This is by far easiest to use. No config files to edit. It just works with native files.
    • Currently there is no transcoding plugin

    4. Serviio

    • Change profiles.xml to the following

    • <Profile id="5" name="Samsung WiselinkPro (A-series)" extendsProfileId="2">
      <MediaFormatProfiles>
      <MediaFormatProfile mime-type="video/x-divx"&ltAVI</MediaFormatProfile>
      </MediaFormatProfiles>
      <Transcoding>
      <Video targetContainer="mpeg" targetACodec="ac3" targetVCodec="mpeg2video">
      <Matches container="matroska" />
      <Matches container="mp4" />
      <Matches container="asf" />
      </Video>
      </Transcoding>
      "</Profile>

    5. MediaLink

    • Designed to work with ps3 and xbox. Does not work with Samsung

    6. iSedona

    • Expensive. Does not work with Samsung

    Conclusion

    Twonky really works well for native files. PC Share Manager works well if you are a Windows user. The TV maintains and updates server connections very quickly. This article will be updated as I explore more into other servers.

    If you are reading this and have any info to add please post a comment and I will update the article.

    UPDATES

    • 02/26/09 One of the Servers that I did not pay a whole lot of attention to was EyeConnect. In the beginning I could not get it to play videos. What I discovered, just before writing this article, was that the video sharing was not enabled because the trial period on the software had expired. I must have installed this thing a while back when I was trying to get my Directv HR21 Plus DLNA client working. Now that I have purchased the license It works beautifully for natively supported files.