Streaming Media to your PS3 and Xbox with NAS4Free

So you’ve gotten your NAS4Free box all configured to your liking and you are comfortably using it in your own home. If you’ve read my last article, then you’re also probably enjoying automatic torrent downloading as well. There is so much more you can do with your NAS box and so in this article, I will go over how you can now stream your media files whether they be pictures, music or videos to your Sony Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. Now, I personally don’t have a Xbox 360 anymore so I will only show screenshots on how it will look like on a PS3 but the steps should be similar on each system. By moving your media files over to your NAS4Free box, you can now easily stream them to your big screen HDTV without first having to turn on your personal computer. If you haven’t gotten the drift already, a NAS box stays up 24/7. Because this server consumes much less resources and is much more energy efficient than standalone personal computers, you technically shouldn’t see a big spike in your electricity bill. Well, hopefully. With it being on 24/7 in your household, it makes much more sense to dump your media files on it to better allow for centralize access.

While NAS4Free includes a UPnP service called Fuppes to help you get your media files seen on devices such as the PS3 and Xbox 360, it didn’t work too well for me during my limited testing. In fact, I couldn’t get it to work at all! While my PS3 did see my NAS4Free server box, any files I’ve dumped into the configured folders were invisible. And because I’m not a NAS4Free expert to begin with, I was pulling my hair a bit. After some research, it turns out that Fuppes, which is the service that allows other compliant devices to use the NAS box, was unstable to begin with. That brought some relief  to myself because even if I did get the service running correctly, I don’t want to deal with crashes, which of course forces you to read log files and we all know that’s not very fun. So, after more research, I found another simple solution in a client called MiniDLNA.

PLEASE READ BEFORE CONTINUING: After all is said and done, I noticed two major issues with MiniDLNA. First, it does NOT do any transcoding! This can’t really be considered an issue since I probably didn’t read all the information about the service in the beginning and so it was my fault. This means that while your PS3 and Xbox 360 will be able to stream down the files from your NAS4Free box, they will not be able to play them unless the device itself have the built-in capability to do so! To put things into perspective, MiniDLNA just allows your NAS4Free server box to be “seen” by your PS3 and Xbox 360 over the network. That’s it. The rest depends on the electronic device itself. The second major issue I found is that whenever I added new files to my media folders, I had to initiate a “rescan” of the folders. The bad news I found out is that in order for my PS3 to also see those new files, I also had to manually restart the MiniDLNA service as well each and every time I performed the rescan! Credit goes out to this forum post where I got pretty much all the information required to get MiniDLNA up and running.

Installing MiniDLNA onto NAS4Free

At the time of this writing, the latest version of MiniDLNA is 1.0.25. However, for the life of me, I cannot get it to download and install within NAS4Free. You see, we need to add it as a package because doing so forces all the other dependencies for MiniDLNA to install as well. Therefore, in this tutorial, I have to go ahead and install version 1.0.24. You do not have to manually download these files onto your computer.

Here is the package download URL if you use a 64-bit processor:

ftp://ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/ports/amd64/packages-9-stable/All/minidlna-1.0.24_2,1.tbz

Here is the package download URL if you use a 32-bit processor:

ftp://ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/ports/i386/packages-9-stable/All/minidlna-1.0.24_2,1.tbz

You can go over this article to learn how to fully install the NAS4Free operating system onto your hard drive. A user commented that for this to work, he had to perform a full installation of the operating system. I also recommend you to do this as well if you will be working with NAs4Free on a permanent basis.

In your NAS4Free sever box, enter option number 6 to get shell access:

Shell Access

Once you have shell access, type in the following command to have NAS4Free automatically fetch, download and install the MiniDLNA components. I am using a 32-bit so this is what I will type:

pkg_add -R -r ftp://ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/ports/i386/packages-9-stable/All/minidlna-1.0.24_2,1.tbz

Once I hit enter, you should start seeing things getting fetched and installed as such:

Fetching Files

At this point, just let NAS4Free do its thing. Once everything has been fetched and installed, note the last section of the screen. The install process created both a user and group called “dlna” with a specific uid and gid, respectively. In most cases, both numbers will be 933. Jot them down just in case because we will need this information later.

UIDGID

Configuring MiniDLNA

If you can believe it, we have just successfully installed MiniDLNA onto our NAS4Free box! Simple right? Well, now comes the configuration part which getting it right is the most important.

First what I’m going to do is create three directories. One directory each will hold my pictures, music and videos. I will create all three under my mount point of Storage as seen here. You can create the directories by using the File Manager within the web management of your NAS4Free server:

Directories

The second thing I need to do is manually create a folder to hold the MiniDLNA database and log files. By default, this location will be in /var/db/ with a directory name of ‘minidlna‘:

Minidlna Folder

With those two tasks completed, it’s now time to perform the main configuration of the MiniDLNA. Head over the the advanced File Editor under the Advanced menu. We need to load the main MiniDLNA configuration file so press the three dot button and browse to the /usr/local/etc directory. Within, you should see a file called ‘minidlna.conf‘. Select it and hit the OK button at the top. Back in the File Editor menu, hit the Load button and you should now be able to see the contents of that configuration file.

Default Config

Everything we need to get MiniDLNA working and configured to our liking is right here in this file. Ready for the good news? Of course your are! Turns out that in order to get just a basic and functioning MiniDLNA setup, you just need to specify two settings. Yups. Just two. The first setting tells MiniDLNA where it is it should monitor for your media files. As you can see in the very beginning of the configuration file, there is a specific syntax when specifying your media folders. If you’re wondering about all the # symbols, you can ignore them. This usually tells the configuration file to ignore all the text after that symbol. The second setting is giving your MiniDLNA server a friendly name.

First we’ll configure the monitored folders. Go ahead and erase the default folder of “media_dir=/opt”. In my case, I created three separate directories for each media file type. Therefore I need to list them here along with tagging each folder for the right type. Remember, do not include the # symbol in front of your settings! Here is what I will used:

media_dir=A,/mnt/Storage/Music
media_dir=P,/mnt/Storage/Pictures
media_dir=V,/mnt/Storage/Videos

Next, I now need to give my MiniDLNA server a friendly name. This name will show up when we browse in our PS3 or Xbox 360 for the server so you can pretty much name it whatever you want. This setting is directly under the first one. Here is what I will used:

friendly_name=PS3 Eyes Only

That’s it! I now need to hit the Save button to save my changes to the configuration file. All of the other settings are purely optional. Here is how my file looks like after the changes have been made:

Final Config File

Another configuration we need to perform on our NAS4Free box is to tell our server to autostart MiniDLNA each and every time. Head over to System –> Advanced and then click on the rc.conf tab. We need to add a new entry so click on the blue plus symbol. In the Name box, type in minidlna_enable. In the Value setting, type in YES. You can optionally give it a description as well.

Autostart

Hit the Add button and then the Apply Changes button afterwards.

Now it’s time to reboot our server! If you don’t, the next step in the procedure will not succeed.

As for the last step, we need to create a user and group for use with MiniDLNA. When we installed it in the beginning, it created them for us but once we restarted the server, the changes are lost and so we now need to manually create those accounts again for permanent usage. Head under Access –> Users and Groups. First lets create the user. If you remember from earlier, MiniDLNA requires both a user and group account with the name of dlna with a UID and GID of 933 (or whatever number was listed on your screen). So we’ll go ahead and create them. You can leave the password field blank.

User Creation

Here is the group creation:

Group Creation

Once you have completed both steps, reboot your server once more.

Final Preparations

OK, so we’re almost there. Being as this is just my demonstration unit, I now need to dump some files into my media folders. For this I use WinSCP. Of course, if your media folders are already configured as a Windows file share, you can just as easily transfer media files as an SMB file share onto your NAS box.

Transfer

Once I have my media loaded into the correct folders, it’s now time to perform a rescan. A rescan forces MiniDLNA to rescan the media folders you’ve configured in the configuration file for any new files. To execute commands, head over to Advanced –> Command. Type in: /usr/local/etc/rc.d/minidlna rescan and hit the Execute button.

Rescan

Here is the irritating part. For each rescan, I found out that my PS3 would still not see the new files unless I also restart the MiniDLNA service. Therefore, I now have to execute the restart command as well right after the rescan by typing in: /usr/local/etc/rc.d/minidlna restart

Restart

Testing Time!

Finally! We have everything configured! It’s time to actually test this thing out. Again, I don’t have a Xbox 360 (damn you Red Ring of Death!) so my test can only be done on a PS3 (damn you Yellow Light of Death!). Once I turn on my PS3, I should see my MiniDLNA server as so:

Server

Below are screenshots showing that indeed all my media streamed successfully to my PS3:

VideoVideo PlaybackMusic LibraryMusic PlaybackPicture Gallery

In the End…

Well, there you have it folks! I successfully demonstrated how I easily am able to install MiniDLNA onto my NAS4Free box and stream my media over to the PS3. Granted, this solution does have two major drawbacks. Actually, there’s only one drawback, depending on how you look at it. If your existing media is already compatible with the device you will be streaming it to, then you won’t view not being able to transcode media on the fly as a drawback. In most cases, this largely depends on your video files and how they were encoded. If you video files are not compatible, then they will simply not play. You can then either convert them to a compatible format or dump MiniDLNA altogether and look for an alternative method.

The actual main drawback is having to restart the MiniDLNA process each and every time we add new media to our library. While a rescan does allow MiniDLNA to notice the new files, your devices may or may not see them unless you also restart the process. Again, I only tested this on my PS3 so I have no idea if this problem also occurs with other media streaming devices like the Xbox 360. If anyone tries this out, I would appreciate it the feedback. Also, because I am not an expert by any means in this area concerning NAS4Free and MiniDLNA, it can be very challenging trying to solve issues without any outside help.

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Comments

  1. Hi there,

    Firstly, I’d like to thank you, Simon, for writing this article. It has been a great help!

    UPDATE: Since 2012 there have been a number of updates and improvements to minidlna. As Nick mentioned in his comment, there is now an automated way to install minidlna.

    The fastest way I have found to get minidlna up and running with success is to use the V3 version.

    TRY THIS:

    cd /mnt/disk/app
    fetch https://sites.google.com/site/aganimkarmiel/home/free-time/file-sharing/minidlnaV3.tar.gz
    tar xzf minidlnaV3.tar.gz
    cd minidlna
    ./install.php

  2. Hi
    Just a quick comment to add – seems someone has made things even easier! Check out this post which has a fairly automated package:

    http://forums.nas4free.org/viewtopic.php?f=71&t=4850

    Thanks for your work :)

  3. xbox live gratuit says:

    It’s been good to see your blog when I always look for such type of blogs. It’s great to discover the post here.

  4. Hi, thanks for the tutorial , i’ve followed it last year to set up media sharing on Nas4Free, and streaming to devices like PS3, Xbox360 and a sony Bravia KDL45… TV(i don’t remember the reference) and so far, i was just able to see the pictures , play music but no Videos at all. First of all i have to explain that my Bravia TV is not fully compatible with the UpnP standards (Sony is a good brand but… it looks like they prefer when we buy one of their NAS instead of build our own… if sombody here have a bravia TV, you should search for transcode problems in google, it’s a known issue) Anyway, i was able to stream videos to this TV by using PS3 media server (on a windows home server OS) witch is a very good media server but slow on this TV and it’s also very difficult to set up properly on a Nas4Free /FreeNas distributions (unable to add the recommended packages) So far, the only set up that allow me to be comfortable with this TV is to add a small media PC to the TV (an old eeePC do the job quite well with xbmc on it). i switched off miniDLNA on nas4free for now and i’m triying to find out if i can trick the cfg file on Fuppes in order to get things done. I’ll let you know if i found something interesting, it will be cool if we can have it working properly without installing another mediaserver.

  5. Setting inotify=YES in the minidlna.conf will mean that new files get added to the db

  6. Hello great guide I am new to nas4free and I would like to ask you if this procedure can be done on an embedded nas4free fresh installation.? or I have to do a full install ? also is it possible to do a full install to a usb pendrive ?
    Your guides are very helpfull !!
    Thanks from Argentina !!

    • I’m glad for your interest in NAS4Free! More information about how and where to install NAS4Free can be found here:

      http://wiki.nas4free.org/doku.php?id=documentation:setup_and_user_guide:installing_nas4free_on_disk

      To summarize, yes, you can install NAS4Free to your USB drive. You would select option 1 from the install menu. Just realize that once done so, this USB drive will be completely dedicated to NAS4Free and cannot be used for anything else. Therefore, it makes sense to use a small USB drive for this purpose as NAS4Free doesn’t require a lot of space. No matter how or where you choose to install NAS4Free though, the operating system remains the same and you should be able to follow my tutorials on getting it setup and configured initially. My suggestion is to play around a bit. The OS is free and if you make a mistake, you can just simply start over again.

  7. Hi! Great Tutorials!

    However, I am having some problems with this one… When trying to type the pkg_add command from the shell of WinSCP, I get a whole bunch of “write to restore size failed”.

    Any ideas about what cases it?

    Thanks,
    Fred

    • Hey Fred. Thanks for reading the articles. As to your problem, I’m not exactly sure why you are experiencing that issue. It seems the error message is related to low disk space. However, I ran the pkg_add commands directly from the NAS4Free console and not via WinSCP. That might have something to do with it.

      • Hello,

        Thanks for the quick reply! The Fuppes share seems to work fine for everybody in my network (hell, even my iphone is able to stream!) but for my XBox 360, which can’t even discover the NAS… That why I tried your solution.

        My config folder for the bittorrent share became full on an embedded install and I solved the problem by moving it to the SMB share, could I do the same thing for miniDNLA?

        • Sorry Fred but I have no idea about the miniDLNA configuration part. When I configured it, I did exactly that as written in my articles and nothing more advance than that. I honestly don’t mind reconfiguring a NAS4Free server but I don’t have an Xbox 360 anymore so that part is useless in trying to help with your situation. After a little research, it seems that you need to configure Fuppes specifically for the Xbox 360 via the fuppes.cfg file.

  8. Hi,

    I really found your tutorials useful. Thanks!
    I tried following this one and after creating the new folder in /var/db/ the system crashed on me. I was working using the web GUI and got an HTTP 500 error. I finally had to reinstall NAS4Free (which did not take that long).
    Do you have any idea why that might happen?
    Instead of trying again I played around with the NAS4Free settings and saw a UPnP service. After enabling it I was able to see the NAS box on my PS3 and everything seems to work well.

    Ori

    • Hey Ori. Your welcome and thanks for the feedback. However, throughout my limited time with NAS4Free, I have never experienced the problem you described! The only major issues I’ve had stemmed from configuration errors and pretty much about getting the right settings down to make things work.

      The UPnP service definitely is there to help your devices on your home network to more easily see each other and be able to stream media files as well. I believe I have tried using the built-in UPnP service in NAS4Free but it didn’t work for me. It seems you’ve had better luck!

  9. Thanks for your great tutorial!
    I followed all of your steps successfully, but in my case the minidlna-server hasn’t appeared in my network yet. I’m using a HP N40L homeserver with Nas4Free and all of your documented steps worked for me as well. In my case the network interface is named “bge0”, so I changed some settings in the “mindlna.conf”: nothing happened until now. The “onboard” upnp-server “fuppes” works well and appears immediatly in my network if configured and turned on.
    I wonder if there’s an issue with the group settings or permissions. I had to use the same UID and GID as in your configuration.
    I hope you’ll give me the missing advice.
    Thanks in advance!

    • Hey Padd! Thanks for checking out the article. Unfortunately, as I replied below to Raphael, I cannot seem to recreate my NAS4Free setup! From my recollection, the minidlna is pretty stubborn. I remembered the server didn’t appear in my PS3 menu until I had to manually restart the service after configuration. New data didn’t appear until I had to manually perform a rescan of the folders in addition to a restart of the minidlna service! It was a pretty big pain. A comment made by a user on my other NAS4Free article states that his computer didn’t see the server until he configured it with a default gateway address so maybe you can check that out as well.

      Other than that, I’m sure you can get more help at the NAS4Free forums here where minidlna is concerned:

      http://forums.nas4free.org/viewforum.php?f=38

      I am actually considering turning off the comments here in this article and direct users to that forum instead. It’s not because I don’t want to help but I just don’t have enough knowledge of NAS4Free! I hope you and everyone else will understand.

  10. Hi,
    New to nas4free, I got ssh, bittorrent and store files to my nas4free. Now I would like to set it up for media streaming. I can stream to it using a PC using VLC but I can’t do it my ipad. I tried the steps above for configuring minidlna but my ftp kept on failing with the following error
    pkg_add: could not find package libiconv-1.14 !
    pkg_add: could not find package libogg-1.3.0,4 !
    pkg_add: pkg_add of dependency ‘flac-1.2.1_3’ failed!
    can you please help me on how this can be resolved. Thanks in advance :)

    • Hello Raphael! Sorry for the late reply but I have been trying to recreate my simple NAS4Free server with minidlna to see how I can help you but for some reason, it’s not working on my end as well! I too have no idea what I am doing wrong. I also admit that I am not a NAS4Free expert by any means and so I’m sure you get better support at the NAS4Free forums located here:

      http://forums.nas4free.org/viewforum.php?f=38

      Sorry if it sounds like I’m just passing you off but trust me, if I had the answers to your question, I will definitely provide them. I definitely got to the point of being able to add the minidlna package from the shell but after that, I’m having big problems. My advice is to be sure to install the right package for your CPU. If you have a 32bit CPU then install the i386 package and the amd64 package for a 64bit CPU.

  11. Great tutorial, thank a lot! You made my day! :)

  12. I read your artical and everything worked great. Im not sure but just to be clear did you specify somewhere that you require the full installation? Because I tried it first of with an embedded, and boom crashed haha! So just indicate in your article that you require the full version of Nas4Free!!!

    • O and another thing i386 doesnt mean for intel it means for a 32bit os flavor of nas4free. and amd64 mean for an 64bit. so both these run on amd and intel just depends on the intruction sets.

    • Glad everything worked out for you Theunis. To be clear, NAS4Free does not require you to fully install the operating system in order to use it. From my understanding, some users do like booting NAS4Free off of a USB drive. However, in my article, I have recommended and even provided screenshots on how to perform a full installation because that’s my personal preference. So far in my testing, I believe I have not experienced any crashes with NAS4Free either with a full install or not. However, I did notice that NAS4Free refused to boot/load when I only had 256MB of RAM in my virtual machine.

      EDIT: Oops! My apologies! Without realizing it, I initially thought that your comment was for my other NAS4Free article. Only after posting the comment did I realize my mistake. I will modify this to point to a link in my other NAS4Free article in where I demonstrated how to install a full installation of NAS4Free. Thanks!

      • Im glad you brought the corrections didnt want to be a nusance! After all if it wasnt for You i would still be strugling with my Streaming settings! thanks again.

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