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Google TV plus Ubuntu: The making of a simple powerful media server a family can actually use.

Ubuntu DLNA Media Server Google TV

I’ve built bulky, ugly, noisy purpose built media computers and wedged it and a few other media player devices that shall remain nameless under my slim sleek HDTV all aiming to push network/web video and web browsing to my TV… unfortunately it always ends up unwieldy and a bit of a hack.

Worse would the family even try to touch it? Never. It might as well have been a paperweight… but “it was a whole computer” I would say “just think of all the things we can do“… that was exactly the problem… complexity.

Enter Google TV

Enter Google TV specifically the Logitech Revue… nice and small, custom thin keyboard with trackpad (always an issue when building your own HTPC), powerful enough and nearly silent, a very solid web browser Google Chrome and support for DLNA basically making it a slim front-end for a media sever… oh and for my kids, one click TV to YouTube videos of Elmo and such… Sold.

Bring in the Ubuntu Media Server

So at my house we are nearly all Ubuntu, especially on the network side, we keep our files, video, years of pictures and music. The Google TV has a media player installed right when you boot it, it supports the DLNA standard like many of the connected devices we purchase today.

Needless to say sometimes getting new software on your Ubuntu box to play nice isn’t easy, that’s not really Ubuntu’s fault some of the packages are not all at the same level of completeness yet or occasionally not maintained at all any more. So to save you a couple hours of trial and error, there are a lot of packages out there and blog posts about how to tweak those packages, here is a solid and simple solution for DLNA on Ubuntu for your Google TV or really any DLNA powered media consumer.

Simple DLNA Media Serving on Ubuntu

Download the latest MiniDLNA (‘static’ not ‘src’) from http://sourceforge.net/projects/minidlna/files/minidlna/

Extract the files:

tar -zxvf [The MiniDLNA archive you downloaded].tar.gz

Move the files to the right home:

cd [Where you extracted the tar.gz]
sudo cp -R ./usr/* /usr/
sudo cp ./etc/minidlna.conf /etc/

Configure minidlna.conf file.

sudo nano /etc/minidlna.conf

Change these settings. Set your file directories A=Audio, P=Pictures and V=Video.

media_dir=A,/mnt/data/music
media_dir=P,/mnt/data/camera
media_dir=V,/mnt/data/videos

Name your server.

friendly_name=Hedrington-Media

Ctrl-X and save the file.

All set… start it up!

/usr/sbin/minidlna -f /etc/minidlna.conf

Ubuntu backing for any DLNA device!

Start up your Google TV or really any other DLNA device and go to the Media Player, you should see your files right there and ready to play! It just works, same controls, nothing extra to turn on, log into or learn.

Success - Google TV, DLNA, Ubuntu Media Server!

MiniDLNA is the simplest and best answer I have found to powering your media server and staying in the free and open source software world. Give it a shot!

Thanks

Special thanks to jmaggard and NETGEAR for making MiniDLNA happen and making it available to the open source community!

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