Mac Mini as iTunes/iPhoto Server

Monopot

Novice Member
Hey Guys,

Currently have a 1G AppleTV which I've had since launch and its been great. We use it loads for renting movies from the US store (even though we live in NZ) as well as buying/renting TV shows again from the US as we dont have a Sky sub or the like. Also sync it with a lot of my movies which I've ripped, stored on my Qnap NAS but aliased into iTunes on my MBP to avoid using the sapce on there.

Problem is I think its on its way out. It gets extreamly warm recently and videos tend to stutter now when they never did before. Also we now have an iPad2 so i'd love to be able to AirPlay.

So, question time. If I went and replaced it with the ATV2, obviously it has no local storage to sync to so i'd need something to do the syncing. I'm not leaving my MBP on all the time so I thought about a Mac Mini but they aint cheap in NZ. But if I got one, could I move all my iTunes/iPhoto over to the Mini so its always serving content to the ATV2. But if I do that, how do I work with iTunes/iPhoto on my MBP. iTunes I get could be Home Sharing, but what about iPhoto?

Would also store all my ripped movies on my QNAP Nas to save space on the mini.

Anyone done this and how does it work? If not using the Mini, what other options are there?

Thanks guys,

Andy
 

bpsmith

Well-known Member
Have you considered using a Mini as the player instead of streaming to ATV2?

That way you could use programs like Plex to manage everything for you, with your media still on the QNAP. I am doing this at present but with a WD ShareSpace RAID 5 NAS as the storage element. Works superbly too.
 

spinaltap

Distinguished Member
I don't know anything about the QNAP, so I can't make an informed comment...

...but even though I use my spare Mac Mini as a HTPC front-end to feed my plasma and AVR, I don't store movies on it. Instead, I use a Netgear ReadyNAS with PLEX installed.

Even so, in your circumstances (forgetting that you already have a QNAP), the much more practical solution is to buy an AppleTV2 with aTVflash installed (which has PLEX client on-board).

Then, buying a ReadyNAS UltraPlus would be much cheaper than a Mac Mini. The ReadyNAS has integral iTunesServer for storing your music and movies, is TimeMachine compliant, and will also store all your photos. Then, install PLEX server to stream music, movies and photos to your AppleTV.
 

Monopot

Novice Member
Thanks guys.

Only problem with me using Plex and the Mini as the front end is that Plex doesn't support iTunes purchased video of which I have quite a lot. Plus my main use of the ATV is for movie rentals which is sooo easy via ATV. Mainly though because of the lack of support for iTunes purchased video (TV shows mainly) through Plex I dont think I could use that.

The QNAP is pretty similar to the ReadyNas actually. It has an iTunes server built in, just not using it atm and is Time Machine compliant which I'm using. All my movies are ripped in MP4 suitable for iTunes, with just a few AVI/MKV files which I end up playing through my PS3. Did try it via XMBC on the ATV but they stutter. Only problem with the iTunes server though is that it doesn't support video, so my purchased TV shows etc won't share through it, hence the need for a Mini/proper iTunes server?

Do like the look of Plex but probably want to stick with ATV for the iTunes video.
 

bpsmith

Well-known Member
spinaltap said:
I don't know anything about the QNAP, so I can't make an informed comment...

...but even though I use my spare Mac Mini as a HTPC front-end to feed my plasma and AVR, I don't store movies on it. Instead, I use a Netgear ReadyNAS with PLEX installed.

Even so, in your circumstances (forgetting that you already have a QNAP), the much more practical solution is to buy an AppleTV2 with aTVflash installed (which has PLEX client on-board).

Then, buying a ReadyNAS UltraPlus would be much cheaper than a Mac Mini. The ReadyNAS has integral iTunesServer for storing your music and movies, is TimeMachine compliant, and will also store all your photos. Then, install PLEX server to stream music, movies and photos to your AppleTV.
It's not exactly the same thing tbh. ReasyNAS and JB'ed ATV2 with Plex does not equal QNAP and Mac Mini in any stretch of the imagination. The Mini is far superior to the ATV2 in all the things that the ATV2 can do, and then it's a very good Mac computer on top of that!

There is still the issue of DRM stuff though, I won't disagree there, and iTunes Rentals are possibly not a go either. Can still use iTunes on the Mini for playback though?
 

mark09

Novice Member
iTunes all the way mate..I use mac mini on my main tv hdmi to Samsung 50" the mac mini is connected to time capsule which is 1gb wired to my BT modem. I then have 3 apple tv around the house and streams perfect. I have ripped blus and there is zero stutter!

Secret is to add a time capsule to the system. I have all my movies on the time capsule and the iTunes library on the mini mac which is shared!

One thing I love about the set up is I can play a movie on all 4 tv with no issue. U can even play same movie at same time.

And the best thing is my 7 & 4 year come wondering in early sat/sun mornings I pick up my iPhone and using the remote app I select the ATV and the film plays without getting out of bed!! Perfect
 
As per the OP, it is effectively what I do. One mini without screen or monitor in my office, one nas (san technically speaking but hey ho) that exposes an iSCSI volume to the mini for extra (locally seen) storage containing all my movies and library etc. Then I have two apple tv's that are connected to the mini via wireless N and the mini easily handles all the streaming.

I do duplicate my music, so I also have all my music on my Mac Pro where I rip etc. Then I synchronise that to my mini using SyncTunes from the App store. My iPhone/iPad etc then sync with the Mac Pro as well.
 

bpsmith

Well-known Member
So do you guys have Plex installed on any of your ATV's by any chance?

Dejongj, how does sync tunes work exactly? Will it allow you to have 2 completely different libraries and sync them so they are exactly the same? Does it also work where you have almost the same libraries but with differences each side, and not give you duplicates in the process?
 
Yes the libraries are physically different. My Mac Pro is the source for everything, I then from the Mini with my Pro and it grabs all new stuff, but I do that one way only. However my wife's Mac and my daughters Mac do sync from the Mini. Yes I have duplicate libraries but from a) a backup perspective that is not bad and I have plenty of diskspace but more importantly b) you can set it up in such a way that the variable meta-data (i.e. song rating, last time played, number of times played etc) does not get synched. As such when I use my 4&5 star rated play list I don't all of a sudden get Lady Gaga in it that my daughter likes and vice versa she doesn't get my golden earing songs on her play list.
 

Monopot

Novice Member
Can SyncTunes handle movie/TV show syncing as well as music, and can it handle aliased movies? By that I mean my iTunes has my movies in there but they are on my NAS so are aliased/linked in iTunes, but if I was to use something like SyncTunes to keep a Mini and my MBP in sync, would it keep the correct links to the NAS (say I use an SMB share for iTunes) or would it try and import the movies locally each time?
 
Haven't tried to be honest. I do use aliased movies into my Mac Pro so that they sync with the iPads but not take up space (I've got about 6TB of them). And I don't want them aliased on the Mini as the watched folder 'Automatically Add to iTunes' is a network share to the Mini which in turn is really an exposed iscsi zfs volume formatted as hfs to make it look like a local drive to the Mini. That way I can just rip, add meta data on the Mac Pro and drop it in the folder and forget about it.

If you can avoid an SMB share on your NAS I would highly recommend that. In my experience if it allows an iSCSI connection it is much faster. I'll see tonight if I can get it to sync an alias and let you know.
 

Monopot

Novice Member
Thx man. My QNAP NAS does support iSCSI, only reason I'm not using it at the moment is I have the nas power down overnight and during the day, only coming on from 5pm-11pm when Im in. If I had I got a Mini and had it on all the time it'd probably barf at losing the iSCSI connection I guess.
 
Mine doesn't tbh when I forget to take down the connection when I added my second 1U device and made them look like one big one. But I did notice that the company starts charging for the iSCSI driver now, so if the speed is good enough for you then keep it as is :)

My Mini does quite a bit actually, beside serving the two apple tv's and 3 Mac's, it also host the shared development environment, is my mail/calendering/address book server, hosting local wiki etc :) They are amazing little things.
 

johnbusby

Well-known Member
Cheers, Ill give it a go. Ive been trying for a while to have one unified library on my NAS but I think its time that I admitted defeat and just kept local copies of my music and sync between them :)
 

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