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Serve it Up!

Now we're ready to try it out. First, we'll just execute the script we created earlier:

/opt/etc/init.d/S99mediaserver

After a couple of seconds, type a "ps -ax" and you should see a list of processes that includes a number of threads for mediaserver. If you don't see the server, double check the script to make sure all paths are correct and no errors are generated when it runs. Once you're satisfied the server is running properly, issue the "reboot" command on your NSLU2 to verify our script will bring up the server when it boots.

I currently have a Buffalo Link Theater, a NETGEAR MP115, as well as a UPnP-enabled Microsoft MediaServer on my LAN. Selecting a server varies from device to device, but they are all straightforward. Since UPnP is a self-discovery protocol, the NSLU2 should automatically show up in whatever server selection list the client provides.

Figure 3 shows what server selection looks like on my Link Theater. Once you've selected the server, you should be able to browse and play the content from your NSLU2 (Figure 4).

Server selection with the Buffalo Link Theater

Figure 3: Server selection with the Buffalo Link Theater

The server provides fairly basic functionality, and the capabilities of your client device will decide what media you'll be able to handle. I've been using mine for viewing Divx5 movies, playing MP3s, viewing JPEG slide shows and listening to Internet radio stations.

Browsing movies from my NSLU2
Figure 4: Browsing movies from my NSLU2

If you need some additional guidance, visit Twonkyvision's web page for questions on usage or visit a forum page to discuss issues with other users.

Closing Thoughts

The mixture of a media server and a NAS like the NSLU2 is a powerful combination. When you use small, low-powered LAN devices, it gives you the flexibility to mix, match, and upgrade individual pieces as needed. Most of the UPnP devices on the market are designed to be fed content from a server running on a PC. But I think using a NAS is a better model, because I don't want to start up a noisy, expensive, power-hungry PC just to listen to music or watch a movie.

The NSLU2 makes an ideal platform for serving digital media to your local LAN. It's silent, cheap, extendable and has a thriving development community adding new features on a daily basis. Give it a try and use your PC for more useful tasks.

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