Babar Haq

Monday, March 05, 2012

Mediatomb (dlna) on SAMSUNG (46") LED UA46C5000

Finally, I decided to get rid of my CRT tv and replace it with a Samsung (46") LED. A nice contemporary tv. To watch movies on this tv, I didn't need a separate dvd player anymore, I could hook up my usb drive and use its media player to play movies. This wasn't enough for a lazy person like me. The effort of copying the movies to a USB and then playing it was cumbersome for me.

At the same time, I had also bought a desktop machine as an "always on" server. I almost never used it on its direct attached (CRT) monitor but accessed it remotely via ssh. It runs my web server and I do all my downloading on it as well. I found that Samsung LED TV has a vga port as well so a computer can directly be attached to it. So I decided to attach this desktop to my new t.v. This would also enable me to access Internet (youtube) on my tv. I also got hold of Microsoft wireless keyboard/mouse to fully utilize this architecture. These keyboard/mouse work flawlessly on Ubuntu. Surprisingly, Microsoft is good with these kinds of accessories :) I also noticed an Ethernet port in my t.v and hooked it up directly with the PCs Ethernet port using a crossover cable. I assigned them some 192 series ip and was happy to see that I could ping my tv from my linux box :)

Life became easy for me but I wanted more. Every time I wanted to watch a movie I would have to get hold of the keyboard/mouse. I wanted to skip this step. This reminded me of the Ethernet port. I looked up my t.v's manual and discovered that its a certified "dlna" device. Samsung tvs come with a proprietary software "myshare" which can be loaded onto a Windows PC and the tv will recognize it as a dlna device and start showing all the movies in its media player. This could be done over the wireless network but 1) it would chock my tiny wireless dsl router 2) I would have to buy a wireless dongle for my tv. Aslo since I had already connected my pc to the tv over ethernet I would just go ahead with that.

Since I do not have a windows machine anywhere near my house :) I started researching for a dlna server on linux. All of the ones I tried would show the movie in Samsungs media player but clicking on it would give me some media not supported kind of error. All the movies were in avi format. I was looking for some thing which would just work as I was in no mood of conquering another of those open source's steep learning curve. I saw a lot of people talking that "media tomb" and saying that it just works. Installing it was just a apt-get install. Installation was simple but same issue surfaced: unsupported format. Doing some more reading made me look for the right configuration file for mediatomb. This landed me no where. Even this configuration file didnt work. Eventually, I found this one and it worked. The only change I had to make was to mention the ethernet IP I want it to bind to. It plays avi files well, the only format I would need. My samsung remote's regular fast forward buttons do not work I have to use the arrow keys. I guess I can live with that.

All in all it was a good decision. Now to watch movies all I need is my tv remote :)

No wonder my wife bought me a t-shrit saying "I am not handicapped, just lazy"