HP MediaSmart as an iTunes Server

HP MediaSmart as an iTunes Server

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MediaSmart My new HP MediaSmart EX470 Windows Home Server just arrived, and it is SWEET!  As Paul Thurrott mentions in his review, this box is TINY.  Ridiculously so.  And completely silent.  I didn't spring for the EX475 (with 1TB of space), as it is $150 more, and hard drives are incredibly cheap these days.  As it is, I have no shortage of drives sitting around in my office.

The server has room for 4 internal SATA drives, 4 external USB2 drives, and 1 external eSATA drive.  With today's 1TB drives, that means a current theoretical capacity of 9TB.  That should be enough to backup your files for a while! 

The reason I dropped a couple hundred bucks on this HP (as opposed to continuing to run my frankenstein Dell in the corner with drives hanging off the side) was the amount of power that old box used.  This new computer is very power efficient and quiet, which means I won't have to shut down my server when taking a conference call from home.

The unique feature that specifically comes with the HP is a built-in iTunes server.  To this day, I cannot find ANYTHING out about this feature, other than the fact that the feature exists.  Theoretically, this feature will scan computers connected to Windows Home Server, notice that they have iTunes Playlists/Songs, and then copy them up to the Server.  The only problem with this in my environment is that my music collections exist on the two types of computer without client software for WHS:

  1. Windows Vista x64
  2. A MacBook Pro with OS X

<sigh...>  So how can I manually enable this feature?  There are very few options.  One enable/disable the feature, one to name the server as it will show up in the iTunes playlist, and one to specify how often it scans for new music.

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It turns out that you can simply copy your music files to the \\server\music share, and the iTunes Server component will pick them up and broadcast them.  The streaming is flawless, and I can pickup the music from any computer (Mac or PC) with iTunes in the house.  If Santa is nice this Christmas, I will report on how well streaming to an XBox 360 works through the Media Center Extender capabilities :)

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Without the connector installed, I still don't know how to get my playlists onto the server...  Doing a little detective work, can we figure out how this is working behind the scenes?  I can't imaging that Apple licensed this ability to HP.  <off topic> If Apple is ever in the licensing mood, I would like them to license their FairPlay DRM so that I can listen to AudioBooks from the library on my iPod, or iTunes purchased songs on a Zune.  I won't hold my breath.</off topic>

Looking at Task Manager, I see a couple programs running that I did not have on my Dellinstein Server:

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It looks like it must be using FireFly, the open source Media Server: http://fireflymediaserver.org/  I would assume the PostgreSQL instances serve as a backend of some sort, although I have no idea why it needs so many of them.  Things that make you go hmmm....

In any case, this really is an awesome server.  It looks like I may have purchased the last one in existence, as they are sold out at every reseller I checked.  If you do see one in stock, pick it up as a stocking stuffer (okay, maybe it's not THAT small). 

*Update: It looks like Brandon just got his MediaSmart server as well: Rolling out Windows Home Server with a HP MediaSmart Server

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