[K12OSN] Re: LTSP for video-streaming room? - mythtv package?

Sean Harbour SHarbour at nwresd.k12.or.us
Fri Jun 10 21:08:53 UTC 2005

Re: LTSP for video-streaming room?

The mythtv package rpms for Fedora would handle most of what you are looking for. It is designed to be used as a client/server environment. I don't think you want to try using pure thin clients for viewing, the bandwidth usage on the lan would be enormous. I'd be surprised if you could even get one thin client to work acceptably, but you never know until you try it. If you could get the thin clients to run the mythfrontend package locally instead of from the server, it should work as well as anything.

The LAN traffic would vary by compression ratio, but DVD quality would use up to around 5 Mb per connection, which effectively means maybe 15 clients per server on a 100 Mb switch, if everything is working correctly. Mythtv has built in support for multiple backend servers, so 2 servers, and a good 100 Mb switch should theoretically support up to 30 clients. If in doubt, use two switches, or a good Gb switch and Gb card in one big server, though it looks like it wouldn't be required. I like the idea of using two smaller servers, that way if you have a problem on one you have some redundancy.

You would require a video capture card on at least one server, and some time to import the videos. For VHS quality tapes you could certainly use a much lower quality recording format than DVD without losing any appreciable playback quality. For viewing, you would need something that could run the mythfrontend package. Normal linux installs would work, as would the optional Windows client, or the cool solution would be the thin client running a local copy of myth.

Figure on about 2 to 3 GB per hour for DVD quality video, down to 500Mb per hour for VHS, possibly lower depending on your needs. That adds up quickly, and you need to be sure your server can hand out 15 streams without bottlenecking the hard drives. You'll probably want a couple of fast SCSI drives in a production server, but the new SATA drives might handle it if you use enough of them in a software raid.

I'll bet you could get a proof of concept up and running in a day using normal workstation hardware, get some benchmarks and go from there.

I am working on implementing a similiar test at a high school in a few weeks. The feed will come from cable tv, and the server will be set to record all the legitimate educational content. ( I know, I know, that's why it's called a test...)

We should be able to choose any recorded content, play pause and rewind from any PC on the network. If anyone is interested, I'll post the results.


Sean Harbour
Network Engineer
Northwest Regional ESD
sharbour at nwresd.k12.or.us

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