How to create a media server at home?

Add YACS to one computer of your local area network, the share film and music files.

This page explains setup and configuration details to do exactly that.

Initially, the local area network installed at home was aiming to share the ADSL resource to the Internet. Naturally this need has evolved over time. At some point, we have collectively considred to share videos at home.

The basic idea is really straightforward. We would like to specialize one of the existing computers in the storage of big files, and to ease access from other computer to this data. Moreover, the solution has to adapt to very simple building blocks, such as Windows XP Family Edition and ordinary WiFi infrastructure. Of course, following explanations also apply to Unix and Linux computers. Thanks to network standards, this will also work with a mix of Windows and Unix boxes. I suppose Mac would support this equally well, but I had no occasion to test this yet.

Our global need comes from the irruption of digital media files everywhere. In this page, I will show you how YACS may be used to share some homebred videos derived by my father from old Super 8 films made when I was a baby...

As a starting point, imagine you have a computer, plus some very big MPEG files to share. How to proceed?

[title]YACS setup[/title]

YACS has been developed in PHP. Also, it relies on a MySQL back-end, and sits behind a web server.

To make it fast, I have selected to install EasyPHP, a free software package that combines the three elements mentioned, plus additional interesting tools such as phpMyAdmin.

After the installation, the Apache configuration file has been changed to reflect the internal network address (e.g., and to serve the selected directory (e.g., F:\public).

Then the content of the most recent YACS archive has been copied to the computer, and the setup script has been triggered as usual. The alfresco has been selected as-is.

A cover page has been prepared, to list web resources used daily at home, and Martin, who is 8, also asked me to add a beautiful drawing of some rabbit.

At this stage the computer in the living room has been turned to a web site managed by YACS.

[title]Creation of a collection[/title]

From the Control Panel, select the module for collections. Then open the related configuration panel.

Then, again from the Control Panel, select the configuration panel for skins, and ensure that collections are displayed at the home page. Done!

[title]Video on demand[/title]

To access a shared film, all that is required is a connected computer and a web browser. The network address of the server has to be typed explicitly (e.g., Once the home page has been displayed, save its address in your favorites or bookmarks, and you won't have to retype it again.

At this stage everything becomes very simple, as proven by following screen captures. Basically, from the home page, you are only two or three clicks away from on-demand entertainment.

The server provides a playlist to the browser, which is transmitted to the adequate software.

VLC, Winamp, and the Windows Media Player are all able to stream the file and to render the film continuously.

This design is very efficient, since it allows for an immediate start of the film, even across a low-cost infrastructure.

The only constraint is to have enough bandwidth between the server and the rendering workstation. From experience you will need more than one megabit per second effective throughput.

[title]Download on demand[/title]

It may also happen that streaming just does not work. At home, the limited reach of the WiFi network does not allow enough bandwidth from some bedrooms.

In such cases video on demand does not work, and the file has to be transferred before playing it. Guess what? YACS also support this mode of sharing films.

While browsing some list of films, click on the disk icon and save the file.

At the end of the download, start the player of your choice, like VLC, Winamp or even Windows Media Player.

Of course, this is less funny than with video on demand, because of the transfer delay, but at least YACS adapts to the underlying infrastructure.

Moreover, there are also these occasions were you do need to copy files. For example my children were tempted to show their friends how beautiful I was when I was a baby... ::)