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What I have:

  • An old laptop with an external harddrive via USB
  • A wireless router

What I want to achieve:

  • Stream video and music to
    • PC
    • Mac
    • iPad
    • Xbox360 (it's ok if it doesn't work with xbox360, this is just a bonus)

My question:

  • Which OS on the laptop would be the best for this purpose? Windows 7 or a Linux server?
  • Do I need any streaming software on the server, or just simply share the harddrive?

Ideally, I would like to just host the media files on the harddrive, and use native programs (iTunes on Mac/iPad, WMP on PC) to play music/videos, is this possible?

If I really need to install some software to do this, what can I use?

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closed as not constructive by KronoS, Scott, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Dave, Dave M Mar 20 '13 at 12:20

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
i think subsonic will do what you want. its free. –  Sirex Mar 19 '13 at 21:43
1  
Please consider rephrasing this question as it's very open ended and not really seeking to learn about the technology involved. –  KronoS Mar 19 '13 at 22:19
    
@KronoS, Thanks, but how can I make this question more clear? I just want to know what's the best way to stream music/videos to my PC/Mac/iPad at home. –  LWZ Mar 20 '13 at 2:28
    
Consider looking at this meta post on how to ask questions that will end up recommending software. It should be a good guide on what you can do to better improve the question. –  KronoS Mar 20 '13 at 3:11
    
@KronoS, awesome, that's a great post. –  LWZ Mar 20 '13 at 3:26

3 Answers 3

You can use VLC.

See the streams related page on their website.

It is open source software.

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2  
Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. –  BloodPhilia Mar 19 '13 at 22:11

I simply user file sharing and open/play the files with standard software like MCE and WMP on Windows clients. VLC and other standard media players will work too, then map to the shares over the network.

For the Mac you’d need to look at http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1568 as well and XBOX please user http://www.wikihow.com/Share-Files-from-Windows-PC-to-Xbox-360

I’m assuming you’re hosting the files on the Windows machine?

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That is part of my question, I don't know if I should host on a Windows machine, since I'm sharing cross platform. Will a Linux server be a better choice? –  LWZ Mar 19 '13 at 22:50
    
It’s up to you, are you familiar with networking with Linux, especially between NT machines? –  Ben Lavender Mar 19 '13 at 22:53
    
No, not really. But if it can do want I want (streaming to PC/Mac/iOS), I wouldn't mind learning it. Actually I would prefer that way, since I won't need a cumbersome desktop UI on the old laptop. –  LWZ Mar 19 '13 at 23:00

The 360 has this function native, in the media center, if I'm not mistaken.

Now, having the feature and using the feature, with Microsoft those are always two different things. If you are using a pre-7 OS you will have difficulty perhaps, but 7 and later should have Media Center installed; and media recognized by WMC on the laptop will theoretically be visible from the Xbox, assuming they are both on the network. If the media is not already added to WMP you will have to manually add it to WMC (or WMP), I believe (again, going on memory). One major downside is that 360 has a very limited codec library that can not be manually expanded, meaning you have to wait for updates to their software, but this is generally only a problem with video.

If you can't tell, I've had a lot of problems getting this to work in the past, but there have been a few computers I've been successfully able to stream to my 360.

As far as the other devices, the Mac and iPad, I am not sure, but it looks like those have already been answered.

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