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Users / Question about how to auto start multiple MD's on one Stream.
« on: November 11, 2010, 12:25:20 am »
Let Me start out by giving a brief run down on my install

I am the senior technician at a FedEx Ground distribution HUB in California.
I have been using LinuxMCE at home ( 1 MD and 1 core/hybrid server ).

Here at the HUB we wanted to setup multiple flat screen TV's to display messages,pictures,etc the plan that management had was to
buy TV's with DVD players built in ( which is what they did ). They would burn multiple copies of a composed video and leave them playing.
I suggested that it could be done in a much BETTER way by using a network connected system with the ability to play media on demand and to have it played on multiple locations at the same time, this was much more than they could have hoped for and gave me the go ahead.

Here is where my LONG LONG journey began, I set out to setup a 15 MD system with LinuxMCE. To begin with let me say I am an old school programmer I started out on VAX 10's in the early 80's and am familiar with multiple programing languages,web programing,etc but I have worked mainly on Windows,web and embedded RISC systems almost no experience with Linux beyond the very basics.
So the project that should have taken weeks to setup actually took months, my choice to use Zotac MAG PC's as the MD's was my first undoing. I did manage to get them working but it turns out the the internal hardware that they use for HDMI,audio,WLAN,etc is just too
new for Kubuntu 8.10 as the manufacturers drivers start at 9.10 after MANY MANY MANY attempts at installing 3rd party drivers I gave up and used an external audio cable and HDMI to get picture and sound and gave up completely on WLAN.
At first my install attempts were from a downloaded CD image install which turned out to be flawed in some fashion, it took me MANY MANY install attempts before I was certain of this, at the time I did not know about installing online. My next install attempts were from the repo, let me point out also that I am inside a corporate network with a very tight proxy in Memphis. it took me some time to figure out how to get apt-get to find it's way around the proxy! and then there was the speed issue. We have a high gigabit fiber system internal to the building and an old school T1 line out - the online install took 18 hours - each attempt.
I did the online install many times for but one reason - I was mainly interested in the ability to play a stream on multiple MD's without any great need that they be perfectly synchronized ( most of the MD's are a great distance from each other ), but the first several installs did not seem to be able to do that.
I would get video on that MD and audio only on another if I moved the stream to that MD it would then show the video and the others would not, I battled with this for some time, since this was the central method of my system it had to be able to this. I nearly gave up and went out on the web looking for another solution I tried XBMC,VLC and some others, they all had issues and/or lacked the control that I wanted. I was about to tell Management that the nearly $20,000 on equipment and months of my time was for nothing and that they would in fact be using DVD's for their system. I gave it one more chance and did another install from repo -- THIS TIME IT WORKED.
I guess something was updated and/or changed and now I can play media on all 15 MD's and most of the time it is nearly in sync.

What I want to do is have multiple play list that start at predefined times and automatically start also on every MD at the same time -- again I say that it's not completely necessary that they be in perfect sync just that they are all playing the same stream at the same time. I figure a scenario is what I need to send the start play command to the other MD's but I am not 100% certain that is the correct way - or is there a simpler way that I am just not seeing ?

Also I did notice that I can get all 15 MD's almost perfectly sync'd if I cause them to skip back 2-4 seconds and resume play so I am thinking that including a command to cause an automatic skip back at the beginning of each new file would do a very reasonable job keeping the MD's sync'd up - how would be the best way to accomplish this ??

Thanks in advance for any assistance !

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