Add-ins & Apps, How to Guides, Windows Home Server

How-To: Install Firefly Media Server for Windows Home Server

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Do you own an iPod, or use iTunes heavily? Do you want an easy way to access your server’s music on iTunes much the same way that HP MediaSmart Server users can? Well, HP used the Firefly Media Server in part to accomplish what they did. And we are going to show you how to install FireFly.

Don’t forget to check the WGS Wiki for updated versions of this tutorial, and for other great tutorials!

What you will need

  • Remote Desktop Connection or Advanced Admin Console
  • Bonjour – Yes, this is in fact required.
  • Firefly Media Server – The most current version is build 1696, and does work on Windows Home Server
  • Firefly WHS Add-In – Download this to your “Add-Ins” directory on the server.

What to Do

First things first, download the installer files to your Windows Home Server, either directly to the desktop, or copying them to a network share. After you have done that, install Bonjour. Bonjour is a required component, as it is needed to properly talk to iTunes. Don’t blame me, it is how apple wrote iTunes.

After Bonjour is installed, run the setup for Firefly Media Server. First it will give a splash screen with general info. Click “Next”. Then it asks you to Agree to license agreement. Read through it, and click “I Agree” if you do agree to it. Installing to the default location is fine, so click “Next”. The next path is the default location for music. Set this to "D:\shares\Music", because the installer will not let you choose a network location. This is fine. Click “Next” and it will install the files, configure the program and start the service. Click “Next” and then “Finish”. If you have used remote desktop, you will notice a new system tray icon.

Now load up the console if you aren’t running everything from the console already, and install the Firefly WHS Add-In. Once the console has restarted, you can access the settings for Firefly in the settings page for WHS.

Done

Now you are done. There aren’t a whole lot of options for FireFly, but there is a number of plugins for it. I may cover those later, but for now, you have Firefly!

Additional Info

FireFly Media Server will index all of your files in the folder you specified. This may take a while, and it will not be available properly until it is done.

Also, when FireFly Media Server tries indexing corrupt files, it crashes. I’ve personally ran into this problem, and many others may also. So I’m going to post the method to fix it that I found on the MS WHS Forums:

  1. Once you are at the console, use notepad to edit "c:\program files\firefly media server\mt-daapd.conf"
  2. Change (or add, if it isn’t there) an option called "debuglevel" with a value of 5 in the "[general]" section.
  3. Then, delete the "songs3.db" file (in "c:\program files\firefly media server") and start the firefly server.
  4. It will crank around, indexing the music for a while. At some point it will crash. When it does, look at the log file in "c:\program files\firefly media server\firefly.log".
    Find the last song it tried to index and move it out of the way. Then start it again and repeat as necessary.

Credits

Thanks to ssart over at MS WHS forum for posting the solution, and to Ron from Firefly forums for writing the solution.

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  • Christian

    Thansk for the article, it looks interesting. But what will Firefly Media Server enable me to do? Couldn’t I just point iTunes on my PC to look at \\homeserver\music and add that? Might be a stupid question but I haven’t played around with itunes much yet on my PC and I’m still contemplating if it’s a good solution to store my music on the WHS.

    For my VMC I will need to add a share that’s read only in order to avoid having WMP11 destoy my HiRes artwork. On the other hand I need to be able to add new music to the share.

    And then there is of course song rating and playlists. Would be great if that could be done centrally and then show up in iTunes, WMP11 and in my VMC.

  • Sorry for not mentioning it, or linking it but the Firefly Media Server website has a better explanation of what it can do: http://wiki.fireflymediaserver.org/Overview

    It is also the same software that the HP MediaSmart Server uses to “push” music to iTunes on client computers. Not to mention, it is pretty much a zero-config setup for iTunes users after it is installed. (Basically, Windows Media Connect for Apple devices)

  • vansmack

    Great piece.

    It’s a little bit disengenious to have the first line read “Do you own an iPod” because in my experience, using FireFly allows you to stream music to any iTunes on your server, which is great, but it does not allow you to copy any songs to the iPod.

    The only solution I’ve found is to map your iTunes library to a network drive (not a shared address, or n:\ and not \\homeserver) and you can only do this on one machine.

    If I am wrong about this, I’d love to know a solution.

  • Paul

    I’ve got a HP and found this restrictive as its only music.
    The solution I used was to install iTunes on the HP Mediasmart server and then index all the stuff on the music/pictures/video folders.

    I can then sit back relax and watch all the glorious stuff on my appletv

    Paul

  • Served

    I also found the HP iTunes solution kind of restrictive. What I have done is 1) put all music files within the Music share (M:\Music); 2) first computer built its iTunes library on M:\Music; 3) direct 2nd computer to M:\Music for its library – that was instant – no importing or lib building required. Now, when either computer puts new music into the library, it is instantly recognized within the other’s library.

  • Thanks for the feedback! I’ll probably see about writing a tutorial for “how to get the most out of your server and iTunes soon”.

  • Dave

    Hi Drashna,

    Given that you’re preparing a tutorial I thought I’d drop you a scenario I’m looking at with regard to itunes/ipods/roku soundbridge/WHS.

    My wife and I each have ipods and our own itunes libraries on each of our PCs. I run a Roku Soundbridge music steamer linked to my itunes library via fireflymedia server.

    I’ve now bought a Fujitsu Siemens Scaleo Home Server. This comes with TwonkyMedia as standard (though I’m not familiar with it).

    Ideally what I want to do (and I don’t know if it is techically possible) is create a single itunes library (i.e. merge out two existing libraries) on the WHS that allows my ipod to sync with a subset of the library that I choose, that allows my wife to sync her ipod with a different subset of the library, and that allows the soundbridge to access and receive anything on the itunes library.

    I don’t know whether itunes allows this, or indeed Fireflymedia or TwonkyMedia.

    The move to a WHS means that centralising media libraries makes complete sense, but it’s hard to visualise the technical solution to make this happen while retaining flexibility with how the centralised library is used thereafter.

    Any help on this would be appreciated. Thanks.

  • merdzd

    @ Served
    Say it is possible only with HP media server (WHS)
    or can be arranged at any WHS-box

  • @Dave: sorry for not resonding right away. Unfortunately, firefly and a number of other solutions are A/V Streamers. Having a centralized library is a lot harder. So far, with iTunes, the only solution is to “index” the shared folders on the server.

    HP’s solution is a great one, but only for HP MediaSmart Servers. I have not seen anything else like it, and I’m sure it is copyrighted.

    @merdzd: Firefly Media Server is for pretty much any OS. The Linux/BSD/Mac OS X version is stable, but the Windows version is till in beta. It technically can be used on any version of Windows, but it makes sense running it on a file server that is meant to store a lot of music. 🙂

  • merdzd

    Served Says:
    August 2nd, 2008 at 12:04 pm
    I also found the HP iTunes solution kind of restrictive. What I have done is 1) put all music files within the Music share (M:\Music); 2) first computer built its iTunes library on M:\Music; 3) direct 2nd computer to M:\Music for its library – that was instant – no importing or lib building required. Now, when either computer puts new music into the library, it is instantly recognized within the other’s library.
    ____

    this is only with HP media server ?

  • merdzd

    i`m got Firefly Media Server on my WHS but Firefly stream music to any iTunes you can`t add or copy 2 ipod.
    and i use itunes only for copy musik 2 ipod/itouch
    so i have to manualy add folders to itunes Library.
    is there a way Itunes scan fo new music on my \\WHS\music.

  • ben

    hello, reading your article and i am trying to stream audio from my laptop to a windows mobile device, from itunes so i can plug in to my hifi. i am struggling to connect to the firefly server through my mobile device, i am fairly new to streaming and stuff, any help would be greatly appreciated!

    thanks ben

  • Kalps

    Hi,

    We have a network, and want to run a media server, whereby, users from different XP professional workstations can upload files to the media shared library and also stream the files on that share.

    Is this possible with FireFly, or is it only able to stream files from the central share and not upload from individual workstations.

    Thank you.

  • merdzd

    @Kalps

    FireFly will stream 2 you network all what in “%folder%”.
    users can upload files in 2 “%folder%” (manually).

  • narzxo

    Quite frankly I find Firefly useless; so it can stream to iTunes (and a few other things).. big deal? If I can’t transfer the music to my iPod then it isn’t much good to me. I’ve since simply added the network share to the iTunes library; I can then transfer files to my iPod or listen to them when I want… voila. Was very dissapointed.

  • Sridhar

    What does HP use on Mediasmart server to collect the Music, Photos and Videos automatically… and place them in shared folders. I build my own WHS and got Firefly and Twonky servers configured. Thanks in advance for your suggestions!!!

  • @Sridhar – They have their own software to do this, which isn’t available for self-builds, unfortunately.

  • Sridhar

    @Terry Walsh

    Terry,
    Is it as hard as rocket science? I wonder Open Source world didn’t target to develop an alternate to that… Quite surprising!!!

    Thanks for the reply… please keep me posted if you come across any such tools.

  • Hi

    I made some fixes to the latest trunk version of FireFly and compiled it. Would you like to try it out? I’ve posted up the binaries as well as instructions on how to compile it (along with my modified sources) at:
    http://tech.shantanugoel.com/2009/07/03/compiling-latest-firefly-mt-daapd-asus-wl-500w.html
    Please let me know if you have any comments/queries. I hope we can keep this great little media server going 🙂

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