Media Servers for a PS3

PS3
The PS3 is probably the best, and reasonably priced, Blu-Ray player on the market. Now that the HD format wars are over, it was time to get a Blu-Ray player

All the Windows hype about the “Media Editions” of Windows was never very clear. Apparently the Media Edition contains the features necessary to serve various files to the other entertainment systems in the home. Music and video players can play files from your desktop harddrive via these servers. Now with a new PS3, Media Services is becoming more useful. It will be interesting to play photos and videos from a server. The PS3 only has a 40GB harddrive and the file management features of the PS3 are very primitive.

Summary

TwonkyMedia Server is the best one that I’ve found. Very reasonable price – $39.95US. It runs on both Windows [Vista x64] and Ubuntu Linux with no problem. It is very efficient using very little memory and processor time. It works just fine on my little Blue-Diamond 800MHz VIA system.

Test Cases

The test cases are modest. About 860 images – jpgs 1024×768 on the PC and 1280×1024 on the Linux box. About 250 mp3 files. The images all display on the PS3 from a USB flash key. Almost all the music files play from a data DVD when inserted into the PS3. Some show “Corrupted File” on the PS3 for an unknown reason. Most of the mp3 files play with no problems using WinAMP on a Windows PC. As of today, the PS3 is running version 2.17 of the firmware.

Update: I’ve discovered the source of some, if not all, of the Corrupted File indications.
MP3Tag
Using MP3Tag V2.40 I’ve discovered that a few of the files had very strange meta data, and were in an unsupported format. Click on the pic above to see the full size view. Note that the highlighted files have strange bitrates and frequencies. I’m not sure whether this causes the server to trip up, or just the PS3.
After retesting Twonky and gMediaServer after cleaning out the strange files allowed Twonky to sometimes serve the files, but often it tripped up with a 2103 protocol error and basically stopped working after that. gMediaServer still would not serve any of the sanitized mp3 files.

Nero Media Home – Ultra 8
Nero Media Home

A google search for “PS3 media servers” indicates that Nero Media Home is a media server. But I suggest you don’t waste your time with it. There are several reasons:

  • It is very resource intensive, shall we say, taking over 60MB of your precious ram to run the server. This burden requires an indexing service, which is a constant load on the system regardless of whether you are using the server or not.
  • It’s not fast in it’s response to serving to the PS3. It takes a very long time to get the list of items to the PS3.
  • It causes protocol error reports on the PS3. “DLNA Protocol Error 80710092” whatever that is.
  • The NMH crashes and hangs quite often, esp when you stop and start the server.
  • It won’t serve mp3s. You get No Tracks Available on the PS3.
  • Photos work somewhat, but are slow.

A Little Blue Linux Box
GNU
The little blue Linux box seemed like a good candidate for a server. It now has a wireless adapter – ZyXEL G202 and is running Ubuntu 7.10.

After a little research, gMediaServer seemed like a good server to try. 0.12.0 is built into Ubuntu 7.10. The latest version 0.13.0 supports PS3 explicitly with a profile for PS3 that sets all the media types supported by the PS3. Not sure what else the server knows about the PS3.

When started with the following command line the server serves photos to the PS3 with no problems.

gmediaserver -ieth1 -v1
--file-types='jpg,mp3'
--friendly-name='Blue-Diamond Media Server'
/home/darrell/Pictures/Fantasy_1280
/home/darrell/Music/musicfiles

When running the gmediaserver only requires 1.6MB of memory. It serves photos with no problem and much faster than the Nero system, as observed from the PS3 system. Occasionally a “DLNA protocol error 2103” appears, but this only appears once or twice when the server starts to display images.

Music files do not work. I get “No Tracks Available” on the PS3. Since neither server will serve music files to the PS3, the problem may be in the PS3. Update: Even the sanitized mp3 files would not show up at all in the PS3.

Twonky Media Server

Twonky Media
Twonky Media 4.4.4 is very light weight – only about 4MB of ram total for the two server processes, and has a nice web interface for configuration.

It works very well for photos, and shows music files, but the files will not play. The PS3 tosses a “800100B network error” when you try to play a track, after a very long time of waiting.

Summary

  1. Nero Media Home – Ultra 8 version. Photos work. Music doesn’t show any tracks and it tosses 80710092 protocol errors. This thing is 60MB of ram [ can you believe it??] in three processes, and it keeps crashing. So dead in the water as far as I’m concerned.
  2. gMediaServer 0.13.0 on Ubuntu 7.10 – 1.6MB of ram. Works great for photos. But again music does not work. Shows no tracks. Occasionally I get 2013 protocol errors.
  3. Twonky Media 4.4.4 – Very nice with web config and light weight in memory – two processes of about 4MB total of memory. Photos work just fine. Music tracks show in the list but trying to play a track gets an 8001000B protocol error.

BTW, all the mp3 music files play just fine from a data DVD on the PS3 and on WinAmp on PC. And on the Linux system too BTW.

So, I conclude that the PS3 V 2.17 is broken for media services for playing Music.

Anybody prove me wrong?

  • What media server are you using to play MP3 music on your PS3, and where did you get your MP3 file?
  • Do we know that the PS3 is picky about it’s MP3 files?
  • Why should it be pickier about the MP3 files over the net than it is from a DVD?

Update: This PS3 appears fairly picky about mp3 files, esp when reading files from a MediaServer and the protocol apparently does not recover from a bad file.