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Discussion Starter #1
Looking for hardware suggestions for inexpensive, small and quiet box to run Ubuntu Server direct booting to Kodi. Media includes DVD rips shared over NFS from main server as well as Kodi being a mythtv frontend.

*EDIT* Or better yet, would a thin client be able to run kodi from a pxe image acceptably?
 

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If you are talking about simply streaming media to other devices on your network, the hardware requirements are pretty low. TBH im not real familiar with Kodi, i use plex myself. Will the server only serve up content to other devices or will it be used to watch from as well? Will it perform any other functions?

If you need it to transcode on the fly to other devices or perform other tasks outside of streaming media then the hardware considerations shift with the intended use.

Whats your budget, requirements for storage space, and the above questions (re: streaming vs transcode, server vs watch from)?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I already have the server. Need remote clients. Will a RPi work fine, or possibly even PXE booting over the network... would that work fine, gigabit.
 

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I use an Intel NUC for a mythtv front-end and it works flawlessly. I think mine is the i3 and is probably overkill for just a front-end, but no complaints. Unfamiliar with pxe booting but have to imagine it's possible.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Update.

I currently have my htpc functioning as my DHCP and LTSP Server. The LTSP image is a basic autologin and loading of the Kodi session on the Kodi user on the server. This keeps everything confined to a single user in the system. I have tested playing a movie on the server in the living room, and on my laptop at the same time PXE booted off of the server. Works great. I'll look into a cheap NUC or something as my clients.
 

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My guess is PXE would be subpar quality. Essentially streaming a stream. Id imagine itd be like watching a video when using RDP, but ive never tried it.

It seems i misunderstood i was under the impression you intended to build a server and was seeking help for that. If its just a matter of getting/building a client it depends on what you watch and format.

The spectrum ranges from something like a raspi2 or a media stick upto a dedicated computer/NUC/htpc. I use fire tv sticks and my ps4 mainly for watching plex content. I picked the sticks because they are cheap, good enough quality, and provide access to things like netflix and amazon video. Some people are more interested in better quality audio or high bit rate video. In those cases a NUC/htpc are a better albeit more costly option.

I just got a N3150 Beebox by Asrock and even with a Celeron N3150 it seemed to easily handle my media playback from plex. With an SSD and 8GB RAM it was like just over $200. I got it for RDP into work but tried some video content and am impressed with the performance for what its intended for.
 

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Why not use Amazon Fire TV sticks?

They allow for Android Apps to be installed, so all one needs to do is install it via sideloading or from ES File Explore.

I have two of them myself and a Fire TV Box.

They make for great Streamers for Kodi, Supports 5ghz Wifi. Which is more than enough for Uncompresses Bluray rips.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I thought it wouldn't be great myself but then I realized the PXE image is just to boot the system into ram (as I understand it). The videos themselves (just dvd rips) are streaming as normal over the lan. So they don't have an issue near as I can tell.
 

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I recently bought a Nvidia Shield for running Kodi. It would be cheaper than building your own, and it does 4K streaming of Netflix.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tadaen Sylvermane View Post

I thought it wouldn't be great myself but then I realized the PXE image is just to boot the system into ram (as I understand it). The videos themselves (just dvd rips) are streaming as normal over the lan. So they don't have an issue near as I can tell.
Yeah but a PXE image is kinda counter productive, as you still need a PC to boot it. Which that PC could already just run.

And Still won't be able to run apps like Netflix or Amazon Prime.

Amazon Fire TV stick uses very little power, and will run Kodi like a champ. And pretty much one of the cheapest Devices that can Run Kodi at such a good level.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I may look into it. Problem is where I live the internet isn't good enough for streaming and there is nothing betterr out here. So no netflix, amazon prime or anything. But if I can sideload an app that might be worth it. The other reason for PXE booting instead of individual full computers is management. The clients sole purpose would be kodi boxes, nothing else. I don't want to have to keep up with 3-5 computers for kodi when I can manage them all in one place. They won't have a keyboard connected. I was going to assign ips based on mac addresses and just add the different ips to the app on the phone as a remote for each location.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cones View Post

DzillaXx PXE also helps you from not having to keep storage in the clients.

I use a Nexus player myself now.

Openelec allows PXE booting.
Well I keep all my content on my media server. As the Fire TV Stick only has 8GB of Storage, which is plenty for all the apps one may want to install. Kodi also has a ton of great plugins as well for streaming media. Which will be pointless for OP's Internet connection.

But with Built in Support for 5ghz Networks, the stick makes for a great alternative.

With PXE you are probably going to end up needing more Network Bandwidth, but may not be noticeable if you already have plenty of wireless bandwidth or are hardwired.

Though it should work fine, my only problem is hardware cost to go this route will probably be higher. The Fire TV Stick is $40 are can run KODI natively. Comes with a good remote, and runs on Android. Plus uses less than 5 watts of power while active. Overall The best option for a cheap media center.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by DzillaXx View Post

Well I keep all my content on my media server. As the Fire TV Stick only has 8GB of Storage, which is plenty for all the apps one may want to install. Kodi also has a ton of great plugins as well for streaming media. Which will be pointless for OP's Internet connection.

But with Built in Support for 5ghz Networks, the stick makes for a great alternative.

With PXE you are probably going to end up needing more Network Bandwidth, but may not be noticeable if you already have plenty of wireless bandwidth or are hardwired.

Though it should work fine, my only problem is hardware cost to go this route will probably be higher. The Fire TV Stick is $40 are can run KODI natively. Comes with a good remote, and runs on Android. Plus uses less than 5 watts of power while active. Overall The best option for a cheap media center.
I'm not saying things like the firestick are bad, in OPs case it is probably the best option.

PXE just has move advantages then you think. It is great if you have many different PCs you want to run Kodi on. PXE doesn't work with wireless. One of the really great things is if you have your house hard wired you set up a file server with a sql database on it. You then make Openelec bootable over LAN and set the default "image" creation to make sub folders based on MAC and have a default advancedsettings.xml for Kodi to point to the sql server, you can also set up different profiles for Kodi. This would then allow any hardwired computer in your house to have Kodi without every having to touch the storage in that PC you would also have the same access to you Kodi from any PC without having to mess with configs on each client. As for the bandwidth if you have gigabyte it won't add much if any. The image the PC uses to boot is probably less than 512MB and then after that it is just accessing an NFS share, the streaming of the video would be the biggest usage which is going to be there anyways unless the content is local to the device.
 

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I don't know if this is a worth while choice but hypothetically a steam link device could do this. Has the advantage of no fans/no LEDs/auto power on for $50us. A lot of disadvantages though. Not sure it'd be worth the trouble.

The pxe thing is probably best answer. Just wish there was a cheaper [x86] device (with Ethernet).
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by subassy View Post

I don't know if this is a worth while choice but hypothetically a steam link device could do this. Has the advantage of no fans/no LEDs/auto power on for $50us. A lot of disadvantages though. Not sure it'd be worth the trouble.

The pxe thing is probably best answer. Just wish there was a cheaper [x86] device (with Ethernet).
You can kinda do that with a pi.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Was looking at RPi's today. Not sure is what I'm looking for although I don't know. Still tossing the idea of the fire stick but part of the idea of single user with a pxe boot is could stop playback in one room and resume in another without trouble. I was playing about on Newegg and best I can do for a small case, low power with hdmi output is an embedded celeron with 4gb of ram. Same case I have my htpc in now and I total out at 180 bucks per box. Could drop the ram in half, only save 12 bucks though. NUC is in same range.

*EDIT* Changed thread title.
 

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I bought one of these 6 or so months ago. It works pretty good (I'm running Windows 10). It's only $94US. My version at least has a UEFI with a 32-bit OS only thing on it. Not sure what the deal is with that. Here's the link:
http://www.amazon.com/Vensmile-W8-BayTrail-Computer-Bluetooth/dp/B00SSUJRV2/

It has Ethernet so I assume I can do network boot. Just have to be UEFI network boot.

And a sample image:


Note it's 5v but 3 amps. I'm still working on finding a better adapter. Not pictured is an micro sd slot, and two usb ports.
Specification
Model Name: Wintel Mini PC BOX Smart Computer
Display: HDMI type D
Dimensions (inche): 3.86 x 3.86 x 0.88
Memory: DDR3L 2GB
Audio: Microphone x 1
Storage: eMMC 32GB
Wireless LAN/BT: Support Ethernet and 2.4G+5G Dual Band WIFI (802.11 a/b/g/n)+BT4.0
Wireless Display Suport(WiDi)
Weight: 0.475 LB
I/O Ports: Audio Jack x 1, Micro USB x 1, USB x 2,Micro SD card x 1,HDMI x 1 Adaptor: DC 5V,2A
User Interface: Volume Up/Down Key, Power Key , Home key
CPU: Intel Bay Trail CR,Z3735F (Intel,AtomTM quad-core (4C/4T) SoC);
Memory: DDR3L 2GB , Storage: eMMC 32GB, support Micro SD Card
OS: Windows 8.1 with Bing Paid version
Comparing with Android Smart TV Box, W8 is more powerful than the norm
 

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Discussion Starter #20
*UPDATE*

Minor update on status. I received my HDHomeRun tuner yesterday from Amazon. Got it all set up and have main HTPC / server running as TV with Kodi frontend & Myth backend. However upon booting off of the LTSP image and trying to play live tv the main htpc paused itself. Maybe a limitation with the PVR addon for Kodi, one user can only receive a single stream or something. As such network booting goes up in smoke if I want to keep the live tv aspect. I appreciate the feedback and conversation on the subject here. It has been a learning experience all around.
 
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