Ask Max: Home media network
I would like to update some computers in the home network. What I would like to do is set up an iMac or a Mac mini as the main computer in the home office. Then set up a 2nd Mac mini as a home theater PC in the main living room. I would like to set up an Apple TV in a bedroom. As for the old G4 450 AGP, I would like to store all my media files like music, movies and home videos on this box, it has two hard drives in it now, with all my media on it. What do I need to do so any file can be accessed by any user anytime?There will also be a laptop or 2 or 3 used as well.
I have a similar setup to what you want at my home. I use an Intel iMac as my main system in the office. It houses all the family pictures and music. I also use an Elgato EyeTV system to record TV and share it via iTunes. As long as you have a modern version of iTunes running on every computer, you should be able to share it via a single source iTunes library. I would recommend using an Airport Extreme base station as your router.
Also, you will want to have Leopard installed on all the computers that can handle it. This will allow you to use Front Row on all your Macs, not just the ones that came with an Apple Remote Control.
Also, having Leopard will enable you use the AGP G4 as a headless computer (ie no display) . An AGP 450 G4 will not run Leopard well, so Tiger is the best OS you will want on it. Don't worry, Tiger is fine for what you are doing. You will have to use a monitor at first to set up the Media server computer. As soon as it's running Tiger, go to the Sharing section of System Preferences. Under the Services tab, enable the "Apple Remote Desktop" service and set the Access Privileges to allow the main user to do everything. Leave the Guest and VNC sections uncheck-marked.
You can now remove the display from the AGP G4 and connect the computer to the Airport base station via an ethernet cable. Also connect your Office computer via ethernet to the base station. With Leopard running on the Office computer, you can see the AGP G4 as available for screen sharing. Click on the Screen Sharing button and enter the Username and Password for the Administrator account on the AGP G4. You will have full control over the AGP G4 from your office Mac. You then can turn on File Sharing and setup the iTunes on the AGP G4 to be the master library for your home.
On the AGP G4, make sure that you have Sharing turned on in the iTunes preferences. All the other Macs just need to have the preference enabled to "look for shared music." When you set up your Apple TV, you will have to pair it with the iTunes running on the AGP G4. You will also need to enable photo sharing in iPhoto if you want to share pictures.
Once the server has all the files sharing that you plan on serving, you can then test the connection on your other Macs. Using the new Front Row application that comes with Leopard, just change the source to the AGP G4. You should be able to browse the Apple TV-like menu system to find the media you want. You can also use iTunes and iPhoto to browse the remote media. I think you will find it very responsive on a home network.