DLNA on OSX, done right

Sony PS3 LogoMy wife bought me a playstation 3 last year, and I’ve enjoyed many hours of gaming on it, finishing Tomb Raider underworld, and now making decent progress in Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction.

DLNA logo

I was a bit sceptical about the DLNA capabilities of the PS3, because I read a lot of bad news on this fairly new  “Interoperability Guidelines” concept. It sounded like a lot of trouble to go through to simply watch the photos and home videos on a TV. For weeks, I was not able to find a single site telling me how to install a DLNA server on my Mac, or where to find a decent one.

Altgough they’re hard to find, there are a few OSX DLNA servers out there. One of them is actually very good. Here’s what I found:

CyberMediaGate
I found a DLNA server implemented in Java, and didn’t get it to work. It misses a Xerces library and I can not seem to get the right version added to the classpath. I decided this was not very “Mac like” and dumped it. Not being able to install software “out of the box” may be normal on Linux, but is unaccepatble on a Mac.

TwonkyMedia
Then, I came across TwonkyMedia. This was the first DLNA server I actually got to work on my Mac, and had it serving video to my PS3. It is a strange (wonky?) piece of software, had no native GUI and only lives on your machine as a webapplication. The installer copies “TwonkyMediaServer.app” in your application folder, starts it, and then opens a browser which points to the local URL of it’s configuration screen.

At that moment, it already is serving clients, but when you try to access it with the PS3, you will get a protocol error. This is because TwonkyMedia does not come with a default server name. The PS3 aparently can not handle an empty server name. After filling it in and restarting Twonky, I could access it with the PS3.

TwonkyMedia does not look very Mac-like, and I don’t like the looks of the webpage it is serving. The installer leaves two webloc files on your desktop which point to the configuration screens. It’s a bit strange but it gets the job done.

Potentially Twonky can do a bit more than CyberMediaGate. Twonky can do some transcoding and other streaming stuff, but I did not try that because I simply wanted to see my photo’s and home video’s on my TV.

The trial version of Twonkymedia last for 30 days, but on the first day it already started acting up on me, and I had to restart it a few times while watching video. The look and feel, and the crashes didn’t feel like it was worth the $40 to me, so I uninstalled it.

Uninstalling TwonkyMedia requires you to kill the process from the Terminal, and then drag TwonkyMediaServer.app to your trashcan. Another way is dragging the app to the trashcan and then restarting your Mac (not mac-like but it works).

MediaLink
Nullriver LogoThe nullriver homepage looked very elegant, and promising. A simple page explains what it is, what it does, and what it costs. Nullriver also allows you to send requests and reports on their site without registering (in contract with TwonkyMedia, to which you have to “sell your soul”)

Nullriver Medialink comes as a preference pane application, and has a beautifuly simple interface, with not many options. It integrates with your mac applications like iTunes, iPhoto and now even Aperture. It does not have all the fancy configuration options of TwonkyMedia. One of my small complaints is that your content is shared to all DLNA clients on your local network, which may not be what you want if you have more than one DLNA client.

For me MediaLink is a perfect fit. I control my own network, my PS3 is my only DLNA client so I don’t need the fancy stuff. Most people will be perfectly happy with Medialink. It’s simple, transparent, drag-and-drop, has a “stop” button and is cheap. It does not have all the fancy features, but all the features that are in there work flawlessly.

I played with it for more than a week now, and so far it hasn’t crashed on me. I did need to buy a registration key, because the trial version only lasts you for about 30 minutes of watching content (which should be plenty to try it out, and it’s not like the 20 bucks are going to kill you).

Conclusion
Once again, all DLNA servers I tried put together:

CyberMediaGate Free Terrible, unable to install.
TwonkyMedia $40 Works, lots of features, no GUI, buggy/ Crashed on me more than once.
MediaLink $20 Simple, stable, nice GUI, best value for money. Just works.

So if you have a PS3 and a Mac, it’s a no-brainer. Buy Medialink!

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59 Responses to DLNA on OSX, done right

  1. […] leaving the PS2 compatibility issue, I got a DLNA server running on my Mac. When I want to view media on that server, I have to use your “X media bar” […]

  2. Henry Harris says:

    I’ve been playing with both MediaLink and TwonkyMedia. I find the ability to stream content from my Mac to my HD system in the living room a welcome and I find indispensable capability. However, from my testing it seems that I need both to access my files since neither, apparently, can access all files and there are some video file types that apparently can’t be accessed by either.

    Am I missing something or is this simply an application idea that is still under development?

    Regards,

    Henry

  3. Vincent says:

    Is this some commercial for payed software?
    Here is some pretty good free software, which was already available when you wrote this article.
    Better do some more research next time :)?

    http://ps3mediaserver.blogspot.com/

    • theigloo says:

      Yep I own a mac and a ps3 and a Lacinema HD, I have tried all the DLNA software I could find for the mac and I must say PS3 media server stands at the top of the heap.
      Not just because its free, but because it WORKS and WORKS and WORKS !

  4. rolfje says:

    Searching for the words “DLNA” and “PS3″ does not list the ps3mediaserver, they could do some “Search Engine Optimization”.

    I found a lot (and I mean a LOT) o crappy (some fake) media servers out there, and many are for the windows platform. I can’t review them all, this is a free and personal blog, remember?

    I’ll have a look at it, thanks for the link.

  5. rolfje says:

    Just checked the latest ps3 media server (http://ps3mediaserver.blogspot.com/). It works and is easy to install. User interface is a bit “windowsy” with lots of options and bells and wisles. It seems to be reacting slightly quicker to PS3’s refresh requests.

    The nice extra over Medialink is embedded transcoding. Some Apple video podcasts I could not watch are now watchable on my bigscreen. There is a funny folder you need to browse to, but it works.

    What didn’t work is the thumbnail mode (when you press square while watching a video). The PS3 will say “network problem occured”. There are no messages in the trace log of the media server, so I don’t know what the problem is.

    After a reboot, It doesn’t seem to remember the shares I configured.

    When starting the ps3mediaserver as a different user on the same machine, it will silently die. Some poking in /var/log/system.log reveals that it tries to write to /tmp/javaps3media. When this folder was created with a different user, the app will fail. ps3mediaserver will not remove this directory automatically, so closing it doesn’t help, you have to remove it by hand (with the correct user).

    It looks and feels (and probably is) a Java app, but it’s packaged up nicely and does the job. With some quirks and bugs, but for free.

    Thanks Vincent, hope you like the “addon review” :-)

    • jsmith says:

      ps3mediaserver sucked. Spent several hours with it and never got it to work with my PS3. Very little documentation or hints on what to configure. Typical linux style.

      • jdallam says:

        PS3 Media server, although buggy, is the best. I paid more Medialink and it is terribly slow. PMS instead can stream even 1080p videos (via ethernet, obviously). Apart from network settings there is no need to configure it unless you know what ypu are doing.

  6. Fedja says:

    GREAT!!!
    Love you for this hint! Thanks Dude!
    cheers

  7. Vinny says:

    Rolfje… have you tired eyeconnect http://www.elgato.com/elgato/int/mai…onnect.en.html

    Will like to hear your comments on this piece of software n’ its comparison with others you have tested ;-)

  8. rolfje says:

    My EyeTV has been collecting dust for the past 6 months or so. The point of the DLNA excersize was to have my pictures and movies available on my TV through my PS3.

    Watching movies on the iPhone is already solved, there are a lot of cool tools (handbrake, xffmpeg) to convert video and iTunes does a great job of putting them on my iPhone. I only watch movies on my iPhone when I’m in an airplane for a long time. THey take up a lot of space so I take them off as soon as possible when I’m home.

    I’m not going to review the elgato stuff, but I’d love to link to your review if you’ve got one :-)

  9. Phil says:

    Fantastic article!! If it weren’t for you I’d be completely stuck.

  10. Bob says:

    I found your Blog searching “best DLNA server for mac” on Google, and realized it a treasure chest of great Mac articles, thanks!

    I wanted to add one other free Mac DLNA server that is an open source project that you may have missed and would be interested in checking out it is: http://mediatomb.cc/

    I haven’t tried it personally, as I just started my due diligence to purchase our first Blue-Ray Player and am currently leaning toward the new Sony PS3 (Slim) for it’s features even though I am not a gamer.

  11. Mike says:

    I got excited about Mediatomb and worked all night to try and get things up and working. I’m not a developer but to load Mediatomb one must load Fink from a binary and then I found out I needed Xcode tools which menat I had to join Apple ADC and then the download of Xcode is about 250G and that where I decided to bail and look again for a simpler MAC DMLA app. PS – I also tried TVMobili and found it easy to install but very limited in functionality with very unclear start and stop. I just bought a LG BD390 DVD Player with 802.11n that supports DLNA.

    • Bob says:

      Mike,

      Have you been able to get DLNA to work with your LGBD390, I’ve seen a lot of post around the Net that Mac users have had trouble with this?

      • Mike says:

        Bob – while I have not had time yet to find and test a DLNA server with the LG BD390, I have found it is able to browse my Time Capsule and render iPhoto pictures and iTunes music in mp3 and wma formats. I have some testign to do yet on movie formats.

        The BD-Live works great and I rented an on-demand HDX movie from VuDu was very good quality and 5.1 sound.

    • Geoffery Bigglesly says:

      Developer Tools is on the install DVDs which come with your Mac. Unless your unfortunate to have bought a Mac with Lion. Then you will have to download as you say. A real PITA. Bring back Steve.

  12. rolfje says:

    I had terrible experiences with Fink, too. I advise people to stay away from Fink. If you want to use Linux stuff, install a Linux OS.

    BTW, XCode is on the Leopard and Snow Leopard install disks if I am correct, no need to join or download anything.

    • Geoffery Bigglesly says:

      Fink, or MacPorts, is handy for getting opensource onto your Mac. There’s a few of us Mac users who realise that they have a powerful Unix machine, and tools like MacPorts and Fink allow us to access software that is otherwise a real PITA to install.

      Given how much command line goodness is out there, it’s worth exploring.

      • rolfje says:

        I’m a fan of (and contributor to) open source. I didn’t have very good experiences with Fink while trying to get Gimp on my Mac. Still too much fiddling and commandline stuff. Actually that was a good thing, because I discovered PixelMator and that is a dream to work with at a very affordable price.

        But even without Fink, there is a lot of very good open source software out there for the Mac, I haven’t looked back at windows since I switched.

        And yes. Bring back Steve, so he can correct some stuff Apple did last year, starting with the over complicated, barely working, essential feature lacking iOS configuration mess that’s called iCloud.

  13. Dave says:

    Another “hey, thanks” comment. MediaLink working truly out of the box – iMac on 802.11n to a time capsule and hard wired to the PS3.

  14. […] even these formats. FWICT, you need DLNA server software running on your Mac. Hard to come by but this guy has a few things to say. I looked at DLNA 3 years ago, but stayed with AppleTV. The horror stories […]

  15. Arjan says:

    Instead of Fink I’d advice MacPorts (http://macports.org). I’ve been using this to install the necessary amount of open source stuff on my mac and it works great (good update functionality as well).

  16. steve brown says:

    i want something that does DLNA so it will talk to my Sony TV. I installed media link but could not get it to work.

    • steve brown says:

      HARDWARE
      Sony KDL-46VL160 TV
      MacBookPro 13″ w/ snow leopard

    • rolfje says:

      Hi Steve, I don’t think you can run ps3mediaserver and medialink at the same time, although I haven’t tried. I also have a Sony TV with DLNA capabilities, but given the “speedy responses” to my remote in the menus, I’m not trusting my TV as a media player.

      I went voor medialink -> ps3 as single, simple solution. It works, although I hate the ps3 menu structure when switching between photo and video mode (whoever thought of this on the PS3 must be publicly apologize and then fix this problem asap, together with the USB stick “view all” menu).

  17. matt says:

    if you want anothe alternative, try serviio. works great to my new samsung dlna lcd tv. its free, quick to setup.

    http://www.serviio.org/

    • keith says:

      servio+sony Bravia+Mac
      Works really well, simple straight forward, tok a while to understand where to local my Mac in the menus (under movies or audio)
      will render from pictures or movie folder on my Mac, but doesn’t stream from a web browser, don’t know how I do that, still looking…!

  18. tweety says:

    Hm. Seems I am the only one struggling with MediaLink. Got the software, installed it, found it not working reliably. Sometimes, the PS does not find the server, sometimes it does and I can browse the content of my mac but cant play any: Network Error (2006). Checked on the net, they advise to adjust to NAT2 which I did. Did a software update for PS, did not help. Rest of the network settings are on automatic. Any ideas?

    I also read somewhere that MediaLink would allow copying files to the PS by drag and drop. That right?

    One more thing: I got a Yamaha RX-V3900 AV-receiver that also is supposed to support DLNA. Yet, the MediaLink window shows an “unsupported remote device”.

    Any comments on either of my probs are appreciated!

  19. rolfje says:

    My PS3 sometimes takes a while to find the media server, be patient. Some video formats which produce a high network or cpu load (not sure which) cause “Network Error” messages to be overlayed on the screen while playing the video, but other than that the video keeps playing.

    My setup is a mac mini (old power pc model) connected through 100Mbit ethernet to the PS3 (cables above wifi anytime).

    Did you check your firewall settings on the mac? Try to switch it off, then start Medialink, then connect the PS3. If that works, you need to fiddle with the firewall settings a bit.

  20. Jatin says:

    I have ReadyNAS Pro. Works seemless with PS3, OSX, Linux and windows. No problems in streaming video, audio or pictures. Slightly expensive but a good product.

  21. tweety says:

    Firewall was switched off at any time. Could that be a matter of port settings?

    Getting new software is not exactly what I have in mind. I payed for it and I want it to work, period.

  22. WebDev says:

    Local Mac Firewalls and DNLA:

    Note, if you are running a software firewall on your Mac, like NetBarrier, LittleSnitch, Apple’s, etc. you will need to open ports for UPnP / DNLA for the DNLA software you are running. For local access security only, limit only for your local network IPs (Like 192.168.0.*, 192.168.1.*, or 192.168.2.*, etc. depending on your network, router, or switch). Typical ports for UPnP / DNLA are:

    Ports:
    1900 (UDP)
    5000 (TCP)
    5001 (TCP)
    9001 (TCP)
    41952 (TCP & UDP)
    Maybe others too depending on server and client.
    Test your server-client connection first and then check your software firewall’s logs for the necessary port numbers when it attempted to connect.

    Make sure you know what you are doing with openning ports in your firewall before doing it.

    For information on standard TCP/IP ports, see Wikipedia’s list:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_TCP_and_UDP_port_numbers

  23. Golden says:

    RIVET!!!!!!

    Does every format but MKV for the PS3. It has more controls than Medialink and works right away with no setup.

    Medialink was fine but shut down after a while on multiple movies. I sent many request for help and ultimately a refund which nullriver never acknowledged. They Customer service SUCKS. I will glad give my code to anyone that wants it just to screw them out of money for there terrible service.

    Macbook
    rivet
    airport extreme router
    networked drive
    PS3

    • keith says:

      I used Serviio
      Works really well, simple straight forward, took a while to understand where to locate my Mac in the menus (under movies or audio)
      will render from pictures or movie folder on my Mac, but doesn’t stream from a web browser, don’t know how I do that, still looking…!

  24. Jules J says:

    9XoF6FDMI’ve tried most DLNA players and found the standard is not quite ready to call a reliable media delivery system. The two best players to date i have found is TwonkyMedia & TVMOBiLi. TVMOBiLi is brilliant considering it’s free and works immediately from install.

  25. […] smartphones que permite transformá-los em DLNA Servers, mas e no computador? Fiz uma pesquisa e vi a história de alguém que queria usar seu PS3 como um DLNA Client e o Mac como DLNA Server. Ele recomendou o […]

  26. John Fulton says:

    According to my Sony Blu Ray Player S570, MediaLink uses PnPP not DLNA. Thus I was unable to stream content from my Mac to my S570 via MediaLink. However, Twonky is working well with my S570 and Mac. Also, the Twonky server is only $20. You don’t necessarily need the Twonky manager if you just want to access files and stream them in their appropriate format. Too bad Sony couldn’t just implement an SMB or NFS client in the first place however.

  27. Sakthi says:

    I am using TVMobili on my Mac and works wonderful with my PS3. It streams HD content and integrates with iTunes for Music and iPhoto for pictures.

    Highly recommend it. It’s FREE.

    http://www.tvmobili.com

  28. Alex says:

    Got XBMC on macbook 13 2009, will try to wirelessly stream to 47LE8500, by using an-wf100 USB adapter

    • rolfje says:

      Well? Did you try? How did it go?
      “Do or do not, there is no try” – Master Yoda

      • Alex says:

        I did try, but somth Im doing wrong. My setup I have LG 47le8500 with usb wifi adapter an-wf100, tv connects wirelessly to the internet through dir655 dlink router. I have macbook I installed xbmc and serviio. Question how do I send video to LG? Serviio sees it as unrecognized device generic dlna profile, but how do I send video wirelessly to tv am I missing something do I have to have something hard wired ie PS3? I thought I can do it wirelessly.

  29. Alex says:

    All works, I used Serviio not (xbmc), just took awhile to get through all my files. Step are next on macbook start serviio server, then serviio console in the status tab LG tv showed with ip and as unrecognized with generic dlna profile. Then turn on tv(47LE8500) go to menu > my media > movie list you’ll see all the folders that you have added through serviio (it takes long time for serviio to add them just fyi) bingo all works even 1080p I use dir 655

  30. Mazz says:

    I’ve just got an internet TV hooked up to my network, and googling led me here and I’ve downloaded MediaLink. My partner spent 10 minutes installing the DLNA client which came with the TV onto Windows, I spent less than a minute googling, buying and installing ML, and the TV found it instantly. We’re streaming things right now! Thanks for the recommendation!

  31. James says:

    tvmobili.com has a straight forward interface, is free and works brilliantly with SAMSUNG ALL SHARE.

    problem is only works on intel macs (I also have a power PC with alot of content)

  32. Gadar says:

    tvmobili.com works on Mac OSX Snow Leopard with Samsung LED TV 5 series. I tried serviio(http://www.serviio.org/), and it worked well too. Thanks all for sharing your experience.

  33. NullRiver hands down from the Mac and AirMusic app from the iPhone. Both work a treat sending Music etc to my PS3/52″ TV. Love it.

  34. Dave says:

    Use “Playback” on OSX, I’ve been using it for years and it has not failed me yet! and I serve multiple devices around the house (PS3, Western Digital etc..)

    • rolfje says:

      I haven’t tried it, but check the comments, lots of people already commented on tvmobili.

    • CJ says:

      I think a big problem with tvmobili is that it runs as a root application. This is supposedly so that it can access media in other users accounts on your Mac, but why would you want to do that? I am very suspicious of the writers’ motivation for running tvmobili as a root app. The whole point of accounts is to quarantine data, and a simple dlna server should not need admin privileges. I tried and failed to get tvmobili to run without root privileges, so I deleted it (also a very tricky thing to do). The tvmobili folder structure when browsing from an DLNA TV is also annoying.

  35. Googol says:

    Elgato EyeConnect is the only one that works perfect with my Sony Bravia KDL-55EX725

    http://www.elgato.com/elgato/int/mainmenu/products/software/EyeConnect.en.html

  36. Balboa says:

    Twonky Media Server works perfectly with my Panasonic Viera HDTV, wireless LAN panasonic adapter, and Macbook using Mac OS X !0.4. It seems all the other software dlna servers for mac require OS X 10.5 or above.

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