Author Topic: Guide to XBMC Media Server on Windows Server 2008 R2 and HP Microserver  (Read 38236 times)

In this guide I will walk you through installing ‘Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1 x64’ and XBMC. In the examples I am using an HP MicroServer with 8Gb ram (minimum of 4Gb required for Server 2008) and a DirectX10 compatible graphics card, there are some sections that are only relevant to this system.

You will be left with a glorious XBMC media centre running on an ultra stable operating system. You will be able to play full HD from the largest of encodes flawlessly, have all your TV shows and movies automatically download when they are released and be added directly to your XBMC library with no intervention. Your can also use RAID 5 and many other server features of Server 2008 R2

If you do not have a physical copy of the Server 2008 disk you will either have to create one (burn the ISO to disk) of use a program to make a virtual drive out of the ISO you have, Daemon Tools Lite can do this - http://www.daemon-tools.cc/eng/products/dtLite and then create a bootable USB stick from that virtual drive.

Making a bootable USB version of Windows Server 2008 R2:

On a separate PC, insert the Windows Disk or mount the ISO file using Daemon Tools Lite



To copy the required files onto the USB stick you can use the excellent (and free) Novicorp WinToFlash - http://wintoflash.com/download/en/

Once you have downloaded and installed WinToFlash double click ‘WinToFlash.exe’ in the install directory.
 


Under the 'Advanced Mode' tab select 'Transfer Windows Vista/2008/7/8 setup to USB drive'



Click ‘Run’ and enter the drive letters for your Windows and USB drive are located



Press Run and wait for the process to complete.

You should now have a bootable USB installation of Windows Server 2008 R2.
Last Edit: October 14, 2011, 13:14:31 PM by sexytw #187;
Formerly sexytw

Installing Windows Server 2008 R2 on your HTPC (HP Microserver in this case)

Firstly backup anything you might want to keep on your Windows partition or drive. The windows installation will format this drive so any existing data will be lost. Any data on other drives or partitions will be left untouched.

Plug your USB key into your HP MicroServer, any USB port will suffice (front or back) and restart the machine (if its currently on, if not just power on).

In the boot screen press F10 to go to the bios menu, under the BOOT tab make sure ‘USB Boot Priority’ is set to HIGH, then save and exit (F10).

Your computer will now restart into a Windows Install mode. Follow the installation instructions.  For reference, from inserting the USB stick to being on my new Windows Server desktop took 32 minutes for me.

Some of the options I chose are below but feel free to select others if it fits you better:

Select the operating system you want to install:
Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard (Full Installation)

Don’t be alarmed when the installation restarts on its own after the ‘Expanding Windows Files’ stage, this is normal, however when it restarts you MUST REMOVE THE USB DEVICE (or disk) from the machine or alternatively change the boot order otherwise you boot from the USB device again and start the installation all over again.


Initial Configuration of Windows Server 2008 R2

These are very basic setup tasks that anyone who has previously installed a version of Windows has probably done before. I found the install and prompts very intuitive so feel free to skip this section if you are comfortable with setting things up for yourself.

Once the installation completes you are presented with a window with lots of “Initial Configuration Tasks”.



I temporarily minimised these tasks in favour of getting the graphics card drivers installed so I could run at a more convienient screen resolution than 640 x 480.
For my Radeon 6450 (should work for all ATI cards) I went to the following link which auto detects the drivers you need:

http://support.amd.com/us/gpudownload/windows/Pages/auto_detect.aspx

HINT: If you need to restart to complete any installations and want to get back to the “Initial Configuration Tasks” run (Start -> Run) ‘OOBE.exe’.

Once you have graphics card drivers I suggest you “Activate Windows” as a top priority followed by “Provide Computer name and domain”



Then “Enable automatic updating and feedback”, “Enable Remote Desktop”. Whilst setting “Enable Remote desktop” to “Allow connections from computers running any version of Remove Desktop” you will be prompted that the computer is set to sleep or hibernate. This is a good chance to change these settings to a more always on setup.



After this was done I ran the “Download and Install Updates” task to make sure everything was up to date.

Now to enable sound (that's right, its not enabled by default!), press Start, Run and type 'services.msc'



Scroll down the services and double click 'Windows Audio'. Change 'Start Up Type' to 'Automatic' then press 'Start' and OK.



You should now have sound! If you don't you may need to select the Audio output device. You cannot do this remotely, so log in then right click on the speaker in the bottom right on the desktop (by the clock) and select 'Open Volume Mixer'



Highlight your output device and click OK. WOOP! Sound!
Last Edit: October 12, 2011, 22:16:04 PM by sexytw #187;
Formerly sexytw

Installing XBMC on Windows Server 2008 R2

 I have used this fantastic guide by Leon a number of times now and it requires no modification to work with Windows Server 2008 R2:

Automated Media Server & XBMC Setup By Leon on TekForums
Last Edit: October 08, 2011, 15:11:21 PM by sexytw #187;
Formerly sexytw

Accessing Your Server When You're Away From Home

Want to control your server and services from away from home? I did and here's how I achieved it.

Setting Up A Static Hostname for your Home Network

To access your server from outside of your home network you need to know your network's unique address on the internet, this is done using an IP address that is assigned to you by your ISP. Sadly this IP address isnt always the same, it is 'dynamic'* and can change at any time.

Thankfully there is a solution to this problem of not being able to know for certain your IP address when you're away from home, you can use a free hostname service which can assign a non-changing address to your changing IP address. So, for example, instead of 80.3.229.20 (an IP address) you can access myServer.dyndns.com

I use and recommend DynDNS, a totally free, spam free service which is very well supported. Create and verify an account on their site.

On the first page you see after you have verified your account you will be presented with various paid account options, the free option is below all of these.



On the following page you get to choose the address for your network. Choose carefully, you might be typing it in regularly in the future! I am of the opinion shorter is better.



Leave 'Host with IP address' selected.

Fill in your current IP address, this is given to you below the text box. This will be correct if you are on the same network, even if you are not on the same computer.



'Proceed to Checkout' then 'Activate Services' on the next two pages. You should then see that your new address was 'Successfully Activated'



Now you have your address you need to make sure it is updated when your IP address changes. Many routers support DynDNS and can do this update automatically so I suggest you google 'DynDNS your_router_name' to see if you can take that route.

Alternatively you can download a tiny DynDNS client which will sit on your server and handle the IP updates. Download it from: http://dyn.com/support/clients/

When installing ensure you leave 'start with Windows' checked, this ensures the tool is always running so it can update your IP address if it changes.



However I suggest you Uncheck the 'Dyn Internet Guide' which is an unrequired tool of no use.



Log in to the application when it loads.



Select your hostname in the 'My Hosts' window, click 'Apply' and you now have a hostname that will update for you automatically!

*Some ISP's will allow you to have a static IP address but it usually costs extra.


Setting A Static IP Address in Windows Server 2008 R2

Now that we have a static address for your home network we can access the router from anywhere. We now need to have any requests forwarded by our router to the correct machine (in this case our HP Microserver). To do this we setup rules in the router to forward certain requests to certain machines. To do this we need to know the IP address of the server so we will make it static.

Firstly we'll find out the current IP address of the box, we'll use this and set it as the permanent IP address.

In the Start menu search box type 'cmd' and press enter. In the command window that opens type 'ipconfig' and press enter.

In the results you will see the current 'IPv4 Address', 'Subnet Mask' and 'Default Gateway'. You will need these later!



In the Start menu search box type 'Network connections' and click the result 'View Network Connections'



In the window that opens, right click on the 'Local Area Connection' and select 'Properties'



Select 'Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)' and press 'Properties'



Select 'Use the following IP address' and fill in the details as you saw them in the command window earlier. Take note of the IP address for later.

In the DNS section I like to use the third party service from http://www.opendns.com/ You can use the same values as my image or go to the site for yourself and you will see them at the bottom of the page.



Click 'Validate Settings Upon Exit' and click OK.

Your server now has a static IP (in this case mine is using 192.168.0.13)

Setting Up Port Forwarding On Your Router

This will vary substantially by router so you may need to google for a specific guide for your router. I am using a Virgin Media Super Hub.

To access your router you need to put the IP address into your browser. The address is the 'default gateway' you used earlier, quite often it will be 192.168.0.1

Log in to your router, if you dont know the login details they may be written on the router itself, if not, google for the defaults.

The area you are looking for in the settings is 'Port Forwarding', this may be under 'Advanced Settings' section if there is one.

The way port forwarding works is that any requests for a specific port can be routed to the machine which hosts the service on that port. I have the following rules set up, depending on which applications you use you may only want some of these:

PortApplication
3389Remote Desktop
5000CouchPotato
8081SickBeard
8080sabNZBd
9091Transmission




Now! Combining all of the above steps you should be able to access any services hosted on your server from anywhere in the world!

In the windows 'Remote Desktop Connection' you can simply type your dyndns address (myServer.dyndns.com) and hit connect!

For other services type you dyndns address followed by the port number into your browser eg:

myServer.dyndns.com:5000 for CouchPotato
myServer.dyndns.com:8080 for sabNzbd etc

I STRONGLY advise you to set up a strong username and password for any service you expose over the internet otherwise anyone will be able to access them and mess with your business!
Last Edit: October 13, 2011, 14:11:54 PM by sexytw #187;
Formerly sexytw

Tweaking Windows Server 2008 R2 to Make it a better Media Server


Enableing Multiple (Remote) Logons in Windows Server 2008 R2

When you remote into your server you probably don't want to kick other sessions off. This will mean you can log in and use the server while others are watching things through XBMC.

In the Start Menu search box type 'tsconfig.msc' then press [enter].
Scroll down until you see 'Restrict Each User to a Single Session'



This needs to be unchecked.

Double click on it to open the properties window, then unckeck 'Restrict each user to a single session'



Click 'Apply' then 'OK'

Make Windows Server 2008 R2 Autologin

Now, presumably you don't want to have to manually log in to your lovely media centre when it restarts so do the following to make it automatically login!

In the start menu search box type 'regedit' and press enter.

Navigate to the registry key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

The following values need to be set, if they do not exist create them. To create them, click Edit -> New -> String Value



Enter the name into the Name column



..then double click on it and enter the value.



The name and values pairs we need are (in name - value format):

DefaultUserName - the username you want to auto-login under (mine is Administrator)
DefaultPassword - the password for the above username
AutoAdminLogon - 1

So your registry should look something like the following:



Next we want to get rid of the requirement to press Ctrl+Alt+Del, then we'll be done!

Press Start -> Administrative Tools -> Local Security Policy



Click 'Local Policies' then 'Security Options'

Double click 'Interactive Logon: Do Not Require CTRL + ALT + DEL' and change the value to Enabled



Done! Logging in should now occur without any input from you!

Disable Password Expiry and Strong Password Requirements

Windows Server 2008 R2 by default forces you to use a 'strong' (complex) password and to change it regularly, I didn't want to do this on my media centre! Here's how to disable it:

In the Start menu search box type 'gpedit.msc' and press Enter.

Navigate to:
Local Group Policy Editor -> Computer Configuration -> Windows Settings -> Security Settings -> Account Policies -> Password Policy.



Double click 'Password must meet complexity requirements' and change it to disabled. The click OK.



Also change 'Maximum Password Age' to 0 so it never expires.

Done!


Disabling Server 2008 Shutdown Tracker

Every time you shutdown or reboot Windows Server 2008 R2 it makes you put in a reason, I dont want to put in a reason!

Click Start -> Run and type 'gpedit.msc'. Press OK.



Browse to 'Local Computer Policy' -> 'Computer Configuration' -> 'Administrative Templates' -> 'System'

Scroll down in the right window until you see 'Display Shutdown Event Tracker'



Double click 'Display Shutdown Event Tracker' and change its value to 'Disable', click OK.

Done!

Last Edit: October 13, 2011, 14:31:29 PM by sexytw #187;
Formerly sexytw

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Excellent stuff, when I do the unRAID writeup we'll have a full compendium of guides going on for this little Microserver :ptu:

Hi,

Thanks for a great guide.

I have gone through it several times now but I keep having an error when I get to this point :-

Now! Combining all of the above steps you should be able to access any services hosted on your server from anywhere in the world!

In the windows 'Remote Desktop Connection' you can simply type your dyndns address (myServer.dyndns.com) and hit connect!

I get "An error occurred.  Contact your workplace administrator for assistance."

If I put the port number at the end of the address I get " The remote computer cannot be authenticated due to problems with its security certificate.

 
Security certificate problems might indicate an attempt to fool you or intercept any data you send to the remote computer."

Could you shed any light on this error?

TIA

 :)

Is this for the remove desktop connection or another service?

You can check on the dyndns website that the domain is mapped to the correct IP, alternatively you could 'ping' the address in command prompt to see if it resolves to your IP.

Can you connect to the computer locally using its local computer name? The issue may not be with the port forwarding but with the local security settings.

Good luck, let me know what you find.
Formerly sexytw

Just looks like your client is set to require a certificate, I can't remember the exact setting but the is an option to warn or connect regardless, I'm assuming here that you don't have a certificate you want to use

Thats a much better suggestion!

In the mstsc client click 'options' then 'advanced' then set the drop-down to 'Connect and dont warn me'

Formerly sexytw

Thanks for the feedback guys!

It was the RDC that I was getting the error with.

I will look into changing the options as sexytw suggested.

I'll report back forthwith.

 :)

Well,Well Well!

That's the ticket!

Works like a charm.

Thanks XEntity and sexytw

 :cheers:

Hi!

I tried to Remote Connection, but tells the server is not turn on even thought it is

What can I do about this? Thanks!

Hi!

I tried to Remote Connection, but tells the server is not turn on even thought it is

What can I do about this? Thanks!

You could try pinging the machine from the computer you're trying to connect to, this will tell you if the computer is accessible (start>run>"cmd" then type "ping computername")
Formerly sexytw

Hi, I have read this guide and think its great however im looking for a similar one for WHS2011 as i have set it up on my proliant and installed my disks but im now stuck as where i go next, I want to get xbmc installed and working along with sickbeard, couchpotato ect.  I have a graphics card installed which is connected to my tv HDMI but i am considering changing so its going to my amp for surround sound. I also have some concerns with raid :-\

So what i need help with is the following

1. To use stablebit or another variety and do i do this beore xbmc install?

2. downloading xbmc, do i do this directly to proliant or another pc then transfer?

3. how to get autologin for xbmc working, how do i see it on the tv ? I have a smart tv so can see things on the server via the network but im not sure how to see it from direct connection via hdmi?

grateful for any help please x

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