- The Angry Technician’s Guide to streaming Freeview via VLC, you Idiots
- How to stream EVERY channel from Freeview onto your network
- How to stream Freeview HD (DVB-T2) over multicast using dvblast, you Idiots
If you haven’t, you are slacking a bit, as they’ve been up for a while and are the top 3 posts ever on here by pageviews. According to the WordPress.com stats, #2 has been viewed more than 33,000 times, which is frankly a ridiculous number.
Anyway, after all that reading, you might be thinking yo yourself “well, multicast streaming is all nice and fancy, but what I want is some good old-fashioned unicast”. It’s a question that has come up a few times, especially as dvblast will only output multicast streams, so if you want multiple channels per tuner, you are stuck with multicast. There are a few reasons this might not suit your needs, however:
- Not all of your network supports multicast (especially true if you have cheap and nasty edge switches).
- You want to view the streams on clients that don’t have multicast software available (e.g. smartphones).
- You want to access the streams from a different network (e.g. streaming from one location to another over the Internet or a WAN/VPN).
Well, you are in luck. There is another bit of totally free open-source software that will make that conversion for you.
I’ve known for a long time that Adobe Reader doesn’t play nicely with redirected AppData folders, but I really thought VLC was better than this.
Annoyingly, since version 1.1.0, VLC Media Player doesn’t like the user’s AppData directory being on a UNC path (i.e. starting with a \\). It wants a drive letter. If you do redirect AppData to a UNC path, you may well end up seeing this sodding annoying screen every time you play a video:
If you’re lucky, it will take “less than a few minutes” and the video will start playing immediately afterwards. If your experience is similar to mine, it will take longer than a Windows Service Pack install, and be followed with another inexplicable delay before the video eventually plays (assuming you haven’t gotten bored and given up by then).
The VLC team have been made aware of this, but it’s not yet fixed. For now, if you redirect user AppData to a UNC path, stick to version 1.0.5. This does make the procedure for using SAP announcements with IPTV (scroll to about 2/3 of the way down) a bit more tedious, but it’s that or nothing right now.
So, you’ve read my guide to streaming Freeview via VLC, and you’re thinking, ‘that was too easy’. What’s next? Well, we’ve streamed one channel, and you could potentially leave that running for your users… but what if someone wants to watch a different channel?
How about streaming ALL the channels?
I’m so glad you asked.
In my last school we had an Exterity IPTV system that I had been quietly jealous of ever since I left it behind. A commenter on my last article had the same system, but was less enamoured of it on account of the fact that his was buggered. Certainly a distressing situation to be in given how expensive Exterity is: buying the full 6-tuner system from RM will set you back over £8,000. They may not be the cheapest supplier, but you get the idea.
The thing is, these systems are a few years old, and the world has moved on. Today, free open-source software exists that will let you and I build something to do roughly the same thing for less than £500.
Yes, £500. You’re welcome.
On Wednesday, the England vs. Slovenia World Cup match brought many a broadband connection across the UK to its knees as iPlayer, the BBC’s streaming video service, hit a peak of 800,000 concurrent streams (mostly skiving gits who should have been working).
Even before the match, IT professionals in schools were marginally backing a meltdown in a poll on EduGeek, realising that demand coupled with shared local authority bandwidth would likely scupper chances of getting a decent stream in schools. That prediction was largely borne out on the day, though experiences varied, with some schools getting a decent feed, while others got only a few minutes into the game before it stuttered to a halt.
We had no problems watching the game at all; we had more than 25 computers across the school watching a high-quality feed, despite having nothing more than an ADSL connection for the entire site.
I realised the night before the match that I already had everything I needed to serve up a live site-wide feed without using an Internet streaming service at all. Instead, I used a TV tuner to stream the DVB-T Freeview feed straight off the air and onto our network. Here’s how you could do the same.