The most important configuration step that needs to be done is to configure the Media Sources. This page gives an introduction into the concept of MP2 Media Sources.
The Concept of Media Sources
MP2 uses the concept of distributed media, but centralized information. This means that your media items can be anywhere - on your MP2 Server, on your MP2 Client, on any other computer in your network, on a NAS or maybe even in the Internet. But the information on your media items (e.g. where is the media item located, what is the name of the movie or the artist of a song, how does the cover of a song look like, etc., generally speaking: the metadata of your media items) is always stored centralized in the database of your MP2 Server.
The big advantage of this concept is that from the perspective of an MP2 Client it does not matter at all, where the media items are located. As soon as you attach a freshly installed MP2 Client to your MP2 Server, it has immediately access to all the media items your MP2 Server knows about. Unlike in MP1, there is no need to import your music collection on every single client.
But how does the MP2 Server know about media items such as music files, video files or image files? This is where Media Sources (or short "Sources") come into play. A Media Source is nothing more than a place where the MP2 system can find media items. This, however, means that unless you add at least one Media Source, the MP2 Server doesn't know any media item and you will not be able to play a song, a movie or any other media item. Therefore, adding your Media Sources should be the first thing to do after you have installed your MP2 Server, at least one MP2 Client and you have attached your MP2 Client to your MP2 Server.
Once you have added a Media Source, your MP2 System will automatically start importing information on the media items it finds in this Media Source to the MP2 Server's database. For some media items such as movies or series it will also automatically start scraping additional information from the Internet and save it to the MP2 Server's database. Later, when you want to watch a movie or listen to a song, the respective media file is automatically streamed to the MP2 Client where you hit play - no matter where the file is located.
Before you add a Media Source to your MP2 System, you should ask yourself in particular three questions:
- Which computer in my network shall take care of importing the metadata of my media items into the MP2 Server's database?
- Where are the media items located I want to import into my MP2 Server's database?
- What kind of media items are located in the Media Source?
Once you have answered these questions, you can start adding your Media Sources.
Adding Media Sources
To add Media Sources you need a running MP2 Server and a MP2 Client attached to that server.
Before adding media sources you should configure the "Server Settings". Here you can enter the credentials needed to assess network attached storage devices and you can configure which online sources for fanart and metadata should be used during import.
On the MP2 Client go to Settings > Media sources
Here you can enter the user and password to access the media stored on network drives. The reason for having to provide network credentials is that the MP2 Server runs as a Windows Service. The Windows Service by default runs under the Local System account. The Local System account has the right to browse locally attached storage such as internal hard drives, but it does not have the right to browse the network or access shared folders on other computers. This is a restriction imposed by Microsoft Windows for security purposes.
Currently, MP2 uses the same credentials for all shared folders you want to access. That means that you need to have the same user name with the same password on all computers and / or NASes you want to access. This is a limitation of MP2 at the moment. It is planned to add the possibility of different credentials for different Media Sources, but this may take a while.
If you are running an MP2 client on a different computer from the server, it is best if that computer also has a user with the same name and password. If not, you need to specify a computer which does have such a user as the domain part of the login - e.g. "mediauser@hostcomputer".
And you can adjust the online sources for audio, series and movies under "Server settings". You also can limit the number of downloaded fanart and change the language settings for downloaded metadata. You even can disable online data grabbing completely if you have all fanart and metadata stored locally in .nfo files and local images. All settings you've done here are valid for any client connected to this server. After you're done her you can start adding media sources.
On the MP2 Client go to Settings > Media sources > Media sources configuration:
As you can see, on a freshly installed MP2 Server there already are Media Sources, Recordings(x):
Those sources are the recording folder (s) configured during TV setup and will hold all your TV recordings.
When you have a single seat system, i.e. your MP2 Server is installed on the same computer as the only MP2 Client, or a multi seat systems when you are using an MP2 Client on the same computer, on which your MP2 Server is installed. it is not possible to add client media sources. We will explain now what is the difference and why there is no client media source possible on the server system.
Server Sources versus Client Sources
The first decision you have to make is whether you want to add a Server Source or a Client Source:
This decision is based on the answer to the question which computer shall take care of importing the media items in your source.
If you select Server Source, your MP2 Server will take care of the import task. If you select Client Source, the computer on which you are just running your MP2 Client will take care of importing your media items.
This easily explains why you can only add Server Sources, when you are running a single seat system. In this case the computer on which your MP2 Server is located and the computer on which your MP2 Client is running, is the same. Therefore, it only makes sense to add a Server Source in this configuration. The same of course applies, if you have multiple MP2 Clients, but you are currently using the MP2 Client, which is installed on the same computer as your MP2 Server.
There are some disadvantages of Client Sources, which you should be aware of:
The MP2 Server is a Windows Service. As a result, the import of a Server Source can take place even if no MP2 Client is running. The import of Client Sources is handled by the MP2 Client application. Therefore, the import of Client Sources can only take place as long as the MP2 Client application is running. Consequently, if you try to play a media item on computer A, which is contained in a Client Media Source on computer B, this is only possible as long as the MP2 Client application is running on computer B. As soon as you quit the MP2 Client on computer B, the media items on Client Sources on Computer B will disappear from all the MP2 Clients on your network until you restart your MP2 Client on computer B.
Even if you add a Client Source on one of your MP2 Clients, the metadata of your media items in such Media Source is still stored in the database of the MP2 Server. These media items will just not be shown on any of your MP2 Clients as long as the MP2 Client on which you added the Client Source, does not run the MP2 Client application. Therefore, it is not necessary to reimport your Client Source when you restart the MP2 Client application. The data is still there, it is just not shown when the MP2 Client application does not run.
Now what is best practice? In general you should use Server Sources as often as possible. You should only use Client Sourcs if
- your MP2 Client runs on a different computer than your MP2 Server, and
- the media items you want to add are located on locally attached storage to this MP2 Client, such as internal or external hard disks, and
- for some reason it is not possible to access those drives/folders from the network neighborhood.
In all other cases, in particular when your media items are located on locally attached storage to your MP2 Server, on any other server in your network, such as samba servers or Windows Home Servers, or on a NAS, you should choose a Server Source. This ensures that you can access your media items from any of your MP2 Clients as long as the MP2 Server is running (and in case of a NAS or other storage servers of course these servers are running as well).
Now it's time to click on Add media source to add your first Media Source. In the following, you will be asked to enter some information, which is directly related to the three questions mentioned above.
Choose your Resource Provider
After clicking on Continue, you can choose the location to access your Media Source:
MP2 uses so called Resource Providers to access your Media Source's media items. If you are interested in why there is such a thing as a Resource Provider, please read about the concept of Resource Providers. In this article, we concentrate on the two Resource Providers, which are currently available:
- Local File System Resource Provider
- Network Neighborhood Resource Provider
With the Local File System Resource Provider you can access media files located on directly attached storage to the computer, which is responsible for the import. If you have chosen to add a Server Source, the Local File System Resource Provider will give you access to media files on your locally attached storage (internal or external e.g. USB hard drives) of your MP2 Server computer. If you have chosen to add a Client Source, the Local File System Resource Provider will give you access to the locally attached storage of the computer, on which your MP2 Client is running. So don't be confused: If you have your MP2 Server running on computer A and your MP2 Client on computer B, you have chosen to add a Server Source and you select the Local File System Resource Provider, it will give you access to the local drives on computer A although you are sitting in front of computer B! If in the same scenario you have chosen to add a Client Source, the Local File System Resource Provider will give you access to the local drives on computer B.
The Local File System Resource Provider will not give you access to mapped network drives in Windows. You will only be able to access local storage with this Resource Provider. If you want to add sources, which are not located on local storage, please use the Network Neighborhood Resource Provider.
The Network Neighborhood Resource Provider on the other hand gives you access to media files, which are not located on locally attached storage to the computer taking care of importing the media files. If you followed the best practice on Server Sources versus Client Sources, this means that you only choose the Network Neighborhood Resource Provider when adding Server Sources. The Network Neighborhood Resource Provider has to be chosen in particular, when your media files are located on a NAS or any kind of storage server such as a samba server or a Windows Home Server in your network.
When you have made your decision, click on Continue.
Select your Media Source's Path
Now you have to tell MP2 where your Media Source is located. Depending on the Resource Provider you have chosen in the last step, you will be presented with a possibility to point to a local path (for the Local File System Resource Provider) or to a network path (for the Network Neighborhood Resource Provider).
If you have chosen the Local File System Resource Provider, you can point MP2 to a path in your local file system of the computer, which takes care of the import:
You can browse trough the respective local file system by clicking on the + on the left of a drive or folder.
When you have reached the drive or path containing the media files you want to add, click the respective checkbox on the left of the drive or folder name. Your Media Source will always contain the drive or folder you select as well as all subfolders. The subfolders are automatically imported recursively to your MP2 Server's database.
If you have chosen the Network Neighborhood Resource Provider, it may take some seconds until you can select a network path:
In this screen you should see all the computers and NASes in your local network. When you expand the treeview by clicking on the + sign on the left of a computer or NAS, you should see all the shared folders of such computer or NAS (such as e.g. "Musik" in the screenshot above, which is located on the remote computer named "UHURA"). By clicking the + sign of a shared folder, you can browse the shared folder's subfolders.
When you have reached the shared folder or path containing the media files you want to add, click the respective checkbox on the left of the shared folder or subfolder name. Your Media Source will always contain the network share or subfolder you select as well as all subfolders. The subfolders are automatically imported recursively to your MP2 Server's database.
If you cannot see any computers or NASes of your network in the screen above, or your can see the computers and NASes, but you can't expand them to see the shared folders and subfolders, you have to enter Network Credentials first. This should only happen if you add a Media Source with the Network Neighborhood Resource Provider and you haven't entered the credentials now or the shared folders are not accessible with the entered credentials.
Give your Media Source a Name
Now you can give your Media Source a name:
You should give it a name which tells you what media items are contained in the respective Media Source. You will only see this name again, if you manage your Media Sources (e.g. if you decide to remove a Media Source) or if you select "Browse Media" from the main menu of your MP2 Client (which is similar to the Folder View in MP1). The name of the source has to be unique. So if you want to add for example many movies sources you can name them "movies1", "movies2", "movies3",... or similar. The name is completely up to you as long as it is unique.
If you for example go to "Audio" in your MP2 Client's main menu you will see all the music files from all Server or Client Media Sources without having to care about on which Media Source the different music files are located. This means that you can filter all your media items by artists or actors and you can choose between all the media items as if they were on your local hard drive. When you play one of the media items, you won't even notice whether the files are on your local MP2 Client computer, on your server or NAS. Just hit play and the media file plays. MP2 will take care of streaming the media file to your MP2 Client computer. Welcome to the fancy world of MP2 .
Select the Type(s) of the Media Items in your Media Source
Once you have added the Media Source, the MP2 System will start to import all the media items it can find in the Media Source to your Media Library, i.e. the database maintained on your MP2 Server. But therefore, the MP2 System needs to know, which kind of media items it can expect in that particular Media Source. This information can be entered in the next screen:
If your Media Source contains music files, choose "Audio", if it contains pictures from your last vacation, choose "Image", if it contains holiday videos, choose "Video", if it contains movie files, choose "Movie" and if it contains your collection of TV series, choose "Series". Plugins are able to add extra types here. E.g. the "Emulators" plugin adds the type "Games".
As you can see, there is no need for a separate movies or series plugin in MP2 such as Moving Pictures or TV Series in MP1. MP2 natively supports movies and series.
You can choose multiple categories of media items for one Media Source, but it is best practice to add a separate Media Source for every kind of media items you want to import.
When selecting "Movie" or "Series" you will notice that "Video" is automatically also selected. The reason is that "Movie" and "Series" are sub-categories of "Video" - which makes perfectly sense since every movie or series is also a video, but not every video is also a movie or a series (as for example your holiday videos). The selection you make on this screen will determine, what kind of additional information the MP2 System will try to find for your media items contained in the respective Media Source. If you e.g. choose "Movie", the MP2 system will not only import information contained in your movie files (such as MKV tags), which may also make sense for holiday videos when you have tagged them properly. It will also automatically try to scrape further information from the internet for all your movies such as covers, etc. This of course only makes sense if your source contains movies - unless you enter your holiday videos on IMDB .
What you are technically doing on this screen is choosing the Metadata Extractors, which the MP2 System applies to the respective Media Source. Metadata Extractors are similar to scrapers in the MP1 world - they try to find information on your media files from tags in your files or from the internet. The Movie Metadata Extractor as well as the Series Metadata Extractor depend on the Video Metadata Extractor, which is why you cannot choose "Movie" or "Series" without choosing "Video". The reason is, that first the Video Metadata Extractor is responsible for finding e.g. the name of a video - either by reading MKV tags or by analyzing the file name of the respective video. This information is then necessary for the Movie Metadata Extractor to find additional information of a movie such as a cover in the internet. Please read the concept of Metadata Extractors for more information on this topic.
Enjoy the Media Items in your Media Source
When you click "Finish", you have successfully added your first Media Source. Congratulations!
You will be brought back to the *Sources configuration* screen and your newly added Media Source should be shown.
Now, the MP2 System will import your Media Source into the Media Library and it will try to find as much information on your media items as it can. All this information is stored in the MP2 Server's database.
Although the import process may take several minutes or - depending on the amount of media items in your Media Source - several hours, the whole process takes place in the background. You can immediately continue to use your MP2 Client. However, please be aware that if you immediately after adding a Media Source try to enter the Audio, Video, Movies or Series Sections in your MP2 Client's main menu, you may not see all your media items, yet, since the import process is still running in the background. If you still miss some of your media items, please go back to the MP2 Client's main menu and reenter the respective section after the import has finished.
You will see a status notification in the MP2 Client under Settings > Media sources > Media source > Media sources overview" while the import is running:
You don't have to worry if you shut down your MP2 Server (for Server Sources) or your MP2 Client (for Client Sources) while the import has not yet finished. The MP2 System will just stop the import in this case and start it again, when you restart your MP2 Server or MP2 Client, respectively. The import will then start exactly where it has been stopped before, i.e. your import will not be started from the beginning.
Finally, you can add as many Media Sources as you like by repeating the above process.
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