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Ubuntu 12.04 - Rhythmbox and Totem as UPnP/DLNA clients

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Nowadays, uPnP/DLNA home servers are becoming very popular. These servers now come embedded with Windows clients, with network appliances like NAS, ... So you can today easily centralize and serve all your audio/video files.

But, on the other end, under Ubuntu Precise, it is still no so easy to get a media player (renderer) compatible with uPnP/DLNA servers.

upnp-dlna-symbol

Two very common media players, Rhythmbox (audio) and Totem (audio & video), provide some uPnP/DLNA playback support in their latest version, with the help of a new Gnome projet named Grilo.

But unluckily, this uPnP/DLNA support has not been packaged under Ubuntu Precise.

This article explains how to enable uPnP/DLNA playback on Rhythmbox and Totem (also known as Movie Player) under Ubuntu Precise 12.04.

The following configurations have been tested with TwonkyMedia 7 as a uPnp/DLNA server running on a NAS device.

1. Install Grilo

Grilo is a framework focused on making media discovery and browsing easy for application developers.

Grilo has plugins supporting various services and it is providing access to YouTube, UPnP/DLNA server, ...

So, it can be used as a gateway between some client applications (renderer) and some uPnP/DLNA media servers.

Once Grilo is installed and running, any application with the proper plugin can access all uPnP/DLNA servers on your LAN.

As Grilo is available in the official repository, installation is simple :

# sudo apt-get install grilo-plugins-0.1

This will install all the files needed for Grilo.

To allow Grilo to scan your uPnP music database, it is important that all your audio files served thru uPnP are properly tagged.
For mp3 files, prefer id3v2 tags. As old id3v1 tags may give trouble, try to avoid them.
To cleanup your tag database, you can use EasyTag, which is a very good mp3 mass tagger, available in the official repository.

2. Enable Rhythmbox uPnP/DLNA Client

Rhythmbox is providing natively a grilo plugin since version 2.96, allowing native access to uPnP/DLNA shares, but due to a packaging mistake it is not packaged under Ubuntu Precise.

You can easily check if your Rhythmbox is providing grilo plugin. You should have a /usr/lib/rhythmbox/plugins/grilo directory with few files in it.  If not, you need to install Grilo plugin manually.

First thing is to update to latest Rhythmbox 2.97. As Precise is shipped with version 2.96, we can upgrade it from the Web Upd8 team :

# sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/rhythmbox
# sudo apt-get update
# sudo apt-get upgrade

Once done, you need to recover the grilo plugin from Rhythmbox Daily PPA.

Download the file rhythmbox-plugin-grilo_2.97+...~precise1_xxxx.deb corresponding to your architecture (i386 or amd64).

To avoid any dependency problem, we won't install the package. We will recover the plugin from the package and copy it where is sould have always been under /usr/lib/rhythmbox/plugins/grilo.

Run these commands from the directory where you downloaded the .deb package :

# ar x rhythmbox-plugin-grilo_*~precise1_*.deb data.tar.gz
# tar -zxvf data.tar.gz && rm data.tar.gz
# sudo cp -R usr/lib/rhythmbox/plugins/grilo /usr/lib/rhythmbox/plugins && rm -R usr

Rhythmbox is now ready to play your uPnP music !

Make sure that Grilo plugin is activated :

ubuntu-rhythmbox-grilo

You should see your uPnP servers on the left side under the Shared section.

 ubuntu-upnp-rhythmbox

You can now browse your uPnP/DLNA music straight from Rhythmbox.

3. Enable Totem uPnP/DLNA Client

Like Rhythmbox, latest version of Totem is providing natively a grilo plugin, allowing native access to uPnP/DLNA shares. But ... it is not packaged under Ubuntu Precise.

You can check easily if your Totem is providing grilo plugin. You should have a /usr/lib/totem/plugins/grilo directory with few files in it. If not, you need to install it manually.

First thing is to install the latest Totem 3.4 as Precise is shipped with Totem 3.0.

Latest version of Totem is provided by the Gnome 3 Team PPA.

# sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3
# sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

Once done, you need to recover the Totem grilo plugin from GNOME Stracciatella PPA.

Download the file totem-plugins_3.4....~stracciatellappa+precise1_xxxx.deb corresponding to your architecture (i386 or amd64).
For Quantal you should download the file totem-plugins-extra_3.4....~stracciatellappa+precise1_xxxx.deb (thanks to Heten Daiya for the info).

Again, to avoid any dependency problem, we won't install the .deb package. We will only extract the grilo plugin files and copy them to it to /usr/lib/totem/plugins/grilo.

Run these commands from the directory where you downloaded the .deb package :

# ar x totem-plugins*precise1_*.deb data.tar.gz
# tar -zxvf data.tar.gz && rm data.tar.gz
# sudo cp -R usr/lib/totem/plugins/grilo /usr/lib/totem/plugins && rm -R usr

If you launch Movie Player, you can access your uPnP/DLNA servers thru the menu View / Browse.

Totem is now ready to play your uPnP music and your DLNA movies !

 ubuntu-dlna-totem

As the grilo plugin is a very young project, it's still a little bit buggy.
In some circumstances, you may freeze Totem while fast forwarding your movies.

 

Hope it helps.

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