Networking Your Computers To A Central Media Box

While I don’t usually write about the finer points of geeking out, because there is just so very little things happening on a personal level on the time being, I thought I’d work on share with you what I’ve been working on during my many breaks from the world of research.

There is a lot you can do with a bunch of computers connected to a network. If you’re the kind of person who likes to have a little measure of control in their lives as well as enjoy a fair bit of geekery, then this is one of those projects for you. The idea is simply this.

Turn an unused aging system in your house into a media box with independent downloading capabilities and have it remotely controlled by any computer in the house or outside it.

To start off with, here is the list of what I have in order to create my networked home entertainment system.

  1. A Toshiba Satellite 2410 notebook with a broken LCD (Windows XP)
  2. A mid ranged desktop PC (Windows XP)
  3. An Asus EeePC 701 (Linux Ubuntu Hardy Heron)
  4. BenQ S41 Joybook (Windows Vista)

Since the notebook doesn’t have an LCD anymore, I’m going to turn it into the media box. Then, I’m going to network some of the computers together so that they are connected via a single virtual network which is not limited behind the router. The remaining computer (BenQ S41 Joybook) will be outside the virtual network but still connected to the internal network with the ability to access the media box. Lastly, the computers connected to the virtual network will have remote access to the media box with the ability to control it from anywhere including outside the internal network. For good measure I’m also going to throw in documenting the things I couldn’t do with my systems but wanted to as well. Maybe you’ll have better luck at it than me.

All these though will be written down over the course of several posts. I’ll make it as simple as possible so that all but the most tech illiterate of you will be able to follow it. It’s a good project to be had anyway, a know a lot of people with variations to the design (like using an XBox 360 at the central media box), but the concept is still the same.

I hope that this series will eventually benefit you without all the trouble that I went through to get it working. Being a geek does have its benefits. You really can’t say no when you’re enjoying the fringe benefits of all your shows that you usually watch on your computer in front of a TV with surround sound. Especially if you’re a poor university student like myself, which I can tell you one thing.

It’s well worth its time.

Other posts in this series:

5 thoughts on “Networking Your Computers To A Central Media Box

  1. I will be very interested to learn how to do this. I’m one of those people who know just enough “technology” to communicate, but not enough to make things really work. 🙁 I’m currently trying to figure out how to remotely access my home desktop PC over the internet using Radmin 3.2 (Remote Administrator). Needless to say, I’m looking forward to your post series. If you would, throw in a little bit about remote desktop management and the esoteric world of ports. 🙂

  2. Jane: Well, one of the later posts is regarding remote desktop management, though I don’t use Radmin. Anyway, we’ll see how that goes and hopefully that will help you or at least give you a good idea on what to do. 🙂

  3. Guess what guess what guess what? Hubs got me the Asus EEE PC 1000HD for Christmas!! Well, very early Christmas pressie, that is 😛 Can’t wait for it to arrive next week 😀

  4. Tine: Aww shucks. I’d like that. I haven’t had time to write a tutorial about controlling the computers around the network with other computers. The EeePC would be a good candidate for the tutorial. 🙂

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