The ultimate home network.

Okay, so I’m a bit of a mac geek.  I recently bought a Mac Mini snow leopard server to build and test PHP-based websites at home, but since I’ve got it, I figured I’d use it to manage my media as well.

Here’s the goal:
Build a single location to manage, distribute & backup my media.

The components:
Mac Mini Snow Leopard Server, Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, Ipod touch (permanently in the car), Apple TV, 2 iPhones, and an offsite Mac Pro.

How it’ll work (in my head):
The server will host the iTunes library for music and movie distribution to all components.  It’ll also host the iPhoto library.   Aperture and Lightroom libraries will also be on the server, but less important for sharing purposes.  A server isn’t necessary, and if there is a main computer, it can be shared

To start, I turned on “File Sharing” on my mac(s) in the system preferences under “Sharing”.  I copied my main music library – all of it, including the xml files and itunes library files – to the server.  After the music was finished copying,  I held “option” while opening iTunes on my Macbook Pro – which contained the main iTunes library originally.  This brought up a dialogue box asking if I’d like to create a new music library or choose one.  I clicked “Choose library” and pointed it to the iTunes library file now copied onto the server.  My Macbook Pro now streams my music library wirelessly from the server.  Since my Apple TV is synced with this laptop, it automatically syncs with the server as well – in a round-about way.

The Apple TV is run into the main receiver, and since iTunes has the cool option of choosing a speaker source, I can play music over the stereo from my laptop by choosing the Apple TV as the source speaker.  Rad.

Next is to consolidate the Macbook Air music library.  There may be a more efficient way to do this, but the most obvious to me was to copy the music library over to the server and label the folder something like “Macbook Air Music Library” for easy identification, then jump on my Macbook Pro and drag that folder into iTunes.   Once complete (several hours), I opened the Macbook Air and held “option” while opening iTunes and clicked “choose library” then pointed it to the main iTunes library stored on the server.

Now for the iPod Touch, which is in my car.  The goal was to never remove it, yet be able to sync it.  Ideally, pull in the driveway and have it sync once it recognizes the wireless network.  To do this, I jailbroke the iPod Touch and installed a nifty program called “Wi-Fi Sync for iPhone and iPod Touch”.  Whatever playlists I want to listen to I just keep up to date on my laptop and have synced with the Touch.  When I pull in the driveway, I just hit sync on the touch and it’ll update the playlists.

So I’ve done all this and things are working okay so far.  I’ll give it a few days and post any updates or issues.  I’m searching for a way to stream the library via the web.  Unsuccessful so far.

Next project will be the photo libraries.