Firefly + NAS + iPhone + iTunes = awesome


I recently purchased a network attached storage server for home for a bunch of different reasons. Mainly so I would be able to backup my important files redundantly, store all my media for the entire network to have access to 24/7 without leaving my PC on, and to eventually allow me to switch my PC over to a SSD and just have applications on my pc.

So I pickup a Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ from Canada Computers on boxing day and it was the best purchase I’ve made in a long time.

It is so much more than a file server with RAID.

  • iTunes streaming media server
  • DLNA streaming media server
  • Squeezebox streaming service
  • Bit Torrent web client
  • FTP server
  • CIFS/SMB/NFS/AFP file sharing (WIN/MAC/XNIX)
  • HTTPS web admin like a router
  • Remote access from the internet
  • SSH remote access capabilities

And most of this can also be port forwarded from your router so you can access it anywhere on the internet. Add a subdomain DNS record and you have a friendly URL to connect to it all too!

So tonight I spent a few hours setting up the Firefly open source media server that it comes with which allows you to stream music from the NAS to iTunes as a share and selectively play any songs you want as if the music was stored locally.

Sure you can say oh I could just connect iTunes to a shared folder on another computer and do the same and yes you could but can you build a computer with RAID5 and 4TB of space for under $500? You’ll spend $300 on the HDD’s alone.

So after I got the iTunes server up and running I started thinking how can I stream to my iPhone now and also I wonder if the apple remote app will work to control my iTunes server now.

The answer was yes to both!

You can grab the Apple Remote app from the app store and connect to your wifi network and authorize your iPhone/iPad/iPod to control iTunes on your PC.  You can then access the iTunes streaming server and have full control over iTunes. You could build a HTPC and connect it up to a home theater and then have wireless control of your music from iPhone with all your media redundantly stored or just store it on the HTPC as well.


iTunes Server

iTunes Server Playlist

Now if you want to actually stream your media to your iPhone instead of just control your PC with the iPhone you can do that too.  A couple apps I found that can connect to DLNA streaming devices are MLPLayer and 8Player.  Both have lite versions for free to test out.  8Player works over 3G as well so you could port forward your DLNA service out on the web through your router and have streaming music access anywhere in the world with a 3G connection on your iPhone. Not just your music but also movies and photos can be played with these apps.  I streamed a 2.3GB movie over my wifi to my iPhone seamlessly and it worked perfectly.

8Player browser

8Player movie selection

MLPlayer lite browser

District9 in HD streaming (MLPlayer)

Subtitles supported while streaming from DLNA

Update Jan 7 2012: I’m now using 8Player on iPhone and iPad. Best app purchase I’ve ever made on the app store. In 8Player the server URL you will want to specify is http://youripordnsname:8200/rootDesc.xml. Default port for the service is 8200, but you could map it with your router to any external port to 8200 internal if your router is more sophisticated.