Can I "stream" video files from a WinXP desktop to a Linux laptop?
April 15, 2006 9:44 AM   Subscribe

Can I "stream" video files from a WinXP desktop to a Linux laptop?

My computer has many video files. I don't really like to sit in my office chair to watch them. I'm thinking of buying a wireless router and a laptop and watching the files over a wireless connection in another room in the house.
1. Is this feasible?
2. What's the general range of WiFi(g)? Do I need direct line-of-sight to the router?
3. What router should I get? It is a router that I need, right?
4. How much more difficult would this project be if I decided to put Linux on the laptop? I really want to play with Ubuntu.

What else do I need to consider?
posted by skryche to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
I've not personally done this but you should be able to just share (i.e. SMB/Samba) the directory containing the files and mount it on the remote system, then just open them with any media player. This isn't technically streaming since SMB is a random-access protocol and streaming typically implies receiving a file in a series manner without the ability to seek; but this is a good thing, because mounting the files like this makes them appear to applications as normal files and you can use any standard media player. It shouldn't matter whether the client or server is windows or linux, they both speak SMB fluently. The only thing that will matter is that the client media player has comprehend the container format and audiovisual codecs, but this is a universal issue not relevant to your question per se.

Regarding wireless, I think it will depend greatly on your particular circumstances. For example, I have a friend that lives in the US southwest in a house with adobe walls. Wireless for him is painful because of the small metal mesh used in that type of construction. You don't need line-of-sight, but the number and type of walls will matter. In general I think you will fare best if you put the AP in a central, elevated location, but it really comes down to experimentation.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:08 AM on April 15, 2006

i suggest looking at heading over to and checking out vlc, it is a cross platform video streaming solution. even if it does not end up doing exactly what you need,it is a good video player.

the higher quality videos i have seen way in at about 700MB for 45 minutes of video. at that size you will need to be able to push 250KB/s to stream the file. the theoretical max speed for 802.11g is 6.75MB/s. if you are able to get even half way decent reception i would say you are fine
posted by phil at 11:02 AM on April 15, 2006

got a few extra words in there but i think my point is still clear. that will teach me not to read the live preview
posted by phil at 11:03 AM on April 15, 2006

What phil said...
VLC is your friend.
posted by blink_left at 11:20 AM on April 15, 2006

drat. I wanted to be the first one to say VLC.

I vote VLC.

1. Yes.
2. at least 100 feet is a safe bet in a building with, you know, walls and stuff
3. Yes.
4. As much more difficult as using linux instead of Windows is for you.
posted by tiamat at 12:28 PM on April 15, 2006

I'd use SMB.
posted by pompomtom at 4:47 PM on April 15, 2006

VLC is an overkill. If you just want to be able to open video files on your laptop from your XP server, use SMB. If you tell us what linux distro you're using, we can help you locate a specific guide for setting your machine. Generally speaking, it's a matter of installing SMB on your linux laptop, sharing the media folder on your XP machine, and adding an entry in /etc/fstab for your Windows share on your linux laptop. A 802.11g router should be able to handle streaming video just fine, unless the resolution is something insane.
posted by ori at 7:23 PM on April 15, 2006

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