Performance issues when sharing digital media between computers at home
June 6, 2007 12:28 PM   Subscribe

Help me troubleshoot performance issues with digital media sharing between two computers.

Hi there!

I need some help to resolve a performance issue. It may be host or network related, not sure yet.... read on.

We've finally added a small computer in the basement so we can watch media while exercising (there's a treadmill there that we promised to use more often!). The issue is that the current performance we get when accessing files on the main familiy PC is not that great.

The new PC is a mini-PC based on the CV860a motherboard. It has 512MB PC133 memory and is running xubuntu 7.04 installed in a 2GB CompatFlash card. The main PC is an Athlon 2000 running XP. We currently use SMB to share the PC files and use smbfs on the miniPC side to mount it.

Connectivity is as follows:

basement | 1st floor | 2nd floor

All wired is 100Mbps and the wireless piece is 802.11g with WPA-PSK.

The performance we get watching a high-def file (640x360 WMV or AVI) is as follows:
- on the mini-PC, local media via USB key - good
- on the mini-PC, remotely via smbfs - poor, very choppy (unviewable)
- on another PC (wireless laptop, 1GB Pentium M) - good

- Is it a network performance issue? If so, why is the performance on another laptop good?
- Is it a host performance issue? If so, why do local files play OK?

Any suggestions on how to proceed? Ideally, we'd like to avoid making local copies of the media. I haven't done any performance tuning on the ubuntu mini-PC yet.

posted by fsmontenegro to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
You might try changing the wireless channel on the WRT54g. I had similar issues serving media to a Playstation 3 from a desktop running XP with a Netgear wireless router in between. They seemed to go away when I changed from channel 11 to 6. My wife's Dell laptop worked fine on both channels. Some devices are just sensitive maybe, especially when the platforms are different?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:49 PM on June 6, 2007

SMB is slow, check this out
posted by zeoslap at 1:13 PM on June 6, 2007

Have you monitored CPU cycles on the Mini-PC while watching video on the network? I've heard RealTek LAN eats a lot of CPU cycles on FreeBSD, but I don't know how it performs under linux.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:16 PM on June 6, 2007

I saw a huge performance improvement when I switched my network from smb to nfs. I'd try that.
posted by COD at 1:29 PM on June 6, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions so far. Some more input:
- I have not switched the channel yet, but I will soon.
- Thanks for the SMB/NFS comparison. Great material. I made the switch from SMB to NFS and will test again after I finish making changes on the miniPC itself.
- I noticed 85-100% CPU usage (but stable memory usage) on the miniPC when viewing a HiDef video locally.

For now, I'll focus on improving the local performance. After that, I'm sure the SMB->NFS switch will make my life easier.

Any more suggestions?

Thanks for all the help so far.
posted by fsmontenegro at 12:29 PM on June 7, 2007

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