Webcasting with a network FAQ [Technical]

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Jay
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Webcasting with a network FAQ [Technical]

Post by Jay » Wed Feb 20, 2002 2:11 pm

Intro
So now you think you have a handle on the technical side of MP3 Webcasting, or you have a good idea on how networking works and are ready to explore the possibilities of LAN Broadcasing and/or Broadcasting over the net. Well in in this article I will discuss some of the common pit falls, this and answer questions I get alot about running SHOUTcast over a network.

LANing it
Running an MP3 Server or any HTTP Server is a reletively simple process as long as you understand how TCP/IP Networking works or have at least issued a couple of networking commands like 'ping', 'arp' etc.

The process of running across any LAN is the same as it would be if you were running the server for the internet. Proxy's and Firewalls won't get in your way when running the station inside the LAN but if you want to go outside this will be a very big henderence.

Proxy/Firewalls
Proxies and Firewalls are a real annoyance when running MP3 servers, they do not do anything to destroy the stream, but they make it real difficult to touch the YP directory.

What is meant by touch?
A touch is when the server calls a URL to add you to the yellow pages of a directory, this is so your station is not lost in the ether (net that is). However if you wish to just broadcast over a LAN, then Listing on a YP Server will not be neccessary.

Firewalls will get in the way of your clients finding your station, because the enharent nature of a firewall is to protect your computer from sending data to someone on the internet, your server will not run properly. You will need to map a port from the firewall to the machine you wish to broadcast from, refer to your firewall's user manual on how to do this for your specific software or hardware firewall.

Running a server behind a proxy will prove to be very difficult so be sure to have your network properly setup to send data straight through a gateway rather then filtered through a proxy. Neither SHOUTcast or Icecast have Proxy settings to my knowledge. In this case you will want to setup the server on your proxy machine, or gateway, then using TCP/IP you can send your data across the network to the gateway.

Nitty Gritty, give me the FAQ's

Question: I want to run an MP3 server for my network and for the internet, but I have a proxy, so everytime I try to access it through the proxy setting on Winamp, it says error connecting, why is this?
Answer: the problem is your proxy settings in Winamp, they will not allow winamp to recognize the local TCP setting, so you will need to access the server as if it were outside the LAN, using the Internet IP address of the machine running the server. This will not consume bandwidth outside your network because the packets are sent directly through the network.

Question: I want to run the MP3 server on a different machine from the where the source Winamp is located?
Answer: Simply enter the IP and PORT Number for the Network server, and install SHOUTcast or Icecast on that server and run and configure as if it were local, just replace 'localhost' with the IP of the machine, this can also be done across the internet.

Question: Do I have to have TCP/IP setup in order to use these servers on my network?
Answer: Yes both the Server and the Client Machines will need TCP/IP enabled and running in order for the MP3 Stream to work, the reason is that the top MP3 servers use HTTP as the transfer protocol because it is open, and as you know HTTP is a TCP protocol.

Question: I am using SHOUTcast and would like for all my client machines to be in sync with each other across my network, the delay from client to client is different and it's really annoying?
Answer: This is actually quite an age old issue, but recently the makers of SHOUTcast have revamped it with a 1 MB buffer, this is quite large but it really helps in buffering over the internet for your broadband clients. But this causes unpredictable buffering times over networks, unfortunately the best you can do is adjust each client's Winamp to a new buffer setting. Also setting the bitrate high will help avoid delays because the data will have to move much quicker, and if you have a 100Mbps Network and traffic isn't too bad it wouldn't hurt to set the stream to 128kbps.

Question: How can streaming on my LAN effect Network Performance?
Answer: that all depends on several variables.
1) How fast is your network, a 10Mbps LAN might feel a pinch if you have 25 machines listening to a 128k stream.
2) How large is your network, if you have a large network and it is not setup properly running streams can be detrimental to it's performance, for large networks, be sure to have a properly setup bridge or router, between large clusters of computers. Just use your Networking common sense here. Also the same bandwidth rules apply here.

Conclusion
Just remember that setting up an MP3 Server on your network is not much different from setting up any other servers, the main difference being connection times and speed, bandwidth hog should be the term for it. Use your common sense and be sure that you either have administrative permission to set this up or that your LAN Administrator has given you permission to set this up. Running a MP3 server on a coorperate LAN without the Boss' permission is just not cool, and you could get fired for the lost work if the network gets flooded with streams. :)

Please leave your comments if I missed anything. Do not post questions, all questions should be made in the Audio Streaming Forum. Questions made below will be split and moved to the proper forum.

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