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Is there any easy way to locally stream media files over a network (to other Ubuntu machines)? I tried using ssh, but that's too slow for anything, and I can't figure out anything that would allow me to stream any video fast enough.

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VLC Media player is my first go-to, what version of Ubuntu are you on? – etsr Oct 26 '12 at 21:03
12.10. I looked at VLC, but I didn't see an option that would allow me to just select a folder and be able to choose on the other machine. Did I miss that? – DoDoGo Oct 26 '12 at 22:29
I'm looking and I can't find if that would work or not, my Ubuntu machine is at the moment off the grid. I'll look further into it. – etsr Oct 27 '12 at 0:39
Thank you! I'm still looking myself but nothing is fast enough (even though the network allows at least 720p with 5.1 audio). – DoDoGo Oct 27 '12 at 16:37
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I use lighttpd to make media accessible via http, which is unencrypted (and therefore relatively fast), allows access control and is quite usable for streaming, although often underestimated for this purpose.

This is my lighttpd setup:

server.modules = (

cgi.assign      = ( ".cgi" => "" )

server.port                     = 8001
server.document-root            = "/home/shared/htvideo"
server.errorlog                 = "/dev/stdout"
server.dir-listing              = "enable"
dir-listing.encoding            = "utf-8"
index-file.names                = ( "index.cgi", "index.html")
include_shell "/usr/share/lighttpd/"

This brings up small http server on port 8001 which delivers content from /home/shared/htvideo, I got some self written cgi scripts, to manage them, hence the cgi part in the config. But you can ignore that.

I use this to watch videos on my android tablet without downloading them.

EDIT: Whoops, you still need to start the service ;-)

Put this stuff into a config file (like .video_service) and run lighttpd -f .video_service

After starting up the service tell your friends to point a browser to http://your.computers.ip.address:8001 They will see the list of files and can open each link directly with vlc, or totem or mplayer, windows media player, or whatever. Most browsers even support to play mp4 videos (and sometimes other formats) by themselves nowadays.

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This looks good. It's very late here here, but I'll try that right after I get home tomorrow. Thank you, this looks like it's a much better solution than the other things I found. I've learned that XBMC provides UPnP support OTB, but that failed 9 out of 10 times. Again, thank you. – DoDoGo Oct 28 '12 at 21:57
This works great, thanks! Just a question, can I safely leave this running at all times without worrying about it using too much of my cpu? Also, does this warrant that it can be accessed only over the local network? – DoDoGo Oct 29 '12 at 16:31
You can leave this running all time the CPU usage in idle is near zero, the memory usage probably very low. If you are in a network which is openly routed to the internet (your home network is normally not) you will want to configure some access control. See the lighttpd documentation for that. – Paul Hänsch Oct 29 '12 at 16:36
Thanks, I'll add this to startup then. It's great to be able to watch something on my laptop without the connection dropping every other minute! – DoDoGo Oct 29 '12 at 19:33

VLC. See this tutorial (it's for Windows, but I bet on Ubuntu it looks similar). Alternatively just google "VLC streaming".

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"12.10. I looked at VLC, but I didn't see an option that would allow me to just select a folder and be able to choose on the other machine. Did I miss that?" – DoDoGo – etsr Oct 28 '12 at 21:37
@Flabricorn That's why I'm linking to tutorial... – user31389 Oct 29 '12 at 10:00

Go with Paul's solution, but I used to use shared folders and samba.

Right-click, sharing options, share this folder, allow guest access. It's not strictly streaming of course.

Subsonic is a good solution if you don't mind paying a mandatory "donation". It is a media webserver which does on-the-fly transcoding for videos as well, which I used to use when watching over relatively low bandwidth (mobile, e.g. 3G) connections.

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