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  #1  
Old 10-05-2010, 05:14 AM
MTisza MTisza is offline
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Server needed a placeshifter license for HD200? [RESOLVED]

So an interesting thing happened that I can't explain.

I'm using several HD200's on a wired LAN and have never had any license issues connecting to the server. I do have a Placeshifter/Extender license I purchased a long time ago, but never used it except to try things out early on. I've done complete reinstalls (HW, OS, and Sage) without entering this license key, so I'm 100% confident that is has not been installed on the server for a over a year.

I have a wireless backhaul link to another building on my property, that gets me 3-5 Mbps with very low latency and jitter. Both ends of the link have a router to limit broadcast, and other unwanted traffic over the link. Both routers are plain layer 3 routers without firewalls, without NATing and the like, just plain old routing.

So I decided to try an HD200 on the other side of this link. When I powered it on, and typed the IP address of the server (I'm pretty sure discovery will not work over routers because it's either broadcast or multicast) the HD200 said there is no license on the server for this. So I tried rebooting a few times (both server and HD200), upgraded the HD200 to the latest beta (20100909 I think). Still the same issue.

So I figured I'd add the license on the server. Which did fix the problem, other than having to add a user name and password, which is expected I guess.

The questions I have are:

1. Why was a license required at all? According to this FAQ entry it should not be required. I think it's because the server sees the HD200 on a different subnet, so it uses placeshifter mode instead of media extender mode (This is a wild guess though).

2. What I expected was worse than what I actually saw. What I expected was that the HD shows, and movies at high bit rates would show up crappy with stuttering, and be pretty useless except for low bit rate content, like SD shows, or highly compressed stuff. What actually happened is that the server appears to have been compressing/transcoding the video on the fly to the HD200, and the result was a "reasonable" picture quality, good audio, and absolutely no choppiness. It was obviously not the same quality as the LAN side HD200s can produce but over a slow link like that, I'm impressed. Also in case anyone is wondering it was only using one CPU core at about 75% on the server to do the work. So is my description of what happened accurate?

So all in all regardless of having to enter a license on the server for the HD200, the end result for now is quite awesome!!!

Oh, I forgot, I recently upgraded the server to v7 18 RC2, and all this testing was after the upgrade.

Thanks,
Miki
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VM with Sage: win7 pro 8 cores, 4GB RAM Sage v7
Tuners: 2x dual tuner HDHR + 1xHD-PVR
Provider: FIOS
Clients: 3xHD200 (20100909 0)
2xHD300

Last edited by MTisza; 10-06-2010 at 05:23 PM. Reason: resolved
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  #2  
Old 10-05-2010, 06:52 AM
razrsharpe razrsharpe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTisza View Post
I think it's because the server sees the HD200 on a different subnet, so it uses placeshifter mode instead of media extender mode (This is a wild guess though).
came here to say this...

Quote:
What actually happened is that the server appears to have been compressing/transcoding the video on the fly to the HD200, and the result was a "reasonable" picture quality, good audio, and absolutely no choppiness.
that also describes the extender operating in placeshifter mode (ie the server doing all the transcoding to get the video to fit in the bandwidth you have).
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  #3  
Old 10-05-2010, 07:37 AM
tchapin tchapin is offline
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But the HD200 wouldn't go into placeshifter mode if it was on the same subnet, right? Or is it something determined dynamically based on bandwidth only? For example, if my HD200 had a wireless adapter and was in a low signal area, would the server start transcoding content?
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  #4  
Old 10-05-2010, 07:38 AM
MTisza MTisza is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tchapin View Post
But the HD200 wouldn't go into placeshifter mode if it was on the same subnet, right? Or is it something determined dynamically based on bandwidth only? For example, if my HD200 had a wireless adapter and was in a low signal area, would the server start transcoding content?
Precisely what I'd like to find out, in addition to the licensing requirements for this scenario.
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  #5  
Old 10-05-2010, 09:45 AM
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gplasky gplasky is offline
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I believe for the extender to determine it is on the LAN it might need to be on the same subnet. Because it isn't it has determined it is coming across the WAN and it operates in placeshifter mode. All the evidence points in that direction. And just because you have two router you don't need to have seperate subnets. Bridge the routers and have only one of them act as DHCP server. (unless you have another machine acting as DHCP.) Or setup the wireless to just act as an access point.

Gerry
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  #6  
Old 10-05-2010, 01:47 PM
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Opus4 Opus4 is offline
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I'm not sure what was happening here, but as the linked-to FAQ says, no extender/placeshifter license should be needed on the server for an HD200 (or HD300) being used as an extender or as a placeshifter client. If this is really a message about being in trial mode or the trial being expired (the word 'license' is not mentioned as far as I know), then you should contact SageTV.

Are you sure there was no plugin being used that mentions needing a license?

- Andy
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  #7  
Old 10-05-2010, 03:38 PM
MTisza MTisza is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Opus4 View Post
I'm not sure what was happening here, but as the linked-to FAQ says, no extender/placeshifter license should be needed on the server for an HD200 (or HD300) being used as an extender or as a placeshifter client.
So this confirms that the software isn't supposed to require a license for the Sage HD extenders, as stated in the manual.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Opus4 View Post
If this is really a message about being in trial mode or the trial being expired (the word 'license' is not mentioned as far as I know), then you should contact SageTV.
Unfortunately I was on the server end when this was being worked on, and I didn't write down exact messages. The jist of the message was first that a license needed to be installed. Once the license was installed the message was to create the user/password.

I will try my best to duplicate this ASAP, and provide exact messages.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Opus4 View Post
Are you sure there was no plugin being used that mentions needing a license?
Well as this was my first time adding, and playing with plugins for Sage v7, I can't say that I have any idea what the state of plugins were then. However, the HD200 on the far end was just upgraded to the latest beta before doing this.

My plan to try to duplicate this, is to turn off the "production" VM, and create a test VM from scratch, add Sage 7, and point the HD200 to it. This will ensure that no license is active on the sage server side.

If it is repeatable then I will open an official ticket.
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VM with Sage: win7 pro 8 cores, 4GB RAM Sage v7
Tuners: 2x dual tuner HDHR + 1xHD-PVR
Provider: FIOS
Clients: 3xHD200 (20100909 0)
2xHD300
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  #8  
Old 10-06-2010, 05:19 PM
MTisza MTisza is offline
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Talking Problem solved. Root cause: operator error

Good (but slightly embarrassing) news:

I duplicated the setup, and saw the error message myself this time. Fortunately the word license was just my helper's imagination , and he admitted that it might have be due to his [bad] experiences with beyond tv. In his defense he works in management, and there they're supposed to make thinks up randomly.

Truly the only thing the error message was saying was:

In background: Prompt for username and password and checkbox to allow autologin.

In foreground: Error message indicating that the server does not have any users configured, and at least one must be added. This is an expected error message in this configuration, it's just I've never had a setup like this. This error message could only been acknowledge with a button "exit" which cause it to turn off. If you wait for some time (circa 1 minute) it will turn off automatically.


I'm sorry for the confusion, but now I know the details of what was going on. In summary:

1. The HD200s (and probably the 300s too) will connect to the SageTV server in extender mode if the they are on the same IP subnet.

2. The HD200s (and probably the 300s too) will connect to the SageTV server in placeshifter mode if the they are not on the same IP subnet.

3. Low bandwidth was not a factor in the determining of the two modes of operation. (the test was duplicated with the HD200 on the server side of the slow link, but still on the other subnet (i.e. 100Mbps bandwidth)).

4. A key difference between the placeshifter mode and extender mode is that in extender mode the connection is assumed to be fast enough to handle the bandwidth of the stream in its native form. In placeshifter mode the stream is compressed on-the-fly to fit within the bandwidth.

5. No matter which mode, the server will not need an additional license for the HDx00s.

6. If the HDx00 is in placeshifter mode (different IP subnet) you must have a username and password configured on the server, for the HDx00s to use for authentication. This is important to know if you for example take the device on the road, and previously never needed to enter and username and password because it was always the same subnet. Add the username and password before you go on the road.
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Server: ESXi 4.1 running on i7-930 24GB RAM
VM with Sage: win7 pro 8 cores, 4GB RAM Sage v7
Tuners: 2x dual tuner HDHR + 1xHD-PVR
Provider: FIOS
Clients: 3xHD200 (20100909 0)
2xHD300
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  #9  
Old 10-22-2010, 07:06 PM
MTisza MTisza is offline
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Arrow Further clarification

I learned that my summary in the above port is not entirely true. After a ton of tweaking in the wireless link's setup, including antenna placement, I improved the bandwidth considerably. Then all of a sudden, and somewhat counterintuitively, the HD200 on the far end was unusably choppy. So I dug into more sagetv settings, forums, and even the manual and figured out the following:

The HDx00 boxes will connect using a placeshifter user if you're not on the same IP subnet. (this part above is true) However this by itself is not what triggers the on-the-fly transcoding to compress to fit the bandwidth. The server will analyze the bandwidth of the connection, and if it is above a threshold it thinks it doesn't need to transcode, so it streams the video as is. If it's below the threshold it transcodes the video on the fly. The threshold is configurable, but apparently only in the sage.properties file. The setting is:

Code:
miniplayer/min_bandwidth_for_no_transcode=2000000
The above is the default value of 2Mbps, which is not enough to stream the HD shows uncompressed. I changed the value to 15000000 [a.k.a. 15Mbps]
Code:
miniplayer/min_bandwidth_for_no_transcode=15000000
, which basically means that extenders on the 100 mbps LAN, will get the stream as is and the remote one on the end of the now 6-7mbps link will get the compressed stream.

Also, interesting, is that the compression can either be set to standard or high quality modes. According to the current manual these correspond to either SVCD or DVD quality. You can change this setting under Setup->Detailed Setup->Server->Media extender conversion quality.

I hope this helps someone down the road.
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VM with Sage: win7 pro 8 cores, 4GB RAM Sage v7
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Clients: 3xHD200 (20100909 0)
2xHD300
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