I have our video media on multiple external (3TB) drives mounted on a Linux server.
The mount points are shared out using Samba, largely because there was already
a Samba server running when we got the first SMP so it took only seconds to
get the shares up. I refuse to let the SMPs (or any other media device) modify
the external drive directories, as I consider this too risky, so the media shares
are all read-only. As a result, we could not use the SMP’s Media Library and
so had to navigate directories to play files.
Recently I got motivated to have merged media folders and to try to use the
Media Library feature, so I spent some time investigating how to accomplish this.
Here is is what I ended up doing:
(1) created a new “merge” directory on the server’s internal drive,
(2) created appropriate subdirectories within the merge directory, containing
symlinks to the actual media files on the various external drives,
(3) added a new Samba share for the merge directory, with symlink following
and writing enabled,
(4) activated the Media Library on our SMPs and added the merge share to the library,
(5) let the SMPs compile the ML and download most (?) of the needed media info,
(6) selected Media Library as the content source under Video.
This setup works as desired: the SMPs modify the merge share’s directory, but
cannot touch the external drives. The merge share has directories for movies
and TV, and all relevant media files from all of the external drives show up.
The key to merging and avoiding having to have the SMP write in the actual media
drives is the use of symlinks and the fact that Samba can serve the target file
of a symlink (if appropriate options are enabled). I wrote a quick shell script
to update the symlinks when new media files get added, so this configuration is
very simple to maintain. The merge share currently requires less than 1GB of
filespace, most of which is devoted to the backdrops that get downloaded.
I have not gotten around to investigating how the SMP handles symlinks with
NFS shares, so not sure whether this approach will work identically with NFS.
If you are interested in details about the Samba settings for symlinks and
the required directory structure, let me know.