Using minidlna on a SheevaPlug to feed content into a Panasonic Viera TV

Since I bought a Panasonic Viera TV, some 5 months ago, I had been connecting my laptop to it whenever I wanted to watch a movie, some series or even the pictures I took on my trips.

That was quite annoying: the VGA connection (since the laptop only has HDMI output in its dockstation), checking that the laptop had enough battery (or adding yet more wires to keep it plugged), connecting it to some external speakers... and all of this while having a SheevaPlug almost 24/7.

So a couple of weeks ago I bought an external drive and configured it as a media server. This is my setup now, in case someone is interested:

Software

  • minidlna. With a very simple configuration, it exposes your media content and works great with Viera's integrated upnp client.
  • Viera is able to use external srt subtitle files for some of the supported formats (typically avi or mp4), but that won't work with mkv. If you use mkv, you can add a new subtitles track to your mkv (for example, using mkvmerge, from the mkvtoolnix package)

Oddities

Viera is quite picky sometimes. If you create your own mkvs with mkvmerge, be sure not to add compression (check compression:none parameter). By default, mkvmerge tries to compress the header of the audio track (and most players are fine with that, but Viera is not)

I currently use something like the following to add a subtitles track:

mkvmerge -o output.mkv --compression -1:none file.mkv file.srt

Not only that: Viera seems to support a limited set of encodings for subtitles. LATIN1 is known to work fine, so if you have your subtitles in UTF, you can use unaccent and iconv to convert them to LATIN1.

cat subtitles-utf.srt | unaccent LATIN1 | iconv -f UTF-8 -t LATIN1 -c > subtitles-latin1.srt

And the previous script helps me striping non-LATIN1 characters out of a subtitles file.

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