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Introduction to DLNA

What is DLNA?

DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) is an organisation set up to promote a standardisation of how devices containing digital media content - be it audio, video or still pictures - talk to each other. To achieve this, the DLNA members agreed a standard set of protocols (-called UPnP - Universal Plug and Play) which all their devices would implement: in this way, devices from different manufacturers could all interact with each other seamlessly.

DLNA .. is an organisation set up to promote a standardisation of how devices containing digital media content - be it audio, video or still pictures - talk to each other

According to Wikipedia, the DLNA was originally set up by Sony but now encompasses many other electronics manufacturers. If you are thinking of buying a new home entertainment device, it's always worth checking if it is DLNA compliant.


Why is the DLNA Standard Important?

If you buy devices that are DLNA compliant (-and we are talking about media PCs, televisions, Blu-ray / DVD players, hi-fis, etc) they can be networked together easily and content can be played on each, seamlessly.

It's important for Linux users if we want our server(s) to act as a media hub for all the DLNA devices in our house : storing (-and backing up) all our media in a central location. With such a server, you can store all your music/video/photos in one place - and access them from your client PC(s), televisions, hi-fi, etc. This is becoming one of the main uses for a home server - and DLNA is at the heart of it.


Where can I buy DLNA Devices?

There are a whole lot of DLNA compliant devices (televisions, Blu-ray / DVD players, etc) out there. Pretty much all Sony equipment uses it, plus most (-if not all) of the major manufacturers - such as Samsung, LG, Toshiba, Panasonic, etc. The trick is always to check if the device is DLNA certified before you buy

If are thinking of purchasing a device - or you have an existing device that you want to check - just type the product number in the DLNA Website (-see screenshot below). If the device is DLNA compliant, it's certification will be displayed:

DLNA Certification

An alternative is to type your product number into your favourite search engine and look for mention of DLNA in the specifications.


Which DLNA Media Server should I use?

The good news is that there is a lot of Media Server software out there that runs on Linux (-for example, see Wikipedia for a list)! The bad news is that there is so much out there, that it's difficult to know which one to use. For this article, we'll be using MediaTomb, purely because it's widely used and is installable from the Ubuntu Software Centre. However, feel free to install whichever Media Server you prefer.


Installing and Configuring MediaTomb

You can view a demonstration of how to install, configure and use MediaTomb in our Video Section


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