All my movies are stored on my telly-computer, in the front room, and sometimes I just want to watch them in bed on the iPad, or even download them to the iPad for watching while out and about. The proper way to do this is to convert all the movies to a format supported by the iPad such as MP4 and then use iTunes to download them onto the iPad, but that’s not the fun way.
Tada! We now have VLC for iPad! 😀
VLC has been an amazing media player for years, It’ll play nearly any video/music format and it’s now available for iPad (and iPhone) for FREE!
Since the new VLC app lets you download or stream a movie from a web-link, all we need is a web-server running on the computer with the movies, in my case Stevie the TV. That’s normally a hassle but as we don’t need anything fancy we can use a tiny web-server like Boa. Simple and easy.
I’ve got all my movies saved in “/home/user/Videos/Movies” (well technically “~/Videos” is a symbolic link to a mounted 3TiB HDD, but that’s a story for another day) and once we have the Boa web-server up-and-running we can point our VLC app at the video(s) we want to stream or download over the local network.
I’ve made a quick and easy Boa config file to get the job done, but first we need to install Boa. On Linux, in terminal execute:
sudo apt-get install boa
Next we need to save this Boa config in our home directory as “boa.conf”.
Port 8080 ErrorLog boa.error_log.txt AccessLog boa.access_log.txt UserDir . DirectoryIndex index.html DirectoryMaker /usr/lib/boa/boa_indexer KeepAliveMax 1000 KeepAliveTimeout 10 MimeTypes /etc/mime.types DefaultType text/plain Alias /doc /usr/share/doc
The config explained; we use a port larger than 1024 so that we don’t need super-user privileges, run server as our user, we have a relative access and error log for keeping an eye on things, no user directory prefix and other default stuff.
To run the server we just need to execute, in terminal:
boa -c ~/
We are telling boa to use our home directory as the ServerRoot and shouldn’t get any output if all goes well. Your boa server should now have created the access and error log in your home directory and your web-server should be up-and-running!
Now navigate to your computers internal IP address (e.g. http://192.168.0.2:8080 or http://10.0.1.2:8080) and you should be greeted with a soft 404 – cannot be found (rather than a cannot reach/connect).
This is correct as we haven’t specified a user’s name in the URL and we haven’t specified a DocumentRoot, such as “/var/www” or better still “/srv”. As we aren’t hosting a website, we don’t need to specify the location of the website to host! We just was to access the files in our users home directory.
To access these files, we need to add an additional “~username” onto the end of the URL, (e.g. “http://10.0.1.2:8080/~stevie”, the user on my telly is called stevie, Stevie the TV). We should now get a directory listing of all the files and folders in our home directory.
- Navigate the to movie you want to use on the iPad, hold your finger down on the link and copy it.
- Open the VLC app and paste into the stream or download URL input.
- You have your movie!
Warning: as long as Boa is running, this will open up your entire home directory, files, configs and secrets to the world (well your local network anyhoo) – this is not a concern for me as my home network is relatively secure and I don’t have anything other than movies on my TV computer.
If you want to restrict the directory listing to a specific folder in your home directory, simply replace the “UserDir .” with “UserDir Videos” or whatever directory you wish in the “~/boa.conf” file. You’ll need to restart Boa for the changes to take affect.
To stop the server, open a task manager such as htop (terminal) or System Monitor (GUI) and end the boa process.