How To Turn Your Old Mac into a Boxee Media Server

Boxee continues to prove itself as a powerful, easy to use, and all around great media consumption application. However, it’s useless if you can’t get media from your computer to your media center installation of Boxee. If you’ve got an old Mac lying around, why not breathe new life into it by turning it into a Boxee media server? This Mac can be used with any Boxee installation you may have, whether you’re using one of those snazzy new Boxee Boxes or Boxee on a Mac, Windows, or Linux computer.

Before we get started, here’s what you’ll need:

>> An old Mac to share media from
>> Media to share
>> A wireless or wired network
>> Boxee installation on another system (Mac, Windows, Linux, or Boxee Box)

1. Check Your Network Settings

To begin, we’re going to check the network settings on the Mac you’re sharing the media from. Open System Preferences and navigate to the Network Pane. Select your connection method (i.e. Ethernet or AirPort), then click the ‘Advanced’ button in the lower, right-hand corner of the window.

Once the Advanced Settings window opens, click on the WINS tab. There’s two settings we need to make sure are correct before we go any further.

First, make sure you have a NetBIOS Name configured. This name is what will be displayed on your network and the name you will see inside of Boxee. It can be called anything you’d like.

After you configure a name, move down to the Workgroup option. A workgroup is simply a collection of computers on a network, and by default on Mac, Windows, and Boxee systems, it is set as ‘workgroup.’ If you see nothing in this field, or see something else, replace it with ‘workgroup’.

When you’re done configuring this section, press the OK button, then back in the Network tab, press the Apply button to save the change.

2. Create a Shared Media Folder

Now we need to create a folder on your Mac where media can be stored for sharing. This folder can be stored anywhere you wish (and if you’ve already created a folder, feel free to move to step 3).

We chose to create a folder in our user account called ‘Media.’ This folder has three subfolders: Music, Videos, and Photos. These subfolders is where you will place the media that Boxee will be able to access.

3. Share Your Folder

Once you have created the folder, it’s time to enable sharing for that folder on your Mac. Head over to System Preferences > Sharing and click on small checkbox to the left the File Sharing service in the left pane to enable this service.

After enabling the service, drag the Media folder that you just created to the ‘Shared Folders’ section of the File Sharing pane.

Once you have done this, the users section will be populated with the permission settings. Ensure that the ‘Everyone’ setting is set to ‘Read Only.’ This will ensure that anyone who connects to the computer will be able to access the Media folder, but won’t be able to make any changes.

Next, click on the Options button above the users section where you just checked the permission settings. Upon clicking this, a drop-down window will appear. Check the box beside ‘Share files and folders using SMB (Windows)’. When you’re done, press the ‘Done’ button to save the changes.

4. Browse via Boxee

With the Mac you’re sharing from turned on, you can now open Boxee on any other system and navigate to Menu > Browse.

Once on the Browse menu, go to Network.

After a few seconds, Boxee will find all of the computer workgroups on your network. After the workgroup titled ‘WORKGROUP’ is displayed, select it.

Boxee will then find all of the computers within that workgroup that is sharing files. Select the computer that you just setup.

After a few seconds, the Media folder will be loaded and you can browse the media contained inside just as you would normally browse media in Boxee. You can add new content to the Media folder on your Mac to make it accessible to all the Boxee clients on your network.

As long as the Mac sharing the media is turned on and connected to the network, you will be able to stream content from your Media folder.

Other Options

Plex is another great piece of media center software that you might be interested in if you’re not a Boxee user. You can find instructions on setting up your Mac with Plex here.

(Via Mac|Life all.)