Originally Published: Thursday, 26 April 2001 Author: Paul Summers
Published to: enhance_articles_multimedia/Audio Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Making It Real; Installing Real Server Basic for Linux.

Summers takes a brief look at the process of finding, downloading, installing and serving content with the Basic streaming media server from Real Networks Inc.

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Shortly after the release of the first Real Audio player clients, Real Networks went into the server-side business. Their aim was to develop server software to deliver greater streaming quality and better features than standard HTTP could provide. Naturally, this also gave them the opportunity to incorporate content-control features in order to limit playback and recording options. Thus was born the Real Server, which is identical in all its versions aside from the number of concurrent clients that can connect at any one time.

The Real Basic Server, which we will install in this document, is freely available for six different Unix flavors. Unfortunately, it only allows up to 25 concurrent connections to the server, which is sufficient only for development or backyard projects. If you're looking to handle a few hundred connections be prepared to write a large check or look into other streaming technologies such as icecast, MuSE, or Agatha.

Getting Set Up

The Real Basic Server supports Linux 2.2 (glibc 6) and FreeBSD 3.0 on Intel hardware with native builds. Note that as of the time of this writing, the basic server for FreeBSD 3.0 would not install under 4.x. This is apparently a known issue that Real Networks is aware of. Also supported is Solaris on Sparc hardware, AIX on IBM RS/6000 hardware, HP-UX on PA-RISC hardware, and IRIX on R4000 (w/ MIPS3) SGI hardware.

The Linux 2.2 build has not been tested on hardware other then Intel's, but alternative combinations are entirely possible. Using Linux, Real Networks recommends the use of the latest stable 2.2.x kernel, and nothing else. They do not recommend the use of the 2.3 or 2.4 kernels, as they have not been tested.

Real Server likes RAM, lots of RAM. The Basic server requires a minimum of 256 MB to run "optimally". However, based on personal experience, I have run Basic server quite happily on a little Pentium 200 w/ 128MB of RAM and FreeBSD 2.2.8, and easily maxed out the 25 client limit before mchaine resources became an issue. In addition the same machine was also running Apache, sendmail, mysql, and a dozen or so other things in a moderately loaded environment. I would assume Real's RAM estimates are padded to include less efficient operating systems such as Microsoft Windows.

As client licenses go up, RAM recommendations follow. Real Server Professional requires 512 MB of RAM, and it is suggested that sites planning to serve 1000 or more simultaneous clients should use 768 MB of RAM or greater.

Bandwidth requirements are fairly easy to calculate: Multiplying the data rate of the clip(s) you are serving by the maximum number of simultaneous streams with give you a rough idea. As an example, 60 clients streaming a 20kbps file will eat up a T1 quite nicely (20 x 60 = 1200kbps, or 1.2 Mbps). One hundred clients streaming an 80kbps file will suck up 10Mbps, and 2000 clients streaming a 20kbps file will devour a T3.

Administration and monitoring of the Real Server is accomplished via its web-based administration portal, which is set up on machine-specific ports at install time for security reasons. This portal is interoperable with any web server that supports configurable MIME types. This includes Apache, CERN, NCSA, Netscape, and pretty much anyone's server software.

Getting Started

So, let's get started and saturate that cable modem. First, you will have to download the Real Server Basic. As with the client, it is distributed as a binary executable that facilitates its installation via a command-line menu system, which actually works pretty well. The download procedure is more of a maze then with the client, as Real seems to be rather intent on getting people to click into the Real Server Plus areas and purchase a license-- at times this is annoying. You will need to fill out some fairly significant demographic information before you can download the server, including an email address. I suggest you do not use dont@spam-me.com or something similar, as you will be emailed a license code that is needed to install the server.

The file itself is rs8-0-linux-libc6.bin at time of writing. As with the Real Player, this is a binary file that you must execute to begin the install procedure. First, make the file executable:

chmod u+x rs8-0-linux-libc6.bin

And then execute the file:


You will then be dropped into the install menu, which will ask you the standard questions about where you would like to install the server. Note that you will also need the reg. key that was emailed to you handy, so this might not be something you'll want to do via a console. Once installed, you should be able to access the web-based administration portal, which includes a few nifty Java applications to monitor current connections, bandwidth usage and so forth. The portal also includes a mapping function to serve content from other locations, however I have found that it is simply faster and easier to symlink other content locations into the Real Server's content directory. E.g.:

ln -s /home/foo/rm_files /usr/local/rmserver/content/foo

Thus, a request to http://www.foo.com:7070/ramgen/foo/foo.rm will auto-magically stream content from /home/foo/rm_files/.

Good luck with your Real server installation.

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