Need to re-think my server project

When I first had the idea to make a home media server i was reading all these guides on nas4free. I liked what I saw and at first it looked easy enough... Then I bought some stuff and set it up and followed some guides but it never worked as stated in the guides. I couldn't get it to stream videos to any devices and talking to people on forums and trying to get help became harder and harder. The whole thing kept slowly becoming more and more complex. So now I'm trying to use the parts I bought to do something else.

Here's what I have to work with:
and a 250gb hdd

I would like a home media center that can do the following:
1. Transfer files between computers in my house
2. Stream videos to my 360/ps3
3. Automatically download TV shows as soon as they're available with Usenet/Bittorent
4. Access my server from outside my local network.
5. Be on 24/7 and make changes without being physically at the terminal/pc

I'm flexible on all those points just wanted to give an idea of what I originally wanted. I guess in a nut shell, I'm asking what other software can I try that will accomplish my goals? Is there anything out there more user friendly?

Or I would be better off sticking with my current nas4free box I could sure use some help streaming. The built in fuppes dosn't work and I can't get minidlna to do anything. The guys over at the nas4free site said I needed to run it in a jail which got even more complicated.

Theses are links to my troubles over on the nas4free site. (my s/n is Rafe on that site)
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  1. At home for my HTPC I run:
    AMD fusion mobo/cpu/gpu (similar to your atom setup)
    and use openELEC as my OS. It is an embedded distro that works out of the box for 4/5 of the things you demand.

    The only thing it can't do is transcode videos for the xbox/ps3 as xbmc does not transcode videos yet.

    If this is really a requirement I would suggest debian, or ubuntu server as your backbone and set up plex or xbmc+mediatomb.

    for automatically downloading tvshows/movies:
    sabnzbd (usenet downloader)
    sickbeard (automatically manage/download tv shows)
    couchpotato (automatically manage/download movies)
    marishino (manage all of the above from one interface)
    to make system changes, simply use 'ssh'.

    btw the xbox360 is EXTREMELY limited to its playback capabilities, its kind of useless for a media player. Same for PS3. Neither can play ".mkv" and xbox can only play specially formatted .mp4 and specially formatted .avi. so you need special software to transcode the files on-the-fly for them :|

    If you are flexible on the xbox/ps3 playback (you should just buy a cheap hardware player and save your self a headache; its a real pain in the ass that i gave up trying ~2years ago) then openELEC would be a good easy choice for you. Runs off of a flash drive, boots in seconds and takes ~10min to set up -> watching 1080p movies
  2. looking at openELEC and ubuntu. I do have a samsung smart tv and a blu-ray player I could try instead of the consoles. I'm reading this article atm:
  3. The case for openelec instead ubuntu is the ease of:
    updates, configuration, usability, performance and its "wife proof". It just works.

    of course this trade off comes at a cost as openelec is an embedded distro , its filesystem is read only. so unlike ubuntu its more difficult to add certain applications if they are not already prebuilt as openelec/xbmc applications. for example, you wouldn't be able to install plex or mediatomb to openelec.
  4. So, openelec will also allow me to use it as storage? I'll be able to save files from pc 1 onto the server then transfer from pc2? Seems like all the information I see just talks about xbmc. Is there a guide or something you can point me to or is it really that easy to figure out and configure?
  5. I'm reading up on this and i plan to have this down in my basement (most likely headless once it's setup.) not next to my tv. Is that they way it is intended? Seems more like a media center then a server?
  6. Openelec is an embedded distro that is designed to *just* run XBMC and some applications.

    yes you will be able to *easily* transfer files from one pc to another. for example on my network, i open my file manager and navigate to the htpc's ip address with the samba protocol: "smb://" or "smb://" or on windows "\\"

    openelec has a wiki, but really everything is so damn easy to configure you might not need to reference it at all, most everything works out of the box.

    Edit: yes, openelec is intended as a media center.
    If that isn't what you want, you should probably use ubuntu+plex or ubuntu+mediatomb
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