Press "Enter" to skip to content

Category: Homelab

Distributed Video Encoding

So I’ve been struggling with 4k video encoding for Plex at home. It took me 16 days to encode Interstellar only to realize that I had Spanish subtitles enabled for some of the signage through Handbrake. I also realized that the format/container that Handbrake was outputting with h.265 was crashing my Chromecasts. It would stream through 1 of my smart TVs, but not the older one. Didn’t really matter what I was doing, but 16 days to find out something isn’t working properly or like I had intended wasn’t exactly the greatest thing in the world. So I started looking at ways to encode video across multiple hosts and stumbled across a project on GitHub here:

This had promise, but wasn’t working for me easily. I was able to get it to encode video slices on a single host that I had set up for encoding other videos. Trying to expand it out to multiple hosts resulted in a lot of failures. So I blew away my encoding VM and started over fresh. I started over with CentOS 7 minimal. I’m using static reservations with DHCP to make this easy to manage. In order to make this work for 4k encodes, I needed to enable epel-release, nux-desktop, and MKVToolNix. nux-desktop provides the needed libraries for ffmpeg. MKVToolNix will provide an updated release of mkvmerge that I use to slice video. Other required tools are parallel, rsync, and ffmpeg.

#!/bin/bash -e

set -e

# defaults for all configuration values
OPTS="-c:v libx265 -c:a libfdk_aac -vbr 1 -level 41 -crf ${CRF} -preset veryslow"
# This is to split out and copy attachment streams, like subtitles
# and fonts, so they only get copied once.
DATA_OPTS="-map 0 -c:s copy -c:t copy -c:d copy -vn -an"
OUTDIR=`mktemp -d`
# override defaults in a ~/.dverc file
if [ -f ~/.dverc ]; then
source ~/.dverc

function on_finish() {
echo "Cleaning up temporary working files"
cd "$CWD"
rm -rf "${OUTDIR}"/
echo "Finished cleaning"

function usage() {
cat << EOF
usage: $0 [options] filename
This script breaks a video file up into chunks and encodes them in parallel via SSH on
multiple hosts.
-h this help message.
-l comma separated list of hosts to use to encode. (default=${SERVERS})
-t rough length of individual video chunks, in seconds. (default=${LEN})
-o encoding options. (default=${OPTS})
-s output file suffix. (default=${SUFFIX})
-q video encoding quality, shortcut to use default encoding options with
a different CRF. (default=${CRF})
-v verbose job output. (default=false)

# check all required helper utils
function checkpaths() {
for cmd in parallel ffmpeg; do
if ! CMD=`which $cmd`; then
echo "$cmd not found in local path."
exit 1

while getopts “hl:t:o:s:q:v” OPTION; do
case $OPTION in
exit 1
OPTS="-map 0 -c:v libx264 -c:a aac -q:a 100 -strict -2 -level 41 -crf ${CRF} -preset veryslow"
shift $((OPTIND-1))

if [ $# -lt 1 ]; then
exit 1

trap on_finish EXIT


if ! mkdir -p ${OUTDIR}; then
echo "Couldn't create temp chunk output dir ${OUTDIR}."
exit 1

echo "Creating chunks to encode"
if [[ "$1" == *".AVI" || "$1" == *".avi" ]]; then
$ENC -fflags +genpts -i "$1" -map 0:a -map 0:v -codec copy -f segment -segment_time $LEN -segment_format matroska -v ${VERBOSE} "${OUTDIR}/chunk-%03d.orig"
mkvmerge --split $LEN -S "$1" -o "${OUTDIR}/chunk-%03d.orig"

echo "Copying file metadata"
DATA_IN="-i data.enc -map 1"
${ENC} -y -v ${VERBOSE} -i "$1" ${DATA_OPTS} -f matroska "${OUTDIR}/data.enc" ||
cd "$OUTDIR"

echo "Running parallel encoding jobs"
PAR_OPTS="--no-notice --gnu -j 1 -S ${SERVERS} --eta --retries 2 --nice 10"
PAR_OPTS="${PAR_OPTS} --workdir ... --transfer --return {.}.enc"
ENC_OPTS="-y -v ${VERBOSE} -i {} ${OPTS} -f matroska {.}.enc"

parallel ${PAR_OPTS} ${ENC} ${ENC_OPTS} ::: chunk-*.orig

echo "Combining chunks into final video file"
echo "ffconcat version 1.0" > concat.txt
for f in `ls chunk-*.enc | sort`; do
echo "file $f" >> concat.txt
BASE=`basename "$1"`
${ENC} -y -v ${VERBOSE} -f concat -i concat.txt ${DATA_IN} -map 0 -f matroska -c copy "${OUTFILE}"

This is what I’m currently using. There is no job checking and there is no error checking to ensure the hosts are online. I need to look into parallel more to see what I can do to check on the status of hosts and job completion in case anything drops offline. Parallel uses rsync to copy files between hosts as defined in SERVERS and ssh to execute commands between hosts. It also uses local copies of the executables on the hosts.

I’m pretty sure that this covers everything I’ve done to make this work. I’ll probably update this more as things go on because this was a first attempt at making it work.

Leave a Comment

Cable Management

So I wasn’t happy with the cable management after I moved the old switch into the rack and was preparing for the SAN.

This wasn’t terribly messy, but I think I can do better.

So I did. I moved the cables for the servers to the right side so they would run up the edge of the rack more cleanly.

I’m pretty happy with the final product after I got the SAN installed and wired up.

You can see here I’m not bothering with the secondary NIC on either of the controllers. I don’t have a secondary switch in case of failure. It’s also not that big of a deal to me at this time since I do have redundant controllers.

Leave a Comment

Home Lab Upgrade

So the home lab got an upgrade so that I can run a small Minecraft server and have a SAN for more VMWare stuff.

Getting it racked was pretty straight forward. That’s the easy part.

Getting it cable managed, is more work. This is just ugh. It’s also a first iteration so it’s pretty rough with what ports are going to get used.

A couple days later I get the first of the cable management done after I get the last of the cables in. Except I’m waiting on a second UPS at this point because this UPS is way over a reasonable load. I’m pulling a little over 600W on a 1500VA UPS. So I’m waiting on a second UPS and they I’ll revisit cable management since I’ll need to deal with power and will probably just shut everything down and pull it all apart so I can make all of the routing nice and workable.

Leave a Comment