Any interest in WMC as a VM with working DRM HDMI & digital audio output?

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CZ Eddie

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Any interest in WMC as a VM with working DRM HDMI & digital audio output?

#1

Post by CZ Eddie » Sat Sep 29, 2018 7:42 pm

If enough folks are interested, I'll write up how I got WMC7 working as a virtual machine with HDMI video & audio output for DRM protected content.
This means you're watching live TV (such as HBO, ESPN, etc) via the HDMI output, not RDP or any other remote connection (which is not possible). So it's not for everyone.

I'll be using this solution plugged into an HDMI splitter, sending HDMI output to all the TV's in my house for "whole-house audio & video". Yep, that means I'm in the middle of running HDMI cables to all the rooms in my house. A real PITA. :)

This is VMware's free version of ESXi 6.7 + WMC7 + 1080P HDMI + USB 3.0 (for mouse, keyboard, etc) + HDHomeRun Prime.

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#2

Post by CZ Eddie » Sat Sep 29, 2018 7:48 pm

reserved, just in case I need it for a tutorial.

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#3

Post by CZ Eddie » Sat Sep 29, 2018 7:48 pm

reserved, just in case I need it for a tutorial.

jachin99

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#4

Post by jachin99 » Sat Sep 29, 2018 10:29 pm

I'll honestly never do it but I would be interested in reading about it. How will you handle peripherals for instance? As soon as I read this, I was reminded of what this person did https://thehomeserverblog.com/esxi-lab-specs/

CZ Eddie

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#5

Post by CZ Eddie » Sun Sep 30, 2018 4:49 am

Peripherals connect to the USB 3.0 PCIe card.
So the keyboard/mouse are right there alongside the computer monitor (which is split with the projector).
There are tons of options for peripherals.
From network shared keyboard/mouse to KVM's to etc. etc.

tocsin

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#6

Post by tocsin » Tue Oct 16, 2018 2:13 pm

Yes - I'm interested in WMC7 in a VM. Got it sort of working for OTA recordings, not live, which is good enough for me...

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#7

Post by mercblue281 » Wed Oct 17, 2018 9:11 pm

Definitely would love to hear about it. Always thought that having WMC running in VM would be great - but the HDCP/DRM always seems like it would be impossible without the hardware. My ceton echo is maddening though and given the inability to use anything other than an xbox 360 as an extender it would probably be of limited utility.

artm

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#8

Post by artm » Sun Dec 04, 2022 4:50 am

Whatever happened to this?

I tried using VMWorkstation 10 to convert my physical Win7/WMC PC to a VM. Did not work. I mostly wanted to do this as a backup in case my PC failed. Now I use Clonezilla to clone the drive to a backup.

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#9

Post by CZ Eddie » Mon Dec 05, 2022 6:49 pm

CZ Eddie wrote: Sat Sep 29, 2018 7:48 pm reserved, just in case I need it for a tutorial.
Lost my notes.
Have not been able to replicate my results from back then.
I tried two or three months ago and couldn't get it working.
But I think that was Windows 10 LTSB and the other earlier Windows 10 that supposedly works on physical boxes.

I may try WMC7 as a VM again soon.
But my server is down at the moment.

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#10

Post by CZ Eddie » Tue Aug 08, 2023 2:28 am


artm

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#11

Post by artm » Tue Aug 08, 2023 3:23 am

Yes, but that's with ESXi. Although it is commendable, if achieved, I believe more users would prefer to image their system as a VM in Workstation. Then you can run that VM in any other system with Workstation.

ESXi needs a PC dedicated to it and has passthrough issues (video, USB, etc) when wanting to share those resources.

Workstation allows one to use the PC with any other piece of software, under Wndows 7 of course.

I think backing up with Clonezilla (or another program) is an easier and more reliable solution to restore a failed drive and setup. Of course, for the really paranoid (like me), you can have an identical PC setup and transfer images to the non-failed PC.

Again, I commend the goal.

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#12

Post by CZ Eddie » Tue Aug 08, 2023 10:48 pm

I have no use for Workstation

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#13

Post by CZ Eddie » Fri Aug 11, 2023 3:52 am

Okay, the guide is pretty much done and ready. And should work for non-VM installs as well.
Still have some cleanup to do and notes to add.
Does anybody have any suggestions?

I had to put this on AVS because it's a huge PITA to post screenshots here on the button.

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#14

Post by artm » Sat Aug 12, 2023 2:42 am

So, if you copy the VM to another PC, will it still work? Another PC with different hardware?

If this only works on one PC, then what's the benefit over installing it in a regular system - excepting being a worthwhile exercise of course?

The point of a VM is to be portable across other systems, making for easy backup/restore - at least for me.

CZ Eddie

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#15

Post by CZ Eddie » Sat Aug 12, 2023 12:58 pm

I'm sure everyone has their own uses. But the idea behind VMware is to be able to take multiple physical servers and run them as virtual servers on a single physical server. All the virtual servers "share" the physical hardware. This allows you to minimized hardware waste because not all servers require 100% CPU, 100% NIC activity, 100% memory utilization at the same time. So, on many servers you have expensive hardware not being used to its capacity. In a virtual environment, each VM "takes turns" using the physical hardware. So, as long as you don't over-provision/over-allocate, each VM won't notice much of a difference having to share the hardware with other VM's.

The only time you'd move a VM to another server is if your current server requires offline maintenance and you have another VMware server in a cluster.
Then, you can vMotion the VM's over to the other physical server host without any downtime.

Having hardware passthrough like the Video Card prevents you from being able to vMotion. So, that VM would need to be powered down before it could be moved.
And the new host would need to have the same Video Card available for the VM to be used.

The virtual hardware is typically be the same unless one physical server has vastly different physical hardware. Such as a different generation of CPU. In those cases you would use Enhanced vMotion which "dumbs down" the physical hardware to be the same level across the board.

So, if you moved your WMC VM to another host with different physical hardware but a similar CPU (same generation/series) and the same model Video Card, you would probably be able to play the previously recorded DRM content. Such as, going from a Dell T430 server to a Dell T630 server, both with the same Video Card. The VM would theoretically have no idea its on a different host.
I'm not interested in testing that though. As I don't have a second server and I've spent far too much time testing methods and creating this guide.

I use my single server to host a storage server VM for all my backed up data and movie/music collection. And a VM for handling my security cameras with its dedicated video card. And a planned VM for streaming media, music center + Kodi, also with its own dedicated Video Card. I've run out of PCIe slots for a Video Card, so I put my WMC onto a laptop. If I had a larger server then I'd put the WMC onto it as a VM.

You don't have to use a server as the host. You can use a desktop computer or workstation or laptop.
But old servers are so cheap, there's really no reason not to get one.
The Dell tower servers are designed to be quiet and hold tons of 3.5" storage drives, so they are a nice choice to go with.
Last edited by CZ Eddie on Sat Aug 12, 2023 1:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#16

Post by CZ Eddie » Sat Aug 12, 2023 1:01 pm

I use VMware because the software is free and it saves me tons of space in my "AV closet" by consolidating everything into one machine.
And this uses less energy than having a few desktops & laptops hooked up.

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#17

Post by artm » Sun Aug 13, 2023 12:05 am

So, with multiple video cards, you're dedicating one to the WMC VM. But when you're watching TV and that VM is active, are you still able to run the another VM with the other dedicated video card (on another monitor of course)?

I only find this useful if one can make a VM that's portable to other PC's. Apparently that's not possible and still keep DRM functionality. So, I do as I said: identical PC's with Clonezilla drive images to swap over if necessary. The image is of the OS drive only. Recorded TV and Videos are on a USB drive, also for portability and safety. That drive is backed to another nightly.

I agree with using cheap ervers. I run a Dell R720, 256GB RAM, 8x3.5" drives, spinning not SSD! Windows 10 LTSC and VMWare Workstation running several VM's. My main system is Win7 (VM). I do this so that if the VM fails and I have no backup, I can still run the programs in Win10.

Frankly, I'd love to run Win7 on this server as the main OS and then Win10 VM's only for browsers that need Win10. I have NO USE for WIn10 on its own. But I don't think that's possible form what I've read.

CZ Eddie

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#18

Post by CZ Eddie » Sun Aug 13, 2023 12:57 am

artm wrote: Sun Aug 13, 2023 12:05 am So, with multiple video cards, you're dedicating one to the WMC VM. But when you're watching TV and that VM is active, are you still able to run the another VM with the other dedicated video card (on another monitor of course)?
Yes
The only time two VM's can't run at the same time is when they're both using the same hardware video card.

If you have two separate hardware video cards, each assigned its own VM, then both VM's can run at the same time.

I ran some performance tests (3D mark) with the same Video Card in both my x16 and x8 PCIe slots and both slots had pretty much identical test results (~3% difference).
So, I feel comfortable running another VM with another video card in my x8 PCIe slot.

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#19

Post by artm » Sun Aug 13, 2023 1:19 am

Right, but in Workstation I can run multiple VM's in separate windows with one card, but not ideal for WMC.

I don't need top video performance in my R720, I need quiet since it's near me. So, two video cards will ramp up the fans - even basic cards. I had thought of storing the server in the basement, run some fiber to the office through 10G switches and using a USB extender (over Ethernet) for all my peripherals in the office.

I wonder: can I run two video cards and dedicate VM's through Workstation? That will allow one card for the WMC VM and the other card for the main system (running other VM's).

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#20

Post by CZ Eddie » Sun Aug 13, 2023 1:29 am

R720 sounds like an old school vacuum cleaner. Very loud. It's not designed to care about SPL's.
Too loud. You can swap out for quiet fans (Noctua) but then probably get an amber SEL alert for not enough fan RPM's.
Best to sell the R720 and get a T620 (or even better, T630).
The tower T-series are designed to be used in an office environment, under a desk, and not bother anyone.
You can also put them on their side if you need and even look for one with the OEM rack-conversion bracket kit.
T6xx offer up to 18 3.5" HDD bays.

My T320 is quiet with two RX 6400 video cards, NVMe PCIe controller and a USB 2.0 card.

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