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Apple's competition to Real Networks and Microsoft's proprietary streaming servers. The Quicktime Streaming Server allows people with a Quicktime Player to watch video or listen to audio without having to download the entire file, it is "streamed" over the network, even live, and erased when you're finished.

Released in 1999, under the open source APSL license, and compliant with the current Real-Time Transport Protocol/Real-Time Streaming Protocol (RTP/RTSP) as well as mp3 streaming and full MPEG-4 support. A tech pundit once said "Streaming media needs an Apache," refering to the free open source web server, this is probably as best to Apache as you can get for now.

The server is free. Although it's designed for Mac OS X Server, it's also availible as an open source server called the Darwin Streaming Server. Versions have been ported over to Linux, Solaris, and Windows NT/2000. In fact, the whole server app is portable if you change a few specific files. The only catch is that the really good codecs, like Sorenson Video and QDesign are Windows/Mac only, so without them the experience of running it on Linux makes it run under par.

With QuickTime Streaming Server, you can serve up to 4000 simultaneous streams from a single server, or scale up to meet increased traffic by adding multiple servers. One of the things that makes it so appealing over Real or Windows Media is that there is no server tax. Real's server application gives you up to 25 simultaneous streams, any more and you will have to pay extra. To get 1000 concurrent streams, the licensing fee jumps to something like $20,000 for the proprietary server app and licensing. Apple does not have this per-stream charge. Therefore large businesses can save thousands with Apple, and they don't even need the proprietary hardware from the same company (like Microsoft demands their windows media servers run only on windows).

The server uses skip protection (assuming your client app is new enough for the new protocols) which buffers data ahead of time when you have extra bandwith. When packets are lost, the server retransmits only the lost packets, which reduces network traffic, and lets you keep watching as your bandwith narrows temporarily.

In 2002, Apple released Quicktime Streaming Server 4, with some new features. It can now control Quicktime broadcaster from the same machine, meaning one computer can now provide live video feed to the 'Net. It has Instant-On Streaming, which means you can begin watching video after less than a second of buffering. It's like the file is locally stored on your hard drive; you can even "scrub" forward and back, jumping to locations in the video without all the long buffering. It also can stream MPEG-4 to any MPEG-4 client, not just quicktime since this is now an industry standard.

Here are the features from the site (www.apple.com/quicktime/products/qtss):

  • Instant-on provides enhanced overbuffering of data, dramatically reducing buffer time for broadband users.
  • Skip Protection takes advantage of excess available bandwidth to buffer ahead data locally to the client
  • Serves to any standard MP3 player such as iTunes, WinAmp, or QuickTime Player
  • Web-based interface for local and remote administration Provides full spectrum error logging and Writes logs in standard W3C format
  • Supports QuickTime (.mov), MP3 audio (.mp3), or MPEG-4 (.mp4) files
  • Supports multiple play options: sequential playback, sequential looped playback, and weighted Random playback
  • Supports Digest authentication (encrypted password transmission)
  • Supports Basic authentication (clear text password transmission
  • Serves hinted QuickTime files stored on the server (video on demand)
  • Acts as a reflector for live broadcasts
  • Allows creation of a QuickTime Broadcaster user account for automated broadcasting.
  • Provides relay functionality for setting up multiple servers
  • Allows you to create simulated live broadcasts with Playlist Broadcaster, perfect for creating your own Internet radio station
  • Supports up to 4,000 simultaneous streams
  • Provides access control to media files using authentication modules
  • Compliant with popular log analysis tools from Lariat, Active Concepts, and WebTrends
  • Supports both unicast or multicast streams

System Requirements:
QuickTime Streaming Server: Power Macintosh G3 or G4 or better
128MB of physical RAM (512MB recommended for professional streaming)
Mac OS X Server 10.2 or later (the streaming server is bundled with OS X server)
1GB of hard disk space

Darwin Streaming Server:
Mac OS X 10.1 or later OR
Red Hat Linux 7.1 OR
Solaris 8 (SPARC) OR
Windows NT Server 4.0/Windows 2000 Server OR
Any POSIX compliant OS and some technical expertise

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