Now, you have a hard disk to put your DCP on, but you’ve learned it needs to be ext2/3 formatted. What’s that? Every operating system has it’s own way of formatting hard disks and other media. What formatting does is putting a certain file system on the disk to make the OS able to read and write it. Windows uses FAT and NTFS, Mac OS X uses HFS+ nowadays and Linux can use a lot, amongst which ext2 and ext3. The vast majority of digital cinema servers are Linux machines, which can read FAT and ext2/3, but not NTFS or HFS+. FAT does only accomodate for max 2GB filesize so if you did not make a very short film, ext2/3 is the only option when we want our DCP to be accessible everywhere. Ext3 is the same as ext2, but journaled, which means things go quicker than in ext2.
The best thing is to get software that enables you to read AND write to ext3 from Windows or Mac. DuckDuckGo can help you easily. This will cost you a few bucks but will save you a LOT of time. Check if it the software has good references, you better not pay for something not worth it.
Another option is having Linux to format the hard disk in ext3. These are the options if you decide to go for Linux:
− Create a live Linux CD or DVD from a downloaded image and start your computer (Mac or pc) from it. You now have a full working Linux machine with which you can format your storage ext3. But it might be difficult to access the drive where your DCP(s) resides.
− Buy a simple pc and install Linux on it. If you don’t want to spend money or you don’t want another machine around, read on below. If you think a new machine is a nice treat, consider buying a good one so you can also use it for making your DCPs.
− Maybe there’s some old machine lying around that is too slow to work with these days, but it still works: Great! Install Linux on it. Linux can be installed on almost any machine, even Mac G4.
− If you do not have a spare machine and don’t want to waste money on more gear, you’ll have to make one: a virtual machine (VM). There are payed apps like VMWare an Parallels, but there’s also a free solution called VirtualBox. Here’s some guidance, but if you feel uncertain, read more about VirtualBox (VB) and the Linux distribution from the websites where you download them.
If you decide to try the VM option read on but read all before you start. And don’t blame me when things turn out different from what happened here. It’s computer stuff and strange things happen all the time. But here’s what i’d do: (remember host
is the OS of you computer, VB will be the guest
- Make sure you have at least 10GB of disk space available, but i think 20GB is better. If you want to put your entire DCP inside the Linux system, you’ll need that much space extra. But i think that’s a silly way of making things work.
- Download Virtualbox Choose either VB for OS X hosts (when you’ll install it on a Mac) or the VB for Windows hosts for a Windows machine.
- If you will use USB for transferring the DCP, it will be very slow unless you install the Extension Pack as well. It will upgrade the virtual machines USB from 1.1 to 2.0. Download the Extension Pack for All supported platforms. Read and stick to the License please. Install by double clicking the downloaded file after you installed VB.
- Download a Linux distribution. There are many. I choose Lubuntu It’s lightweight but also connected to the established and well maintained Ubuntu.
- Install VirtualBox. It’s pretty straight forward.
- Start VB, then go to Preferences in the menu bar and select the place where you want the Virtual Machine(s) to reside. This may be an external drive, but be aware of possibly slower performance. You can adjust other settings as well, if you know what you are doing. Click OK when ready.
Now click the blue New button to create a VM in which you can install your Linux distro. Read about the system requirements of your distro and make sure you give the VM the right properties. Whereever you don’t know, stick to the default options.
- I gave it 1024 MB. You may give it more or less, as you wish. More is faster, but will not be available to your standard OS when the Virtual Machine is running. Check the instructions that came with your Linux distro. For formatting and transferring you do not need much. You can change this setting later, even when the VM/Linux is installed. Continue.
- Make new virtual disk (standard option), Make. Choose VDI
- Now you have to decide if the size of the disk will “grow” as the VM needs more (first option, standard) or that the size will be fixed from the beginning (second option) I choose the first.
- Make it 10GB (for Lubuntu) or larger (depending on the Linux version you’ll pick, read the system requirements of your distro)
Now you have a virtual machine listed in VirtualBox. Go to Settings. Here you can adjust several things. At System/Motherboard i have Chipset ICH9 (i run it on a iMac), I/O-APIC on. Processor: 1, 100% PAE/NX on. Acceleration both on. You might need to try what works best for your gear, find detailed info on the web.
Select Storage. At Controller: IDE click on the CD symbol. Next to it you can now choose the install image you downloaded in step 7. Click on the disc symbol next to CD/DVD-station [IDE second Master] (this might be something else, leave as it is). Choose Virtual CD/DVD disk image and navigate to the downloaded install image. Check Live CD/DVD
Go to Ports. Check USB 2.0 if you are going to use it. Next to the field Filters click the icon with a blue dot to create a filter that accepts anything USB (or create specific filters for your storage and other USB gear you need to work with the VM).
It is easy to access host files from a Linux VM if these files are in a shared folder. So you may need to set the folder in which your DCP resides to be a shared folder in the host OS. The alternatives are: USB and network drive. Once the DCP is in a shared folder, or your USB or networked drive is connected in the host OS, go to Shared Folders and click on the small folder icon with plus. Select the folder or drive that contains your DCP. Click OK.
- Make sure any data on the disk you will be using to put your DCP on is backed up! The disk will be completely erased!
Double check and then connect this disk. Erase all partitions and make one new empty partition with MBR and eject the drive when ready. (In OSX you use Disk Utility for this; select MBR in Options; ctrl+click on the drive to eject).
In VB, select the VM and click the green Start button. You can now install but you can also let the Live image boot. You can install later as well. Installation can take quite a while.
- If things don’t work, check documentation on the Linux distro, change settings of the VM and try again.
Once Linux is running, you can reconnect the drive from step 11 and format it. Every distro has its own way of doing this, so check the manual. For Lubuntu: Go to Menu > Preferences > Disks.
Choose the USB storage device. In the field on the right you see a representation of the disk. Check if Partioning is MBR. Click on the +.
Then select Custom and type ext3 in the Filesystem field. Wait till the process is finished, this may take a while.
Click the play sign to mount the disk
Click the link to open a file manager window with the (almost empty) contents of the disk. There is already one folder in it called lost+found. That’s a Linux thing… If you accidentally close this window you can open it again via Preferences > Disks and clicking the link. You can now access the disk and put your DCP on it. Best is to use rsync or Grsync for that.
If you want to be shure if the DCP is transferred correctly, install Digital Cinema Tools in your Linux OS, and run dcp_inspect on the folder that is your DCP on the ext3 disk. This will take quite a while. Errors will mean your DCP is not usable. (There is an alternative way: As i pointed out in the DCP page, it makes no sense making a DCP yourself if you can not check it in a cinema; so you might choose to see if your DCP loads fine there to know if the transfer is okay). Remember that even one single faulty bit will often prevent the DCP from being playable! After all that, unmount the disk and eject it.
- Once you’re finished, you can close the VM and choose Save the machine state. This will let you quickly return to the state where you left your VM. Alter settings to the VM in VB is not possible if you stopped your VM this way. But that’s okay if everything worked fine. If you do want to change settings shut down Linux by choosing Send the shutdown signal or use the shutdown option in Linux.
- Ship your DCP, read about that in my DCP article or on KESE
Please look at my Links page for more detailed info!
Henk Rhebergen, edited januari 2019