Drobo5N and OpenELEC on RaspberryPi don’t play well together

I’ve posted elsewhere about my struggles to get consistent video playback from my Drobo5N media server using OpenELEC on a RaspberryPi 2. I’ve disabled all unnecessary settings in Kodi and I still get mixed results. Very rarely, a video will play through completely — I am usually streaming 720p H.264 MKVs — but for the most part, they will freeze at random points and then kick me back to the file list.

I’ve tested multiple files on different media players, without drawing a firm conclusion about which element in my setup is causing the problem. It could be the combination of one or more of them. I don’t know.

Any suggestions about what might be causing video to stream inconsistently from the Drobo will be greatly appreciated.

Edit: I’m not sure I would single out OpenELEC as the source of the problem. I settled on it after experiencing similar results using RaspBMC on the Pi.

Test Results
]WDTV Live Plus,Firmware version 1.06.42B,WDTV,Drobo 5N (1),SMB,Wireless (2),Works,No issues after a year of use connecting to the Drobo 5N.
[]ATV2,Software version 5.0.2,Kodi 14.0 Helix,Drobo 5N,SMB,Wireless,Mixed results,Video playback occasionally freezes and returns to file list; also, subtitles difficult to disable.
]ATV2,Software version 4.1.1,XBMC 12.3 Frodo,Drobo 5N,SMB,Wireless,Mixed results,No playback issues after a year of use; however, subtitles difficult to disable.
[]RaspPi2 (3),OpenELEC (4),Kodi 14.2 Helix (Beta),Drobo 5N,SMB,Wired (5),Mixed results,Video playback randomly freezes and returns to file list.
]RaspPi2,OpenELEC,Kodi 14.2 Helix (Beta),Drobo 5N,NFS (6),Wired,Mixed results,Video playback randomly freezes and returns to file list.
[]RaspPi2,OpenELEC,Kodi 14.2 Helix (Beta),Shared folder on Ubuntu 14.04,SMB,Wired,Works,No issues after multiple playbacks.
]RaspPiB+ (7),OpenELEC (8),Kodi 14.2 Helix (Beta 2),Drobo 5N,SMB,Wired,Mixed results,A couple of videos will play through, albeit with occasional sound drops, and then none will play.
[]RaspPiB+,OpenELEC,Kodi 14.2 Helix (Beta 2),Drobo 5N,NFS,Wired,Mixed results,A couple of videos will play through, and then none will play; also, the screen and mouse/keyboard control freeze, requiring a hard reboot.
]RaspPiB+,OpenELEC,Kodi 14.2 Helix (Beta 2),Shared folder on Ubuntu 14.04,SMB,Wired,Works,No issues after multiple playbacks.
[]Firmware is 3.1.1 with two new 2TB WD Red and two previously used 1TB WD Black drives (all four drives reported as healthy in the Drobo Dashboard)
]Using a D-Link DWA-140 Wireless N USB Adapter connecting, like other devices in this report, to my D-Link DIR-655 Xtreme N Gigabit Router
[]With new 5.2V 3000mA power supply and a good-quality HDMI cable connection to a flat-screen TV with CEC enabled and TV remote used
]Version 5.0.2 installed on a new 16GB SanDisk Extreme Class-10 U-3 MicroSD via NOOBS LITE v1.4 and subsequently upgraded to v5.0.4
[]Like other devices in this report, connected to a CAT-6 wall port with CAT-6 wiring to a D-Link Gigabit DGS-1008G 8-Port Desktop Switch
]Via NFSv3 1.2.8 for DROBO5N
[]With new 5.2V 2000mA power supply and a good-quality HDMI cable connection to a flat-screen TV with keyboard and mouse used
]Version 5.0.2 installed on a new 16GB SanDisk Ultra Class-10 MicroSD via NOOBS LITE v1.4 and subsequently upgraded to v5.0.5

I can only say that I have successfully streamed movies from my drobo 5N to Raspberry Pi (old 512MiB model).
Can you play those same files from USB or other source without problems?

As indicated in my post, I am able to stream from a wired laptop with a 250GB SSD running Ubuntu 14.04 without any issues. I can also play videos on a USB stick connected to the Pi. It’s only when I am attempting to stream from the Drobo that I encounter problems.

Could it be that some of your HDD have an idle timer enabled and go into standby after some time? WD has an utility for that.

I purchased my Drobo about a year ago and installed two new 2TB WD Red and two previously used 1TB WD Black HDDs. The Dashboard has consistently indicated that all of the drives are healthy. I don’t have the Dashboard in front of me at the moment, but I am reasonably sure I have set the drives to power down when not in use. I definitely notice that they take a few moments to come online when I access them for folder operations from a desktop. I’ve not knowingly set any other idle timer for the drives.

Edit: Also, the streaming problem occurs at random points in a video file. In one instance, I was able to view 7:09 into a program. I tried again, and got as far as 1:49 before it froze and returned me to the file list. Other files may not play more than a few seconds.

As ByteC said, all I can say is that I’ve been streaming videos from my droboFS (not even a 5N), to my raspberry Pi B (512MB) for at least 2 years. It’s played anything I’ve thrown at it flawlessly, including 720p .mkv files.

The difference is I’m directly wired to the same switch my DroboFS is plugged into, I’m not using wireless from my Pi.

BUT, I also stream over wifi from the DroboFS to an Amazon FireTV running XBMC, and it works flawlessly as well. I’ve streamed to both devices at the same time from the DroboFS, and never noticed a glitch. Your 5N should have no problems at all.

So, what does this tell us? The DroboFS is fine in both cases, wirelessly and wired. But I have seen NUMEROUS tales of people with problems streaming to their Pis. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it is way flakier, because of it’s known problems with it’s USB ports, (power requirements - needing a powered hub for some wireless dongles, etc). Plus any problems with your wifi in general.

I would say that there is a 98% probability that the problem is your wifi (Pi or just your infrastructure), a 1.99 percent chance it is something else, and .0001 percent chance it is the 5N.

You’re probably better off looking at raspberry pi/Kodi forums for a solution. ie: One of the first things people suggest is using NFS from XBMC as it has less overhead. I’ve had no problems with SMB, but I know that advice is always one of the first things people say.

Myself, I’d start looking at the wifi from the Pi. (whether the dongle needs a powered hub, etc).

Thanks for the reply. I’m not using wifi to connect to my Drobo. It’s wired with new CAT6 to a wall port that has the same running to my gigabit switch to which the Drobo is also connected. I also tried NFS and didn’t have much better luck. I’ve since put a shared USB 2TB HDD on my Pi and streamed perfectly from it using SMB. So, given that, I’m pretty much ready to abandon the Drobo. I prefer open source hardware and software anyway.

Oh, and I asked pretty much the same questions on the OpenELEC forum without getting a response so far.

Edit: My USB HDD is powered.

Ah…sorry, I missed your footnotes, as I didn’t understand the format.

I’m still going with a problem with the Pi…be it hardware (mine loses it’s connection to the router sometimes), or the new Helix 14.0 codebase for Kodi (your ATV with Helix is flakey too). I’m still running Frodo (12.3) on my Pi (with no problems).

It could still be something even odder…I started using transmission on my router, instead of off the drobo itself. I used NFS at first, because it was supposed to be ‘low overhead’. After a month, I noticed that I was consistently getting 30-40% slower transfers off the drobo for new files I was torrenting…I downloaded Ricardo’s e2fsprogs package from DroboPorts, and using ‘filefrag’ noticed that there was HUGE fragmentation of files. Like a 66MB file with 467 extents. I switched to using SMB, and fragmentation went back down to 1-2 extents for the same size file. (For a 160MB file, it went from 3192 extents to 2).

Not saying that is happening to you, but, just to say that sometimes it’s weird interactions…

(Also, I don’t blame drobo for the crazy fragmentation…I found one other person saying that NFS and ext3 creates huge fragmentation when writing)

Streetwriter, I bet that if you tried another media playback device you would still have problems based on my experiences.

I have had exactly the same problem for years with my 5N. A wired or wireless connection to the media player makes no difference - I get random stops throughout every single movie I try and play. I’ve used an Amazon Fire TV (with Kodi and XBMC), WD TV Live and Roku. I’ve even switched routers. The only thing I haven’t changed is the 5N. All of my media plays perfectly from USB drives when connected directly to the above devices.

In case it matters, my 5N has 4 WD Reds and a smaller (and older) drive from WD.

I’d love to get to the bottom of this once and for all.