Because of our new uptick in streaming we had to figure out how to stream our live services with RTMP to Facebook and YouTube, as well as our app. The app is a little odd as it requires a stream input of a .m3u8 file, also called HLS. Our church cable modem is not able to support more than one 1080 x 30fps output at once. This is about a 4mps stream. So we needed something to help us.
This led us to research services like restream.io and Boxcast. Both these will do it for RTMP, however Boxcast will do that and also the .m3u8 (HLS). That brought up an interesting challenge in my mind. I figured that this couldn’t be “that” hard. I just had to figure out how to re-stream RTMP. That led me to cloud servers which I had a tiny bit of experience with after-all this website is on an AWS Lightsail cloud server which costs $3.50 and my other website timrides.com is on a free Google cloud server instance.
I had experience in spinning up cloud servers with Bitnami originally and running apache as a webserver. I had seen the wonders of what can be done, but didn’t know how to do more than run WordPress on those Bitnami installations for the websites.
So I went to Amazon and to the Lightsail section which is sort of the simple part of AWS where you pay for various size cloud servers and all your data and things are included. It makes billing simple and you don’t have to worry much about causing some huge bill. You can get there at https://lightsail.aws.amazon.com/ .
The first part of making the re-streaming server for RTMP is getting an instance such as the $3.50 one, it’s good for at least re-streaming to 3 places. So you take in your RTMP feed from your streaming software like wirecast or obs and you send it to the server. The server takes it and sends it on to the services like YouTube and Facebook. If you need more, you might need a bigger server like the $5 one. In any event its cheap and even if one is to small you can take a snapshot of it and spin up a bigger one in about 4 minutes. I chose to run Ubuntu 18.04 on mine. It’s well documented and easy to run NGINX on that to get a good webserver and robust re-streaming server all in one.
I did a ton of Google searching for information and came upon some reasonable tutorials. It was not very hard to get the re-streaming part of this going. Just forwarding streams of RTMP is not to hard and obviously doesn’t even take much computing power since the Ubuntu machine with 512mb of RAM can do it. It requires some simple config file modifications to the NGINX software with the rtmp module in it.
Also to get Facebook to work you have to add in a module called “stunnel”. That is pretty simple as well. The tutorial below should have most of what you need for Facebook, YouTube and any other service that requires only RTMP.
We’ve now streamed a few times to Facebook, YouTube and my HLS streaming server a few times. It works very well with this simple RTMP streaming server setup. It’s running well on my tiny $3.50 per month server just chugging along. Once the persistent stream keys are input in the server there isn’t any maintenance for it or any other reason to look at the configuration files. I’ll modify it sometime to add some of the statistics information that I have on my HLS server.
In addition to the below, you should fix the firewall to only allow through ports 1935, 80, maybe 440,990 and 1000. Depends on what else you do with it.
If you’d like to see some of my nginx.conf file and other parts needed for this project see below. I’ll insert them here.
If you need to output an HLS or .m3u8 file, you need to go a little further. I made two servers so that I could get the majority working quickly and then I could modify the other without messing up the working one.
My second server needs to be made bigger to carry the load when we stream to the app. The app users are directly receiving the file from my server and they put a load on it. Also the creation of that HLS file is intensive alone, even if only one person is on the app. I’ll post about that second server in another post.
I hope this brings you as much of a feeling of accomplishment as it brought me. It also taught me a ton about linux and cloud servers.