Alias files


I've used "Alias files" as a convenient title, but as I may be barking up a red herring, I'll describe what I want to achieve.

I have a large number of movies files mainly in the formats .avi .mp4 and .m4v. They are stored on an external USB drive and all play on my HDR-FOX T2.

The Humax allows me to view/sort them in various ways of which alphabetical is usually the most suitable for my purpose.

I have grouped some of the files by creating folders named by Director and moving individual files into them. Ideally, I would prefer to be able to create folders with playable links to the original files within them without having had to move or copy those files there.

For example: I would like to have a "Billy Wilder" folder with links to "The Fortune Cookie" and "Stalag 17" and others but without moving or copying those actual files to that folder.

I realise that I could partly achieve groupings similar to the folders by prefacing the original files as for example "Billy Wilder's Stalag 17", but that is unsatisfactory in other ways.

On a Mac I can do what I want by by attaching the USB drive, creating the folders then creating alias files for the individual titles (files) and placing these in the folders. I can then play the original files by using VLC to open the alias files from within the folders.

I can't seem to find a way of making this work directly on the Humax. It won't even show the alias files if I leave them labeled as, for instance, "Stalag 17.avi alias" (which is how they show on my Mac) and if I rename to just "Stalag 17.avi" it results in the "cannot support file format" message.

Any suggestions as to how to achieve my goal?
An "alias file" as you put it requires operating system support. In Windows an alias is an actual file whose content is a link to the file in question, so the alias file actually exists in the file system and the operating system knows to redirect the access to the link contained in the alias file.

The Humax works on Linux as the operating system. Linux can have aliases in the form of symbolic links, and I use some to provide hot links to buried folders within my file system. These are implemented as entities in the directory structure, not as file entities. Consequently, not only do you require operating system support but also file system support. This means you need the USB drive to be formatted as Ext3 not FAT32 or NTFS.

I am not sure you will be able to alias files even then, but I have (as I said) made it work with folders. You will need to access the drive directly from a Linux command line or an OS that understands these things (presumably MacOS does, as it is Unix-based).
My understanding is that Mac alias files work broadly in the same way as you describe Windows aliases - they are actual files which redirect access. The USB drive is NTFS so that is a problem. I'll give it some more thought.

Thanks for the guidance.
It could be that your Mac is using the mechanism appropriate to the file system. If you connected an Ext3 drive to the Mac, it might switch to directory redirections.
I've tried symbolic links and hard links on the internal disk on my T2. The latter work whereas the former don't (not seen by Humax software).
You need to use a telnet command line and learn the "ln" command, but it's not that difficult.
Obviously you need to use an ext2 or ext3 file system for the links to work. These are a completely different beast to shortcuts on Windows (which are just .LNK files used by the shell which it interprets to point to somewhere else).
It looks like symbolic links may be achievable in NTFS but that now seems academic in view of the need for hard links and an ext formatted drive to make this work. I would need some additional software for an ext 3 drive to also work with a Mac. And I would need to copy all the files before reformatting the drive. All a bit too much work for the benefit I think. I may just add some dummy files explaining that the real files are in named folders. For example: the real "Stalag 17.avi" would be in the "Billy Wilder" folder but there would also be an unplayable file named "Stalag 17 see Billy Wilder.avi" listed alphabetically with all other files not in folders. Not very elegant but at least I'll get fewer complaints from those family members who claim to be unable to find things.
Tackling this from a different direction - that is a good case for using a decent DLNA media server rather than putting them on a disk you plug directly into the Humax. Most DLNA servers have options for what indexing they present to you so you can do stuff like that.

The downside of that is needing hardware/software to do it which you may well not have already. But if you do have some it may be worth a look.