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pankaj
2006-01-29, 09:27
Hello

I'm considering getting my local computer hardware supplier to put together a standalone, low-cost, 24x7 computer to serve as my music server, and I was looking for some advice on what is the minimum I should purchase, a Bill-Of-Materials (BOM) so to speak.

For example, I could configure:
1) The cheapest Celeron mother board available (Is Celeron Ok?). Which one?
2) The minimum amount of RAM required to run the OS and SlimServer (how much is adequate?)
3) Would Win XP Home be adequate, or must I use Win XP Pro?
4) A Linksys/Netgear (?) Wireless card
5) A 200GB HDD (?)
6) A CD-ROM Drive
7) A USB port so's I can sync my iPod to the iTunes library
8) The smallest profile cabinet I can get

Etc.

Any contribution to this idea, or a link to a site that has suggestions on how to go about it would be most welcome.

I'm not familiar with Linux, or I'd imagine that would be the way to go? Any Linux 101 sites I could look at?

Thanks

Pankaj

stinkingpig
2006-01-29, 10:24
pankaj wrote:
> Hello
>
> I'm considering getting my local computer hardware supplier to put
> together a standalone, low-cost, 24x7 computer to serve as my music
> server, and I was looking for some advice on what is the minimum I
> should purchase, a Bill-Of-Materials (BOM) so to speak.
>
> For example, I could configure:
> 1) The cheapest Celeron mother board available (Is Celeron Ok?). Which
> one?
>
There are a lot of people running Slimserver on embedded or Mini-ITX
systems, any Celeryon would be okay.
> 2) The minimum amount of RAM required to run the OS and SlimServer (how
> much is adequate?)
>
256mb would probably be fine, but I always buy as much RAM as I can
afford and skimp on CPU power to afford it. Swapping is a bad thing.
> 3) Would Win XP Home be adequate, or must I use Win XP Pro?
>
If this is a dedicated system, I'd just boot it with SlimCD and bypass
the whole issue of OS. XP Home is lacking a lot of network features, but
I'm not positive if it would be a problem or not. Better to skip it and
not find out.
> 4) A Linksys/Netgear (?) Wireless card
>
I'd also avoid wireless unless you have to use it. It's a pain. if you
do have to use it, get the WAP and cards from the same vendor at the
same time. It doesn't matter which one you chose IMHO, I've gotten DOA
gear from all of them and they're all crap.
> 5) A 200GB HDD (?)
> 6) A CD-ROM Drive
> 7) A USB port so's I can sync my iPod to the iTunes library
>
Get lots of USB ports, they're handy.
> 8) The smallest profile cabinet I can get
>
Mini-ITX systems are very handy for this sort of thing, though they're
rather gutless. I wouldn't want to run Windows on one, but they're fine
for a single-purpose server.
> Etc.
>
> Any contribution to this idea, or a link to a site that has suggestions
> on how to go about it would be most welcome.
>
> I'm not familiar with Linux, or I'd imagine that would be the way to
> go? Any Linux 101 sites I could look at?
>
> Thanks
>
> Pankaj
>
iPod/iTunes use becomes interesting if you go with Linux, you can't run
iTunes on Linux and so would need to set up some automatic storage or
transfer of the XML file to/from the Linux server. This isn't that
difficult, but it's an extra step.

--
Jack at Monkeynoodle dot Org: It's a Scientific Venture...
Riding the Emergency Third Rail Power Trip Since 1996

pfarrell
2006-01-29, 10:38
pankaj wrote:
> For example, I could configure:
> 1) The cheapest Celeron mother board available (Is Celeron Ok?). Which
> one?
> 2) The minimum amount of RAM required to run the OS and SlimServer (how
> much is adequate?)
> 3) Would Win XP Home be adequate, or must I use Win XP Pro?
> 4) A Linksys/Netgear (?) Wireless card
> 5) A 200GB HDD (?)
> 6) A CD-ROM Drive
> 7) A USB port so's I can sync my iPod to the iTunes library
> 8) The smallest profile cabinet I can get

First, there is no one answer, just opinions.
These are mine.

The first question is do you want the cheapest or smallest?
The really small cases cost much more than a moderate mid-tower.

I'd build it using a modest AMD, something like a 2400+, you can
get the CPU and motherboard for less than $100. It is going to have
a built in Ethernet nic, so I'm not sure about your Wireless card.
You may end up with a more flexible system running a wire from the
built in NIC to a wireless WAP/Router.

Any modern motherboard is going to have at least two USB ports
for you iPod.

Ram is cheap, and more is better. Unless you are a geek, you
are probably better off with more RAM and spend less time
optimizing it. I always buy a gig of Ram, you might live
with less, but I would not think of less than 512

The CD drive is either very important or totally not.
My SlimServer is in the basement, I never touch it.
So I rip CDs on another computer and just move the files.
For for me, the cheapest $10 CD drive works fine for the
once a year upgrades of the OS.

Always get more disk drive than you think you'll need.
The price difference between your 200GB and a 250GB disk
is maybe $10. Going to 300 or more is a very small increment.
What you care about is disk quality, as you don't want to deal
with replacing it anytime soon

In your system, the legal Windows OS license is a huge part
of the total cost. I can see your system costing about $300 or so
with $100 for XP. You do not need XP pro, and I would strongly
suggest not using Windows at all. There are tons of free
distros for Linux, you get buy them for under $10 from places
like cheapbytes. If you get on such as Mandriva 2006, it is
as trivial to install as Windows. And then there is the
SlimServer CD from Mike, with Knoppix and slimserver
ready to go with one button push.

You need some video, not much, and most motherboards
have enough for a headless Slimserver. You will also
need a keyboard, mouse and monitor at least for the
installation. You don't need it for operation
if you have a normal network in your house and
other computers to manage the SlimServer over
your network. I just pull an obsolete monitor
off one of my basement shelves for the setup.
You do not need to pay more than $20 for the video card,
you probably can get one built in.

I would not pay for a floppy drive, not even the $5
that most shops charge to throw one in. Not used enough
to be worth it.

YMMV

--
Pat
http://www.pfarrell.com/music/slimserver/slimsoftware.html

Mark Lanctot
2006-01-29, 11:08
Most of your other questions have been answered,
although I should point out that I'm running
SlimServer 6.2.2 on Windows XP Home quite
successfully.

There are a few very cheap "CPU on a board"
motherboards out there. ECS has one, the 760GX-M.
This has an AMD Socket 754 Athlon Mobile 2800+
but not soldered-in as on their earlier boards.
Heatsink and fan are installed as well. It's
amazingly cheap, on sale right now for $119.99
CDN. I hear PCChips <gasp!> makes others. Yes,
PCChips is the bottom of the barrel in terms of
quality though.

I have a much earlier ECS "CPU on a board" combo,
which has a 1.2 GHz Duron CPU soldered-in. It has
worked fine for me as a secondary computer and
would have no problem at all with SlimServer and
256 MB of RAM.

These boards have onboard video (nothing fancy)
and an onboard LAN port as well.

Use one of these boards with a basic case that has
a quality power supply, like the Antec Solution
series. Add a 250 - 300 GB IDE hard drive and a
cheap CD-ROM and you'd be all set.

pankaj wrote:
> Hello
>
> I'm considering getting my local computer hardware
supplier to put
> together a standalone, low-cost, 24x7 computer to
serve as my music
> server, and I was looking for some advice on what is
the minimum I
> should purchase, a Bill-Of-Materials (BOM) so to
speak.
>
> For example, I could configure:
> 1) The cheapest Celeron mother board available (Is
Celeron Ok?). Which
> one?
> 2) The minimum amount of RAM required to run the OS
and SlimServer (how
> much is adequate?)
> 3) Would Win XP Home be adequate, or must I use Win
XP Pro?
> 4) A Linksys/Netgear (?) Wireless card
> 5) A 200GB HDD (?)
> 6) A CD-ROM Drive
> 7) A USB port so's I can sync my iPod to the iTunes
library
> 8) The smallest profile cabinet I can get
>
> Etc.
>
> Any contribution to this idea, or a link to a site
that has suggestions
> on how to go about it would be most welcome.
>
> I'm not familiar with Linux, or I'd imagine that
would be the way to
> go? Any Linux 101 sites I could look at?
>
> Thanks
>
> Pankaj
>
>

--
___________________________________


Mark Lanctot
___________________________________

Jon
2006-01-29, 13:20
My original plan was to have a low-end server built ... until I stumbled on a cheap ($265), low-end server that had everything I needed, in my case:

AMD Sempron 3100+ CPU
MS WinXP Home
256MB memory (which I upgraded to 768GB for $20)
80GB Ultra ATA hard drive
52x32x52x CD-RW Drive

What I like about this particular PC (Powerspec 5500; http://www.powerspec.com/systems/system_specs.phtml?selection=5500) is that the motherboard has 4 SATA ports on it, and the cabinet appeared to have four empty bays for future expansion (I have since discovered the hard way that three of the four bays will take a bit of 'creative re-engineering' if I want to fit a 3.5" drive in them). I added a 400GB SATA drive (which is where I intend to store all my music) for $189, and am now in the process of ripping 800 CDs.

I was especially interested in having SATA ports, I personally like the idea of separating my music collection from the disk containing the OS. Also, I originally thought I was going to need two disks for my collection, and was planning on using two SATA drives in a RAID0 configuration ... until some testing showed that my entire collection won't take up more than about 250GB.

I should point out that the Powerspec 5500 is normally $350, but they were running a $50 rebate and I found an open-box system which reduced the cost further.

The one thing this server does not offer is a small form factor, it uses a mid-size cabinet.

I guess the moral of this story is, you might be able to buy a pre-built system as cheaply as having one built for you, if you shop around for rebate deals and open-box specials.

One important question is, how many CDs do you have to rip? Ripping is somewhat CPU-intensive ... I find that when I rip to FLAC with Compression Level 5, or to Windows Media Lossless, my CPU is pegged at 100% busy. My CD R/W seems to be reading as fast as it is capable, so the CPU doesn't seem to be slowing down the ripping ... but with a faster CPU, I could add an external CDROM and rip two CDs at a time. This won't be an issue once I get through the stack of 800 CDs, though. With the Sempron CPU and 52x CD R/W, most of my CDs rip in 1.5 to 3 minutes, depending on length.

Michaelwagner
2006-01-29, 15:26
I'd like to re-emphasize the "avoid wireless unless you have no other choice" statement.

Jon
2006-01-29, 17:35
When you say "avoid wireless", are you referring specifically to the end-to-end connection between the server and the Squeezebox (via a wireless router), or just to the portion of the connection between the server and the router?

I have two Squeezeboxes arriving next week, I was planning on going hardwired between my server and my router, then wireless from the router to the squeezeboxes - is this a situation to be avoided (and why?).

Thanks.

Michaelwagner
2006-01-29, 18:21
Well, you were asking about the server box, and you wrote you wanted a wireless card there.

If your data takes two wireless trips (one to the router, one from the router to the slim) you automatically half your capacity. That's not a good thing to do in any case, if you want to plan ahead for more of them.

There are some current problems with wireless SBs, but I expect they'll get fixed in time.

I was more remarking that you shouldn't build a dependence on wireless into the server.

That said, I always believe that it is better to not radiate. If you can put real wires into your house for not too great a cost in time and effort, that's generally the preferred route.

I live in an apartment. I'm not allowed to go into the walls. I'm sure the landlord would have a fit about what I've already done to the place, drilling through the walls in a few places. So I run wireless into the bedroom.

But it's easily the least reliable part of my setup.

YMMV

stinkingpig
2006-01-30, 08:55
Jon wrote:
> When you say "avoid wireless", are you referring specifically to the
> end-to-end connection between the server and the Squeezebox (via a
> wireless router), or just to the portion of the connection between the
> server and the router?
>
> I have two Squeezeboxes arriving next week, I was planning on going
> hardwired between my server and my router, then wireless from the
> router to the squeezeboxes - is this a situation to be avoided (and
> why?).
>
> Thanks.
>

wireless in general is immature and unreliable technology. Some people
get lucky or are well-educated enough to work around the rough spots and
will argue with that statement until they're blue in the face. But if
you're a plug-it-in-and-go sort, and troubleshooting a problem does not
sound like a fun way to spend the evening, you're going to be happier
with wire. If your situation does not allow for a wire, then go wireless
and see if you're lucky.

If you're not, start by changing the channel on your router, then
replace your cordless phone and microwave, then ask your neighbors to do
the same.

--
Jack at Monkeynoodle dot Org: It's a Scientific Venture...
Riding the Emergency Third Rail Power Trip Since 1996

RiccardoR
2006-01-30, 13:17
[QUOTE=pankaj]Hello

>I'm considering getting my local computer hardware supplier to put together a standalone, low-cost, 24x7 computer to serve as my music server, and I was looking for some advice on what is the minimum I should purchase, a Bill-Of-Materials (BOM) so to speak.
>
>Any contribution to this idea, or a link to a site that has suggestions on how to go about it would be most welcome.

=======

For me the basic difference is: You need more HD space than 300Gb? If no and if it's important to save space I suggest to browse eBay and search for a small computer. I bought an HP e-PC 40 (PIII 1000 - 256Mb - slim CDRom) for only 160 Euro (190 USD) and changed the 40HD with a bigger one. If You want to have the USB 2.0 and a powerful CPU I suggest an HP EVO 530 (PIV from 2 to 2.8Mhz) with a USDT form factor (the price is a little higher, but in USA I see the prices are cheaper than here in Europe). The quality of those computers is better of any clone and You can open the PC's in seconds and only by hands.
Good search.
Riccardo