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avw2343
2007-07-27, 13:24
I'm just starting to think about a squeeze box, having used i-tunes on my laptop, supported by an external 320Gb drive for a while. I have my whole CD collection ripped in both Apple Lossless and in MP3 (for my ipod) on the Maxstor external drive. I'm now looking at the squeeze box to make this music available in both my upstairs loft listening room and my basement home theater room. My wireless router/DSL link is on the main floor.
My idea was to buy an inexpensive PC to act as media server, and plug in my maxstor external disk, use my HDTV as monitor and buy a wireless keyboard, and be able to play music from that directly through my home theater set up from the PC sound card. Meanwhile, I'd also run slimserver on this PC and have a squeeze box upstairs to provide connection to the hi-fi up in the loft.

Would this work, and if so, what would be recommendations for the PC ? I'm wondering what kind of OS (hopefully not Vista, yeuch) is best (I used to be able to navigate unix, so linux, MacOS or XP are all possible), how much CPU and memeory, what sound card, bluetooth for the wireless keyboard, etc...

Alternatvely, I could put a network file system wired to the DSL/wireless router, and have two squeeze boxes, one up, one down.

Too many choices, so I'm hoping from some help from the forum.

Thanks ! AVW

Mark Lanctot
2007-07-27, 13:33
OS: definitely consider Linux. SlimServer is very, very stable and fast on Linux. There are also distros coming out that are optimized for HTPC applications.

CPU: anything modern will do, even VIA processors used in miniITX motherboards. SlimServer isn't constrained by CPU, although a faster CPU means faster encoding if you rip new music.

RAM: SlimServer is constrained by RAM. 512 MB would do for a machine with a Linux OS, SlimServer and nothing else. 1 GB is much more comfortable, you may want more for all the other HTPC applications.

tot
2007-07-27, 15:10
One problem is that inexpensive PC's tend to be noisy (fans, hard-drives) and ugly looking when next to your TV. Getting them silent and/or better looking is no longer inexpensive.

But if you go this route, external USB audio cards are often better sounding than internal sound cards (away from interference inside the machine.)

I am running a linux server hidden from a view and using multiple squeezeboxes. The server existed before SB's so the decision was easy.

pfarrell
2007-07-27, 16:17
My idea was to buy an inexpensive PC to act as media server


As others have posted, new cheap PCs tend to be noisey. Get a used one with quiet fans. You should be able to get one close to free.

Assuming you are not using Windoze, you can use a fairly wimpy computer, say 900 mHz or 1 gHz. Memory is important, trade memory for CPU speed. 512 mB is often enough, but always get more memory.

I use old PCs that I have gotten for free or retired, and put them in the basement, so I don't hear the racket.

You do not need a 3gHz quad core with 2GB of ram.
Unless you want to run Vista :-)

avw2343
2007-07-30, 09:22
Thanks for all the responses. So, now I'm set on a Linux machine - next question: which flavour of Linux ? I'm going to pull an old HP Pavillion out of the scrap pile - Its about 8 years old, but I think it has some form of Pentium chip, and possibly 512 Mb. It will at least let me prototype the idea while I look out for a better machine. I could get by without a GUI if it was just going to be a file server, but a basic GUI to run itunes or a clone would be better. See next question.

... the question after: what would you recommend for ripping CD's and managing the tunes library ?

My current collection is some 2000 CD's ripped twice using itunes 6.x. Once as apple lossless and once as MP3 for my ipod.

I'd like to reuse the existing files (don't want to re-rip my collection, it took weeks) and retain the ability to manage two file sets - lossless and MP3. I hardly ever download music from itunes, so I want tovaoid DRM if possible (never did upgrade to itunes 7.x !). Can I run itunes on Linux, or is there a clone product you could recommend.

Thanks again - you guys are great, AVW

Mark Lanctot
2007-07-30, 09:36
... the question after: what would you recommend for ripping CD's and managing the tunes library ?

The million-dollar question, and my one regret going Linux.

Ripping in Linux just isn't there yet. Be prepared for a follow-up post from someone else saying "what about cdparanoia?" That's a good backend, but it's the frontend that's lacking. What I got addicted to with EAC was the logging features. Although cdparanoia is a capable backend, it provides no logging capability - that's supplied by the frontend and there's the problem. Grip has a primitive logging system, there's a "smiley face" which indicates dynamically what the current status is. Totally useless after the CD is finished because it generates no log so you don't know if there were errors or where they were.

I'm currently using RubyRipper. It's better than Grip in that it makes an actual log but worse than EAC in that its error correction method means very audible defects can get through provided the defects read the same twice, which happens more often than the developer thought it would.

Apparently EAC runs fine under wine, but I find wine to be a cop-out and I would like to be completely Windows-free. I may relent.


Can I run itunes on Linux, or is there a clone product you could recommend.

No, no iTunes in Linux.

I don't currently use a "music manager" and I'm scratching my head thinking why they're necessary in the first place. I have heard discussions about Amarok and Songbird, though I believe Songbird is still in early beta.

tot
2007-07-30, 10:00
Ripping in Linux just isn't there yet. Be prepared for a follow-up post from someone else saying "what about cdparanoia?" That's a good backend, but it's the frontend that's lacking. What I got addicted to with EAC was the logging features. Although cdparanoia is a capable backend, it provides no logging capability - that's supplied by the frontend and there's the problem.

cdparanoia is no good nowadays with cacheing drives. The paranoid read behavior is no good if the drive returns the same incorrect data from the cache. EAC tries to disable the cache but there is no guarantee that the drive will obey.

The problem with cdparanoia is that development has been non-existing for last five or so years. There is a new libcdio project that continues the line but it still has no cache disabling features (btw, k3b can use libcdio for ripping).



I'm currently using RubyRipper. It's better than Grip in that it makes an actual log but worse than EAC in that its error correction method means very audible defects can get through provided the defects read the same twice, which happens more often than the developer thought it would.


I tried it once and didn't like. It reads without any paranoia and seems a bit primitive in that sense.



Apparently EAC runs fine under wine, but I find wine to be a cop-out and I would like to be completely Windows-free. I may relent.


Unfortunately for now the best choice IMHO.



I don't currently use a "music manager" and I'm scratching my head thinking why they're necessary in the first place. I have heard discussions about Amarok and Songbird, though I believe Songbird is still in early beta.

I typically rip with laptop, using Amarok to verify using MusicBrainz and organize, and rsync the collection to the server.

I don't see any real reason for Amarok other than you can easily view/edit tags and reorganize files to match tags using whatever scheme you want.

Teemu

stinkingpig
2007-07-30, 13:15
I use CDEX on windows to rip, mp3tag on windows to fix any tag problems, and Linux to run Slimserver. Since my server is down in the crawlspace of my house, I don't like to visit it much, and it doesn't have a CD drive anyway :)

Linux is a fine server, but if you don't want to learn it, you don't have to. Slimserver runs fine on other platforms too.

Music management? Haven't come up with a need for it. I've tried Amarok, MusicBrainz, iTunes, hate them all. I especially hate iTunes for its tagging habits... my wife rips and tags her audiobooks with it, and I have to re-tag everything. Whether it's a Squeezebox or an iPod, why would we want to know that the track we're listening to was on CD 17 of 20?

4mula1
2007-07-30, 18:29
I'm a little late to this thread, but I have a relatively modest setup for SlimServer that works quite well for me.

I had an Athlon 800Mhz sitting around and the lure of free Solaris 10 got me interested in getting SlimServer off of my XP box and onto a "real" OS. Solaris itself runs fine with this CPU and 768MB of RAM. SlimServer is pretty snappy, and much more pleasant to use than when I was running it on XP on my 1.2GHz Athlon.

Because I run Solaris and not Linux some (many) of my options are a bit more limited. I knew that I wouldn't be ripping with Solaris so I continue to rip on XP using dBPowerAmp. Works great. I did shell out for an nfs server for Windows since Solaris doesn't support an SMB client for transferring my flacs from the XP to the Solaris box.

How's the performance? I have 2 SB3s, 1 softsqueeze (plus one more at lunchtime from work), an N800 for a slick remote, and a new N95 for another slick remote (and it makes phone calls to boot!) and everything works great. It can be a bit slow when there is a lot of web traffic but my wife likes to browse with the N800 and I like to be a pain in her neck using the N95 and switching tracks.

Give an old box a new lease on life and make it your music server. You'll quickly see that you don't need to make a large investment (especially running Linux).

pfarrell
2007-07-30, 18:34
So, now I'm set on a Linux machine - next question: which flavour of Linux ?

That is a religious question. My standard answer is "whatever your drinking buddy runs, so you can buy him a beer as thanks"

This is far more important than which disto he uses.

My SlimServers run Mandriva, have been since well before the name was changed from Mandrake. But it really doesn't matter.

I'd look hard at either of two classes of distros:

1) the SlimCD or other live CDs
2) Ubuntu since it has all the buzz in the industry now.

So first, ask your buddies, and if you have no friends, try one of the two answers above. They're free, so all it costs is some time.

I would not recommend Mandriva these days, altho I've got some notes from the last time I did it. Mandriva seems to be more desktop oriented, and the SlimServer really is not a desktop, its a server.

I actually do all my ripping and tagging on a Windoze box, and just move the FLAC files to a Samba drive on the SlimServer.

Mark Lanctot
2007-07-31, 07:44
2) Ubuntu since it has all the buzz in the industry now.

I'm a Ubuntu convert and wanted to expand on this a little bit.

I have two machines running Ubuntu now. Both have SlimServer installed, although only one SlimServer is my "production" server.

1. Ubuntu 7.04 64-bit on a Core 2 Duo E6600 with 2 GB of RAM. Obviously very, very fast.

2. Ubuntu 7.04 32-bit on an AMD Duron 1.2 GHz with 512 MB of RAM.

SlimServer runs fine on both. Things are a little slower on the second machine, but with respect to SlimServer, the player and web UI response is almost identical. Rescans are blazing fast on either machine, 4500 tracks in less than 5 minutes.

I'm using both these machines as desktops as well. There are no issues with the Core 2 Duo, but the Duron struggles a bit with some tasks. It's still workable but it can be annoying at times.

My conclusion: Ubuntu's core is still fast, rock-solid Linux, but the add-on niceties and GUIs are demanding faster hardware. If you have an old clunker and you want to use it as a SlimServer, install Ubuntu Server, which has less of the niceties and I believe no GUI at all! It wouldn't be as user-friendly though, but if you can install SlimServer from the command-line, that's all you need.

If you want a SlimServer that will also be used as a desktop, specify a higher-spec PC. It will still run on the older hardware (and SlimServer seems to run fine regardless) but it'll be a bit balky as a desktop. OK for occasional or secondary use though.

pfarrell
2007-07-31, 07:49
Ubuntu 7.04 64-bit on a Core 2 Duo E6600 with 2 GB of RAM. Obviously very, very fast.


Errr, Mark, do you want to even mention such a monster in the Beginners forum about minimal specs?

I bet it is faster than the average bear.

Actually it is fascinating to watch the prices drop on systems with Core 2 Duos. They are going out the door for under a grand, and are more powerful than 99% of consumers need.

Mark Lanctot
2007-07-31, 08:10
Errr, Mark, do you want to even mention such a monster in the Beginners forum about minimal specs?

<VBG> True. I just wanted to give a real-world comparison. The minimum spec is likely higher than my Duron for SlimServer + desktop (though it's fine for SlimServer), but much lower than my big, bad boy.

P.S. It's network name is Sauron. :-)


Actually it is fascinating to watch the prices drop on systems with Core 2 Duos. They are going out the door for under a grand, and are more powerful than 99% of consumers need.

Yes, prices on the Core 2 Duos have dropped dramatically. The Core 2 Quad Q6600 is now priced at what I got my E6600 for back in April.

The Core 2 Duos are the best thing Intel has come out with in decades. Their media encoding performance is jaw-dropping (FLAC at -8 and MP3 at V6 VBR concurrently in 30 seconds per track). And they do it all with very little heat and comparatively low power usage. I don't mind having the extra power, although I only need it when encoding, rescanning or compiling software, but what I do mind is heat and power consumption and this isn't an issue. It runs much cooler than the P4 2.8 GHz it replaced, is twice as fast, and consumes less power. The quad-cores, though, might not have the power consumption advantage. I have no idea why someone would need a quad-core processor, for what I'm doing, I'm hardly taxing my dual-core even when encoding.

A desktop based on one of the entry-level Core 2 Duos would be excellent and affordable, but still well above the minimum spec for SlimServer. I'd say something based on the E4XXXs would be great, although I believe there may be upcoming single-core processors based on the architecture that would also work well here.

That said, AMD is virtually giving away their socket AM2 processors which are quite fast, cool and have low power consumption.

avw2343
2007-07-31, 08:53
Once again, thanks. For a miracle, "my dringing buddy" and the forum have aligned on the same suggestion, and Ubuntu seems to be it. I have downloaded Ubuntu 7.04 server edition, and burned the ISO image to disk. I'll blow the dust off the HP Pavilion tonight and see if I can get it to install and connect to the network.
Idea would be to get it to be visible to my Win XP laptop as a network drive (any suggestions .. or does Ubuntu server prompt me for how to do this ?).

I'll then migrate my itunes library over from the maxstor external drive to the internal drive of the HP (I think it has a 120GB drive ...), install slimserver on the ubuntu box (help needed here - if I install unbuntu server on the pavilion and it has no GUI, are there instructions for installing slimserver from the command line ?) and softsqueeze on my laptop, and check out that everything works.

If it works fine - order a bunch of SqueezeBoxes and hook them up to the stereo and home theater systems.

If file share performance sucks - spec out a faster box to use as file server, and possibly run unbuntu desktop instead of unbuntu server, to get access to the GUI.

Sounds like a plan ???
Any suggestions regarding how to set up the unbuntu box so windows can see it as a network connected disk ?
Any suggestions for how to install slimserver on the unbuntu server ?

AVW

Mark Lanctot
2007-07-31, 08:59
To install SlimServer on Ubuntu Server, it should be as simple as:

http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.cgi?DebianPackage

then:


sudo apt-get install slimserver

Now...perhaps I was a bit hasty in recommending Ubuntu Server if you're a Linux newbie, as you'll have to do everything from the command line. But if the above works, you can then administer SlimServer from the Windows laptop.

Ubuntu Server probably has all the recommended file sharing utilities (hey, it's a server!) and if not, it is relatively easy to install Samba:

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=202605&highlight=howto%3A+samba

though that's for Desktop.

avw2343
2007-07-31, 09:26
Just in case, I'm preparing an install disk for unbuntu desktop as well. I'll probably start with the server version, and if I get totally stonewalled, reinstall the desktop. I'm pretty sure my old pavilion (its at least 8 years old, belonged to my wife before we got married) will be happier with just the server, though it did manage to run XP at one point.

tempting to install unbuntu desktop on the PC my work gave me to test Vista on - a centurion duo core HP NC6230 ... it would probably run just fine ....

Pale Blue Ego
2007-07-31, 11:54
The server OS will run faster then Ubuntu Desktop, but I thought you wanted to play music through a Home Theater system from this PC? There are command-line music players, but you'll probably want a GUI and something like Amarok (http://amarok.kde.org/).

With either OS, it is easy to set up Samba, which provides Windows Networking. It might even be part of the installation process; I'm not sure.

Good luck, and don't hesitate to ask for help if you get stuck. There's even a separate Linux sub-forum here.

Mark Lanctot
2007-07-31, 12:04
If file share performance sucks - spec out a faster box to use as file server

Just thinking about this - Samba is kind of slow for me. Wired, PC to PC, 48 Mbps on a 100 Mbps connection. Samba is a Windows file sharing emulator for Linux.

Linux's native filesharing, NFS, is much faster, ~85-90 Mbps on a 100 Mbps connection (essentially, saturation given consumer-level networking equipment).

There is, however, an NFS client for Windows:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/324055

which means you can run NFS on the server and the Windows NFS client on the laptop. I haven't played with the NFS client so I don't know its performance or stability.

If you're filesharing over wireless, this may not be an issue. You will may reach maximum throughput long before you hit any protocol limitations.

pfarrell
2007-07-31, 13:19
Just thinking about this - Samba is kind of slow for me. Wired, PC to PC, 48 Mbps on a 100 Mbps connection. Samba is a Windows file sharing emulator for Linux.


I've been using Samba on my SlimServer for many years. With zero problems. Now the SlimServer runs on the same box as Samba, so all music access is local.

I use Samba from Windoze boxes since I rip on Windoze, and we use the Samba shares as backups for critical application data such as taxes and quicken.

For raw, uncompressed CD audio, you need at about 1.5 Megabits per second. This is "X", 172KB per second. This also means that if you want to stream RedBook audio, you need to pass about 1.5 Mbs. Since you can pass FLAC direct to your SqueezeBox or Transporter, you only need half that. Its hard to see how that could be a problem for using a SlimServer.

I would not want to scan a big library over Samba from a Windoze host, but other than that, Samba works for me.

Mark Lanctot
2007-07-31, 14:08
For raw, uncompressed CD audio, you need at about 1.5 Megabits per second. This is "X", 172KB per second. This also means that if you want to stream RedBook audio, you need to pass about 1.5 Mbs. Since you can pass FLAC direct to your SqueezeBox or Transporter, you only need half that. Its hard to see how that could be a problem for using a SlimServer.

I would not want to scan a big library over Samba from a Windoze host, but other than that, Samba works for me.

What I meant was, transferring albums to the SlimServer box using Samba and rescans might be slower than it could be.

SlimServer operation is unaffected, of course.

Samba is pretty reliable for me, but NFS was lightning fast and easy to use between Linux machines.

avw2343
2007-08-02, 17:01
OK, so I'm making progress. I have unbuntu desktop edition booted on an HP nc6320 laptop (intel duo core, 2mb ram, 802.11g wireless) and have successfully installed slimderver and gotten it to run. Also, I have softsqueeze on another laptop and its connecting to the slimsever on the NC6320.

Two things I need help with now -
- unbuntu on the nc6320 is not connecting to the wireless network - it recognizes the wireless card and prompts for a WEP key, but I can't seem to figure our what combination of passphase/hex/ascii and open/shared key i need to tell it. The WEP key works fine on my windows boxes and my tivo - its 26 digits. Any suggestions ? Meanwhile I'm working on a wired connection.

- the server is not playing the songs from my itunes library. If I select them in umbuntu, I get "don't have a codec to play" and then it doesn't find one. On the softsqueeze side, I get "unable to play file" The itunes songs are either apple lossless or AAC m4a at 128 kbs. please tell me I don;t have to re-rip my entire library !

Still, making progess.

Mark Lanctot
2007-08-03, 05:26
Two things I need help with now -
- unbuntu on the nc6320 is not connecting to the wireless network - it recognizes the wireless card and prompts for a WEP key, but I can't seem to figure our what combination of passphase/hex/ascii and open/shared key i need to tell it. The WEP key works fine on my windows boxes and my tivo - its 26 digits. Any suggestions ? Meanwhile I'm working on a wired connection.

Wireless and Linux are still a work in progress (mostly because the wireless manufacturers don't help the Linux community at all, forcing them to reverse-engineer drivers). There's extensive resources at the Ubuntu forums:

http://ubuntuforums.org/forumdisplay.php?f=136


- the server is not playing the songs from my itunes library. If I select them in umbuntu, I get "don't have a codec to play" and then it doesn't find one. On the softsqueeze side, I get "unable to play file" The itunes songs are either apple lossless or AAC m4a at 128 kbs. please tell me I don;t have to re-rip my entire library !

You need to make a small change:

http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.cgi?AppleLosslessUnix

zackuk1
2007-08-05, 07:25
Hi there,
I've just bought a IBM/lenovo Small Form Factor desktop from Ebay, to replace a large and very noisy aluminium tower with huge PS, 5 x fans and 5 hard drives!
The IBM has dual x P4 3.2 Ghz - 512 ram (extra 1meg already on its way from Orca)- 80 gig drive.(to be upgraded to 400gigs)
It is very fast and it is 'absolutely silent' hard pushed to know it is on! perfect for my new music server to partner my SB3.
I paid 150UK for it - brand new in the box with 2years 10months of IBM warranty left !! If you are looking for a potential server search these out - there are loads on offer on ebay and elsewhere both new and refurbished.
happy listening.