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fgunnars
2007-08-01, 07:24
Hi all,

I guess this has been up in other threads before, but I think this issue is worth bringing up again. Are there any efforts to do an SS Lite which suits a low power and low capability NAS? Some ideas:

* Possibility to do the music scan and browsing tree compilation on a desktop and transfer the database file to the NAS.
* Precompute things to reduce efforts to support the player in realtime. For example, Browse artists/albums/songs could be divided up in groups (no of groups could be a configurable parameter, e.g. 20) which means that the number of artists/albums/songs never exceeds 20 at the outmost level of the browsing tree, and each level of the browsing tree has at most 20 branches.

I know that many people will respond that the software is intended for PC period, but does it really have to be that way? Part PC and part low power NAS could save the planet ...

/F

MelonMonkey
2007-08-01, 08:35
This sounds like an even more geek-oriented solution than we have now. At least without everything you've mentioned being done under cover without any visibility to the user, beneath a polished interface.

Logitech needs to move to a more consumer-friendly approach. Creating some branch that makes for a more convoluted approach to managing your own (DIY) NAS doesn't seem to be in the same direction. If anything, a Logitech-branded server without any management headaches and interface complexity to the user would be a lofty/ideal goal. Such a goal would most certainly not involve the words "building"

erland
2007-08-01, 09:23
I think the thing to do here is to make SlimServer more modularized. This will give several advantages like:
- It makes easier to replace one specific module with your own customized version
- It makes it easier to remove a specific module if you don't need it
- It makes it easier to run different modules on different machines.

A more modularized version of SlimServer would make it easier to make a customized lite version.

But I agree with MelonMonkey, at the moment I think it is a more urgent matter to get something that is easy to use.

Currently I think the MySQL database is one of the problems for NAS boxes since it uses a lot of memory. So making it work with SQLite or something similar that uses less resources is probably a good start. However, you can always use an earlier version of SlimServer, for example 6.3 that used SQLite. If you always want the latest features I think a NAS might not be the best solution.

Another issue is that NAS boxes will get more powerful in the future, so when the development of a SS Lite is finished there is probably more powerful NAS devices available that makes SS Lite unnecessary. Due to this I have a feeling that you won't see any big community or Logitech effort regarding a SS Lite. The only interest for Logitech regarding a SS Lite that I can see is if they also would offer a NAS solution bundled with the SB/Transporter.

Modularization is interesting also for the normal SlimServer, so this is probably something that will be improved in future releases.

vrobin
2007-08-01, 09:41
At least the question worth be asked. I did it in the past weeks with the same basic ideas (database constructing on another computer, etc.).

What erland says is quite true. Better user-friendlyness really matters now. And a lot of people don't mind having a computer switched on to play music... but this only partially right.

The first question everybody's asking when they see my squeezebox is:
"And you can play your music without your computer on? With an usb hard disk plugged in it?"

They are very disappointed when I must admit there must be a computer on to use the squeezebox... and they don't even care about my "low consumption and totally silent EPIA PC", it's too late. They don't want to have their computer on to listen to music, if it's on, they have winamp. (it's a little basic approach but the idea is there).

Would't a uPNP/MediaCenter compatibility for the Squeezebox be some sort of good solution?

If I only have a NAS uPNP compatible (most of them are nowadays) NAS my SB can work basically with it.
If I dedicate a computer or if my desktop computer is on, I get the full power of SS. Sounds a good mean solution.

Would squeezebox hardware able to handle uPNP server streaming and control?

Robin
PS: i don't know much about uPNP, maybe this is a stupid idea

erland
2007-08-01, 10:10
The first question everybody's asking when they see my squeezebox is:
"And you can play your music without your computer on? With an usb hard disk plugged in it?"

They are very disappointed when I must admit there must be a computer on to use the squeezebox... and they don't even care about my "low consumption and totally silent EPIA PC", it's too late. They don't want to have their computer on to listen to music, if it's on, they have winamp. (it's a little basic approach but the idea is there).

I can only see two solutions to this:
Option 1: Remake the complete SB system and change SB to a fat device instead of a thin device. Would be a huge development job.
Option 2: Sell two packages:
-- SB only package (for people that accept to have a computer on)
-- SB + Small silent server HW package (for people that don't want their normal computer on)

As I see it, option 2 is the only realistic solution. The problem today is that there isn't any recommended SlimServer hardware that is silent, small and works good. There are some NAS boxes which can run SlimServer, but they aren't recommended and some of them requires some customization/hacking to get SlimServer running.

Some sort of EPIA PC seems like an ideal solution to me.


Would't a uPNP/MediaCenter compatibility for the Squeezebox be some sort of good solution?

If I only have a NAS uPNP compatible (most of them are nowadays) NAS my SB can work basically with it.
If I dedicate a computer or if my desktop computer is on, I get the full power of SS. Sounds a good mean solution.

Would squeezebox hardware able to handle uPNP server streaming and control?I don't know much about uPnP, so I might be wrong about this.
I think the "problem" is that everything that is shown on the SB display is handled by SlimServer today. So if a SB should connect directly to a uPnP device it basically needs to implement some parts of SlimServer itself. Minimum some browsing code to browse the uPnP device and some display code to display the information from the uPnP device. I don't think this is possible with the current hardware because I know that some codecs aren't included in the SB firmware because there isn't enough space available.

If uPnP support was implemented in the SB firmware, I think the result will be that the SB will slowly starting to be a fat device instead of a slim device. I'm not sure that this is what Logitech wants, after all the slim device concept is something that makes the SB unique among the competitors.

vrobin
2007-08-01, 10:39
Once again I can only agree with what you say.

Maybe SB hardware is just (connectivity, processing power, RAM) powerful enough to become uPNP compliant. If possible, it would be a very hard work and the result wouldn't be very thrilling, just "enough".
If memory size for codec matters today, this must mean that SB can't be a the same time "the good old SB" and a "mediocre uPNP Device" at the same time, just one or another.

I read somewhere that cpu sharing and hardware/software design is a delicate piece of work (a thread explaining that the "ethernet" stuff is done in software by the processor).

Maybe SB dad could tell us about the real possibilities.

The two devices design you're talking about seems a good compromise. One "master controller", silent, easy to use and update, able to connect to external USB/Sata hard drives, to SMB shares, NAS, able to connect or act as a uPNP server, able to control several SB/TR, able to act as uPNP server...
This hardware would be optional and could be replaced by any PC. It could exist in three priced models, basic, with nice LCD and why not with LCD + amp.

In reality it would just be some sort of "low consumption PC", well packaged and plug'n play. The kind of stuff tech enthusiasts (or only tech capable, as I am) are building as DIY but that are not for mass market.

Isn't it the approach taken by Sonos? (IMHO the only real concurrent of SD but with a different positioning)

Pale Blue Ego
2007-08-01, 11:07
How about working with one of the NAS companies to offer a more powerful NAS optimized to run SS. Should have easy update capability for SS and popular plugins.

MrSinatra
2007-08-01, 11:40
i still don't understand why they want a "slim" device. why be slim?

why not put the SS and SB into one chasis? why not give that chasis usb ports (or whatever ports/readers) so you can hook up an ext drive directly to it? (along with wired/wireless of course)

i have never understood why they insist on having the SS NOT be part of the actual device.

the only benefit i see of having SS offloaded, is the ability to sync multiple SBs. but i would think thats something that could be worked out with a fat device such as what i'm proposing.

(a fat device could have a free, lightweight OS like linux and people could still modify the SS in it. the music data SS stores could go in flash or on the drive it reads the music info from)

the advantages of a fat device are legion:

1. only one environment to develop, no OS issues.
2. portability
3. no OS interference, (firewalls, etc...)
4. single uniform upgrade path for users, single usage exp
5. automatic updates
6. automatic entertainment content updates
etc...

think how many issues users have with those issues above. all solved by a so called fat device.

i'm sorry, but to me, having a device that needs me to run stuff on my computer is old school. yes, SN is a good workaround, for everything EXCEPT your own local music. (SN basically emulates the fat device i am talking about, but doesn't do your local tunes AND requires the internet)

wouldn't it be cool if you could just grab your fat SB, an ext drive, and jump in your car and road trip with it via bluetooth to your car stereo?

and i think the SB needs a bigger color screen, as well as a rechargable remote that has a color screen on it, and a headphone jack and bluetooth for headsets.

based on what logitech offers i think everything i am talking about is reasonable and doable, and in line with their consumer friendly POV.

msherman
2007-08-01, 12:00
MrSinatra wrote:
>
> i'm sorry, but to me, having a device that needs me to run stuff on my
> computer is old school. yes, SN is a good workaround, for everything
> EXCEPT your own local music. (SN basically emulates the fat device i
> am talking about, but doesn't do your local tunes AND requires the
> internet)
>
> wouldn't it be cool if you could just grab your fat SB, an ext drive,
> and jump in your car and road trip with it via bluetooth to your car
> stereo?
>
> and i think the SB needs a bigger color screen, as well as a
> rechargable remote that has a color screen on it, and a headphone jack
> and bluetooth for headsets.

I am so not interested in buying the device you describe here.

- Marc

MrSinatra
2007-08-01, 12:23
thx for that insight. many other people would be imo.

bonze
2007-08-01, 12:40
wouldn't it be cool if you could just grab your fat SB, an ext drive, and jump in your car and road trip with it via bluetooth to your car stereo?
You want an ipod :)

MrSinatra
2007-08-01, 12:49
well, yes and no... altho there is a lot of truth in what you say, AND it shows the level of interest in such a product, (ipod is pretty successful, isn't it?) contrary to other opinions.

the problem with the ipod is that there first of all isn't one big enough for my music. secondly, i don't really like them. and thirdly they don't do everything a SB can do.

i was just trying to point out one example with the car example, but there are others... what if you go to a friends house, and just want to jack into his stereo, or what if you DJ or what if you're doing a public event?

portability would be great.

but even if you weren't concerned about portability, it would still be great to be able to do this in a stationary home environment. think about people who aren't into technology, but are into music... not a small market segment, right?

my device could be setup for people who don't even have a computer or internet... neither would be necessary.

i just don't understand the adherence to a "slim" device as gospel... why?

snarlydwarf
2007-08-01, 13:02
the advantages of a fat device are legion:

You have left out disadvantages:
. More heat
. More noise
. Lots more moving parts moved into custom-repair (when a pc breaks you have a huge range of choices on how to fix it with commodity parts from fans and drives to motherboards)
. Maintenance (security updates, software updates)
. Flexibility (if you install a custom plugin, will it void the hardware warranty when you brick it? Can you even install custom plugins?)
. Higher cost for many people (ie, my server is also my router, file server and web server).



i'm sorry, but to me, having a device that needs me to run stuff on my computer is old school. yes, SN is a good workaround, for everything EXCEPT your own local music. (SN basically emulates the fat device i am talking about, but doesn't do your local tunes AND requires the internet)

Is it? In this day and age where the Home NAS (ie, a dedicated server), Personal Web Server and such are becoming more common?



wouldn't it be cool if you could just grab your fat SB, an ext drive, and jump in your car and road trip with it via bluetooth to your car stereo?

Only if it had a DIN mount, at which point I would just leave it in the car and sync wirelessly every night.... Hard drives are cheap, no reason to drag one back and forth.



and i think the SB needs a bigger color screen, as well as a rechargable remote that has a color screen on it, and a headphone jack and bluetooth for headsets.

based on what logitech offers i think everything i am talking about is reasonable and doable, and in line with their consumer friendly POV.

Not at the $300 price point, and to be honest, the higher the price point, the lower the sales. Your wish list would run to at least $1000 and quite likely more considering smaller volume builds. A cheap laptop would do just as much and more for less. (Though laptop repair is troublesome, too...)

msherman
2007-08-01, 13:11
snarlydwarf wrote:
> . Higher cost for many people (ie, my server is also my router, file
> server and web server).

Exactly. It was the fact that the SD model fit in so nicely with my
existing home server infrastructure that attracted me to the squeezebox
in the first place. I already had all of my MP3s on the linux server in
the basement, and my wife and I were listening to them on our windows
desktop boxes via samba, long before I bought my first squeezebox. If SD
were only selling an all-in-one thick client like MrSinatra wants, I
wouldn't have given it another look.

The niche that I occupy may be a relatively small one, as consumer
markets go, but I'm quite happy that SD has chosen to serve it so well.

- Marc

MrSinatra
2007-08-01, 13:31
thx for the response, allow me to clarify some things i guess i was unclear on:


You have left out disadvantages:
. More heat
. More noise
. Lots more moving parts moved into custom-repair (when a pc breaks you have a huge range of choices on how to fix it with commodity parts from fans and drives to motherboards)

i disagree with all that.

no moving parts would be required. no hard drive or normal atx style keyboard either. this isn't a home PC i'm proposing, its a solid state device built with a specific use in mind. (flash, volatile and non-volatile memory, etc)

tomshardware and lots of places show thumbusb keys that run linux and all kinds of stuff. the linux doesn't need to be run on full 'normal' amd/intel processors. just whatever the OS, SS, and SB would need.

yes, there might be slightly more heat from slightly more processing power/ram needed, (and that increases power needs as well), but all that doesn't make this not feasible, and lets remember, this stuff gets MORE powerful and efficient everyday.

there are similar products to what i'm describing out there, its not so radical what i'm proposing.


. Maintenance (security updates, software updates)

seems to me a single function specific platform by SD could be updated by them.


. Flexibility (if you install a custom plugin, will it void the hardware warranty when you brick it? Can you even install custom plugins?)

i don't see why not. you would have a linux OS that ran SS. so you could tinker with it in code just as you always did before, and i'm sure a webinterface for installing / uninstalling plugins could be developed, and may be what 7.0 has anyway.

there is no traditional hard drive internal to the device i am proposing, but there is read/writeable data space in there via the flash memory or whatever they want to use (thats solid state).


. Higher cost for many people (ie, my server is also my router, file server and web server).

i don't follow you on this, can you explain?

the device could map a drive to wherever your music was.


Is it? In this day and age where the Home NAS (ie, a dedicated server), Personal Web Server and such are becoming more common?

yes, i believe it is. just b/c those things are becoming more common, doesn't mean thats a good reason to offload SS from the SB device.


Only if it had a DIN mount, at which point I would just leave it in the car and sync wirelessly every night.... Hard drives are cheap, no reason to drag one back and forth.

thats not what i proposed. no din mounts, ever. (i understand din mounts to mean the pins like an IDE drive uses, yes?)

a SB could have internal flash space, and/or a card reader, and firewire/usb/esata ports, whatever...

the internal storage would only be for the device to use, for its functions.

the ports and reader would be for your music, in whatever form you had it.

bluetooth would then get the music to the car, in that example. the SB would still have traditional audio / networking ports of course.


Not at the $300 price point, and to be honest, the higher the price point, the lower the sales. Your wish list would run to at least $1000 and quite likely more considering smaller volume builds. A cheap laptop would do just as much and more for less. (Though laptop repair is troublesome, too...)

i agree, whatever i propose should meet the $300 pricepoint.

i disagree what i propose would cost $1000.

what would it cost? i can't say, BUT perhaps the increased manufacturing costs would be offset by lower development and support costs.

i will say this... if what i proposed above was available today for $499, i'd buy it. i still agree though with you, that $300 needs to be the mass market goal.

bonze
2007-08-01, 13:55
I think he meant din mounts as in the standard mount within a dashboard where the stereo slots in.
Are there Linux based head units available?

vrobin
2007-08-01, 13:57
I think he meant din mounts as in the standard mount within a dashboard where the stereo slots in.
Are there Linux based head units available?

I think what we really need, the definitive thing... is a new orignal troll subject... and we found it ;).

MrSinatra
2007-08-01, 14:00
oh come on... i am giving my honest opinion and feedback.

why is that only labelled "troll" when its something some people intrepret as critical of SD?

gimmie a break already.

as to linux car stereos or din mounts in cars, i know nothing about that. it definitely wasn't what i was proposing anyway.

vrobin
2007-08-01, 14:02
Please, I was only joking... this is turning to baby troll, even if you're sincere. The post rate, the amount of "yes it's good, i think it isn't, etc." not going really far inspired me this little critic, please don't be offended.

bpa
2007-08-01, 14:04
MrSinatra,

The N800 pretty much matches your hardware spec and possibly the price point and the canola media streamer provides most of the media functionality now.

What would differentiate your product from it ?

MrSinatra
2007-08-01, 14:10
i was unaware of both products.

can you provide links? i definitely would like to check them out.

good to see you again btw bpa... just fyi, i did DL ethereal and play with it a bit but i was somewhat fedup with SD by that point and i just let my issue go at that point, thinking i would come back to it later, after some time passed, for various reasons. i have since just gotten a new router, and everything seems "fixed" so far. i talk more about the issue here:

http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=37267

but i wanted to let you know since you were very helpful in my attempts to fix it when i still had the linksys router. :)

snarlydwarf
2007-08-01, 14:13
i disagree what i propose would cost $1000.

what would it cost? i can't say, BUT perhaps the increased manufacturing costs would be offset by lower development and support costs.


???

No, the increased manufacturing costs would also have increased development and support costs.

(Who is developing this custom hardware and why would they do it for free? Who is supporting custom hardware and software and why would they do it for free?)

That cost is presently picked up by the maker and retailer of your PC and the provider of your operating system.

Really, what you describe is very much doable... if you do not weld the SB and the server into the same chassis. It is called a laptop.

Buy a $500 laptop and a $300 SB. A bit more than your $500 "buy it now" price... but then, you can add a second player for $300, not $500 and each additional would be cheaper.

Why is a laptop cheaper? Who knows.. because they make gazillions of them? (I have yet to figure out why a digital picture frame is $300 for something with less resolution than a laptop display, smaller, and less features... when it isn't hard to find $500 laptops at Walmart...)

Economies of scale, most likely. Acer and HP and Dell spew out a frightening number of laptops every day which keeps their costs low. Buying even a 100,000 displays is nothing compared to what those guys buy.

bpa
2007-08-01, 14:24
The Nokia N800 is being used by many SB users as a better remote control, but it is a very capable system itself and many users are developing s/w for it.
Nokia N800 web site
http://europe.nokia.com/n800

What is missing from above is that it has an FM radio built in as well.

canola
http://openbossa.indt.org/canola/

N800 Insides and tech spec.
http://www.linuxdevices.com/news/NS9981902594.html

MrSinatra
2007-08-01, 14:25
first of all, a laptop is too big and bulky.

secondly, the SD team already takes parts and designs them into the SB, which they also write the FW for.

all i am suggesting is that they include the chips necessary to that to do SS and an OS they could customize for SS, and make very lightweight. i'm sure its within their ability, or certainly within logitechs.

such a device would mean there would be only a single implementation possible, and that would reduce the ongoing development costs as well as the support costs. (the apple mac example you might say)

and lets not forget that this gives the device a lot more flexability, not just portability. it frees it from a computer or NAS.

mherger
2007-08-01, 15:49
> I can only see two solutions to this:
> Option 1: Remake the complete SB system and change SB to a fat device
> instead of a thin device. Would be a huge development job.
> Option 2: Sell two packages:

Third option: upload your music collection to mp3tunes, switch to SqueezeNetwork, shut down your computer. It does work. Even in Europe.

Michael

mherger
2007-08-01, 15:51
> I think the thing to do here is to make SlimServer more modularized.

What modules would you see?

Michael

vrobin
2007-08-01, 16:05
> I can only see two solutions to this:
> Option 1: Remake the complete SB system and change SB to a fat device
> instead of a thin device. Would be a huge development job.
> Option 2: Sell two packages:

Third option: upload your music collection to mp3tunes, switch to SqueezeNetwork, shut down your computer. It does work. Even in Europe.

Michael

Their unlimited 40$/year is interesting, but it's not for flac users, limited bandwidth users, people that don't want their whole music to depend upon a storage company. They say it's the future... it could be, but I fear not for me.

erland
2007-08-01, 16:23
I think there are basically two types of people:

Category 1: People that already have a 24/7 running server in their home or easily can setup one.
- Often "geeks" or techincally savvy people
- I suspect most of the current SB owners are in this category

Category 2: People that don't have a 24/7 running server in their home.
- Non techincally savvy people
- Mass market
- I suspect most of the future SB owners will be in this category

Category 1 can see all the advantages with a slim device, for category 2 it doesn't matter as much. For category 2 a slim device really just adds complexity since you need 2 boxes to control. IMO Logitech needs to make the category 2 people happy since this is where the market growth is.

Now, the main issues with making the SB a fat device as I see it is:
1.
It would require huge development costs, we are basically talking about rewriting SlimServer for other hardware in another language. Years of development has been invested in the current SlimServer software, besides the gained experience all this invested time would be lost. During the time the development of the new fat device the competitors already in this area would just add more functionality to their product. When Logitech were finished with the fat device I expect the competition to have even greater products. The current advantage Logitech has over their competitors would be lost.

2.
A fat device would not be compatible with the current SB/Transporter models regarding player synchronization. The result is that the current customers would need to by completely new equipment.

3.
All the time invested in plugin development for the current SlimServer would also be lost since all the plugins would have to be rewritten. I'm not even sure Logitech would allow custom plugins on a fat device.

4.
The open source community around SlimServer would probably die. If you look at most open source development today, it is almost always related to something that can run on several software or hardware platforms. Many open source developers are interested because they can make their own custom solution with the hardware they currently own. Making a fat device and hoping that the open source community would help developing software that only would work on Logitech hardware is in my opinion hoping for a bit too much. So, Logitech would probably have to do all the work themselves.

===
Now, saying all this, there is a solution to this problem which I also mentioned in my previous post.
- Leave the SB as a thin device
- Sell a hardware solution with pre-installed, pre-configured SlimServer.

This way the users in catetory 1 can just buy the SB and use their already existing 24/7 server for SlimServer. The users in category 2 could buy the complete package with both SB and SlimServer hardware. The SlimServer hardware solution can be nicely designed so it can be docked with the SB, making it look like a single unit for those users that want this.
I'm sure there are hardware companies available that would like to join efforts with Logitech, so a third party company could make the SlimServer hardware and Logitech could focus on the SB hardware and SlimServer software. This way this solution wouldn't require huge development cost for Logitech. I don't think we are talking about a NAS box for the SlimServer hardware, instead I'm think about something VIA EPIA, Mac Mini or something similar. Basically a slower computer that is small, silent and less power hungry than a normal computer.

erland
2007-08-01, 16:34
> I can only see two solutions to this:
> Option 1: Remake the complete SB system and change SB to a fat device
> instead of a thin device. Would be a huge development job.
> Option 2: Sell two packages:

Third option: upload your music collection to mp3tunes, switch to SqueezeNetwork, shut down your computer. It does work. Even in Europe.

Michael
Their unlimited 40$/year is interesting, but it's not for flac users, limited bandwidth users, people that don't want their whole music to depend upon a storage company. They say it's the future... it could be, but I fear not for me.

I think this is the optimal solution for people that is happy having their collection as MP3 and doesn't really care much regarding the sound quality. If they are interested in the SB for internet radio I would expect mp3tunes to be good enough. The free mp3tunes solution wouldn't work though, since most people would be irritated to wait weeks/months to be able to upload more than 1GB of music.

I don't see this as a viable solution for the audiophiles though, they require lossless music and then an internet based solution isn't realistic due to the bandwidth requirements.

erland
2007-08-01, 16:59
> I think the thing to do here is to make SlimServer more modularized.

What modules would you see?

Michael
I haven't given it much thoughts in details, but here are some ideas.

It would be good to be able to run the scanning process on a separate machine. As I understand it, this is one of the things that takes a lot of time for the current NAS owners. Of course, this is probably already possible today, it just requires some work. You could setup a SlimServer on the NAS and a SlimServer on your PC, where the SlimServer on the PC points towards the MySQL database on the NAS.

Another example related to scanning is the problem that you can't do much post processing after the scanning today. The problem is that SlimServer will continuously destroy your post processing and writing information to the database, for example when you browse music folders but also in other situations. By making sure the NAS SlimServer never writes to some parts of the database, it is also possible to completely replace the scanning logic with your own custom version.

Another example is the web interface. In a NAS solution I don't really see any purpose of running the web interface on the NAS, especially if we get a grapical Jive remote in the future. The NAS could just contain the player interface and you could run the web interface on a PC when you need to configure something more advanced.

It is also possible to say the same of the player control interface. If we get a Jive based remote control sometime in the future, there is no reason to be able to use the standard remote interface. In such setup, the SB might only contain the code to display the "Now Playing" screen, everything else related to the player interface regarding displaying and receiving remote commands isn't needed. If you like to see something else than the "Now Playing" screen you just look at your graphical remote for this information.

Something I have missed a bit when developing the Custom Browse plugin is the ability to completely replace the standard SlimServer browse menus. This isn't possible today without a lot of customization of the SlimServer code. But this is probably a more plugin API related issue than a modularization issue.

I think there was some ideas regarding modularization mentioned in some thread in one of the development related sections of the forum some time ago, but I can't find the thread at the moment.

vrobin
2007-08-01, 17:10
I exposed some quick ideas about this in this very same thread a couple of months ago:



This said, I continue to think (I can be wrong) that there really is a need for a simple and very light slim server software (for NAS or very small silent pc) and a more powerfull server software for real dedicated PC.

An interesting design could be to split the server in two.

(SFS) Small footprint server (stream to SB, browse music, basic data handling and optional bulk updates capabilities, small web capabilities)

(FFS) Fullsize footprint server (running on dedicated SS Pc or on a users computer, doing the web server hard job, full maintenance options, real time DSP streaming, etc)

Someone could put SFS and FFS on a dedicated server or SFS on a small server or NAS and FFS on the user's computer. The SFS and FFS could synchronize data with a simple process or share the same database file (Berkeley DB database file? they handle lock nicely)

The whole things sounds rather complicated but -at least on a forum post- sounds quite nice...

vrobin
2007-08-01, 17:20
===
Now, saying all this, there is a solution to this problem which I also mentioned in my previous post.
- Leave the SB as a thin device
- Sell a hardware solution with pre-installed, pre-configured SlimServer.

This way the users in catetory 1 can just buy the SB and use their already existing 24/7 server for SlimServer. The users in category 2 could buy the complete package with both SB and SlimServer hardware. The SlimServer hardware solution can be nicely designed so it can be docked with the SB, making it look like a single unit for those users that want this.
I'm sure there are hardware companies available that would like to join efforts with Logitech, so a third party company could make the SlimServer hardware and Logitech could focus on the SB hardware and SlimServer software. This way this solution wouldn't require huge development cost for Logitech. I don't think we are talking about a NAS box for the SlimServer hardware, instead I'm think about something VIA EPIA, Mac Mini or something similar. Basically a slower computer that is small, silent and less power hungry than a normal computer.

Once again I totally agree with you. The choice could be to choose between the NAS concept or the Apple TV concept... for sure the second seems more fashion.

In the end, a great amount of work seems invested in online services (slimnetwork, mp3tune, etc). I think the three different ways could happily work together and thas would make Slimdevices products killer ones.

SB+Dedicated PC for the geek
SB+AppleTV like for the consumer market profiting from geek community
SB+Online services for the one who wants to use SB as an evolved internet radio

Robin
PS: must I say that I also agree with what you're saying about mp3tunes ? ;)

snarlydwarf
2007-08-01, 17:28
Now, saying all this, there is a solution to this problem which I also mentioned in my previous post.
- Leave the SB as a thin device
- Sell a hardware solution with pre-installed, pre-configured SlimServer.


I think that is a huge opportunity for someone (a ton of people use Qnap's for that reason): a commodity slim-pc of some sort (there are a ton of these) with a slimcd for the OS/Software and a hard drive for music. Some simple scripts for basic ripping/tagging (though it should probably use Gracenote (eww) since cddb sorta sucks) with the music store exported as SMB for easy manipulation/retagging from Windows.

I'm not sure that is in Logitech's plans or if they want to leave that to others... but really that and a Nokia770/800 would beat a Sonos any day. (Especially if you allow external USB drives for additional storage as well as backups.)

The SlimCD approach would allow for a simple "oops I bricked it" ... boot from the CD (the good thing about PC architecture in this case is the Boot rom....) and from a web interface you could "reinstall" without wiping the music.

Let's see: the guy who did the SlimCD now happens to work for Slim/Logi...

As does the guy who did the nifty Nokia skin...

Buy one, hide it in a cabinet and only feed it when you get new music.

MrSinatra
2007-08-01, 19:24
this is a brilliant post imo, i totally agree with the premise outlined below:


I think there are basically two types of people:

Category 1: People that already have a 24/7 running server in their home or easily can setup one.
- Often "geeks" or techincally savvy people
- I suspect most of the current SB owners are in this category

Category 2: People that don't have a 24/7 running server in their home.
- Non techincally savvy people
- Mass market
- I suspect most of the future SB owners will be in this category

Category 1 can see all the advantages with a slim device, for category 2 it doesn't matter as much. For category 2 a slim device really just adds complexity since you need 2 boxes to control. IMO Logitech needs to make the category 2 people happy since this is where the market growth is.

right, totally agree.

and there are people in the first category who would apprecite a category 2 solution, since it would mean portability, etc...

in other words, if SD went to a category 2 solution ONLY, and things cost about the same then as they do now, i don't see what category one people would have lost, as long as they can still tinker with the code as they do now. why would you be against this is my question?

is change a bad thing just b/c its new or different?


Now, the main issues with making the SB a fat device as I see it is:
1.
It would require huge development costs, we are basically talking about rewriting SlimServer for other hardware in another language. Years of development has been invested in the current SlimServer software, besides the gained experience all this invested time would be lost. During the time the development of the new fat device the competitors already in this area would just add more functionality to their product. When Logitech were finished with the fat device I expect the competition to have even greater products. The current advantage Logitech has over their competitors would be lost.

i don't see why...

SS already has a linux flavor. just make the fat device run enough of linux to run SS as it now exists. is that such a hard thing to do? and SS will have local SB access, it won't need to TCP/IP to the SB.

that seems to simplify things doesn't it?

i could see where maybe for some reason you want to emulate TCP/IP like for sync'ing SBs or something like that, but that could be an option left in it, couldn't it?

in any case, i don't see why you think everything would need redone, since SS could work as is on top of a linux OS customized for a fat box?


2.
A fat device would not be compatible with the current SB/Transporter models regarding player synchronization. The result is that the current customers would need to by completely new equipment.

as i alluded to above, couldn't a fat device operate in legacy mode?

if necessary, perhaps an addon could be made for current gear that would do the OS/SS part in a small box.

definitely a good point.


3.
All the time invested in plugin development for the current SlimServer would also be lost since all the plugins would have to be rewritten. I'm not even sure Logitech would allow custom plugins on a fat device.

why not?

7.0 is going to have a new plugin system right? why not just leave that in such a fat device?


4.
The open source community around SlimServer would probably die. If you look at most open source development today, it is almost always related to something that can run on several software or hardware platforms. Many open source developers are interested because they can make their own custom solution with the hardware they currently own. Making a fat device and hoping that the open source community would help developing software that only would work on Logitech hardware is in my opinion hoping for a bit too much. So, Logitech would probably have to do all the work themselves.

i don't know why you think that though...

lots of routers and NAS boxes are (eg.) linux based, but work with any OS or environment. and further, many can be reprogrammed with opn source linux code.

the device would still be totally cross platform, it would simply not itself be cross platform.

but would that kill development for it? i don't see why, it would still be SS in perl, just running on a special custom linux job. i would think that would be transparent to most users.


===
Now, saying all this, there is a solution to this problem which I also mentioned in my previous post.
- Leave the SB as a thin device
- Sell a hardware solution with pre-installed, pre-configured SlimServer.

thats essentially what i am proposing, except that i am saying do it all in one small as possible chassis.


This way the users in catetory 1 can just buy the SB and use their already existing 24/7 server for SlimServer. The users in category 2 could buy the complete package with both SB and SlimServer hardware. The SlimServer hardware solution can be nicely designed so it can be docked with the SB, making it look like a single unit for those users that want this.
I'm sure there are hardware companies available that would like to join efforts with Logitech, so a third party company could make the SlimServer hardware and Logitech could focus on the SB hardware and SlimServer software. This way this solution wouldn't require huge development cost for Logitech. I don't think we are talking about a NAS box for the SlimServer hardware, instead I'm think about something VIA EPIA, Mac Mini or something similar. Basically a slower computer that is small, silent and less power hungry than a normal computer.

its a great idea, and i fully support it.

i would just say keep the box as small as possible, and keep the music storage separate, whether it be ext drive, or card reader, or whatever.

great post.

MrSinatra
2007-08-01, 19:35
snarlydwarf wrote:
> . Higher cost for many people (ie, my server is also my router, file
> server and web server).

Exactly. It was the fact that the SD model fit in so nicely with my
existing home server infrastructure that attracted me to the squeezebox
in the first place. I already had all of my MP3s on the linux server in
the basement, and my wife and I were listening to them on our windows
desktop boxes via samba, long before I bought my first squeezebox. If SD
were only selling an all-in-one thick client like MrSinatra wants, I
wouldn't have given it another look.

The niche that I occupy may be a relatively small one, as consumer
markets go, but I'm quite happy that SD has chosen to serve it so well.

- Marc

this was an earlier post in the thread where basically i was wondering what i asked above...

if a fat device gave you a better, more functional exp, without costing more or taking away any benefit you enjoy now, why be against it?

snarlydwarf
2007-08-01, 20:42
this was an earlier post in the thread where basically i was wondering what i asked above...

if a fat device gave you a better, more functional exp, without costing more or taking away any benefit you enjoy now, why be against it?

Because I already -have- a "fat device" ... a multipurpose server. Why would I want a single purpose box crammed into the same box as my music player?

That would be wasteful....why devote another box and more heat and more electricity when I don't have to, let alone pay for it?

MrSinatra
2007-08-01, 20:49
ok, i can see where for you it would be redundant, but for most other people, it would actually be good as most people don't want to leave a computer on 24/7.

i also think you're somewhat exaggerating just how much extra heat and elec it would use. and consider that such a device would probably result in more users turning computers off, so overall, its a green net gain.

what if the fat device allowed you to power off the OS/SS stuff, and go into a legacy mode, so it would act as it does now...

would you still be against it?

btw, i don't think the device would have to be any bigger than a mac mini, if that. maybe about twice or 2.5 times bigger than a SB3.

snarlydwarf
2007-08-01, 21:00
SS already has a linux flavor. just make the fat device run enough of linux to run SS as it now exists. is that such a hard thing to do? and SS will have local SB access, it won't need to TCP/IP to the SB.

"enough of linux" would be pretty much what existing NAS boxes do.

The catch is that for a lot of people a low-end NAS box is going to be too slow to be usable. There just isn't enough CPU or RAM to make it feasible. So increase CPU to a 1Ghz x86 and toss half a meg of RAM in it... and now you are running a cheap PC or laptop... with all the costs associated with that in heat. electricity and dissipation...

TCP/IP is cheap. I've run 9-port firewalls on a 386 with no real CPU load. Remember TCP/IP is ancient and goes back to some painfully slow by current standards machines.

snarlydwarf
2007-08-01, 21:05
what if the fat device allowed you to power off the OS/SS stuff, and go into a legacy mode, so it would act as it does now...

would you still be against it?

Yes, just as I would be against paying for thee latest and greatest super 3d video with 512M ram and all sorts of support for the latest games on a headless server...

I dislike paying for hardware that I don't use.



btw, i don't think the device would have to be any bigger than a mac mini, if that. maybe about twice or 2.5 times bigger than a SB3.

Right, or about the size of a laptop...

MrSinatra
2007-08-01, 21:25
"enough of linux" would be pretty much what existing NAS boxes do.

The catch is that for a lot of people a low-end NAS box is going to be too slow to be usable. There just isn't enough CPU or RAM to make it feasible. So increase CPU to a 1Ghz x86 and toss half a meg of RAM in it... and now you are running a cheap PC or laptop... with all the costs associated with that in heat. electricity and dissipation...

but the gap between even the best NAS box and a 1ghz half meg ram box is huge. and we know a device designed for a single purpose (music via SS>SB) would not need all that horsepower.

in other words, a middle ground. i'll admit, i don't know what hardware could be gotten away with, or what power-needs, but the nokia bpa linked to sure does a lot in a small form factor, and i'd imagine, limited horsepower.


TCP/IP is cheap. I've run 9-port firewalls on a 386 with no real CPU load. Remember TCP/IP is ancient and goes back to some painfully slow by current standards machines.

excellent point, but what i was driving at is that local access would remove that layer of complexity from todays implementations, (esp wireless SS to SB) which i think SD would really benefit from support-wise.

MrSinatra
2007-08-01, 21:31
Yes, just as I would be against paying for thee latest and greatest super 3d video with 512M ram and all sorts of support for the latest games on a headless server...

I dislike paying for hardware that I don't use.

thats a good point, but i already said it should remain aound the $300 pricepoint, a price point SD has stuck to for years, regardless of chips getting cheaper. (and i understand that, and don't have a problem with it)

look at this from SDs perspective...

they probably are gonna hold the line at that price, or maybe $50 cheaper, in the next few years.

if they could market a fat device, that would serve you in legacy mode, as well as reach a whole new market segment, in fat mode, and do it at the same price, why not do it?

yes, they will be asking you to buy hardware you wouldn't use, but you'd be in the minority of their potential overall market, as erland pointed out.

and moreover, if they did it at around ~$300, thats what you'd be paying anyway whether or not this stuff was packed in it.


Right, or about the size of a laptop...

clever, but the laptop would not include the SB. i am talking about one device only, all in one, and of a different form factor and type.

snarlydwarf
2007-08-01, 21:53
clever, but the laptop would not include the SB. i am talking about one device only, all in one, and of a different form factor and type.

No, but it WOULD have a sound driver and likely even an IR sensor for remote control....

So,, yeah, that would be "one device only, all in one and of a different form factor and type"

Again, your wish list is completely satisfied by buying a $449 laptop from Walmart.

MrSinatra
2007-08-01, 22:00
no, its not.

i want the audio qualities of a SB. no laptop has that, nor do i want to buy an addon for it.

and you misread what i wrote... the laptop is of the WRONG kind of form factor and type, and is just too much for my purposes.

i am really interested in the nokia stuff bpa posted. i'm gonna really check that out when i have time to sift thru it deeply.

snarlydwarf
2007-08-01, 22:30
no, its not.

i want the audio qualities of a SB. no laptop has that, nor do i want to buy an addon for it.

I wonder why? Could tossing a bunch of complex electronics into the same box as the DAC create problems? So perhaps throwing in a more powerful CPU and such wouldn't improve sound quality...



and you misread what i wrote... the laptop is of the WRONG kind of form factor and type, and is just too much for my purposes.

You have two wishlists: one is for a SB/SS-all-melded in one (including a color display), and one for a remote with a color display....

The laptop provides the same functionality as SB/SS-all-in-one.. open it up for the nice color display and set it in your rack. The $449 model at wallyworld even has SPDIF output.

The remote is a seperate matter.



i am really interested in the nokia stuff bpa posted. i'm gonna really check that out when i have time to sift thru it deeply.

They N770 can be had for around $130 now. A bit slower than the N800 but also substantially cheaper. It does make a nice remote... but that is not the SS/SB-all-melded thing. It is a remote. You can have a couple gigs of music on it and pretend it is an ipod... But it isn't a squeezebox and despite having perl installed you would not want to run Slimserver on it. It is not exactly fast.

I love mine, but it has plenty of limitations.

erland
2007-08-01, 22:56
if a fat device gave you a better, more functional exp, without costing more or taking away any benefit you enjoy now, why be against it?Ok, so you want more for equal amount of money ?

I'm afraid I can't see how this equation could be solved. Someone obviously has to pay for the development costs, faster CPU, more memory...
I'm pretty sure Logitech won't give it away, after all they are into this to earn money. They could of course choose to save money on other parts to keep the price, for example poor quality audio circuit, a smaller display...



i would just say keep the box as small as possible, and keep the music storage separate, whether it be ext drive, or card reader, or whatever.I can't see why the music storage needs to be separated, that just means that I need another box. Why not include a 200GB drive in the box, which should be enough for most people, and allow extra drives using USB drives or NAS boxes.

If we are going to make it fat, why not make it really fat ?


if SD went to a category 2 solution ONLY, and things cost about the same then as they do now, i don't see what category one people would have lost, as long as they can still tinker with the code as they do now. why would you be against this is my question?Because people usually doesn't like to pay for things they don't use. There are a lot of people that have several SB devices in their home. A thin SB can obviously be made cheaper than a fat device with equal sound quality. So those that like to have 3 SB devices in different rooms, would have to pay for the server part of the fat device 3 times, but they would only need one instance of that part.

Another reason is that, if they are in the same box it will be harder to let a third party vendor do the SlimServer hardware while Logitech focus on the SB hardware. It will be possible of course, the PC architecture with its PCI cards is a good example of this, but it will probably be easier if it were separate boxes. Separate boxes would also allow other companies to make their own SlimServer hardware box, creating a bit of competition which might lower the price. But more SB's needs to be sold before this can be the case.


SS already has a linux flavor. just make the fat device run enough of linux to run SS as it now exists. is that such a hard thing to do? and SS will have local SB access, it won't need to TCP/IP to the SB.

that seems to simplify things doesn't it?

in any case, i don't see why you think everything would need redone, since SS could work as is on top of a linux OS customized for a fat box?
Nothing has to be redone if the fat device consisted of:
- Part 1: A SqueezeBox with current processor, memory and other chips
- Part 2: A SlimServer hardware card with its own processor, memory and other chips.

So if we basically are talking about taking a SB and a NAS and put them in the same box but let them have totally separated components, no new development is needed. If we on the other hand want to let the SB use the NAS processor or vice versa, new development is needed. Because the SB processor currently doesn't have enough power to run Linux and I'm betting that the SB firmware doesn't run on any other processor than the ones that exist in SB and Transporter.

However, the reason stuff has to be redone if we make a fat device is that the current architecture is optimised for the situation where there is a network between the SB and SlimServer. If this isn't the case it just gets more complicated than needed. It would work, but it would take a lot of time to maintain the extra code that isn't actually needed.



as i alluded to above, couldn't a fat device operate in legacy mode?Sure it can, but again if you like this fat device for the same price as the current solution, who is going to pay for that extra option ?


7.0 is going to have a new plugin system right? why not just leave that in such a fat device?The new plugin system in 7.0 doesn't have anything to do with fat/thin device. One could obviously allow third party developers to develop plugins for a proprietary hardware, but if you look around in the current solutions available this options isn't offered in most cases. There are plugin solutions for stuff running on a PC, like Firefox, Winamp, SlimServer. I'm not saying that it can't be done, because it can, but vendors usually choose not to do it on proprietary hardware.


lots of routers and NAS boxes are (eg.) linux based, but work with any OS or environment. and further, many can be reprogrammed with opn source linux code.I wouldn't say a lot of them can be reprogrammed. I would say a lot of them can be hacked, but the vendor usually tries to make this as hard as possible. Now, again, I'm not saying it can't be done, because it can. There are a few examples where the hardware vendor officially allows people to install their own stuff on their proprietary hardware, but these examples are quite few. If I'm not incorrect, most of the NAS solutions that currently exist for SlimServer depends on that you first hack the device to be able to install third party software.


the device would still be totally cross platform, it would simply not itself be cross platform.

but would that kill development for it? i don't see why, it would still be SS in perl, just running on a special custom linux job. i would think that would be transparent to most users.
The open source development going on on proprietary hardware devices today is often related to trying to run already existing open source software on the device.

There isn't much open source development going on that develop software that only runs on a specific hardware.

If you are purposing that Logitech should provide a single fat device but keep the SlimServer part platform idependent, I really don't see the benefit for Logitech. Developing something platform independent costs money, so why bother if 99% of your customers are running SlimServer on the same platform (the fat device).

===
Fat and thin devices are really different philosophies, so if Logitech should change to the fat device track there needs to be a really good reason. The current solution provides two advantages over the competitors:
- The display of the SB/Transporter is better than most(all?) other similar devices out there
- The audio quality of the SB/Transporter is better than most(all?) other similar devices out there

If choosing the fat device route, this can't be done if it would result in poorer display or poorer audio quality. The reason is just that Logitech would then loose the advantage over the competition they have today.
If I have understand it correctly, the most expensive part of the SB today is the display, so it will probably be hard to make a fat device that keeps the same display but doesn't also raise the cost of the product.
One reason for the audio quality in the SB today is that there aren't a lot of other electronics around the audio components. One reason many audio cards in a computer doesn't sound as good as the SB is that there is just too much electrical disturbance inside a computer case. I fear that the electrical disturbance inside a fat client would be a bigger problem than it is in the current thin client, the obvious reason is that the fat client contains more components.

======
To sum it up.
As I said in my previous post, I think the category 2 people needs to be satisfied in one way or another. So there is a need for some sort of small, silent hardware solution where SlimServer can run. I don't think a NAS is the correct solution, because it doesn't have enough memory/processor to run SlimServer. So I think the best solution would be some sort of VIA EPIA or Mac Mini based device.

I really can't see the benefit of putting SB and SlimServer hardware in the same box. If there are two boxes that can be nicely docked, what is the disadvantage ?
The only disadvantage I can is is that the size might be a little bit bigger. But most people are going to keep their SB in the living room and they for sure have other equipment that is a lot bigger, for example the amplifier, speakers, DVD-player, TV....
But there is an advantage of having the solution in two parts, users can then choose to put the SlimServer part away somewhere where they don't see it, for example in a completely different room. The visual equipment would then only be the SB part which could be really slim.

I guess what I'm saying is that I really can't see any real benefit with a fat device or a box which contained both SB and SlimServer.

erland
2007-08-01, 22:57
Even though most people doesn't have a PC running 24/7 today, I think this is going to change. Microsoft invests a lot of money in their Media Center solution and I can imagine that in 10 years a lot of people are going to have a Media Center PC in their living room. I hope it won't be Microsoft based in all homes, but a Microsoft solution is probably going to be quite common. This Media Center PC can easily be able to run SlimServer. Of course the result is that most people won't bother with SB/SlimServer at all, why not play the audio directly from the Media Center PC. No need for an extra device. The only need I personally see is that I like to be able to play music without turning on the TV, but I bet the TV will be on all the time in my home if we look 10 years in the future.

This also results in another "issue" with a fat device. A fat device that just plays audio is not going to satisfy most users, they also want to play video. So why pay for a fat device when they already have a Media Center PC that can do the work ? A cheaper slim device might be an option, but I suspect most people would just use the Media Center PC.

Hmm...did I just predict the end of the SB era ?

erland
2007-08-01, 23:07
It would be great if someone could explain the major advantages of having:

- A fat device in a single box with a separate harddisk or NAS

Compared to:

- A slim device and a separate pre-configured silent, small server box which run SlimServer with an internal harddisk and optionally external USB hard disks or a NAS.

MrSinatra
2007-08-01, 23:45
just fyi, i'm not trying to be argumentative, i think we just need to agree to disagree.


I wonder why? Could tossing a bunch of complex electronics into the same box as the DAC create problems? So perhaps throwing in a more powerful CPU and such wouldn't improve sound quality...

i never suggested it would improve the SB sound quality. thats not the argument i'm making.

if people used digital or bluetooth, its probably moot anyway.


You have two wishlists: one is for a SB/SS-all-melded in one (including a color display), and one for a remote with a color display....

The laptop provides the same functionality as SB/SS-all-in-one.. open it up for the nice color display and set it in your rack. The $449 model at wallyworld even has SPDIF output.

The remote is a seperate matter.

the display on either wouldn't have to be huge or great resolution.

perhaps the remote would be the only display, and "dock" unto the box when recharging, if needed to be more cost efficient.


They N770 can be had for around $130 now. A bit slower than the N800 but also substantially cheaper. It does make a nice remote... but that is not the SS/SB-all-melded thing. It is a remote. You can have a couple gigs of music on it and pretend it is an ipod... But it isn't a squeezebox and despite having perl installed you would not want to run Slimserver on it. It is not exactly fast.

I love mine, but it has plenty of limitations.

could it be attached to an ext usb drive? could it access a huge playlist, and do random for it well?

if so, it very well may be exactly what i'm looking for. definitely has my interest.

JJZolx
2007-08-01, 23:46
Even though most people doesn't have a PC running 24/7 today, I think this is going to change.

I personally don't know anybody who turns off his home PC. Laptops, yes, desktops, no. And a growing number of them have home file servers that also run 24/7.

JJZolx
2007-08-02, 00:06
* Possibility to do the music scan and browsing tree compilation on a desktop and transfer the database file to the NAS.

I'm not convinced that scanning is such a heavyweight process that it couldn't be run efficiently on the lightest computer platforms. What needs to happen (for many reasons, this being just one) is that full clear/scans must be the _rare_ exception, not the rule necessary to fix the many remaining scanning idiosyncracies. An incremental scan of new and changed material should suit a lightweight platform just fine.


* Precompute things to reduce efforts to support the player in realtime. For example, Browse artists/albums/songs could be divided up in groups (no of groups could be a configurable parameter, e.g. 20) which means that the number of artists/albums/songs never exceeds 20 at the outmost level of the browsing tree, and each level of the browsing tree has at most 20 branches.

I think the current SlimServer approach has room for large improvements in efficiency. Many things have been done simply, while hoping to introduce as few bugs as possible.

signor_rossi
2007-08-02, 00:08
I wonder if a device like the linutop
http://www.linutop.com/
has enough power to run SS already today. Hell, it even has an VGA-out and of course ethernet and the concept of running the OS from an USB key makes software upgrades almost idiot-proof from the vendor side. Attach a simple USB hard disk to it or use a NAS storage in your network, even attaching a touch screen seems possible. All given that the linutop has enough processing power and touch screen drivers exist, of course.

Bye, signor_rossi.

EDIT: Forgot to mention that there are already all-in-one solutions around like the 640H from Cambridge Audio. Has internal hard disk, video out, internal CD drive and burner, 192KHz DAC, all at 1400€. If I ever wanted to spend more than 300€ (which was my limit) would have gotten this kind of gear.

JimC
2007-08-02, 00:18
i still don't understand why they want a "slim" device. why be slim?

why not put the SS and SB into one chasis? why not give that chasis usb ports (or whatever ports/readers) so you can hook up an ext drive directly to it? (along with wired/wireless of course)

i have never understood why they insist on having the SS NOT be part of the actual device.

the only benefit i see of having SS offloaded, is the ability to sync multiple SBs. but i would think thats something that could be worked out with a fat device such as what i'm proposing.

(a fat device could have a free, lightweight OS like linux and people could still modify the SS in it. the music data SS stores could go in flash or on the drive it reads the music info from)

the advantages of a fat device are legion:

1. only one environment to develop, no OS issues.
2. portability
3. no OS interference, (firewalls, etc...)
4. single uniform upgrade path for users, single usage exp
5. automatic updates
6. automatic entertainment content updates
etc...

think how many issues users have with those issues above. all solved by a so called fat device.

i'm sorry, but to me, having a device that needs me to run stuff on my computer is old school. yes, SN is a good workaround, for everything EXCEPT your own local music. (SN basically emulates the fat device i am talking about, but doesn't do your local tunes AND requires the internet)

There are a legion of advantages to a slim architecture, as well. Suffice it to say that we think slim, or at least pretty slim, is the best way to go. It's not that "fat" is bad, per se, it is just that we think slim is better.

What about SqueezeNetwork with MP3tunes? It's pretty much exactly what you've asked for... I understand it doesn't support lossless formats, but if it did, you would solve most of what you've asked for without fattening the device at all.


wouldn't it be cool if you could just grab your fat SB, an ext drive, and jump in your car and road trip with it via bluetooth to your car stereo?

An iPod (or other MP3 player) accomplishes this quite nicely, is far more portable than a "fat SB3", and has the added advantage of being pocketable for even more musical enjoyment.


...and i think the SB needs a bigger color screen, as well as a rechargable remote that has a color screen on it, and a headphone jack and bluetooth for headsets.

based on what logitech offers i think everything i am talking about is reasonable and doable, and in line with their consumer friendly POV.

Since the SB3 is designed as an "across the room" experience, why would a color screen be preferred? Unless it was a pretty big screen, it would be harder to use and if were big, it would be pretty expensive. Just curious to understand what you perceive as the advantages.

MrSinatra
2007-08-02, 00:21
Ok, so you want more for equal amount of money ?

I'm afraid I can't see how this equation could be solved. Someone obviously has to pay for the development costs, faster CPU, more memory...
I'm pretty sure Logitech won't give it away, after all they are into this to earn money. They could of course choose to save money on other parts to keep the price, for example poor quality audio circuit, a smaller display...

well, over time things get better and cheaper at the same pricepoint. SB1 to SB2 to SB3.

the fact is you can put more into a product today, than when SB3 debuted, for the same amount of money.

now, perhaps i'm being optimistic as to how much, but like i said much earlier, perhaps the increased parts cost could be offset by less support issues and easier ongoing development.


I can't see why the music storage needs to be separated, that just means that I need another box. Why not include a 200GB drive in the box, which should be enough for most people, and allow extra drives using USB drives or NAS boxes.

If we are going to make it fat, why not make it really fat ?

you absolutely could offer such a model... but i want a smaller, solid state device, thats impervious to vibration.

besides, why add the extra cost of traditional HD storage? let the user provide that, as per what they want the way they want it.


Because people usually doesn't like to pay for things they don't use. There are a lot of people that have several SB devices in their home. A thin SB can obviously be made cheaper than a fat device with equal sound quality. So those that like to have 3 SB devices in different rooms, would have to pay for the server part of the fat device 3 times, but they would only need one instance of that part.

Another reason is that, if they are in the same box it will be harder to let a third party vendor do the SlimServer hardware while Logitech focus on the SB hardware. It will be possible of course, the PC architecture with its PCI cards is a good example of this, but it will probably be easier if it were separate boxes. Separate boxes would also allow other companies to make their own SlimServer hardware box, creating a bit of competition which might lower the price. But more SB's needs to be sold before this can be the case.

lets say this was the SB4.

whether they do something like this or not, its going to be around $300 if the past is any guide. so if they COULD do it for that amount, why not?

and even if they did offer a fat and slim version, my guess is the slim one wouldn't be much cheaper, if at all.

i confess you lost me on the second part... is that something SD / logitech wants to have happen?


Nothing has to be redone if the fat device consisted of:
- Part 1: A SqueezeBox with current processor, memory and other chips
- Part 2: A SlimServer hardware card with its own processor, memory and other chips.

So if we basically are talking about taking a SB and a NAS and put them in the same box but let them have totally separated components, no new development is needed. If we on the other hand want to let the SB use the NAS processor or vice versa, new development is needed. Because the SB processor currently doesn't have enough power to run Linux and I'm betting that the SB firmware doesn't run on any other processor than the ones that exist in SB and Transporter.

However, the reason stuff has to be redone if we make a fat device is that the current architecture is optimised for the situation where there is a network between the SB and SlimServer. If this isn't the case it just gets more complicated than needed. It would work, but it would take a lot of time to maintain the extra code that isn't actually needed.

yes, i was essentially saying combine the two, but keep them separate within the one box, so as you say, no new dev is needed.

it may strike some as inelegant, but i don't think so, as it maintains the clear architectural distinctions.

i'm not sure i agree with your last paragraph, as the tcp/ip layer could be left in place for legacy mode, but removed alltogether for normal mode.


Sure it can, but again if you like this fat device for the same price as the current solution, who is going to pay for that extra option ?

definitely a weakness in my argument. someone who understands what i envision, what it would take to make it happen, and who could then run the numbers and make projections as to savings the company might get out of it in other areas, or project ever decreasing costs in components would have to figure that out.

beyond my abilities i'm sad to say.


The new plugin system in 7.0 doesn't have anything to do with fat/thin device. One could obviously allow third party developers to develop plugins for a proprietary hardware, but if you look around in the current solutions available this options isn't offered in most cases. There are plugin solutions for stuff running on a PC, like Firefox, Winamp, SlimServer. I'm not saying that it can't be done, because it can, but vendors usually choose not to do it on proprietary hardware.

i agree, but obviously SD is more enlightened than that. :)


I wouldn't say a lot of them can be reprogrammed. I would say a lot of them can be hacked, but the vendor usually tries to make this as hard as possible. Now, again, I'm not saying it can't be done, because it can. There are a few examples where the hardware vendor officially allows people to install their own stuff on their proprietary hardware, but these examples are quite few. If I'm not incorrect, most of the NAS solutions that currently exist for SlimServer depends on that you first hack the device to be able to install third party software.

well, didn't infrant partner with SD? has that gone south?

but my point in talking about that was just to say that the fat device while itself linux or whatever, would still be cross platform and would not hurt open source development of it imo.

thats why i mentioned that.


The open source development going on on proprietary hardware devices today is often related to trying to run already existing open source software on the device.

There isn't much open source development going on that develop software that only runs on a specific hardware.

i don't quite follow that?

isn't the SB a specific propritary hardware device that people develop SS for? granted, SS can do other things, but most people do it with SB in mind, yes?


If you are purposing that Logitech should provide a single fat device but keep the SlimServer part platform idependent, I really don't see the benefit for Logitech. Developing something platform independent costs money, so why bother if 99% of your customers are running SlimServer on the same platform (the fat device).

maybe i'm thick or its late, but i didn't really follow this either...


===
Fat and thin devices are really different philosophies, so if Logitech should change to the fat device track there needs to be a really good reason. The current solution provides two advantages over the competitors:
- The display of the SB/Transporter is better than most(all?) other similar devices out there
- The audio quality of the SB/Transporter is better than most(all?) other similar devices out there

If choosing the fat device route, this can't be done if it would result in poorer display or poorer audio quality. The reason is just that Logitech would then loose the advantage over the competition they have today.

why would going fat preclude great sound or a great display? i don't see either as mutually exclusive.


If I have understand it correctly, the most expensive part of the SB today is the display, so it will probably be hard to make a fat device that keeps the same display but doesn't also raise the cost of the product.
One reason for the audio quality in the SB today is that there aren't a lot of other electronics around the audio components. One reason many audio cards in a computer doesn't sound as good as the SB is that there is just too much electrical disturbance inside a computer case. I fear that the electrical disturbance inside a fat client would be a bigger problem than it is in the current thin client, the obvious reason is that the fat client contains more components.

that surprises me, given how sweet displays are on cell phones, and how much better those are, not to mention prevalent, (economies of scale) BUT i also realize, a lot of cell phones are sold at a loss.

still, doesn't logitechs music dj system have a color display on their remote?

MrSinatra
2007-08-02, 00:21
======
To sum it up.
As I said in my previous post, I think the category 2 people needs to be satisfied in one way or another. So there is a need for some sort of small, silent hardware solution where SlimServer can run. I don't think a NAS is the correct solution, because it doesn't have enough memory/processor to run SlimServer. So I think the best solution would be some sort of VIA EPIA or Mac Mini based device.

I really can't see the benefit of putting SB and SlimServer hardware in the same box. If there are two boxes that can be nicely docked, what is the disadvantage ?

i'm down, that sounds like a great idea.

but small as possible, and for me, solid state.


The only disadvantage I can is is that the size might be a little bit bigger. But most people are going to keep their SB in the living room and they for sure have other equipment that is a lot bigger, for example the amplifier, speakers, DVD-player, TV....
But there is an advantage of having the solution in two parts, users can then choose to put the SlimServer part away somewhere where they don't see it, for example in a completely different room. The visual equipment would then only be the SB part which could be really slim.

I guess what I'm saying is that I really can't see any real benefit with a fat device or a box which contained both SB and SlimServer.

you make a very compelling argument...

just remember, one facet i am pushing here is portability, esp in cars or on the go situations...

MrSinatra
2007-08-02, 00:27
It would be great if someone could explain the major advantages of having:

- A fat device in a single box with a separate harddisk or NAS

Compared to:

- A slim device and a separate pre-configured silent, small server box which run SlimServer with an internal harddisk and optionally external USB hard disks or a NAS.

i addressed this in my last posts, but the main thing is that you decrease the cost of the fat client, and keep it solid state.

you would want it to be able to read any media, be it flash or card or HD or on the network, or whatever... but i think its unecessary to have MUSIC storage internal to the device, unless its like a small flash amount.

it also keeps the SB smaller and lighter, and less power needy.


I personally don't know anybody who turns off his home PC. Laptops, yes, desktops, no. And a growing number of them have home file servers that also run 24/7.

well i know people who do, and i encourage people to use standby and hibernate modes on their desktop PCs, its saves a lot of money, and is the green thing to do.


There are a legion of advantages to a slim architecture, as well. Suffice it to say that we think slim, or at least pretty slim, is the best way to go. It's not that "fat" is bad, per se, it is just that we think slim is better.

slim is better if what you want is what it is.

like erland said, thats for the minority, not the majority.

i agree, slim DOES have advantages in certain cases, but fat seems to me to be more marketable.


What about SqueezeNetwork with MP3tunes? It's pretty much exactly what you've asked for... I understand it doesn't support lossless formats, but if it did, you would solve most of what you've asked for without fattening the device at all.

not portable.

and portable isn't the only thing to me... so is ease of use, and if it has a problem, not having to troubleshoot my computers involvement in the issue.


An iPod (or other MP3 player) accomplishes this quite nicely, is far more portable than a "fat SB3", and has the added advantage of being pocketable for even more musical enjoyment.

yep, ipods have uses, but no ipod can hold all my music. when i go on a road trip, i want ALL my music, not just some of it.


Since the SB3 is designed as an "across the room" experience, why would a color screen be preferred? Unless it was a pretty big screen, it would be harder to use and if were big, it would be pretty expensive. Just curious to understand what you perceive as the advantages.

ok, here's where i get into heresy...

first, color is nicer, thats the main thing.

but secondly, what about a video out that superimposed graphics on your TV screen? it could be a usb accessory add on.

regardless, i'd be happy with one color screen on the remote only that could "dock" onto the device to recharge.

mherger
2007-08-02, 00:30
> I wonder if a device like the linutop
> http://www.linutop.com/
> has enough power to run SS already today.

I guess it would rather be at the lower end. Those embedded Geode cpus are even less powerful than the Via C7 class processors.

Michael

snarlydwarf
2007-08-02, 00:53
could it be attached to an ext usb drive? could it access a huge playlist, and do random for it well?

Not without hacking. It is a USB client: the USB port is so that you can plug it into a PC to copy files to it. (Painfully slow.) You can reflash it to enable USB host mode, but you will need to make your own USB cable and you must have a powered USB hub between the Nokia and any device. There is a usb-storage module, but I don't know if anyone has ever made it work (most of the interest is to use a portable keyboard... a rollup usb keyboard would make this a great laptop for ssh'ing into servers.... sort of annoying that you have to play cable games and carry a powered hub, too, though).

A huge playlist? Depends on your concept of huge. This is NOT a fast CPU. It is pretty easy to bog it down.



if so, it very well may be exactly what i'm looking for. definitely has my interest.

If you want SB-type sound quality, no, it won't give you that either. It does make a nice remote and I no longer have to carry a laptop with me at all times, the Nokia suffices for most emergencies at work. With headphones it's not bad for watching movies (but you will have to drop the frame rate and resolution).

But it's not a Squeezebox in sound quality, nor is it able to replace slimserver in handling large libraries.

erland
2007-08-02, 00:59
just fyi, i'm not trying to be argumentative, i think we just need to agree to disagree.

We obviously agree on some things and disagree on others, I'm not sure this discussion is going to make it any clearer. I think the differences is just mostly related to if one prefer a fat device or a slim device.

Anyway, I think we probably have a lot of potential users:

1.
Users that don't have a 24/7 server and don't have a NAS/external harddrive.
- They may want the single box solution with everything in one box.

2.
Users that have a NAS or USB drive but don't have a 24/7 server.
- They may wan't the single box solution with everything in one box, but they probably down want a harddrive to be included.

3. Users that have a 24/7 server
- They already have the server hardware so the don't want to pay extra for server hardware they don't need.

4. Users that like to take their music collection with them to a friend.
- Here I think a single box solution might be optimal, but for these users it may also make some sense to include amplifier and speakers in the box. However, as already mentioned previously, a slim device connected to SqueezeNetwork using your library uploaded at mp3tunes will probably also work for these users.

5. Users that like to take their music collection with them in the car.
- Here we want a solution that has the format of a standard car stereo so it can be easily plugged in to place. We need a server part and hard drive that can run on the car battery. I think the optimal solution would be something that was in the car the whole time but could synchronize its harddrive with the system inside the house over the night.

6. Users that like to take their music collection with them when they are walking or running.
- Something like an iPod is clearly the best solution here, so better integration between the iPod and SB/SlimServer would improve this situation. I'm not sure if Logitech like to focus on portable devices, if they don't some sort of integration might still be appropriate.

7. Users with large houses that needs to be able to play different music in different parts of the house, but also sometimes wants to play the same music in the whole house.
- Here a slim device with a single separate server is almost the only way to go. The users could buy a single box with both SB+SlimServer and a number of extra boxes which only contains a SB. But I have a feeling some of these users already may have a 24/7 running server, so they might not be interested in the SB+SlimServer combo box at all.


IMHO all these uses can't be satisfied with a single solution. I'm also not sure if Logitech tries to satisfy them all. Anyway, if they like to satisfy as many as possible I think some kind of modularised hardware and software solution is needed. Making a single device that tries to solve all cases will just result in a too large and too expensive device.

There are some advantages with fat devices and some other with slim devices. So I think each customer just have to choose which one he prefer. If he likes a slim device, Logitech is a good way to go, if he like a fat devices there might be other vendors providing better solutions.

erland
2007-08-02, 01:10
Since the SB3 is designed as an "across the room" experience, why would a color screen be preferred? Unless it was a pretty big screen, it would be harder to use and if were big, it would be pretty expensive. Just curious to understand what you perceive as the advantages.The only reason for a color screen as I see it to be able to browse cover art. What I really would like here is some integration with media center solutions as I partly mentioned in my previous post.

Something like this:
====================
If I just want to play a specific artist or album I use the standard SB non color display and remote. I have no need for a color display here.

If I want to select something to play together with my friends I start up the media center interface on the TV and we can browse cover art, see more information about artists and when we find something we like we can hit play in the media center interface and it would start playing on the SB. A color display on the remote solves some of this, but it is to small if you are several persons in the room and like to select something together.
====================
By media center I don't necessary mean the Microsoft solution, personally I would prefer MythTV since this is what I'm running but I realize that the majority is probably using Microsoft.

mherger
2007-08-02, 02:38
As one of the major problems with SlimServer on NAS devices is memory consumption, I wonder why there aren't more users trying to offload MySQL to some other machine. I once made my SlimServer use a MySQL instance running on my web host. Or get yourself a NSLU as a DB server - you could call this a n-tier SlimServer :-)

As for your suggestions: They all seem feasible. But the original topic was "low complexity" - I doubt any of them would lower the complexity of today's solution. Added flexibility often results in increased complexity. In fact I blame SlimServer's myriad of settings to the flexibility users asked for.

Michael

erland
2007-08-02, 02:52
As one of the major problems with SlimServer on NAS devices is memory consumption, I wonder why there aren't more users trying to offload MySQL to some other machine. I once made my SlimServer use a MySQL instance running on my web host. Or get yourself a NSLU as a DB server - you could call this a n-tier SlimServer :-)I suspect most people running SlimServer on a NAS is doing it because they don't have any other machine running 24/7.
If you have a web host, why not run SlimServer on that to and just keep the music on the NAS ?
Am I missing some obvious reason why it would be preferable to run SlimServer on the NAS if you already got a 24/7 machine which surely has more memory and faster processor than the NAS ?


I doubt any of them would lower the complexity of today's solution. Added flexibility often results in increased complexity. In fact I blame SlimServer's myriad of settings to the flexibility users asked for.I totally agree.

vrobin
2007-08-02, 02:58
The only reason for a color screen as I see it to be able to browse cover art. What I really would like here is some integration with media center solutions as I partly mentioned in my previous post.


That's something I dream of, but rather than a tv with media center (i don't have a tv:) ), what I dream of if some sort of wired or wireless Picture frame that would have two roles:
- standing on a table, on the receiver, it would display the cover art of the "now playing" track or the cover art of the album as I browse the SB with the SB remote
- when i want to browse cover art, I undock this "wireless picture frame", bring it with me on the couch and use it as a N800 touch screen remote.

First I was looking at USB picture frame, but now, i'm looking more and more at the Archos 605 Wifi announced in a previous post.
I don't know how this device could fit my dreams and I don't know what slimdevices lua work will give, so I'm still waiting.

mherger
2007-08-02, 03:36
> If you have a web host, why not run SlimServer on that to and just keep
> the music on the NAS ?

I don't have root access to that machine, only web based management. I couldn't run SlimServer on it, but have MySQL available. But most hosters will block external access to MySQL anyway.

Michael

mflint
2007-08-02, 05:45
users with large houses that needs to be able to play different music in different parts of the house, but also sometimes wants to play the same music in the whole house
Yes! And it's not that large a house either, but I have two squeezeboxes and wouldn't rule out buying at least one more.


I suspect most people running SlimServer on a NAS is doing it because they don't have any other machine running 24/7.
Yes again!


[browse cover art is] something I dream of
Then maybe the community itself needs to find a way.

I bet there are digital picture frames with ethernet, which can be controlled externally. I'm sure some enterprising folks could hack together a SlimServer plugin solution to control one of those...

signor_rossi
2007-08-02, 07:11
> I wonder if a device like the linutop
> http://www.linutop.com/
> has enough power to run SS already today.

I guess it would rather be at the lower end. Those embedded Geode cpus are even less powerful than the Via C7 class processors.

Michael

The Zonbu
www.zonbu.com
seems to be more powerful. And it is only 250$ without plan.
Oh, found some info about the specs. It's a 1,2GHZ VIA CPU.
http://www.linuxdevices.com/news/NS9073106297.html

Bye, signor_rossi.

Pale Blue Ego
2007-08-02, 07:11
Mr Sinatra seems to want Slim to reinvent the wheel. There are already iPods, Media servers with internal storage, mp3 car stereos, laptops, mac mini, SFF PCs, etc. What he's proposing would be a LOT clunkier than the current architecture, and pretty useless without some kind of NAS or noisy local storage. Flash memory is limited and there are already plenty of flash memory music players.

The SB3 is a NETWORKED player, in an increasingly networked world. Let the world come to Slim.

vrobin
2007-08-02, 07:43
I bet there are digital picture frames with ethernet, which can be controlled externally. I'm sure some enterprising folks could hack together a SlimServer plugin solution to control one of those...

After looking closer to the subject, the only advantage of the picture frame is its clear bright screen, but it's pricey for the functionalities offered and can only be used as this "album art display".

The PSP/N700/N700/Tablet/Archos approach with wifi adds the versatility of using it as an evolved remote or as album art displayer and it's much more hackable for a reasonable price:

Archos 605 wifi is 200 with 4Go static ram, it can browse the network shares, act as a upnp client, watch movie, listen to music, BROWSE THE WEB :). I'm about to buy it, I just wait as I wonder what SB/LUA project will give birth...

I realize that I'm polluting every topics with this idea but it has became some sort of obsession ;).

livelock
2007-08-05, 14:14
I'd say this is more about performance than modularity. Performance *really* sucks on a NAS if you have to use faad/mplayer and/or multiple client. I use slimserver on freelink(Debian) Linkstation Pro.
A single client (SB3) works, also with AAC. Multiple clients suck.

I would very much welcome a more high performance slimserver (should also be leaner) and a Squeezebox with native AAC support.

mherger
2007-08-05, 23:27
> I would very much welcome a more high performance slimserver (should
> also be leaner) and a Squeezebox with native AAC support.

Transcoding is done by the tools you mentioned (faad, mplayer etc.). There's nothing slimserver can do about their performance.

Michael

Michaelwagner
2007-08-06, 08:23
Something I don't think got mentioned in this thread ... many of us owned a fat (or at least fatter than an SB) mp3 player - the Audiotron. While there were many reasons why it failed, it's fatness (and the consequent slowness by the time it got to market) was one of the reasons.

By having only the essential parts on the slim client and having the rest on more easily upgradeable server hardware, the slim approach takes advantage of your ability (or at least a geeks desire) to buy a new computer next year and get a faster client as well.

It is clear this works less well for non-geeks. But even most of them can replace a laptop with a faster laptop or a desktop with a faster one, move the songs database over and install Slimserver.

The parts about making SlimServer more modular are probably worth considering, so that geeks could run Slimserver on gumstix farms or multi-core processors or whatever architecture their heart desired. But that wouldn't be a mass-market feature.

Listener
2007-08-06, 10:53
Something I don't think got mentioned in this thread ... many of us owned a fat (or at least fatter than an SB) mp3 player - the Audiotron. While there were many reasons why it failed, it's fatness (and the consequent slowness by the time it got to market) was one of the reasons.



Time has passed and h/w has gotten more capable. With a faster processor in the client and more non-volatile storage in the client, a modern Audiotron-like device should be much faster in operation. It is also possible to keep the music library database on a file server rather than in the fat client.

The Sonos system seems to have a fat client architecture. It has a limit on the number of tracks (40-50,000 tracks) that it can index in a library but otherwise it seems to be an adequate approach. The advantage is that it can play music files from a file server box without any Sonos supplied server s/w. I don't think that the Sonos h/w has been updated lately so it might be possible to raise the limits of the Sonos units.

So I think this sort of fat client architecture is viable.

Bill

Michaelwagner
2007-08-06, 11:08
So I think this sort of fat client architecture is viable.

But you've just explained (very well in fact) why it isn't.

As soon as you build the server into hardware, you're stuck with the limits of the hardware at the time your unit was built. Worse, with the Audiotron (and probably with most units) you're stuck with the hardware at the time your unit was architected and designed. Which is several years from start of project to working unit. Several years in hardware terms these days is an enormous length of time.

Listener
2007-08-06, 13:21
But you've just explained (very well in fact) why it isn't.

As soon as you build the server into hardware, you're stuck with the limits of the hardware at the time your unit was built. Worse, with the Audiotron (and probably with most units) you're stuck with the hardware at the time your unit was architected and designed. Which is several years from start of project to working unit. Several years in hardware terms these days is an enormous length of time.

I don't agree that I explained why it isn't.

Consider the Squeezebox 2 and 3. There isn't much functional difference between them. The capability of the h/w had matured enough to be more than adequate for the job.

I think that the h/w has matured enough to allow for a Audiotron-like architecture to be adequately implemented now. The kind of architecture I have in mind would support playback of MP3, MP4a (AAC), WMA, Flac and Wav formats at a minimum with decoding on the client. Music files would be stored on CIFS/Samba file servers or PCs with folders hsared to the LAN. The client would not store music files themselves.

Some of the discussion on this thread has been about an all-in-one device - a fat client+server. That is a different kettle of fish.

> As soon as you build the server into hardware, you're stuck
> with the limits of the hardware at the time your unit was
> built.

Gee, that seems to be a problem with Slimserver right now. Problems fitting SS onto an off-the-shelf (cheap) file server seem to be a very common topic for forum messages.

Actually, the discipline of making a polished, well debugged, well documented product that will work reliably and provide satisfaction for a number of years would be a good thing. SLimp devices still work and work as advertised don't they?

Bill

snarlydwarf
2007-08-06, 13:56
Some of the discussion on this thread has been about an all-in-one device - a fat client+server. That is a different kettle of fish.

I don't think it is entirely different. Something needs to make up "These are the albums I have" sorts of lists, unless Browse Music Folder is the only way you play music.

It quickly becomes a database problem handling track/artist/album stuff, and then you add composer and maybe orchestra if you do classical, or genre if you are better at classifying than I am.

The database to deal with that is a huge part of the complexity of SlimServer, especially in trying to break on as few odd cases as possible. (Have your tracks scattered by Artist an not Album? Slimserver STILL tries to be nice and deal with that... and still tries to recognize different albums with common titles.. and not get them confused with VA albums where the tracks are scattered by artist...)

erland
2007-08-06, 14:03
I think that the h/w has matured enough to allow for a Audiotron-like architecture to be adequately implemented now. The kind of architecture I have in mind would support playback of MP3, MP4a (AAC), WMA, Flac and Wav formats at a minimum with decoding on the client. Music files would be stored on CIFS/Samba file servers or PCs with folders hsared to the LAN. The client would not store music files themselves.
The only reason I can see for a fat device is simplicity. If you anyway need a NAS box or fileserver, I don't really see the point with a fat device. To make it simple I think it needs to be a single box or as an alternative a fat client that supports external USB disks.

If you are going to run a separate fileserver PC, you can run SlimServer on that machine, so then there is no real big advantage with a fat client.

If you are going to use a NAS for the fileserver, you might be able to run SlimServer on the NAS, but this can be a bit complicated. But how many people actually already have a NAS, if we aren't counting the geeks ?

If they don't have a NAS, they can choose to either buy a NAS and try to install SlimServer on that with todays thin client. Or as a better alternative, they can skip the NAS and just buy a small silent computer, for example the Mac Mini or something similar. I'm not sure it would be easier to setup a fat client + a NAS box compared to a thin client and a PC/Mac Mini with SlimServer. The configuration has to be done somewhere in both solutions and I'm just not sure it will be easier to configure stuff in a fat client compared to the current SlimServer web interface.

As I said earlier in this thread, I think the perfect solution would be if Logitech sold 2 separate boxes, one client box (the SB3) and one server box (with pre-installed, pre-configured SlimServer). If these are made in a nice dockable setup, some users can only buy the client part and use their standard PC as server and some users can buy both parts and dock them together to get a single box (with two parts) that is easy to setup and use. This would result in a very easy setup for those chosing to buy both boxes.

I'm guessing that people that bought the Slimp3 or SB1 devices some years back have a better working device today compared to when they bought it. The reason for this is the thin client architecture.

Listener
2007-08-06, 15:59
> The only reason I can see for a fat device is simplicity.

I think that Slimdevices is rather limited by their heavily geek customer base. In the wider world, simplicity is a very desirable characteristic.

> If you anyway need a NAS box or fileserver, I don't really see
> the point with a fat device.

If you have to install Slimserver on that NAS box, there is a very big difference.

> If you are going to use a NAS for the fileserver, you might be
> able to run SlimServer on the NAS, but this can be a bit
> complicated. But how many people actually already have a NAS,
> if we aren't counting the geeks ?

A while back, people on this forum often suggested to newcomers that they buy a NAS box to host SS. Over time the specific NAS box that was in favor changed as the previous recommendation was found to be flawed.

> As I said earlier in this thread, I think the perfect solution
> would be if Logitech sold 2 separate boxes, one client box
> (the SB3) and one server box (with pre-installed,
> pre-configured SlimServer). If these are made in a nice
> dockable setup, some users can only buy the client part
> and use their standard PC as server and some users
> can buy both parts and dock them together to get a
> single box (with two parts) that is easy to setup and use.
> This would result in a very easy setup for those chosing
> to buy both boxes.

If you put the file storage in the same place as the client, there isn't much reason for the Slimdevices architecture. A PC or Mac running some music player program works just fine.

Bill

Michaelwagner
2007-08-06, 16:31
It seems if Slim bundled a sufficiently powerful NAS with the software at a reasonable price, that would solve the non-geek problem. Many people just want an appliance that works. I think even most geeks can appreciate the idea of one server, many clients, one per room.

The technology to do all but the price is there now. The price will take care of itself with time.

davep
2007-08-06, 21:29
It seems if Slim bundled a sufficiently powerful NAS with the software at a reasonable price, that would solve the non-geek problem.
Isn't this what SD were aiming to do when they put together the Infrant bundle. It doesn't get mentioned on the main product pages of the SD website but I see that if you go to the "Buy Now" page it is still listed: 2 x SB3 + 1 x Infrant NAS for US$1,499. I'd always assumed that this was intended to be an integrated server+storage+player solution. However, the blurb doesn't actually mention that SS is installed (or even installable) on the NAS but seems to present it as just a 1Tb storage solution. Also, according to at least one report on this forum the Infrant isn't actually powerful enough to run SS decently, so I'm not really sure what positioning SD were targeting with this bundle after all.

davep

erland
2007-08-06, 22:04
> As I said earlier in this thread, I think the perfect solution
> would be if Logitech sold 2 separate boxes, one client box
> (the SB3) and one server box (with pre-installed,
> pre-configured SlimServer). If these are made in a nice
> dockable setup, some users can only buy the client part
> and use their standard PC as server and some users
> can buy both parts and dock them together to get a
> single box (with two parts) that is easy to setup and use.
> This would result in a very easy setup for those chosing
> to buy both boxes.

If you put the file storage in the same place as the client, there isn't much reason for the Slimdevices architecture. A PC or Mac running some music player program works just fine.Some people may like to use their already running 24/7 sever, in this case a single fat client would mean that they would have to pay for stuff they already have, the server part that is.

I expect it to be a lot cheaper to develop a standard computer with a chassi that is dockable with a SB3, compared to developing a completely new fat device. The problem with the fat device is that Logitech would still need the thin device for other customers that need the thin device features, for example synchronization of audio between several players.

If one have a computer based server instead of a NAS server, one might argue that the need for a SB thin device is less. Why buy the SB when you can play the audio directly from the computer ?
But I can still see several reasons for the SB thin device, like:
- Better audio quality than any computer in resonable price range would be able to offer
- A great large display you can see from the other side of the room.
- The server part can be tucked away in another room and you will get a completely silent fanless solution in the living room.



It seems if Slim bundled a sufficiently powerful NAS with the software at a reasonable price, that would solve the non-geek problem. Many people just want an appliance that works. I think even most geeks can appreciate the idea of one server, many clients, one per room.

The technology to do all but the price is there now. The price will take care of itself with time.

Isn't this what SD were aiming to do when they put together the Infrant bundle. It doesn't get mentioned on the main product pages of the SD website but I see that if you go to the "Buy Now" page it is still listed: 2 x SB3 + 1 x Infrant NAS for US$1,499. I'd always assumed that this was intended to be an integrated server+storage+player solution. However, the blurb doesn't actually mention that SS is installed (or even installable) on the NAS but seems to present it as just a 1Tb storage solution. Also, according to at least one report on this forum the Infrant isn't actually powerful enough to run SS decently, so I'm not really sure what positioning SD were targeting with this bundle after all.
I think the problem is that we shouldn't be focused on a NAS solution at all. None of the NAS boxes available to a resonable price is powerful enough to run SlimServer good. The future NAS boxes won't be either, the reason is that NAS boxes will always be focused on one single thing: serving files to clients. SlimServer is a lot more than just serving files.

If we look at the Infrant bundle at US$1,499, I expect the NAS to be about US$1,000 of this price. For those US$1,000 it is pretty easy to build a silent low power computer that is much more suitable for running SlimServer. The thing is also that if one want to go real cheap, the computer doesn't have to be neither small nor silent, because it can be put in a completely different room. You just need the SB thin device in the living room.

I think some people look at NAS solutions because it's a bit cool and other people are tricked into NAS solutions by getting them to think that this is the cheapest way to get a small silent SlimServer solution, but the thing is that it is neither the cheapest way nor the best way.

vrobin
2007-08-07, 01:39
I think some people look at NAS solutions because it's a bit cool and other people are tricked into NAS solutions by getting them to think that this is the cheapest way to get a small silent SlimServer solution, but the thing is that it is neither the cheapest way nor the best way.

At first glance, SS on NAS is an attractive solution, but rather limited and complicated. I look at different NAS providers, forums for months before I decide to build an epia based dedicated computer. I do not regret it!
NAS is in itself too limited and this could last in time.

But Indeed the idea of just plugging a small silent and low consumption box (a NAS) remain attractive. IMHO most people want to use a squeezebox with the versatility of a computer w/ itunes (or else) but the simplicity and small footprint as their CD player.

Thus the idea of a dividing SS in a small part that could run on a small power NAS and another more complicated that would do the complicated stuff that could run on any other computer (be it dedicated or not).
A dedicated mini PC or 24/7 computers could host both simple SS component and complicated SS component in a seamless way.
Further, SD could develop some sort of apple TV branded "logitech" with enough horsepower to be such a consumer dedicated appliance (and much more).