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View Full Version : Using old pc/laptop as media storage



JonnyI
2008-08-08, 04:49
Hi guys -

Apologise if this has been covered before, but I'm completely new to this sort of thing and would appreciate some advice.

I've just bought a couple of Duets and had planned to connect them to a NAS of some sort. Today I've read a few posts on various sites saying a lot of NAS's don't handle SqueezeCenter 7 very well, and that a better alternative was these stripped down pc thingies like TranquilPC.

Now they seem pretty good but cost 400+.

Then I also noticed a lot of people saying you should just use an old pc or
laptop as your 'media store', and get the Duet to pull music off there. Very cheap, better performance, etc etc

So, following this last line, would the process be something like this?

1. get an old pc / laptop and remove all software except the OS
2. install SqueezeCenter 7 on it and add your music to it's HDD and external HDD's if need be
3. attach old pc / laptop to network [just using a cable rather than wireless]
4. get Duet [also wired into network] to read from old pc / laptop and away you go

If so, what would be the spec I should look for in an old pc / laptop to check if it's suitable?

Anyone any comments on how good / bad this sort of setup is?

I also have a popcorn hour that I planned to use to stream dvd's. Could the old pc / laptop do the same job? If so would it need additional software eg Microsoft Home Server??

chrisinparis
2008-08-08, 06:40
So, following this last line, would the process be something like this?

1. get an old pc / laptop and remove all software except the OS
2. install SqueezeCenter 7 on it and add your music to it's HDD and external HDD's if need be
3. attach old pc / laptop to network [just using a cable rather than wireless]
4. get Duet [also wired into network] to read from old pc / laptop and away you go

Yes - that's the way (well one way) to go.


If so, what would be the spec I should look for in an old pc / laptop to check if it's suitable?

Anyone any comments on how good / bad this sort of setup is?

Well the faster the better (we're talking old here...), but you also have other things to consider - noise, power consumption, WAF of an ugly box in the living room perhaps. Also the size of your library is a consideration regarding hardware specs.

I had an old semi-broken laptop laying around - PII 333 Mhz, 128 MB RAM, broken internal HDD connector (so have to use external HDD for the OS, music is stored on a NAS) - that I use for SC 7.0.

- Everything is Ethernet (one less potential headache, better performance I hope - not yet tried wireless)
- Performance is 'OK' - it plays the music fine, but (web interface*) navigation can be a tad slow, and if the machine is doing anything else (downloading for example) then response to the remote can be frustratingly slow. But it does work. A full re-scan (142 GB) takes a couple of hours, but generally you only do a full rescan once.

* I sometimes use the application "SlimRemote" (JAR) for better response; the (to-me) all important iPeng plugin works mostly fine as well.

I actually got fed up with the remote response, and so ended up getting a mac mini (small, lower-ish power consumption, no noise etc) and am very happy with it (complete scan in 45 minutes IIRC). But my old laptop is there as a backup (good job as currently I'm having problems with 7.1 on my mac).

So basically most hardware you'll have laying around/access to *can* do the job to varying degrees of success.



I also have a popcorn hour that I planned to use to stream dvd's. Could the old pc / laptop do the same job? If so would it need additional software eg Microsoft Home Server??

No comment on this as I don't know anything about it. But a last remark about Linux - definitely the way to go, if possible, if you are using an 'underpowered' machine (better performance on same hardware). Really is as simple of typing a few commands as described in http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=50417

HTH

aubuti
2008-08-08, 08:45
But a last remark about Linux - definitely the way to go, if possible, if you are using an 'underpowered' machine (better performance on same hardware). Really is as simple of typing a few commands as described in http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=50417
Note re Linux: you'll get the most performance out of old underpowered machines if you use a Linux distro/installation that doesn't use the graphical user interface. You don't need the gui to run SC, and it sucks up a lot of resources.

jsprag
2008-08-08, 13:50
If you do decide to go with an old laptop, consider finding one with a broken screen. Attach to an external monitor for setup and then run headless from then on.

Can often be found on craigslist for pretty cheap.

Kyle
2008-08-08, 19:27
I used an old laptop for a couple of years with an external HDD. It was something like 866 mhz. I also used it for web surfing, but that's about it. It was a little slow at times, but generally worked fine with a wireless connection to my router, which was across the room. I also ran an SB3 wirelessly that was about halfway between the laptop and the router. Very doable.