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  1. #1
    Babelfish's Best Boy mherger's Avatar
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    Windows: service vs. application mode

    We're seeing more and more issues due to the fact that SC on Windows by
    default is run as a service: files on network shares (NAS) can't be
    accessed, the iTunes .xml file isn't found, Vista users can't start/stop
    it etc. According to support stopping the service and have SC run as an
    application when the user is logging in is solving most of these issues.

    The one major advantage of running SC as a service is its availability
    without the need to have a user logged in. But that's the root of the
    problems, too: as it's not running in a user's context, it can't access
    his data, is not allowed to access network resources etc.

    So we want the power of a service, combined with the simplicity of a
    normal application - that's a problem. We've been discussing this topic,
    and we see three ways to improve this situation:

    1. keep the current default, but provide comprehensive documentation to
    users and support about the two modes
    pro: no need for any software change, no surprise to the user, same old
    behaviour
    con: same old behaviour, RTFM

    2. switch default to application mode, plus add the same good
    documentation (+ probably some progammatic assistance), allowing those who
    know what they're doing to run SC as a service
    pro: simple solution to the current issues
    con: some existing users won't like the default behaviour, RTFM

    3. try to install SC as a service under the user's privileges, thus
    enabling the service to access all the resources he is allowed to access
    pro: that's actually what the user's expecting it to be
    con: changes to the installer needed (additional wizard page asking for
    user credentials), potential for user confusion about entering login/PW
    during installation

    Thoughts?

    Michael
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    Michael

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  2. #2
    Senior Member erland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Herger View Post
    1. keep the current default, but provide comprehensive documentation to
    users and support about the two modes
    pro: no need for any software change, no surprise to the user, same old
    behaviour
    con: same old behaviour, RTFM
    Even though documentation might help the situation I feel that most of the people complain are those that probably isn't going to read the documentation anyway. If they read the documentation they will probably just complain about that it is hard to setup.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Herger View Post
    2. switch default to application mode, plus add the same good
    documentation (+ probably some progammatic assistance), allowing those who
    know what they're doing to run SC as a service
    pro: simple solution to the current issues
    con: some existing users won't like the default behaviour, RTFM
    This is probably the best default on Windows. Many Windows users probably have their computer configured with a single account and probably also auto login configured for that account. So they will basically not see any difference compared with today.
    Those that still like to be able to run SlimServer as a service is probably also willing to do some configuration work to set it up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Herger View Post
    3. try to install SC as a service under the user's privileges, thus
    enabling the service to access all the resources he is allowed to access
    pro: that's actually what the user's expecting it to be
    con: changes to the installer needed (additional wizard page asking for
    user credentials), potential for user confusion about entering login/PW
    during installation
    Would this even work in a multi user environment ? Which user would the service be configured for ?

    I vote for option 2, although I'm probably not the right person to ask since I hardly use Windows at all on my home computers anymore.
    Erland Isaksson (My homepage)
    Developer of many plugins/applets

  3. #3
    Babelfish's Best Boy mherger's Avatar
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    Windows: service vs. application mode

    > Those that still like to be able to run SlimServer as a service is
    > probably also willing to do some configuration work to set it up.


    It's very simple indeed: squeezecenter.exe --install

    And if you want it to run as a service with your user privileges:
    squeezecenter.exe --install --username=.\memyselfandi --password=youknowit

    >> 3. try to install SC as a service under the user's privileges, thus
    >> enabling the service to access all the resources he is allowed to
    >> access

    > Would this even work in a multi user environment ? Which user would the
    > service be configured for ?


    For the guy who's installing. Multiuser yes, but that user would need the
    permission to access the other's music if this is desired. This is
    basically the same behaviour as on a Linux system: the
    squeezecenter/slimserver user must have access to your music, or it won't
    work. On Windows the plan would just be to use some existing user.

    > I vote for option 2, although I'm probably not the right person to ask
    > since I hardly use Windows at all on my home computers anymore.


    Thanks for you vote anyway.

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    Michael

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    http://www.herger.net/SlimCD - your SlimServer on a CD
    http://www.herger.net/slim - AlbumReview, Biography, MusicInfoSCR

  4. #4
    Senior Member Philip Meyer's Avatar
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    Windows: service vs. application mode

    I vote 3. Services are generally a good thing. If a PC does have multi-users, users don't want to hear their music stop when someone logs out for another user to log in. More and more PC home users are using multi-user environments, esp. since Vista, which is trying to encourage that kind of setup.

    Would configuring the windows service to run with user account permissions allow the service to access other processes via OLE? I hear that is why I can't run the iTunesUpdate plugin in active mode, as the service can't communicate with iTunes.

    Phil

  5. #5
    Craig, James \(IT\)
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    Windows: service vs. application mode

    I couldn't get SlimServer to do any OLE actions even when configured as
    a user owned service.

    Personally, I get no advantage from SlimServer being a service. I'm the
    only user on my PC, and when it's on, I'm logged in.
    I expect this is the way the majority of Windows users (*note* not forum
    members!) use SlimServer.

    James
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  6. #6
    Babelfish's Best Boy mherger's Avatar
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    Windows: service vs. application mode

    > I vote 3. Services are generally a good thing.

    Your a geek :-).

    > If a PC does have multi-users, users don't want to hear their music stop when someone logs out for another user to log in. More and more PC home users are using multi-user environments, esp. since Vista, which is trying to encourage that kind of setup.


    They shall use fast user switching (or whatever it is called).

    > Would configuring the windows service to run with user account permissions allow the service to access other processes via OLE? I hear


    No idea. I've only tested our cases where we want to access a network share and the user's registry (to find the iTunes XML file etc.). Did you ever test it?

    Michael


  7. #7
    Senior Member matthijskoopmans's Avatar
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    Service is the way to go. I have run SlimServer under XP and under Vista, with the same great results as a service. With SqueezeCenter, there is the possibility of the services not shutting down when upgrading (i.e. MySQL, SqueezeCenter, and the Tray utility). However, these problems only occur during upgrade installation, and I am certain that with the RTM version of SqueezeCenter, they will be resolved. For the rest, SqueezeCenter is extremely stable, and the performance is phenomenal compared to 6.5.x (love the new interface as well)

    On the user permissions: I do not run iTunes, so I cannot comment on that. MusicIP runs as a service as well, so that is not an issue. However, there might be a possibility to have the service configured as a user on the iTunes library? Has anyone contacted Microsoft regarding this? Certainly Logitech have the connections. Otherwise, MSDN might provide the answer. There is quite a bit of documentation published on how to make the most effective use of the Microsoft platform.

    Running as a user program is NOT recommended, as there are many instances where VISTA is configured multi user. Especially with the new parental control accounts in VISTA, multi-user is becoming more frequently used. A good way around the permissions on the music folder is using the public music folder, which is shared across the users (by default, it is not shared over the "cloud").

    Finally, I believe there is a third option: both. MusicIP comes with a client, and as a service. Users can choose what they are most comfortable with. However, it seems a bit odd to have a pure server role (which is what SqueezeCenter performs) running as a user client...

    Just my 2 cents...

    Cheers

    Matt

  8. #8
    Senior Member JJZolx's Avatar
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    It's a server, so run it as such.

    The trouble is that you're trying to integrate your server with user applications, but haven't a clue how to do this when there are multiple users on the system. Are mult-user systems unique to the Windows environment?

  9. #9
    Babelfish's Best Boy mherger's Avatar
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    Windows: service vs. application mode

    > Service is the way to go.

    I'll add your vote to the list.

    > (love the new interface as well)


    Great, thanks!

    > On the user permissions: I do not run iTunes, so I cannot comment on
    > that. MusicIP runs as a service as well, so that is not an issue.


    iTunes only is an issue because we try to find the user's iTunes XML file automatically. This requires reading the user's registry branch. This can only be done when SC is run in the user's context. If we had the user look for the XML file manually, we wouldn't have this discussion... I think our main problem is that we want the flexibility of the service with the ease of a standard application. But MS decided that you'd need at least a MSCE to manage services :-).

    > However, there might be a possibility to have the service configured as
    > a user on the iTunes library?


    I'm not sure what you mean. We don't need iTunes running.

    > Finally, I believe there is a third option: both.


    That's where we already are: all three options are already there, but they need some manual work. The question is what the default should be.

    Michael

  10. #10
    Senior Member erland's Avatar
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    Michael, I'm sure you are already aware of this, but I'll just mention it anyway.

    The answers you are going to get from users in the Developers section of the forum, or in any section of the forum for that matter, probably is from users who are pretty experienced with computers. So the answers you get here is probably not from the people that have most problem with todays solution.

    In my opinion it's not about which option that is the best in an perfect environment, it's about which option that works good enough for most users and doesn't cause a support headache.

    SqueezeCenter is a server software, so in a ideal work it should clearly run as a service, but my opinion is that running it as an application will probably be good enough for most users and cause less support issues. I think the developing time would be much better spent by improving stuff that gives you better browsing, searching and music listening functionality.
    Erland Isaksson (My homepage)
    Developer of many plugins/applets

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