Linux Media Servers

Digital / WiFi / iPod Media Discussion
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bob p
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Post by bob p » Mon Sep 24, 2007 5:00 pm

this project looks very cool, at jimmyneutron.org: a home made Win XP-based Meedio server:

Image

essentially, its a PC that's been converted to a touch screen interface, and it uses a high quality soundcard. you have digital or analog outs to your stereo.

it was built as a project to emulate the functions of the McIntosh media server.

it still relies on a soundcard, and it still requires booting up and running yet another PC. sigh.

i like everything about the transport that ToyMaker suggested... except is $2000 price tag. for $2k, i'd expect a graphical display, not a couple of lines of text.

for $300 their squeezebox product looks really interesting.

the linux geek deep inside of me keeps thinking about a roll-your-own sort of project. i've got this old 500 MHz laptop that's just crying to have its display salvaged to be used in some sort of Xserver project like the one from Jimmyneutron. oh, if i only had an endless amount of time to tweak and tinker...
Carver Preamps: C-1, C-2, BillD's JVD-modded C-4000, C-9
Carver Amplifiers: BillD's C-500, M-1.5t (4) PM-1.5 (4) M-500t (2)
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radioeng2
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Post by radioeng2 » Mon Sep 24, 2007 8:05 pm

Hi Guys,
I'm enjoying the conversation even though I don't get all the deep OS stuff. I guess I'm a little surprised to see so much time, effort and expense go into all these devices when drive storage is so cheap today.

I got told to buy a back up drive last week and without time for shopping at all, went down to the local CompUSA and picked up an outboard USB 1 terebyte drive for $250. Not to mention that we all know internal drives are bigger and way cheaper than that.

So why bother with imitation audio at all? When its tough to get any digital to sound good, why go to all the trouble with the gyrations to get or reduce real music down?

The portable arguement doesn't even make sense to me. My wife's 80g Ipod holds plenty of music for a full weeks worth of listening. And thats real linear audio too. Heck, thats hundreds of songs. Once a week I can load her up and she's good to go. I've ripped in somewhere around 600 of my Jazz CD's and thousands of cuts, all linear. And then through "connections", ok from work, I've got on other drives, I think 4 different complete radio formats. And it's all linear audio completely. I can't think of any reason to bother with the lesser stuff.

But one thing I'd suggest as an alternate to all the money on the lo-fi streaming products is just extending from a real machine in the back room of the house to your sound room. You can use a KVM extender and get the screen, keyboard and mouse to where ever you need with one run of Cat. About $225 is what I've been getting those for. Cybex extenders have been around for ever. This lets you leave the noisy machine somewhere else. No need for the low speed silent fans that leave your box hot enough to fry eggs on.

And then the really cool part of extending is a couple different ways of getting audio to your listening rig. One simply way is if you have a balanced out sound card (don't try this with unbalanced analog) and a compatible input preamp, is to just use the cat twisted pair to route your balanced audio right from the back room in. This works very well, noise is very well rejected from the tightly twisted pairs and I've got analog audio running thru past all kinds of things that could be noise sources and don't have any problem. Never heard anything like a buzz, click or pop at all!

Then another cool way is to extend from the computer via a USB extender. You can find more expensive ones, but I've been using some of the ones made for security camera's that run around a $100, probably cheaper by looking around the web. So then, again with a cat run, you can get the USB right to your rack to either a USB stand alone sound card like a cheap Soundblaster, or use something similar to serve out a digital connect to a better DAC. Or in Dreamers case, with the USB Benchmark, he can just USB jumper from the extender right into the DAC.

So for two cat runs, and about $350 in extenders, (or a $100 if sending balanced analog) you can use a regular computer with normal drives and serve yourself real audio and still web surf at the same time for artist info or whatever.

In the end its all about getting audio good enough to relax by, be motivated by or be moved by. If you can't get into the music with emotion, then we might be better off to go mow the lawn.

weitrhino
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Post by weitrhino » Mon Sep 24, 2007 9:47 pm

bob p wrote:
i'll take a look at Jimmy Neutron's site and see what's up. thanks.

Edit -- he doesn't have a link to his site in his forum profile. darn.

Got a link?


Try it here: http://www.jimmyneutron.org

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garcianc
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Post by garcianc » Mon Sep 24, 2007 10:18 pm

Toy Maker wrote:I DARE SOMEONE TO BUY ONE
Be quiet! My wallet might hear you.

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garcianc
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Post by garcianc » Mon Sep 24, 2007 10:45 pm

radioeng2 wrote:Hi Guys,
I'm enjoying the conversation even though I don't get all the deep OS stuff. I guess I'm a little surprised to see so much time, effort and expense go into all these devices when drive storage is so cheap today.
My server also runs MythTV (a free Tivo-like program) which records at around 1.2GB for 30 minutes of video. Even though I "only" have about 500 songs on my server, I sometimes wonder if my 1.5TB is enough.
The portable arguement doesn't even make sense to me.
Although this thread started as a hijack of a portable audio thread, we are mostly talking about storing and distributing music. That's why the emphasis on storage.
But one thing I'd suggest as an alternate to all the money on the lo-fi streaming products is just extending from a real machine in the back room of the house to your sound room.
We sort of do that already. My server sits behind a wall. I use an Addesso WKB-3000UB wireless keyboard/trackball like this one:
Image
One simply way is if you have a balanced out sound card (don't try this with unbalanced analog) and a compatible input preamp, is to just use the cat twisted pair to route your balanced audio right from the back room in.
Sounds interesting. This never occurred to me. My Outlaw 990 has balanced inputs... If I ever get real serious about upgrading my server, I might try it.

With media servers, everybody who builds one has a different idea or need. In my case, I want to be able to serve any computer in the house any content they want in addition to serving my home theatre.

Keep the geek talk coming!

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garcianc
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Post by garcianc » Mon Sep 24, 2007 10:56 pm

bob p,
I think I have seen that project before on the MODS thread. I wish I had those hardware skills...
I am with you on rolling our own. I know I could have just bought a Tivo, a Windows Media Center PC, and/or a squeezebox but that would be like asking a Hot Rod aficionado why doesn't he just go out and buy a new car. Building the thing is half the fun.

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bob p
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Post by bob p » Tue Sep 25, 2007 12:14 pm

radioeng2 wrote:I'm enjoying the conversation even though I don't get all the deep OS stuff. I guess I'm a little surprised to see so much time, effort and expense go into all these devices when drive storage is so cheap today.
For me, drive storage being so cheap today is exactly why I'm doing the linux fileserver thing. Its so cheap to buy big hard drives and stuff them into an otherwise useless old PC that's been pressed into service as a file server.

One of the things that bloated GUI operating systems and applications does to computers is to continually increase the amount of CPU speed and memory that's needed to have a tolerable desktop computer. that tends to push lots of people into the upgrade cycle, where they trash a perfectly good, older PC because they don't know how to do something useful with it.

In contrast, a non-GUI file server for a limited number of clients (like in the home) doesn't need to have any real CPU speed or memory at all. With Linux, that old Pentium 200 PC that you were thinking about throwing away can make an excellent file server. The CPU, memory, and the hard disks are fast enough to keep the data flowing out through the network, which tends to be the bottleneck.

For me, at least, the idea of the linux media server was to get something for nothing. For the price of the hard disk storage, I was able to build fileservers out of old PCs that would have otherwise been destined for a landfill.

I guess that I share your opinion then, that I don't understand why those expensive interfaces are even required. Any geek with knowledge and time on his hands can perform the same task at a fraction of the cost of the commercial units. I guess that the reason that the commercial units are popular is because its easier for most people to buy a turnkey solution than it is to roll their own.

my geeky preference for doing all of this is to have a remote storage server, like you mentioned. mine are in the basement. instead of running a balanced line upstairs from the basement, to a preamp with balanced inputs, my approach is to transmit the signal via twisted pair Ethernet. the only thing that i need to complete the puzzle is the ethernet device that hooks up to the stereo. i guess the ethernet based KVM over IP boxes would be a good solution for that, though i had been thinking more along the lines of an embedded linux type device.

the bottom line (for me at least) is that i still need some sort of GUI appliance at the stereo system interface to select songs from the network server. one thing that appeals to me about the linux projects is that its easy to roll your own, but the downside is that its harder to make it silent and sleek in appearance. the commercial devices are both silent and sleek, but seem to lack the screen which makes a PC-based solution seem so much better.


keep reading radioeng2, garcianc and i are going to convert you into an OS geek. ;)
Carver Preamps: C-1, C-2, BillD's JVD-modded C-4000, C-9
Carver Amplifiers: BillD's C-500, M-1.5t (4) PM-1.5 (4) M-500t (2)
Repair/Restoration/Upgrade expert for all of these components.

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