Can someone recommend the best software to use for a homemade Digital Photo Frame?
October 22, 2008 3:44 AM   Subscribe

I have just built my first WiFi Photo Frame, by converting an old laptop and adding a picture frame to it. I now want to find the best software to use with it to display photos, videos and newsfeeds. I am stuck with Windows XP (memory issues on lappie) and my specs are 1.6Ghz Processor, 256 MB Ram and intergrated graphics.

I am looking for either a screensaver, or some software that I can run that can display the following, these are listed in order of importance:

- random photos from a variety of folders and sub-folders
- random videos from the same folders as the photos
- RSS feeds (preferably over the photos, or separate too them) that can show news updates, or just a program that shows news headlines
- anything else cool (like a globe like the Wii News thingy, or PS3s Life)

Cheers in advance.
posted by prupert to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Are you really truly stuck with Windows XP? There are any number of Linux distros that will run with less hardware than you have, and endless cute screen hacks are available.

That said, Picasa should give you at least as much photo-display flexibility as you need (free as in beer, runs on Windows or Linux).
posted by flabdablet at 4:20 AM on October 22, 2008

Response by poster: Oddly I am stuck with Windows XP - for now. Ubuntu seems to wig out when running the live CD (trying to install from or just run it) - some form of kernal panic I think. I managed to get DSL to run, but I couldn't work out how to install it (I am not a command line ninja yet) and Slax installed fine, but wouldn't work with my WiFi card.

In theory if I change one of the memory sticks that might fix the memory problems, so I'd like to hear of any good screensaver hacks for Linux that you would recommend to fulfill my requirements. Cheers for the prompt answer btw.
posted by prupert at 4:28 AM on October 22, 2008

I'm also interested in a good Linux solution for this -- I have some old laptops waiting for a project -- and I'd like to throw in the notion of remote control for prupert to consider.

If it's running a web-server, for example, you can control it all from a distance, across the room or over the internet.

And that is what I'd love to give my grandmother. I'll change the pics for her from 3000 miles away. :)
posted by rokusan at 4:54 AM on October 22, 2008

256MB is well under the 384MB minimum for the standard Ubuntu installer. Xubuntu is a better fit for your hardware if you want to stick with the Ubuntu family.

My own laptop's wifi card isn't supported natively on Linux, but works OK using ndiswrapper and the Windows driver supplied by the manufacturer.

Both gnome-screensaver and xscreensaver have slideshow screensavers available. I've used Ubuntu and xscreensaver before to make a simple slideshow kiosk out of an old computer and monitor (no keyboard or mouse required).

Laptops often have infrared ports built in, so you might have some fun working out how to control your picture frame with a TV remote, using LIRC. rokusan's idea about really remote remote control is cute too.
posted by flabdablet at 6:36 AM on October 22, 2008

With a debian/ubuntu/kubuntu install, you could set up widgets (screenlets, desklets) to handle RSS headline/weather/whatever feeds, set to stay on top of other windows. Then run mirage (in debian repos) below that with the command line arguments to suit your photo needs. For videos, I assume it would be easy to script something like this that would pipe something into vlc and then cron that script to run every 15-30 mins for a video highlight. VLC has a ridiculous amount of CLI options, so you can even tell it to shut down after playing x minutes of video, and launch without window decorations.
posted by cowbellemoo at 6:41 AM on October 22, 2008

flabdablet makes a great point about xubuntu. You could also try installing ubuntu with the alternate install CD (command line). Though you're still on the border of usability once you can boot from the HD with that amount of ram. That may or may not effect what kind of widgets you can display, especially if you go with the xfce desktop (does it have widgets, too?). But you could always go with conky if you had to.
posted by cowbellemoo at 6:49 AM on October 22, 2008

What memory is your laptop using? I have loads of 256 mb sticks in pc2100 and pc133 laying about on my desk that will never see use again. Yours for the taking if it will work for you.
posted by a3matrix at 6:51 AM on October 22, 2008

Response by poster: I have DDR PC2700 sadly - but thanks loads for the offer, that is very kind of you ;)
posted by prupert at 9:44 AM on October 22, 2008

Response by poster: Sorry, I should have mentioned, I was using the Xubuntu version ;)

I would love to have some kinda remote control, but my lappie has no IR port. I was thinking of messing around with a bluetooth dongle and my mobile to make it turn the screen on when I walk near, but I'd need to find a dongle with a tiny range, since I work from home ;)

I'm currently just using VNC to do what I want.

Good answers so far though. Thanks.

I might have found what I need btw: seems to fit my needs, found via donationcoder, so thanks to them also.
posted by prupert at 9:48 AM on October 22, 2008

I made a walltop a little while ago also. I've since switched to Puppy Linux on a CF card, but when I first built it I had WinXP on a hard drive too. What I did for the extras was to have a slidehow (made with irfanview) running in the background and to also have Yahoo Widget Engine installed. I drilled a hole in the side of my frame and mounted a button, then soldered the button wires to F8 on a keyboard controller (which you can harvest from an old keyboard) that was plugged into the laptop boards PS/2 port. So it's the just the pictures normally, then when you want to know the weather or whatever you press the button and widgets appear. Of course, if you just wanted to have the widget available all the time, you could do that too.

Also, sidenote: 1.6Ghz is going to be overkill most of the time. If you aren't already, I suggest using SpeedswitchXP to keep the processor downclocked so you can run cooler.
posted by tracert at 10:48 AM on October 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

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