Is there a wireless media center that will work with Linux rather than Windows?
December 19, 2004 8:32 AM   Subscribe

Wireless Media Centers. I've ripped all my CDs to mp3 files and am looking at 802.11b or g unit to connect to my stereo/tv to browse and play music. However, all that I've seen (netgear, linksys, creative) all require a Windows based server to drive the device. Are there any out there that will work with a simple shared volume off a linux server?

Currently I'm using a small formfactor pc running linux/netjuke/xmms with a tv out card and it works well enough, however it's a bit too loud compared to the other stereo components and the ease of use isn't quite there. Worst case I can use another windows system to feed such a device from a share mounted from the linux server, however I'd like to cut out that requirement if I can find something that works directly with linux.

posted by beowulf573 to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
If you have money to burn Sonos is just what you might be looking for.
posted by riffola at 8:42 AM on December 19, 2004

I did this kind of like your current setup with a few changes. First, I wrote a very simple menuing system. It actually encompasses movies, music, video games (mam, nes, snes), etc. It's pretty nice. Navigation requires only arrow keys and enter. I'm still half looking for a usb-infrared reader that would be easy to integrate. Anyway I'd be happy to send you some info about what I've got. That linux box does lots of other things for my house. It's the local file server, ftp server, does bit torrent downloads, is occaisonally a test web server, email server, etc.

For sound output I am using a creative audigy, which has an optical out. You mention yours is a bit loud... have you used something like aumix or xmixer to turn it down a bit?

For video output I'm using a normal video card with a VGA-to-TV converter. These are about $50, have decent output, and don't require that you have special software or drivers installed on your box. My menu app runs in full screen under X but it's framless so it just looks like it's taken over the full screen. The menu program calls mplayer to play the songs, and mplayer has good control via stdin so it's pretty easy to pause, fast forward, etc.
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:48 AM on December 19, 2004

Have you checked out the Squeezebox? It does need a server to drive it, but it is written in perl and runs fine on a Linux box.
posted by smackfu at 9:09 AM on December 19, 2004

I use the Gateway DVD player and like it. It needs a Windows based program to run, but all the media is on another computer.
posted by adampsyche at 9:43 AM on December 19, 2004

I've heard good things about the Roku SoundBridge. There's some mention of using non-windows connectivity... but I haven't tried it myself. If you're feeling rich and geeky, though....
posted by theFlyingSquirrel at 10:31 AM on December 19, 2004

The Slim Devices Squeezebox is your best bet for what's on today's market. Their server software is open source, is a free download off their web site, and supports Windows, Mac and Linux.

Personally, I'm partial to the regrettably discontinued Turtle Beach Audiotron. You turn it on, it scans the network, it finds all of the MP3s on every SMB share it has access to, and you're in business -- no compatibility issues. It was released back in 2001, and except for 802.11b support (you need to buy a cheap wireless bridge for it if you want to do wireless), it did (and still does, for those who have one) pretty much everything today's MP3 players do. It won awards from all the major magazines, it developed a rabid fan base, it was cheaper than the Squeezebox... and then it was unceremoniously dumped by Turtle Beach. Oh well. If you can find one used, check it out.
posted by eschatfische at 10:35 AM on December 19, 2004

I have a Roku Soundbridge. I like the industrial design better than the Squeezebox. However, it'll use the SlimServer software just fine. Alternately, you can install a daap server on your Linux box -- that makes it look like iTunes to other machines on your network, and browsing from the Soundbridge is seamless.
posted by kindall at 10:37 AM on December 19, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks, the Roku Soundbridge looks to be just the thing. The linux daap server, digital out, and remote meet my big requirements.

The Squeezebox is close too, I'll some more reading and try to decide.

The volume I mentioned with my current box is really due to the hard drive and the fan. I had considered putting together a compact flash based mini-itx system and then writing custom browsing software, however I've come to accept that my time is limited and I can only do so many projects. Much to my dismay.
posted by beowulf573 at 12:46 PM on December 19, 2004

(if the devices require a Windows-based server, by which I assume you mean SMB, couldn't you set up a Samba share on the *nix box?)
posted by neckro23 at 1:06 PM on December 19, 2004

I own two Squeezeboxes and have been using them for more than a year. They're really fantastic, no complaints at all. Server works fine on Linux; I'm happily serving about 45 gigs of MP3 all over my house.
posted by Nelson at 3:39 PM on December 19, 2004

Response by poster: Unfortunately, when I say windows based server I mean a Windows service or desktop app that must be running to feed data to the device. None available now seem to be able to just scan a SMB share.

I picked a Roku Soundbridge last night, it's almost great I like the design and interface. Unfortunately I didn't check the compatibility list and my wireless router is one listed as a poor performer. Sure enough it's buffering all the time. Luckily, Best Buy has a Dlink router on sale with rebate for $10 that is listed as a good choice, so I'll pick one up during lunch and give it a go tonight.
posted by beowulf573 at 5:39 AM on December 20, 2004

Response by poster: A quick followup for anyone who finds this thread...

The Roku wouldn't work with my Netgear WGR614v4 wireless hub, luckily Best Buy had a Dlink DI-514 802.11b router for $10 after rebate.

Installed it, moved the devices as close as I could, and could browse using iTunes as a server but could not play. After much yelling and stamping, I tried running mt-daapd directly on my linux box and everything's running great. Which is fine as this is my preferred configuration.

I'm not sure why iTunes does work, it may be a firewall/norton anti-virus issue, but frankly I'm tired of dealing with it and don't care.
posted by beowulf573 at 6:25 PM on December 20, 2004

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