How do you share 2 iPods and 3 PC's?
August 14, 2005 9:38 AM   Subscribe

How do you share 2 iPods and 3 PC's? My fiancee and I are getting married and would like to combine our collections (ah, cohabitational bliss!)

Here's the setup:

- 1 Sony laptop (XP, has iTunes,. my iPod setup)
- 1 Dell laptop (XP, doesn't have iTunes or iPod setup yet)
- 1 desktop PC for fiancee (XP, iTunes, her iPod setup)
- 1 shared broadband connection (Comcast cable modem)
- 1 WiFi router (for laptops, desktop connected directly)

As part of getting married, my fiancee and I are starting to combine our music collections. We both have iPods and iTunes setup on our individual machines. We've probably bought about 200 tracks from the iTMS since last year and ripped over 600 CD's (all that we own). Right now, everything is haphazardly spread over her desktop and my laptop, so it's rather unwieldly.

And now, to enter the mix, my employer has provided me with a newish Dell laptop to use for home and work. I'd still like to listen to our music, but I don't want to have to copy over gigs of music to the new hard drive.

Also, our machiens are not networked together yet, so I know I'll have to figure out how to share the two together. We're also thinking of buying a networkable printer to replace the aging EPSON inkjet we have. I don't think you can "share" it, so it makes sense to buy a networked version.

Here's what I'd like to do:

- Put all our tracks on the Sony laptop to act as a Music box/server

- Enable her desktop and my Dell laptop to "share" or access the music seamlessly through our iTunes.

- Set something up so we can play our iTunes on our home stereo in the living room when we have company.

I know there's a lot here, so I appreciate any and all help you can provide. Do I need to de-authorize our machines? Re-authorize them? Do I need to purchase Anapod Explorer or ephPod (or something similar)? Would the AirPort Express work for us?

Thanks in advance.
posted by zooropa to Technology (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My gf and I do this, but our setup may be more complex than one you're looking for.

One of the biggest problems with sharing off of laptops is that your laptop has to be on all of the time. This can be maddening, and it's especially difficult when you or your fiancee takes the music laptop somewhere -- even if it's just outside of wi-fi range. I have a mac-mini-like small-form-factor PC that slips in the TV stand in addition to our laptops, and so we're using that as a server. They're not expensive; mine probably cost around $500 fully equipped. I'd also recommend that the server and laptop you put all of your music on has a wired network connection; even in small spaces, wi-fi can be a little bit fruity with music streamed off of a wireless server (unexpected wireless interference through a microwave, etc.)

First, an "easy" solution -- easy to set up, but slightly more inconvenient:

Install and run Windows and iTunes on that server, and copy all of the files to that server. In the iTunes preferences, set up the server to share your music, and you can just let it run and you'll see the server's name show up in iTunes on the laptops. That's great for playing music on the laptops off of the server, but you have three problems: getting the music to load on your iPods (you can't do that from an iTunes share), playing the music on your stereo without using the server machine, and getting music *onto* the server.

You'll want to set up Windows file sharing on the server by right-clicking on the folders you keep your music in, selecting Sharing, and then setting it up to allow you to read and write to those directories. Depending on how different your tastes are, you can create different folders for both of your collections, allowing you to easily create different playlists for the two of you. You can then browse your network neighborhood for the server machine and copy the files directly (or, copy old files off to put on your iPod). You'll then need to import those files into iTunes on the server manually. When you rip CDs or buy tracks from iTunes, you'd do it from the server.

When playing with the stereo, you can either use the server machine manually, or you can purchase an Apple Airport Express, a Roku Soundbridge, or a Sqeezebox to connect to your stereo. The Airport Express will allow you to use Airtunes to wirelessly send music to your stereo, the soundbridge and the squeezebox have external interfaces (and, nicely, external displays).

The slightly more advanced solution (this is what we do):

We're running Linux (Gentoo, but that doesn't matter) with three applications:

Calliope (a web-controlled music jukebox)
mt-daapd (an application to make a Linux music library show up in iTunes on other PCs)
Samba (an application to do Windows-style file sharing)

With those three apps, we can copy music onto the Samba shares in network neighborhood or in the finder on the Mac, and we have scripts set up in cron (a UNIX utility to schedule things to run) to add the music to Calliope and mt-daapd every night. Calliope sits and plays random music to the stereo unless we select other music on its web interface; if we're elsewhere in the house or want to use headphones, our library shows up in iTunes with the server name. In addition, mt-daapd allows you to set up multiple playlists, so I have playlists for myself, my gf, and her daughter. If we want to copy music to our iPods, it's all in those Samba directories in Network Neighborhood (or the Finder). It's a solution that takes forever to set up, but it's really nice when it's up and running.

In terms of authorizing and reauthorizing? My advice is to re-rip and burn as much to MP3 as you possibly can. Not only should you burn discs in order to back up your music (especially if that music's on an iPod), but sharing files in DRMed format across a network and multiple iPods, even with iTunes, can be incredibly awkward, especially if you want to copy them to multiple iTunes.

You don't need to purchase Anapod or ephPod, but they may come in handy if you want to take music down from your iPods onto your server, and may make it a bit easier to get files off of the server and back onto the iPod rather than re-import off of the shared directories back into iTunes on the "remote" laptops.

I realize that this has glossed over quite a bit -- Live Preview is groaning and aching under the length of this post. If any segment needs clarification, let me know.
posted by eschatfische at 10:19 AM on August 14, 2005

Also, you can use Windows networking to share almost any printer, including old non-network printers. Don't assume you'll have to buy a new one to replace your Epson if you don't want to.
posted by eschatfische at 10:20 AM on August 14, 2005

We are a desktop, 2 laptop household, 2 iPod household, on a wireless Airport Express network.

We've got all of our music on the desktop (on an external firewire drive)(62GB/almost 12000 songs). Each of us has a login on the desktop, and the iPods are associated to the iTunes on those accounts. The laptops can stream the music from the desktop using the iTunes 'sharing'.

The cable is connected to an Airport Express. We have another Airport Express connected to the stereo in the kitchen. This lets us share the music to the other end of the house. The desktop or either of the laptops can control this.

An old HP USB printer is also plugged into the Airport Express upstairs and is available to all of the computers in the house.
posted by john m at 12:35 PM on August 14, 2005

You absolutely need data mirroring/RAID. The main hard drive will fail eventually. Even if you have backup copies of everything, the effort involved in getting the data back where it belongs is much worse than the cost of a second drive. Software drive mirroring is perfectly acceptable, some would even say better.

You should just have a dedicated file server. Any old PC will do if you don't want to dedicate the desktop you describe above for the role. $500 is way way way too much money unless you want the fashion/sex appeal of those mac things (you can get an off lease PIII with moderate sex appeal for under $100, not sure if it has space for 2 HDs though). Of course it doesn't have to be dedicated...
posted by Chuckles at 8:37 PM on August 14, 2005

I would dump the MP3 files in a mapped network folder, then use Winamp with the Dynamic Library plugin for PC based playback and ml_iPod to control the iPod transfers.
posted by prostyle at 11:30 AM on August 15, 2005

« Older Where can I get green tomatoes in New York?   |   property info Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.