Linux Media Servers

Digital / WiFi / iPod Media Discussion
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bob p
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Linux Media Servers

Post by bob p » Mon Sep 24, 2007 1:58 pm

Instead of hijacking the MP# / iPod / CD / LP thread with talk of Linux File Servers, I thought I'd start a new thread in response to this post:
garcianc wrote:
Toy Maker wrote: Ok, not to knock you, but you will need something better than iTunes to listen to FLAC files, I have DL'd a few FLAC albums, and they DO sound as good as a CD, I think.
iTunes won't play FLAC files I learned. One of the reasons I still use Winamp with the free FLAC addon.
I only use iTunes to load my iPod, and iPhone...

At home or in the office I use Winamp
I'm not an iTunes expert but, if you can get the proper codec loaded, you should be able to listen to FLAC files on your platform of choice. FLAC is "Lossless", as the name implies, so it should sound pretty close to the CD recording. Of course, unless you have a decent sound card, you may not get the full benefit. FLAC files are also pretty big which makes the convenience argument lose ground. I personally don't recommend the format for "portable" use (i.e. iPod, car), since almost anywhere you take music with you is going to be a noisy environment.

I have a combination of FLACs and MP3s in my media server, which runs Linux. I like Winamp but I prefer Amarok or VLC for streaming. The server uses my Outlaw 990 pre/pro as an external sound card (connected via USB), which means it takes advantage of the Outlaw's DACs. Although I have a couple of recordings on both FLAC and MP3 format that I can't tell apart, I also have come across some pretty painful-sounding MP3s that I just delete. I guess the saying "Your Mileage May Vary" applies particularly in this case.

There is a third (or second? who is counting?) little-discussed method of storing music in lossless format. It is definitely not portable since you are essentially making a bit-by-bit copy of the CD. With the right tools (beyond the scope of this post) you can rip your CD as an .iso image, then "mount" it as a virtual CD-ROM device when you want to play it. This is useful if you are building something like an electronic jukebox and results in no compression or degradation whatsoever. However, we are talking about 700MB per disk and is trickier to pick out individual songs.
Linux users, this is your big chance to show off your l33tness. ;)
Last edited by bob p on Mon Sep 24, 2007 2:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by bob p » Mon Sep 24, 2007 2:01 pm

i agree that lossless means lossless. the size of those lossless files are huge, and you can fill up a big hard disk with those babies in no time.

i also run Linux/KDE, and i also use Amarok. i'm not familiar with VLC. what is it?
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Carver Amplifiers: BillD's C-500, M-1.5t (4) PM-1.5 (4) M-500t (2)
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Re: Linux Media Servers

Post by bob p » Mon Sep 24, 2007 2:22 pm

garcianc wrote:The server uses my Outlaw 990 pre/pro as an external sound card (connected via USB), which means it takes advantage of the Outlaw's DACs.
I've got some questions for you about the idea of "bridging" between a network file server and the HiFi preamp inputs.

Right now I'm using Linux to host SAMBA servers for a Win/Lin network. I have multiple fileservers, all of which are stuffed to the gills with physical hard disk devices to maximize online storage. Instead of buying network storage appliances, I've just used Gentoo and some old discarded P1, P2 or P3 boxes to build the equivalent of several network storage appliances. I mount the volumes as SAMBA shares on my other PCs that may be running Win or Lin.

One of the PCs is hooked up to my big screen TV. that one uses an nVidia card with S-Video out to the TV. I find the TV out to be a less than optimal solution, partly because at comfortable working distances the resolution is better on a computer monitor than it is on the video out to the TV. the other reason is because the ergonomics of working with a computer on a TV screen just don't work for me. I'd prefer not to use the TV out and to have a real computer screen, but then I'd also prefer not to have a PC in my living room. That makes finding a good solution kind of complicated. Optimally, I'd like to find a bridging device to go between the stereo and the LAN that's designed primarily as a stereo component, perhaps with a decent sized screen, minimalist controls, and an Ethernet interface.

At present I'm still using a PC soundcard to drive the output that goes to the TV. As good as it may be, the soundcard remains the weak link in my system, so instead of sending the audio out to the main "critical" listening system, it goes to a "casual" listening system, and to the TV. Of course, I've got computer speakers on all of the PCs in the house that can also stream the audio files, but my real interest is a link to the HiFi system.

I'd like to find a suitable bridge to hook up to the Ethernet network, or even to one of the PCs via USB as you've mentioned. For the sake of convenience, it would be a lot easier to have some sort of Ethernet based HiFi interface that uses the common networking standard, is independent of operating system choice. Optimally, it would be a network based device that is totally independent of a PC for its operation. going one step further, it would be great to have a touch screen or minimalist controls, so that I can navigate through the music files on the servers without having to resort to booting up a PC and using a keyboard and a mouse to see what's on the TV screen.

anyone have ideas?
Carver Preamps: C-1, C-2, BillD's JVD-modded C-4000, C-9
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Post by garcianc » Mon Sep 24, 2007 2:31 pm

VLC is a media player which runs in Windows and Linux (I am not sure about Mac, but probably there too).

In addition to letting you play files, including full "unmounted" images of CDs and DVDs with menu support (with the proper libdvd codecs), it also lets you play streaming content if you have a video capture card or a tv tuner card. In addition to that, it lets you "broadcast" whatever you are playing through your network. It is like a swiss-army-knife of multi-media. You can also run it from the command line, so you could theoretically telnet/ssh to your machine and launch vlc with your favorite playlist and stream the content through your network.

By the way, I am a former Mandrake/Mandriva user since 1998. I recently switched to Ubuntu because the stock Mandriva kernel did not recognize the SATA drive on my server and I was too lazy to roll my own kernel. I tried Suse, Red Hat, Kubuntu/Ubuntu and only Kubuntu/Ubuntu detected all my hardware out-of-the-box.

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Post by bob p » Mon Sep 24, 2007 2:40 pm

thanks for the reply. i also started out on Mandrake and went through trials with SuSE and RedHat. I also had hardware detection & compatability problems, which seems to be the rule during that period rather than the exception. I spent quite a bit of time as a renegade developer with Gentoo, but building from source is such a time consuming PITA that I've migrated to Kubuntu for dekstop stuff. It works great out of the can, which is a dream come true for me. I still use gento for servers, just because I know the Gentoo networking configs inside out.

To be fair, almost all of the problems I had with the other distros were kernel issues, and I think that the reason that Kubuntu works so well is because the generic kernel problems were properly tackled by the generic linux kernel guys. But Kubuntu is so great a desktop platform because Shuttleworth has thrown a lot of money at the problem in his quest to unseat the Gates monopoly. gotta love that!
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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Post by Dreamer » Mon Sep 24, 2007 2:43 pm

I would suggest that you don't waste a single penny on a "good sound card", because by audiophile standards, there is no such thing. I mean how can anyone REALLY expect a sound card that costs less than a cheap Receiver to perform D/A conversion into multichannel analogue signals, AND then have any sort of decent line amps to pump that signal out? Sound cards don't even HAVE power supplies--they suck juice from your motherboard through the card connectors, bringing with god-knows-what sort of computerized digital hash. I mean really...

If you're doing most of your listening in 2-channel stereo, get whatever sort of card you need to get a standard digital signal out of your media server, either coax out on an RCA jack or TOSLINK, and spend your money on a decent DAC.

If you're doing a lot of multi-channel listening, then get the sound card, unless you have several throusand $$$ to spend on a Lexicon or some other such digital surround processor.

You will thank me...

--Richard
.....HT Rig • Sony STR-DG600 Receiver • Carver M-500t • Sony BDP-S1 • Sony DVP-NS3100ES • Apple Airport Express •
..............................• Martin Logan Scenarios, Logos • Realistic Minimus 7's • Velodyne F-1500b •

2 Ch. Rig • Carver C-4000t • Silver 7t's • Krell KAV-300i • Oppo DV-981HD • Benchmark DAC1-USB • MacBook Pro 17", iTunes •
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Re: Linux Media Servers

Post by garcianc » Mon Sep 24, 2007 3:01 pm

bob p wrote: I've got some questions for you about the idea of "bridging" between a network file server and the HiFi preamp inputs.
Some users in the Outlaw forums rave about these squeezebox devices: http://www.slimdevices.com/pi_squeezebo ... EAodJR609g[/url]
Right now I'm using Linux to host SAMBA servers for a Win/Lin network. I have multiple fileservers, all of which are stuffed to the gills with physical hard disk devices to maximize online storage.
Me too, I have also added a 500GB external USB drive to my server which I also share via Samba.
One of the PCs is hooked up to my big screen TV. that one uses an nVidia card with S-Video out to the TV. I find the TV out to be a less than optimal solution...
I am with you there. I have my server connected to a plasma monitor. I have a GeForce card with DVI output but I still prefer a PC monitor. I have tried two solutions and I kept both. By the way, my server sits behind a wall.

My first solution was to buy a Nokia 770 Linux tablet PC. This thing fits in a shirt pocket and looks a lot like an iPhone. I have my server running vncserver and the Nokia 770 running vncviewer. This allows me to run my server from anywhere in the house.

My second solution was to enable xdmcp on the server. I have a laptop that is also running Ubuntu and KDE. I simply launch another X server on the laptop on an alternate display (i.e. X 192.168.0.99 :2) and am able to login to my media server as if I was there and do whatever I need to do.
Optimally, I'd like to find a bridging device to go between the stereo and the LAN that's designed primarily as a stereo component, perhaps with a decent sized screen, minimalist controls, and an Ethernet interface.
The squeezebox that I mentioned above might get you part of the way there. If you are a Linux geek like me, I am sure you'll want to do something yourself...
I'd like to find a suitable bridge to hook up to the Ethernet network, or even to one of the PCs via USB as you've mentioned. For the sake of convenience, it would be a lot easier to have some sort of Ethernet based HiFi interface that uses the common networking standard, is independent of operating system choice. Optimally, it would be a network based device that is totally independent of a PC for its operation. going one step further, it would be great to have a touch screen or minimalist controls, so that I can navigate through the music files on the servers without having to resort to booting up a PC and using a keyboard and a mouse to see what's on the TV screen.
I am sure something like that is already out there but it won't be cheap. It was really dumb luck on my part that I bought a preamp that "acts" as an external soundcard when connected via usb. I also had a soundblaster Audigy sound card that I was ready to use, but the capability of the 990 meant one less device in the mix.
anyone have ideas?
Yeah, let's keep this thread going. Pretty interesting.

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Post by tfm75 » Mon Sep 24, 2007 3:12 pm

Higher end motherboards have digital outs and bypass the sound card all the way. This is how I run my server into my TGP ll.

Bob p. look up Jimmy Newtron and hop over to his web site. The dude knows his sh&t. He uses Meedo software on his server to be mouse, monitor & keyboard free so he uses only a remote control for the feel of a non computer server. I use it as well but no where as deep as Jimmy. By the way he's a forum member.

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Re: Linux Media Servers

Post by bob p » Mon Sep 24, 2007 3:15 pm

garcianc wrote:I am with you there. I have my server connected to a plasma monitor. I have a GeForce card with DVI output but I still prefer a PC monitor. I have tried two solutions and I kept both. By the way, my server sits behind a wall.

My first solution was to buy a Nokia 770 Linux tablet PC. This thing fits in a shirt pocket and looks a lot like an iPhone. I have my server running vncserver and the Nokia 770 running vncviewer. This allows me to run my server from anywhere in the house.

My second solution was to enable xdmcp on the server. I have a laptop that is also running Ubuntu and KDE. I simply launch another X server on the laptop on an alternate display (i.e. X 192.168.0.99 :2) and am able to login to my media server as if I was there and do whatever I need to do.
thanks. one of the things that i found so disappointing about the TV out is that its not really possible to view any detail on the video screen from across the room. i had thought about using a wireless mouse and a wireless keyboard to "drive" the PC/TVout, but text is just too hard to read from across the room. its great for slideshows and such, but its really no good for websurfing or doing any real computer work.

i like the idea of using a laptop or a PDA with WiFi to act as an Xterminal for the Xserver. essentially, you just end up using the laptop as a dumb terminal to run the server from a wireless connection. that's a great solution for the TV stuff. right now i use the PC with TVout primarily for watching ripped movies, ripped TV, DVR types of output, etc. I don't really use it for HiFi playback to my main audio system because of the "bridge" problem I mentioned earlier.
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Carver Amplifiers: BillD's C-500, M-1.5t (4) PM-1.5 (4) M-500t (2)
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Post by bob p » Mon Sep 24, 2007 3:22 pm

TFM, while i've got your attention, can i bug you to look at the manual requests thread? thanks.
tfm75 wrote:Higher end motherboards have digital outs and bypass the sound card all the way. This is how I run my server into my TGP ll.
TGP II? is that a /mexican /maxism? :lol: sorry, i don't understand that abbreviation.

thanks. as i understand it then, you can use the motherboard's digital outs to go to a DAC-in-the-box, and run the output from the DAC to the HiFi preamp. Is that what you're suggesting?

I'm wondering if there's an ethernet based option out there, in addition to motherboard outputs you've mentioned. I would really like to have the ability for the motherboard to send the digital out via the LAN card, so that I can tap into it over the network (from remote or from any PC, Mac, Linux) rather than with a direct connection. i know that somebody has to have invented this sort of wheel already, i just need to find it.

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?
Carver Preamps: C-1, C-2, BillD's JVD-modded C-4000, C-9
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Post by tfm75 » Mon Sep 24, 2007 3:37 pm

bob p wrote:
TGP II? is that a /mexican /maxism? :lol: sorry, i don't understand that abbreviation. Got a link?[/i][/quote]

Sunfire Theater Grand ll. O:)

Yes I have a link somewhere for Jimmy but I need to dig it out from my other computer later.

There is a product called a Squeeze Box that lets you stream music and video over a network in the fashion you want. There are a few companys the have there own version but read the fine print some will only do one or the other.

Now back to my yardwork ;)

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Post by Dreamer » Mon Sep 24, 2007 3:44 pm

The folks on the Martin Logan forum have been talking about the Squeezebox too. Run the digital outs through a DAC, and it can be nearly as good as a high-end CD player. But the "Transporter" made by the same company (SlimDevices, now owned by Logitech I think) is a WHOLE different matter--run that thing through a DAC, using lossless files, and it is virtually indistinguishable from CDs. Plus it's got a WAY COOL display, and is standard 19" rackmount width with handles. Digital Audio Chic at it's best...

Transporter

--Richard
.....HT Rig • Sony STR-DG600 Receiver • Carver M-500t • Sony BDP-S1 • Sony DVP-NS3100ES • Apple Airport Express •
..............................• Martin Logan Scenarios, Logos • Realistic Minimus 7's • Velodyne F-1500b •

2 Ch. Rig • Carver C-4000t • Silver 7t's • Krell KAV-300i • Oppo DV-981HD • Benchmark DAC1-USB • MacBook Pro 17", iTunes •
......• Technics SL-1350 turntable with Sumiko headshell, leads, and Bluepoint cartridge • Martin Logan Sequels •

.........................................................-+-Click Here to see my system-+-

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Post by Toy Maker » Mon Sep 24, 2007 4:32 pm

I have a Squeezebox, and it kicks ass !!!!!
http://www.carveraudio.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=3049

And for the total Digital Tweeker Audiophiles... you need this.......
Image
Image
http://www.slimdevices.com/pi_transporter.html

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Post by Toy Maker » Mon Sep 24, 2007 4:39 pm

I DARE SOMEONE TO BUY ONE

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Post by bob p » Mon Sep 24, 2007 4:55 pm

I DARE SOMEONE TO BUY ME ONE :lol:
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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