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I have an unusual idea for a Car PC and would appreciate your input.
The impetus for this idea is that I currently have most of the hardware I need to do this - a DC- to-DC power supply, mini-ITX case and motherboard, and an external 2.5" hard drive. The things I lack are 1) an in-dash (or any other type of) touchscreen and/or 2) the $ to buy one. What I DO have, though - every time I get in my car - is my smartphone. So here's my idea...
1. Create a Genre/Album/Artist folder structure (with folder.jpg images for each genre, artist and album) and fill my little 2.5" hard drive with music such that each album folder contains a .m3u playlist file. (Supplementally, a folder of custom playlists would also exist.)
2. Create a script that runs on startup that scans the drive for playlist files and writes html files (using folder.jpg files for the page backgrounds) with links to the playlist files.
3. Run a web server on the PC
4. Access the web server via my smartphone. During the scanning process the home page would say, "Scanning - please wait". When the scan is complete, the page is refreshed and links are displayed for Genres, Artists, Albums and Playlists.
So, by scanning the drive at startup every time, I can - any time I want - add additional content to the drive by simply unplugging it, taking it into the house, and copying stuff onto it (making sure that there's a playlist file and folder.jpg for each new album/artist.) And by using folder.jpg files, I can create a nice GUI.
The only problems I can foresee are:
A. I'm not sure how to get the Car PC to operate as a DHCP server and assign my smartphone an IP address.
B. I'm not sure how long it will take my anemic little Atom-based motherboard to do its scan and generate the html files.
C. Because this is basically a headless system, I don't need a GUI or desktop manager - but I will need a command line media player. (Recommendations?)
Thanks for the link! Maybe I didn't explain my idea well but what I have in mind bears only a slight resemblance to MPD. First, it's not a proprietary server; it merely generates HTML pages to be served up by any (php capable) web server. As such, no client app needs to be installed; the client device only needs to have a web browser. Also, my imementation would scan the drive for new content each time the server starts up. I don't think there's anything like that in MPD. In general, I think this is dramatically more simple than MPD.
Distribution: Debian Sid AMD64, Raspbian Wheezy, various VMs
MPD will scan for new files on startup if that's how you configure it.
The HTML front-ends for MPD are exactly what you describe -- they're web pages on the server machine that any client can open and use. Even VLC and mplayer will give you that kind of functionality. I don't use a web server on my PC personally but I control the MPD instance on it using a couple of MPD clients on my netbook. For VLC there's a plugin which adds a web server so on my netbook or iPad I just open the web page to control it.
I do think this is a solved problem -- you just need a media player you can script to update its music collection on boot and which supports an HTML front end. There are lots that fit the bill.
Let me be the first to remind you of the hazards of using a smart phone while driving...
OK, Dad! But seriously, in this application, we could just as easily be talking about an iPod. Your point is noted, and I agree that it would be advisable to navigate this system and make a music selection before pulling out of the driveway (or at a stoplight) rather than while driving -- but I think the ease of system navigation and music selection would take one's eyes off the road little more than operating a Sirius/XM Radio or a car stereo loaded with CDs or an attached MP3 player.
That said you will need to find a wireless adapter that is capable of master mode. This is required to create a wireless access point. Configuring a DHCP server is not difficult.
Cool idea though I doubt I'd use it. I tend to start an album or playlist and just let it run. Pause might be nice, though. Especially for audiobook listening on long road trips. Now, if I could have such control via a small (RF not infrared) wireless remote that's affixed to the steering wheel...!
When it comes to adding tracks, could you have a USB port accessible somewhere in the car, and a script to scan any storage device you plug in and copy any sound files to the collection? The same script could read mp3/ogg headers to generate .m3us, and maybe delete the oldest files on the hard drive to make room.
I guess it would be better to dump the playlist in a database of some sort and when you add new music say rescan or add directory or create the html files when you have added the new music so you don have to bother the poor atom with it.