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Old 01-23-2004, 09:18 AM   #1
frank rizzo
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Registered: Jan 2004
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Linux for an audio set-up

hello all,

I've set up a stand alone computer linked to my stereo to play music files from -

at the moment it's running Win2000 (with only 5 programs loaded - Winamp, MEXP, Plextools, MP3Tag and Monkeys audio) and no soundcard (I use an external DAC).

However this seems a bit big and unwieldy for the specialised purpose I use the computer for and it takes ages to boot up.

Plus as the 'computer' (an old 266MHz Dell box) should be thought of as a hi-fi I need something that boots up fast (2-3 secs max).

After some investigation I came across LinuxBIOS which looks interesting.

So now I'm seriously considering whether to use Linux instead.

However my questions are:

assuming I use Linux - which distro should I use? I would like something which is minimal (I saw Damn Small Linux but from my brief reading it looks like I need something smaller).

Would the switch to Linux be worth it? - I'm thinking in terms of the amount of time it has taken me to find Windows software that rips CDs (EAC or Plextools), compresses the WAVs (monkeys audio or mpc), manages the tags (MP3Tag - which also writes apev2 tags) acts as a jukebox (MEXP) and plays the files (Winamp or foobar2000).

I know a lot of the above stuff can be done in Linux (Monkeys for instance is I believe is being ported to Linux) but the music manager, MEXP, took me ages to find and is unique in the Windows world - I would be surprised if there is a Linux program better.... so would it be viable to run Winamp and MEXP under WINE?

Lastly is Linux able to handle USB2.0?

many thanks
(for those who got down this far!)


Last edited by frank rizzo; 01-23-2004 at 09:21 AM.
Old 01-23-2004, 09:54 AM   #2
Registered: Jul 2003
Location: Virginia
Distribution: Ubuntu Hoary (5.04)
Posts: 550

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Okay, as for distro take a look at VectorLinux. It's a Slackware based distro that is built to run really well on older hardware so you'll get a lot of performance from that 266. You should be able to get it down to a pretty slim install. As for ripping CDs there's Grip which is really good for going straight to MP3s, and it also does the tagging for you through the use of freedb. As for jukebox capability, look at StreamSicle. It uses a web interface where you can browse and request any song in your library. Don't be turned off by the whole streaming MP3 thing; you can always connect to the server with 'http://localhost:8080' which sends you through loopback which means you don't get any stuttering with the streaming. And to connect to this and play the MP3s you can use XMMS which is almost exactly like Winamp 2. So by using these apps you've trimmed down from 5 programs to 3 and you've switched to a very stable OS. And yes, Linux does handle USB 2.0.
Old 01-23-2004, 12:57 PM   #3
Registered: Feb 2003
Location: San Antonio
Distribution: Suse 9.0 Professional
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xmms also comes with IRman remote control. I don't know what hardware you need to connect to the computer, but using xmms with remote control would be great. If you are doing your own ripping, check into using ogg format instead of MP3. It is smaller, sounds better, is open, and there are a LOT of linux tools for ripping to ogg. oggripper, for one, if it took you more than 6 seconds to understand how to use it, well, you have had too much wine, time to call it a night. :-)

I would think, for a fully optimized VectorLinux install, no print services, stripped down to nothing bu the Alsa sound server and cron, etc (the bare minimum), you could be looking at about an 8 second boot to login, then another 6 to load the lightest windows manager, piped to a TV out card to your TV.

One perk for xmms, is expanded stereo. It is a standard plugin that makes music come alive, imho. I connect my computer (via 30' of RCA cable), because of the sound quality.

I helped someone figure out how to use xmms -e as a MIME type to enque that song to the end of the playlist, or xmms -E for enque as next song, and xmms -Ef to enque as next song, then skip forward to it. Would be great to have that added as remote control function. :-)

I am very interested in this kind of thing, and yes, USB 2.0 is fully available in Linux.

Try downloading some 'Live CDs', knoppix, vector, etc, and experimenting. No HD install, until you want to, and you can see how it all works, or if it meets your needs. Note: on a 266, wine would probably be a bit of a dog. See if you can find useful native stuff here.



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