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Old 09-06-2003, 02:58 AM   #1
LQ Newbie
Registered: Sep 2003
Location: Ann Arbor, MI (U.S.)
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Linux for home audio? Realistic plan?

Brand new to Linux , and trying to take in as much as I can. Any feedback/guidance will be appreciated. I start with a brief overview of my plan, and close with my first specific question. Please skip to the last paragraph if you are not interested in the overall project (sorry for including it here, but it may be helpful if I'm on the wrong track)

My plan: To create a linux-driven digital audio storage and playback unit.

The hardware: I have an old Celeron 366 with 96 megs of memory and two hard drives (4GB and 14GB). The larger drive contains the audio files, and the smaller will be used for the OS.

Goals: I wish to accomplish two objectives. The first is to provide a reliable storage medium for the audio files, one that will be accessible to 2 other (Windows based) machines on a home network. The second seems a bit tougher, though I believe Linux would be ideal for the task. Not only do I want to be able to access the music stored on this machine (like any other shared folder on a network), but I would also like to use the box as a primary playback unit (audio line out directly to my stereo preamp), accessible by remote session (VNC?). Ultimately, I hope to omit most of the hardware (monitor, mouse, keyboard) connected to the old machine once my lil mp3 server(?) is up and running, accessing it primarily through the other two computers.

My (proposed) approach: 1.) To install a fresh Linux OS on the smaller hard drive of the old machine and get the OS to communicate with and be capable of accessing the files on the larger (FAT 32 formatted) audio storage drive 2.) To establish playback capabilities through the unit, necessitating that a.) the OS recognize the soundcard and b.) a suitable decoder/player can be found for playback purposes. The third and final step will involve setting up my home network, and establishing the remote access capabilities.

Which finally brings me to my first specific question (moderators, please let me know if this is an inappropriate use of the forum).

Which distro should I consider, given my constraints (Linux naiveté, older system, data files stored on a FAT 32 formatted drive).

Thanks in advance!
Old 09-06-2003, 04:23 AM   #2
LQ Guru
Registered: Mar 2002
Location: Salt Lake City, UT - USA
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Wow, all that for a Distro question

Just kidding


I'd have to instead lead you towards some applications, down a road of mp3 chaos versus ogg theory, and twist down a turnpike of streaming audio versus download and playback, and whisk you away to tropical areas known as Fast/sleek distros...

Here's the path:
And finally:

That said...

Grab a copy of either Debian, Slackware Gentoo or Arch Linux (assuming you've got some Linux Knowledge) and install it. In my example I'll use Slackware because:
a. That's my distro of choice and the one I use most oftenly (though I do have others installed)
b. We'll do it all from source as anyone can "emerge mp3system"

So, we are going to load a nearly bare bones install of the distro, include only those things necessary for a bare bones compiling system (all the development stuff) and of course those things necessary for networking on a LAN with windoze boxen (SAMBA and possibly NFS), Audio related files such as mpg123 and Vorbis Tools, and possibly a web server (apache) if you don't wanna compile that later.

Now head over to and install anything that catches your eye relating to your final needs. Be sure to include support for OGG's should you decide to stream those later.

Now back to for a tool called netjuke This is where the webserver comes in. You can alternatively use all these tools and not worry about the SAMBA bit at all, and instead look into using FTP to transfer the files. BUT, Samba would likely be more efficient, especially for those not up on the greatness (or suckiness depending on my mood) of ftp. This tool is of course, PHP based. You'll wanna be sure to setup your webserver to work with PHP, honestly, it's not that bad, if you can read and follow directions, the site has superb documentation on setting up Apache to work with PHP.

Fat32 won't be a problem at all, nearly all (if not ALL) modern distros will have you covered with that one.

Finally, you seem to want to have the LinuxBox not only be the fileserver, but also the central "player" where you will send files to play them. I'd venture to guess icecast could cover you there, but if not, you may find something on freshmeat in the way of a web-based interface on an mp3 player, controlling of course the server itself (interesting idea). You could, as you mentioned, do it with something like VNC ( TightVNC is the application of the month of ) and have it all bound together in a gui with that, if the web based ideas all fall through, or aren't up to your specs.

You have a lot of options, I'd say primary goal here would be to concentrate on getting the best soundcard you can for:
a. Your money
b. Full support from linux
c. Full support from your primary software target (likely IceCast).


Welcome to LQ

I'd very much like to hear about anything that comes about from your idea, sounds like a great adventure and some fun!


Last edited by MasterC; 09-06-2003 at 04:25 AM.
Old 09-06-2003, 02:15 PM   #3
LQ Newbie
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Many thanks for such a thorough and informative response. I'm really stoked about getting this project going. I can see it now...queuing up a playlist from the kitchen (wireless net on the laptap)......the LinuxBox singing through my speakers by the time I get to the living room

Slackware seems like an excellent choice, and I'll be sure to explore my streaming options with icecast as well. I don't suppose there's much in the way of consensus among the Linux community for mp3 decoder options. Any house favorites or a decoder of choice for ultimate sound quality?

As for cards, I was planning on leaving my older SB live mp3+ in the machine, but I'm always getting that upgrade urge, so that could change real soon

Thanks again for all the guidance.
Old 09-07-2003, 05:28 AM   #4
LQ Guru
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I'm a huge fan of SB Live cards, they are well supported in Linux and very cheap yet quality cards. That's the card I've got actually, the official title rocks:
Sound Blaster Live! MP3 + 5.1 Dolby Digital


The mp3 DEcoder, pretty much the de-facto in Linux would be mpg123, it's just about as basic as it gets. Something more flashy would be mp3blaster, and then even fancier, but requires X (well not strictly) would be XMMS. If you are looking for an MP3 ENcoder, then I'd say cdparanoia is pretty much again, the de-facto on that as well. But like you said, we are all about Open Source So OGG's all the way baby! oggenc, ogg123 and of course, vorbis tools with the icecast tools now available for streaming it all.

Gentoo or Slackware, even if the Debian-ites come in with their sales pitch, I'd still say Gentoo or Slackware, they are development environments from the get go!

Old 09-07-2003, 07:02 AM   #5
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Check out the Dave/Dina project. I believe that will do what you want.
Old 06-07-2004, 01:05 PM   #6
Registered: Jul 2003
Location: Pennsylvainia
Distribution: Slackware / Debian / *Ubuntu / Opensuse / Solaris uname: Brian Cooney
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I am trying to the exact same thing. For now, I use a samba share to share out the files, and i use a console mp3 player (mp3blaster) to control the audio via a putty ssh session.

I do want to add as well a web based mp3 player to make it simple enough for my girlfriend/friends/average joe to use. If you find anything that works well, share the wealth
Old 06-28-2004, 07:40 AM   #7
Registered: Sep 2003
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For the player part, you may also want to have a look at SnackAmp - easy categorizing of your music library, built-in web interface. Haven't got much experience in the field otherwise, though.
Old 07-10-2004, 05:13 AM   #8
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