Streaming from home

This weekend I finally got around to setting up our music library machine to stream outside the house: so that I can take my whole library with me wherever I go, and Jo can listen from her studio. (Kudos to mick_w and his guide Building a Mini-ITX server)

I’ve been using slimserver for years, and loving the ability to stream music throughout the house.

All the music lives on one server (a Shuttle XPC SB61G2 for you hardware geeks), and gets delivered to any computer on the home network as well as to a Squeezebox2 connected to the home stereo.

After several frustrating and ultimately unsuccessful attempts at using Orb (neither 1.0 nor 2.0 ever worked reliably for me) I finally bit the bullet and decided to solve two problems at once:

  1. The Slimserver was running windows
  2. The slimserver was not accessible outside the home network

I’d originally put windows on the slimserver machine in order to make it easy to manage remotely, using terminal services to connect to it – since it spends most of its time in headless mode (no monitor, no keyboard). That was ok, so long as I always had another windows machine around to connect to it from.

These days I spend most of my time in linux, and it no longer made sense to keep booting to windows in order to get to the slimserver machine.

Luckily, by using ClarkConnect Linux (Community Edition 4.1), I was able to solve both problems at once.

In addition to being super easy to use, and designed for “headless” environments with easy web-based configuration options, ClarkConnect had two bonuses, one of which I knew and one of which was totally unexpected:

  1. A number of slimserver users are on ClarkConnect, so there is a community already experienced in using this combination. (This is the one I expected).
  2. ClarkConnect provides, out of the box, and free (as in beer and speech) built-in dynamic dns. In other words, my slimserver (now running CC 4.1) automatically gets an externally resolvable name – one less thing to have to worry about installing and configuring. All I had to do was enable port forwarding on my router for the port slimserver users, and all is golden. (This was the one I did not expect).

In fact, slimserver works just great even for people who have no squeezeboxen – it serves plain old mp3 streams, and you configure playlists via a simple web interface.