Saturday, 15 November 2014

Maybe the time has finally come to do the media server thing

I've been keen on the idea of a media (primarily music) server for a long time, but the completely turd like control facilities have always been a show stopper. Mainly 'cos as I have a fair sized collection of classical music, the lack of ability to handle the distinction between composer, performer, orchestra, soloist etc. - at least without spending a fortune on Linn or other proprietary kit.

At one time I seriously considered a fully diy solution, but that was too big a commitment.

My most recent foray was with plex, but this still didn't solve the indexing problem.

Then yesterday I bumped into minimserver. This looked like the sort of answer I was looking for. It looked like it properly handles the indexing and access.

What I want to do is:
  1. media on a headless server (probably a vm on my pet server)
  2. control agents preferably on android
  3. playback through windows or ubuntu pc's (or even android things)
Still early days, but things are looking promising so here is the log of my first steps.

Establishing a server.

Pretty trivial really, I already had most of my media on a virtual machine on baby server, which I had setup with minidlna. So I purged minidlna, and since the VM was running a rather ancient version of Ubuntu, I upgraded it to current LTS (14.04), then download the 64bit Linux version of minimserver, followed the setup instructions, and that looked like it was OK.

I gave this a whirl with Rythymbox - which I had previously tweaked to work as a dlna client from my ubuntu desktop - and I could search and play tracks. Rythymbox though is a hopeless animal for this.

Finding an android controller.

A bit of searching around and it looked like UpnPlay would fit the bill.
This looks good, and shows the multi indexing structure nicely. It quickly became apparent that my tags were a disaster area, so off to find a tag organiser. This would have to work on Flac as about 1/2 my music is ripped to flac.....

Sorting out mp3 tags.

Tagging programs that would properly handle the tag setup I would need to use with minimserver are not that common, but after reading a few threads on the minimserver forums it looked like the answer was mp3tag. As this only runs on Windoze (I keep a windows partition just to run Lightroom, photoshop and any other neolithic software). I stuck a straw into my server and sucked everything out onto an NTFS partition so I could then go through album by album with mp3tag and then put them back. So with a handful of CD's 'adjusted' I carry on.... I can see getting everything sorted will be "ongoing"

A Renderer for ubuntu.

I have a PC plugged into the hifi, so I wanted to run a renderer and possibly a control point there as well. Rythymbox obviously wasn't the answer, and many upnp AV "compatible" programs inextricably merge control and rendering, which is a pita. After a couple of false starts it looked like rygel might be a good answeer, so I installed rygel and rygel-playbin with synaptic, it is easily run from command line, but it starts up a server as well as a renderer by default. Easily fixed by
rygel -d MediaExport
and this immediately shows up in UpnPlay. I'll organise autostarting it on boot later....

I also noticed that there're some promising renderers for Raspberry Pi, might have to add to my RPi collection later.

And then a few diversionary problems.

I noticed that sometimes UpnPlay didn't find my minimserver, then it would reappear 30 minutes later. After some useless faffing about with my media VM, I ran up minimserver on my desktop for a few hours and it behaved flawlessly, so the problem was clearly at the server end. As the VM host was a very old release of ubuntu that I have been meaning to upgrade for a while, I upgraded to current Ubuntu LTS (14.04), and lo, all was sweetness and light.

Just have to let this bimble along for a few days to see how it goes now - And keep my eyes open for an app to do remote volume control etc.

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