Author Topic: Headless Media Director  (Read 1760 times)

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Headless Media Director
« on: November 14, 2006, 11:51:04 pm »
Hi,

I am after opinions from anybody and hopefully some experience.

I have a couple of areas in my house which I would like to have distributed audio. I have a few old machines hanging around that are left over from various projects (dedicated MP3 player, old gateway machine). They are working machines but are not much use for anything.

I would like to turn them into Media Directors that only deal with audio. Therefore they would have no screen attached and no ability to play video.
I like the idea of them being diskless so I would try and get them to network boot.

Firstly can this work, as there is only one MD install image - would this work with older CPUs and limited memory?
Do I need to actually have Orbiter run on these machines? There is no real need for the machines to even run X-Windows, so I can't see why they need Orbiter. But is it possible to have a MD like this?
Would I still be able to use Xine-Player device to play the audio or does this only work as an Orbiter controlled device?

Am I better off not making it an MD and instead just installing its own OS (Debian) and then getting the basic Pluto libraries to run on it? Has anyone done this? Is it then hard to get those devices controlled by other Orbiters?

Ideally if it all worked then it could be turned into a device template to make it easy for other people to install.

I realise that there is already devices like the squeezebox etc that work like this but these seem to be more like Pluto controlled devices rather than standalone machines.

Anyone got any ideas to share?

Regards
Darren

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« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2006, 09:35:31 am »
Quote
Firstly can this work, as there is only one MD install image - would this work with older CPUs and limited memory?

yes
Quote
Do I need to actually have Orbiter run on these machines?

you don't really need the orbiter in this case but we didn't programmed such a md.
the squeeze box player does only audio streaming and which works great in pluto, and it's exactly what you need.
Quote

Am I better off not making it an MD and instead just installing its own OS (Debian) and then getting the basic Pluto libraries to run on it? Has anyone done this?

we never tried this

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« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2006, 02:04:15 am »
I will try a few experiments and post the results (if any).

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« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2006, 04:10:12 pm »
Quote from: "darrenmason"
I will try a few experiments and post the results (if any).


Hi Darren,

We have several machines that are configured as 'headless' MD's and we use them for exactly the same purpose you wish to ie as simple remote audio distribution devices. The machine we usually use for this purpose are Aopen Mini's (915 chipset) which are total overkill in terms of cost and hardware but they are small and look nice. We do the initial setup with a screen attached and then once we are happy disconnect it and from then on just use another Orbiter to remotely control the headless machine. Works a great.

Cheers

Andrew

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« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2006, 08:00:06 pm »
Quote from: "totallymaxed"
Quote from: "darrenmason"
I will try a few experiments and post the results (if any).


Hi Darren,

We have several machines that are configured as 'headless' MD's and we use them for exactly the same purpose you wish to ie as simple remote audio distribution devices. The machine we usually use for this purpose are Aopen Mini's (915 chipset) which are total overkill in terms of cost and hardware but they are small and look nice. We do the initial setup with a screen attached and then once we are happy disconnect it and from then on just use another Orbiter to remotely control the headless machine. Works a great.

Cheers

Andrew

Any particular reason not to use Epias (I'm thinking similar, but with EPIAs in my head) ? They are even lower cost...

Regards,

Rob.

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Headless Media Director
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2006, 09:04:23 am »
Andrew,

Thanks for your reply. What do you actually have running on those machines?
Did you not install or remove Orbiter?
Does it still try to start X windows etc?
I would like bare minimum, but am worried that if Orbiter is not installed then there is no interface device for Xine-Player. I would like to see if I can get the really old machines to be useful. I think the worst one is a Pentium 100 with 16MB RAM which in its past life used to make a good MP3 player but it got retired when a Modded XBox took it spot.

If you can, can you list the Pluto devices that exist under the headless MD.

Thanks
Darren

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« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2006, 09:55:37 am »
Quote from: "tinia"
Quote from: "totallymaxed"
Quote from: "darrenmason"
I will try a few experiments and post the results (if any).


Hi Darren,

We have several machines that are configured as 'headless' MD's and we use them for exactly the same purpose you wish to ie as simple remote audio distribution devices. The machine we usually use for this purpose are Aopen Mini's (915 chipset) which are total overkill in terms of cost and hardware but they are small and look nice. We do the initial setup with a screen attached and then once we are happy disconnect it and from then on just use another Orbiter to remotely control the headless machine. Works a great.

Cheers

Andrew

Any particular reason not to use Epias (I'm thinking similar, but with EPIAs in my head) ? They are even lower cost...

Regards,

Rob.


Hi Rob,

Absolutely not. EPIA's make a fine headless MD and in fact some of the M & ML range and the new CN motherboards look perfect for this purpose. We used Aopen Mini's because we had some on test and they were small and nicely cased... but very expensive for what you get and therefore in reality probably not viable.

Cheers

Andrew

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« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2006, 10:06:40 am »
Quote from: "darrenmason"
Andrew,

Thanks for your reply. What do you actually have running on those machines?
Did you not install or remove Orbiter?
Does it still try to start X windows etc?
I would like bare minimum, but am worried that if Orbiter is not installed then there is no interface device for Xine-Player. I would like to see if I can get the really old machines to be useful. I think the worst one is a Pentium 100 with 16MB RAM which in its past life used to make a good MP3 player but it got retired when a Modded XBox took it spot.

If you can, can you list the Pluto devices that exist under the headless MD.

Thanks
Darren


Hi Darren,

To keep things simple we just added these machines in the standard way. We do no customising of what the Core installs when the machine gets added. As far as I know at present you need at least the UI1 Orbiter to be running on the headless machine for it to be remotely controlled. I am sure it would be possible to not have that restriction but Dan is better placed than me to give you an answer to that question.

Our focus is not so much on reusing older hardware but on finding low cost new hardware that we can integrate. So we thing a number of the EPIA motherboards are very good candidates for headless machines as they have everything integrated on the board and come in fan less versions... and are very low cost. An EPIA M or ML series board would be ideal.

I agree that a very 'light' audio only device based on simple hardware would be great!

Cheers

Andrew