Dedicated mini-itx music PC?
Sep 6, 2008 at 1:56 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 24

BadassBob

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Lately Ive been throwing around the idea of using an Intel Atom based motherboard as a jukebox of some sorts. I know I could just get a Squeezebox and be done with it, but thats boring
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. My OS of choice would be some flavor of Linux, and would like to make this compact flash based as I will be streaming the music across my network. I would like to control the system via remote control, an IR blaster of some sorts would be great. Im trying to do this as cheap as possible. Im confused mostly on which Linux distro to use. I dont want to run MythUbuntu or Freevo...just something as close to music based as possible. Who can give me some good pointers? Which software to use and which remote. Id also like a good enclosure...something without an optical drive. This will be a music only system, and will play FLAC ripped from my CD collection. On the system itself Im looking at $300 or less for the parts, Ill worry about the DAC later. This will be connected to my Kenwood KR9400 receiver (vintage 1975
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) and some big vintage Pioneer floorspeakers. Would the Atom processor suffice? How much memory should I use? I have a spare stick of PC2 6400 laying around, so the memory is covered, also have a 2GB compact flash card for the OS. Is compact flash a good idea, or should I just get a 2.5" SATA laptop drive? Throw me some ideas folks, I wanna get to tinkering
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Sep 6, 2008 at 2:45 AM Post #2 of 24

vegaman

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I'd recommend a minimal install on the computer, perhaps you could use arch for this? Because you don't really need much to achieve what you want, I assume you want it headless?
And I'd choose mpd for playing the music, you can set this up to work with lirc (IR remote), and run a nice client like sonata on your desktop too if you want.

The Atom processor will handle this easily, and you won't need large amounts of ram either. The compact flash should be fine, you could set up a ram-disk for /var and/or other directories if you wish, which should reduce the amount of writes required.
 
Sep 6, 2008 at 2:49 AM Post #3 of 24

BadassBob

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There wont be any optical drive attached to this system...is there a way I could install Arch through a USB thumb drive? So Sonata would be a good front end for mpd? For video output, I will connect the VGA out via a component video adaptor to my LCD TV.
 
Sep 6, 2008 at 3:37 AM Post #4 of 24

vegaman

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Yup, installing from a USB stick is no problem, see ArchWiki :: Install from USB stick - ArchWiki

Sonata is one of many frontends to mpd, I recommended it because I find its interface very nice and noticed you use Ubuntu (Sonata uses gtk too). If you want more features you could also look at something like gmpc.

But hmm, if you're wanting it to display on the tv, I'm not sure what would look really nice. Amarok does have a nice full-screen plug-in, but it's nowhere near as lightweight as mpd.
 
Sep 6, 2008 at 4:14 AM Post #5 of 24

Edwood

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I've built a dedicated Mini-ITX based music computer. But honestly, you are limiting your expansion options, and it's not that much smaller than a Micro ATX set up.

Plus Mini-ITX carries so much of a price premium, it makes no financial sense. You would be better off getting a laptop.

Unless you go completely fanles and solid state drives, then you'll have a dead quiet system.

-Ed
 
Sep 6, 2008 at 3:11 PM Post #6 of 24

BadassBob

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The Intel Atom board Im looking at is only $70 on newegg...not too bad considering the VIA boards are upwards of $200. I will be using a cheap USB DAC for this setup, no music will be stored on the system itself. It will boot from compact flash and access music from my desktop over the network. All of the parts I need will only cost ~$200 which isnt too bad. Well...Ill be ordering parts later on and keep everyone posted on the process.
 
Sep 7, 2008 at 2:16 AM Post #7 of 24

Denim

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I hope you go through with this idea. We use Atoms for dedicated PC's for our clints at work. They seem to hold up well and should work well at a music server. Ours have XP running on them. Linux should scream!
 
Sep 7, 2008 at 1:15 PM Post #8 of 24

BadassBob

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I have a little hitch here. I need a CHEAP IR receiver. Most of them Im seeing are around $50 or so. I was hoping I could get away with $20. I seen some on eBay, but Im unsure if those are proprietary or not. I ordered the MSI Wind Desktop Barebone last night for my box. I will probably be using a Logitech Harmony remote of some sorts. Who knows where I can get a cheap USB IR Receiver?
 
Sep 7, 2008 at 3:27 PM Post #10 of 24

BadassBob

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I wish I could do that, but the barebones I bought has no legacy ports. It has VGA, 4x USB, and 3.5mm audio jacks.
 
Sep 9, 2008 at 4:59 AM Post #12 of 24

nyc_paramedic

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Quote:

Originally Posted by BadassBob /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Lately Ive been throwing around the idea of using an Intel Atom based motherboard as a jukebox of some sorts. I know I could just get a Squeezebox and be done with it, but thats boring
biggrin.gif
. My OS of choice would be some flavor of Linux, and would like to make this compact flash based as I will be streaming the music across my network. I would like to control the system via remote control, an IR blaster of some sorts would be great. Im trying to do this as cheap as possible. Im confused mostly on which Linux distro to use. I dont want to run MythUbuntu or Freevo...just something as close to music based as possible. Who can give me some good pointers? Which software to use and which remote. Id also like a good enclosure...something without an optical drive. This will be a music only system, and will play FLAC ripped from my CD collection. On the system itself Im looking at $300 or less for the parts, Ill worry about the DAC later. This will be connected to my Kenwood KR9400 receiver (vintage 1975
biggrin.gif
) and some big vintage Pioneer floorspeakers. Would the Atom processor suffice? How much memory should I use? I have a spare stick of PC2 6400 laying around, so the memory is covered, also have a 2GB compact flash card for the OS. Is compact flash a good idea, or should I just get a 2.5" SATA laptop drive? Throw me some ideas folks, I wanna get to tinkering
biggrin.gif
.



Ahh, a post close to my heart!

So, you're bored eh? Wanna use that elbow grease? Looking for a little Linux challenge? Want something music based only? Cheep cheep? Have I got a PROJECT for you amigo! An enclosure without an optical drive? Perfect! Accessible over a network? Wonderful! Wink wink, nudge nudge....

How about a dead silent, Linux based, single board computer, USB music server that runs off 512MB compact flash?? Easily controlled over WiFi via Nokia N770, N800, or N800 web tablet? Fancy something more, err... fancy?? How 'bouts controllable via a Apple iPod Touch via WiFi??

Are you interested in something that is USB based?

Ok first, Look at this thread!!: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f46/my...server-326831/

Yup. A single board computer hacked to be and AUDIOPHILE grade USB Linux music server. Runs off a 512MB compact flash running a derivative of Debian Linux.

Up time? I have 6 months plus counting with nary a hiccup. Stable as hell.

This is my custom (3 watt total power consumption) Linux based music server that is bit-perfect, Open Sauce, flexible, and very customizable.

Best part? I'll (and many in the Linux community too...) help you if ya run into any snags.

Let me know what you think.

Questions? Ask away?


Sincerely,

Nick
 
Sep 10, 2008 at 4:52 AM Post #13 of 24

srserl

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BadassBob, I also just ordered the same Atom barebones system from Newegg. I am putting an optical drive and 500GB hard drive to hold music. I am putting 2GB RAM in it and will use it as my main music server as well as a web browsing system for my electronics workshop. Oh... I also ordered an Intel 802.11n mini pci-e wifi card for it.
Eventually I want to build some really lightweight system like Nick is talking about to pull music from the server down to my main living room sound systems.
I'll be following this thread to see what you end up with for remote control.

Scott
 
Sep 10, 2008 at 9:08 AM Post #14 of 24

paulr

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Mini-itx is a cool idea but hasn't lived up to its potential so far IMO. In your situation I think I'd just scrounge an old laptop off of Craigslist and add an external usb dac. If it has wifi you could even control it remotely with something like a Nokia tablet. If you want a single board computer, the Beagle Board (http://beagleboard.org) looks interesting. I haven't figured out a convenient way to get SPDIF out, but you could use a usb dac on one of the USB ports.
 

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