Multi-room music at home

Tim Abell · March 16, 2007

me and slimserver

Today, I wanted to play music/radio in more than one room, and since BBC Radio 4 was playing The Archers, that ruled out the FM/Radio 4 simple option!

So, not liking to do anything the simple way, I set about searching for a way to broadcast sound to multiple rooms, preferably with a UDP/multicast type setup. Didn’t manage that in the end, but have got something quite cool running.

Initially came across firefly media server, from an article [pdf] in linux magazine. Was put off by its absence from the ubuntu repositories.

I have a mate with a slimdevice, which is an awesome device. The server side of it is available free as it is OSS, and it is in the ubuntu repo (universe). So install was trivial:

sudo apt-get install slimserver  

I could immediately connect with a web browser to http://localhost:9000/ and see the web interface (which is very good), and point any of my media players to http://localhost:9000/stream.mp3 and listen to the selected music. Nice. (Requires mp3 codec support to be installed. See easyubuntu)

Two things tripped me up connecting remotely. I had already spotted “Server Settings / Security / Allowed IP Addresses” and added my local subnet, but wasn’t able to connect from another pc.
netstat showed that the server had only bound to the local ip address:

$ netstat -tln  
Active Internet connections (only servers)  
Proto Recv-Q Send-Q Local Address Foreign Address State  
...  
tcp 0 0 127.0.0.1:9000 0.0.0.0:* LISTEN  
...  

Through chance I knew about defaults files in ubuntu. Looking in /etc/defaults/slimserver, what do I find? Only bind to localhost. duh!

...  
# This limits http access to the local host.  
# Comment it out for network-wide access, or change  
# to enable a single interface.  
HTTP_ADDR=127.0.0.1  
...

So, I commented out the http_addr line, and restarted the slimserver.

sudo /etc/init.d/slimserver restart  

Slim server was now listening on *:9000

The other thing that tripped me up is that slimserver doesn’t multicast, it maintains an independent stream & playlist for each connected device. So when I connected remotely I hadn’t added music to the right playlist. In the web based interface there is a drop down list to select which device’s playlist you want to modify. Once I figured that out it all worked. Yay. :-)

Didn’t solve the original problem of playing the same audio simultaneously in multiple rooms, but it’s cool nonetheless.

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Suggest improvments: page source on github
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