Home Media Centre Project: The Odyssey Begins

I’ve always liked the idea of having lots of my music available at the same time, rather than listening to just one CD at a time. I owned a 3 CD changer and then a 5 CD changer 5cdchanger, one that made a noise like a car-crusher when it changed disks.

When I first saw an MP3 player advertised on Slashdot, I was very excited. It had a whole 6GB of storage! Imagine a shuffle on that!

When I finally got an iPod I was very excited about it and I was one of the sad bastards who had his name laser engraved on the back. It was a cool piece of kit, and it was great carrying your whole music around you. However, I was still missing a user-friendly living room music solution with a remote control and the ability to choose the music without being tethered to the speaker.

Time passed and eventually I had time to think about this in earnest. I felt sure that since portable MP3 technology was so well developed, there ought to be able to buy a cheap-ish solution for the home too. I wanted something with a central music store and the ability to fling music out to all my existing stereos, with central control and the ability to have different or shared music in different rooms.

There were solutions you could buy, but most of them were rather expensive and/or had proprietary components that tied you into a particular provider – things like the Streamium or later the Sonos. The other problem was that these devices often required a media server, and I wasn’t prepared to have a power-hungry buzzing server in the corner of my living room.

Of course, the really easy way to implement this would be to geneflect towards Cupertino and buy Apple. Just buy Apple TV, Airports, iTunes, an iPhone as a controller and use AirPlay. Job done. The trouble is, despite buying an iPod (in 2004, when I was young and naive) and owning a Mac, I don’t like Apple very much, especially iTunes. They want to own what you do and they tell you how to do it. There is a loss of control. Even though it would be much, much easier to go this route, I’m stubborn. Screw Apple.

I decided that if no decent system existed I would build one myself. I would use a low-cost low-power PC like a SheevaPlug, perhaps with satellite receivers of some sort and install Linux on goddamn everything. The full power of a flexible operating system at every node and full control everywhere.

Then the Raspberry Pi came out which was abso-blooding-lutely perfect for this kind of project. There was a bit of a wait before I could buy one, but then the project could begin in earnest.


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4 Responses to “Home Media Centre Project: The Odyssey Begins”

  1. Media Server Odyssey Part 1: The Architecture | Peter Saffrey's Weblog Says:

    […] Scientific computing and bioinformatics. « Home Media Centre Project: The Odyssey Begins […]

  2. Media Centre Odyssey Part 2: The Hardware | Peter Saffrey's Weblog Says:

    […] If you’ve arrived in the middle and want to read the whole story, you can start at the beginning. […]

  3. Media Centre Odyssey 3: Architecture Revision | Peter Saffrey's Weblog Says:

    […] Hello, weary traveller. You might want to start at the beginning. […]

  4. Media Server Odyssey Part 4: Autorip | Peter Saffrey's Weblog Says:

    […] If you have time on your hands, feel free to start at the beginning. […]

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