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Previously, I have discussed how you can use your Linux computer as a media center. Now, if you are not in front of your Linux machine most of the time, but still want to access all your media files from any internet connected devices such as your smart phone, workplace computer, PDA or even PS3, the only option is to set up your Linux computer as a media server and stream your multimedia content to wherever you are over the internet.
This part of the Linux media series will cover the various software that you can use to convert your Linux machine into a media server.
Among all the media server software, Sockso is the easiest to use. There is no installation or any configuration required. You just need to download the file, double click the application to launch it and there you go, your media server is up and running in less than 5 minutes.
Sockso comes with all the necessary tools to allow you to enjoy your music over the air. It does not support video streaming as yet, but for audio files, it supports MP3, WAV, FLAC and Ogg. There is also an on-the-fly transcoding feature that converts the audio file from one format to another while streaming.
For those who want a click-and-go solution, Sockso is the best for you.
Jinzora is a Web-based media server written completely in php. It supports both audio and video streaming and is able to play a huge library of audio/video formats, including AAC, M4A, Midi, MP3, MP4, Ogg Vorbis, RM, WMA, AVI, WMV, MPEG and MOV. It also supports on-the-fly transcoding.
Since it is Web-based, that means you have to set up and configure your own LAMP server before you can get Jinzora to run on your Linux machine. Installation is not as straightforward and there are quite a number of steps that you have to do. Luckily, all the steps are well documented and you simply need to follow the instructions to complete the installation.
Some may find it difficult to install and configure Jinzora, but I can assure you that it is all worth the effort. Once you get it running, you will appreciate its slick interface and the extensive features that it supports.
One thing good about a Web-based software is that it can be easily customized for the Web 2.0. When playing a track, Jinzora does a great job in retrieving the meta-data (such as lyrics, album covers and ID3-tags). There is also a social-networking module which you can use to build a social music site.
If you are willing to shell out that extra effort to set up and maintain the LAMP server, then Jinzora will be a great choice for you.
SqueezeCenter (formerly known as Slimserver) is originally a software from Logitech to power their SqueezeBox devices, but it is now an open-source software that you can use to stream MP3 music from your machine.
Configuration is easy. Once you have it installed, go to your browser, type in http://localhost:9000 and follow the instructions to configure it. You should be able to get it started in less than 5 minutes.
The interface of SqueezeCenter is like your local music player where it displays the songs on one side and the playback on the other side. I find this setting familiar, simple and nice.
At the moment, SqueezeCenter only supports mp3 streaming and can be listened to from any computer using a MP3 software player, such as Winamp, iTunes and Totem movie player. You can also get it to play in your browser via a hack by Charles. You will need a Netvibes account for that.
If you have heard of Orb, then SimplifyMedia is something similar, just that it works on Linux as well as on Mac and Windows platforms. What SimplifyMedia does is to create a shared path from your local machine to the remote computer that you are on so that you can access your music files easily.
For the Linux version, there is no installation required and running the application is as easy as double-clicking the downloaded file.
To use SimplifyMedia, you will need to install the application on the remote computer that you are working on and sign in to your account. It does not have its own player and uses your system’s music player (Rhythmbox, iTunes and Winamp) to playback music. If your version of Linux does not come with Rhythmbox pre-installed, you will have to install it before you can playback music from SimplifyMedia.
Gnump3d is a MP3 and OGG streaming server mainly for the Linux platform. Although the development stopped 1 year ago, by far, this is still one of the best native Linux media servers around.
Gnump3d is simple and easy to use. Some may find it limited in features, but if you only have MP3 files and need just a simple server. Gnump3d could be a good choice. If you are using Ubuntu (Hardy and below), Gnump3d is found in the repository, which makes the installation a breeze.
In part 3 of this series, I will discuss using your Linux computer as a Universal Plug and Play (uPnP) AV Server.