From my first exposure to Slim Device's original SliMP3 back in 2003, I was taken with the idea of streaming music throughout my house. I found Slim's approach very interesting; literally giving away an open source media streaming software intended for use on a file server. They then made money by selling a dedicated hardware device to interface the music stream to a traditional stereo system.
Figure 1: Slim Devices Squeezebox
Slim Devices is now part of Logitech and offers three different devices:
- Squeezebox Classic - the 3rd generation of the original SliMP3 with a simple remote control and large vacuum fluorescent display (Figure 1)
- Squeezebox Duet - a variant on the Squeezebox with that trades the fluorescent display for a more elaborate remote control with a color LCD status display
- Transporter - a beautiful, seriously high-end streaming music interface for those who suffer audiophile tendencies
One of the nicer things about the Squeezebox is that several can be set to play the same music in sync, or set to play entirely different playlists. This can be handy, addressing the needs of both the common dinner party and a multi-faceted Halloween haunted house. At my house, we have accumulated three of the classic Squeezeboxes and are on-plan to purchase two more.
All Slim Devices products source their music streams from the same open source server software. This software, written in Perl, was once known as "Slim Server" but from the release of v7.0 has been renamed "SqueezeCenter." Slim Devices provides releases for Windows, Macintosh and Linux hosts. They also offer a release built specifically for the Netgear (formerly Infrant) ReadyNAS.
Figure 2: The SqueezeCenter Web GUI
The idea to embed the server on a NAS seems ideal; voluminous RAID storage to serve & protect the music just makes sense. It certainly makes more sense than my recent situation, which was keeping a Pentium 4 2.8 GHz PC running 24/7 just to serve music. In contrast, the NAS approach consumes less power, generates less heat and noise and takes less space.
There was only one problem. ReadyNAS would not have been my personal choice of NAS. I prefer a less expensive, more DIY approach. To that end, I have long used FreeNAS around my home office. FreeNAS is open source based on BSD and takes advantage of the GUI framework developed for the m0n0wall router project.
Happily, others share my opinion of FreeNAS. Early in 2007, Michael Herger ported the SqueezeCenter software to create an installable plug-in for FreeNAS.