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Ideally it would be nice to be able to connect to a music server just by using iTunes alone and be able to manipulate that library as if it belonged to the client machine.
I agree. But sadly, the iTunes daap protocol is read-only. From a remote daap share, you can’t tag or create playlists, etc. It’s what I want as well, but probably won’t have any luck while we don’t have iTunes source.
What I do to manage my library with iTunes and still share it for devices that I might listen to when my laptop lid is closed (roku soundbridge, etc), is to manage my master library from iTunes on my laptop and synchronize it to my server. That way it acts as both my backup and my centralized music server. I use rsync for that, but one could as easily use Unison on a windows machine, or whatever else works.
It’s not ideal, but it does take care of three of my problems — disconnected music sharing, centralized music management, and backups of a collection of ripped & tagged music that represents too much effort to lose.
I know I have been able to get iTunes to point to its own library over a network, it just unnerves me that’s all.
Yeah, I’ve done that in a pinch before too, but I don’t care to either.