alternate hardware choices

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    I’m just wondering if anyone has opinions on alternate hardware for firefly. In particular, is there something with a bit more processing power than the NSLU2, especially if one is transcoding to wav, as is needed for ogg files. Seems like there were some other things that needed transcoding as well. I’ve seen a few discussions on here that seem to approach this topic, but I guess I thought I’d go at it again. In particular, I was wondering why I don’t see more about some of the small, low power, fanless PC’s for this application. I suppose it’s the price, which seems to be around $300, quite a bit more than the NSLU2. Some of VIA’s small boards seem like they would be pretty nice for this. Being a full fledged PC seems like it might solve some problems, like bricking the NSLU2. (but that does not seem to be a very big problem) The new VIA Pico looks cool, although it’s not fanless, and probably draws a lot more power than the NSLU2. Perhaps one of the other VIA boards with built in audio could serve as both a server and player, I think some folks have asked for that. Of course it would be hard to beat the internet radio abilities of the Roku systems.




    I’ve gone down this same path. I started with an Slug but found that it didn’t handle large libraries very well. I then tried the Linkstation Pro. I liked this option much better than the slug as it had much better throughput and was a single device solution. It also worked great on my gigabit wired backbone. I have a 43,000 title MP3 library and a nearly 18,000 title FLAC library; the Linkstation Pro took nearly 20 seconds to return an artist list on the larger library, but it handled FLAC transcoding wonderfully. I had 5 FLAC-to-Wave streams running simultaneously without issue. I looked closely at some of the low-power, small form factor solutions but they were too costly. (Shuttle would probably be my first choice if I had the cash).

    I tried various desktop solutions from an old Dell Poweredge Server (too big) to a Compaq iPaq (too noisy – but only $50 on ebay!). I ended up buying a Dell Optiplex SX270. This is a fanless PC with an external power supply. I’ve heard it described as a laptop repurposed as a desktop. I bought mine on ebay for $150. I loaded Ubuntu on it and it offers the kind of performance I was hoping for. I get my artist list from the 43,000 title library in 2 seconds or less.


    There are probably 2 ways one can go to get signifacantly more power than a NSLU has. BOTH are considerably more expansive however:

    1. Synology DS107+ mit 128 MB ram. Definitly a step up in speed but also in price and the “hacking” support is present but limited. Its expanding though.

    2. Building a low energy Mini-ATx computer. That is a smaller formfactor than the usual ATX used for normal computers and there are highly integrated motherboards with onboard processor available. There are 1 GHz solutions with average. 30W consumption only. But this is a lot more expansive than the NSLU.


    Here’sa very low cost alternative that I’ve been looking at. It’s called a decTOP and has a 366MHZ AMD processor with 128mb RAM (upgradeable to 512mb). It’s cheap and fanless and Ubuntu can be loaded on it. At $99, it sounds like a steal. Unfortunately, it is crippled by the fact that ethernet is provided via a USB dongle, which wouldn’t be horrible except the USB ports are all 1.1.


    I bought a Conceptronic CH3SNAS. This is the exact clone of a D-Link DNS-323. It has a 500mhz proc, and has 64mb ram. Currently, it is fast enough for my needs.

    Stock, it has mt-daapd 0.2.4 (the stable one).
    I put a debian etch base install on it, in which it chroots and boots SSH, FTP and latest Firefly nightly.

    Price? For me, it was ~117 euro’s. (I bought it at my work. :))
    Normally, it’s about 145 euro’s.



    That CH3WNAS seems like a nice device. 🙂

    Any word on read/write performance without RAID over the network?

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