How To: DIY Music Server Using FreeNAS, SlimNAS and an H-P T5700

Installing SlimNAS

Once the disk share is available you can download & install Michael Herger’s SlimNAS software. You’ll need several items:

In the root of the CIFS share create a folder called “slimnas” and copy all three files into that folder.

SlimNAS Installables
SlimNAS Installables

Log into the FreeNAS web management GUI. From the FreeNAS menu select the Advanced option. This gives you a means of entering a shell command. Enter the following shell command.

/bin/sh /mnt/YourShareHere/slimnas/slimnas-install.sh

Then click on [Execute]

About to run the SlimNAS installer
About to run the SlimNAS installer

When the shell command has completed the FreeNAS menu should return a status display as follows:

Report after the install script runs sucessfully
Report after the install script runs sucessfully

You have just successfully installed the SqueezeCenter software to the disk, but it’s not yet tied into FreeNAS or set to run as a service on boot.

You’ll note that a new “Extensions” menu option has been added to the FreeNAS menus, and SqueezeCenter is listed as the only extension.

SqueezeCenter listed in the Extensions menu
SqueezeCenter listed in the Extensions menu

Select SqueezeCenter and you should see the following result:

SlimNAS ready to be installed to FreeNAS
SlimNAS ready to be installed to FreeNAS

Check the tick box to [Enable] the SlimNAS software. Then in the install section select the SqueezeCenter release and click on [Save] to perform the installation.

The install process can take a a couple of minutes during which time the system may appear to be stopped. This is normal. While the installer runs you can navigate to the [Process] menu and see if the installation is proceeding. If it is running successfully you’ll see a reference to Perl on the list of running processes.

FreeNAS process menu showing Perl running
FreeNAS process menu showing Perl running

Once the installation is completed successfully the extensions menu will include a link to the SqueezeCentre web GUI. That address is always the name or IP address of the FreeNAS device, but with port 9000 specified in the URL. In my case

SqueezeCenter installed and running on FreeNAS
SqueezeCenter installed and running on FreeNAS

It’s worth noting that when the T5700 is rebooted it will take some time for the SqueezeCenter and associated services to restart. First the OS boots, then the file sharing mechanisms and finally the streaming server. It’s not uncommon for it to take 2-3 minutes before the music can resume playing after a reboot.

Configuring Squeeze Center

Now that you have the NAS and the SqueezeCenter software running you can define where SqueezeCenter should look for music and playlists. I created a folder on the share called “music”, then inside that I created additional folders for MP3s, FLACs, and playlists. These paths get loaded into the SqueezeCenter settings.

SqueezeCenter File Path Settings
SqueezeCenter File Path Settings

Next I copied some files to the NAS. In my case I copied about 180 GB to the drive, in a mix of flac and high-bitrate MP3 formats. As you might imagine this process takes some time. Once the files are on the system you can use the web interface to invoke a scan of the library. Once that task completed you can start the music playing.

There is an optional SqueezeCenter setting that forces the server to on-the-fly transcode the streams to MP3 at a user-defined bit rate. This is intended for use when streaming over a bandwidth limited wireless network. It’s not appropriate for most situations and so by default is disabled. This is optimal for the T5700 since transcoding presents increased CPU load.

Finally, Slim Devices periodically updates the SqueezeCenter software. When you run the software within FreeNAS you cannot simply install the update as you would on a normal PC. You must check Michael Herger’s web site to see if he has released a revision of SlimNAS supporting the upgrade you wish to load.

At the time of this writing I am running SqueezeCenter v7.01 on SlimNAS v1.01. SqueezeCenter v7.1 has been released but requires SlimNAS v1.1.

7 thoughts on “How To: DIY Music Server Using FreeNAS, SlimNAS and an H-P T5700”

  1. I can’t find a 40 pin IDE cable anywhere, and neither can I find a hard disk so…

    Are you sure you didn’t mean a 44 pin?
    If it was a 40 pin, can you give me the models of the HDD and IDE cable?

  2. Nice post.
    You have done a thorough job of explaining a step-by-step process to set up a combo that I had my eye on for some time now – I will definitely use it for a reference 🙂

  3. Great article. I just built a similar system using the VortexBox linux distro. It has more features then FreeNAS including auto CD ripping.

  4. Great article, I have purchased a T5700, an SATA->IDE converter and a SODIMM of 512MB. However I wonder what the recommended HDD is, since I read somewhere that the power of the IDE connection is quite limited. Any suggestions would be welcome (brand, type, size)!

    1. I’m reasonably certain that any 2.5″ IDE HD can be powered from the IDE connector. I’m not certain if a 2.5″ SATA HD requires a separate power connection. If it does then anything you can rig up will surely work. The power requirements of HD has been steadily declining as each new generation of HD comes along.

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