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

Originally published July 21, 2008 at www.smallnetbuilder.com

By: Michael Graves

Date: July 21, 2008

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. The designers approach to this task I found very interesting. They literally give away an open source media streaming software intended for use on a file server. Then run their business by selling a dedicated hardware device to interface the music stream to a traditional stereo system.

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T5700 SlimNAS Server: Now With 512 MB Memory

Well it took a couple of tries but I finally got my little SlimNAS server running with 512 MB of memory. I first tried a 1 GB stick of DDR-333 (PC2700), but the T5700 BIOS doesn’t deal with memory greater than 512 MB.

I next tried a 512 MB stick of DDR DDR-333 (PC2700) but that didn’t work either. The little T5700 simply didn’t boot. It never got past the BIOS splash screen.

Then Fedex delivered a 512 MB stick of DDR-266 (PC-2100) that I had mail ordered from www.zipzoomfly.com. That finally worked. So here’s the proof.

How To: DIY Music Server Using FreeNAS & A T5700 Thin Client

I’ve written up this most recent project of mine for the folks at www.smallnetbuilder.com. It’s a complete How-To that describes running FreeNAS, SlimNAS & SqueezeCenter on a recycled HP T5700 thin client. I also modify the T5700 by adding a 250 GB 2.5″ IDE drive installed internally. The result is a music server supporting my Squeezeboxes that consumes only 14 watts.

Update -the article went live this morning at http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/content/view/30522/77/

SlimNAS Is In Service

My rebuilt SlimNAS device is now operational. The little 2.5″ HD is installed inside the T5700 case. I used the expansion chassis just to ensure that there’s enough air flow now that there is a IDE ribbon cable blocking airflow at least a little. Since there is no PCI card in the expansion slot so I fit a blank to fill the back panel opening.

The HD is paritioned into two volumes. FreeNAS is on the small volume, with the SlimServer and music library on the other. The drive is 250 GB, with 232 GB available for music. As I write this the flac portion of my library is being copied from the old P4-2.8 server. That’ll take a couple of hours for sure.

I’ll post more details on it’s actual performance once I’ve had a chance to us it a bit.

SlimNAS Project Update

I have a 2.5″ 250 GB IDE hard drive to form the basis of my rebuilt SlimNAS server. I also have the HP T5700 host platform. As week or so back I ordered a 40 pin IDE cable on Ebay just to see if the drive could be plugged into the IDE header in the T5700 motherboard, where the DOM normally lives.

When the cable arrived, from Taiwan no less, I tried this and found it works fine. The IDE header on the mobo is not keyed like on larger systems so it’s possible connect it in reverse. If you do this a couple of the leads heat up really quickly. Luckily I noticed this and powered it off quickly. Not damage done luckily.

I have the system running plain vanilla FreeNAS at the moment.  Next I need to do a FreeNAS upgrade, then install SlimNAS.

SlimServer on FreeNAS Soon To Be Revisited

I see that the newer Squeeze Center, which is actually Slim Server v7, is available as a FreeNAS module. This means that it might be a good time to upgrade my T5700 based music server.

I haven’t actually been using this server for a few months. A while back I decided to try a “room correction” plugin from Inguz for Slim Server. This does some DSP transformations on the music stream on-the-fly, basically effecting some equalization. This plugin required more CPU power than a lowly T5700 could provide, so I’ve been using and old P4-2.8 as my music server these past months.

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