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Streaming music with GNUMP3d

Posted by Steve on Tue 19 Jul 2005 at 14:28

If you have a large music collection then streaming it across a LAN, or the internet, is a logical thing to do with it. There are several different streaming servers available in the Debian package archives, here we'll have a look at GNUMP3d.

I've postponed writing about this for a long time, because I'm fairly biased, but I'll try not to let that affect me too much - clearly this is the best multimedia streamer in the world ;)

The GNU MP3/Media Streamer is a simple application which makes it possible to navigate through your audio and video collection via a browser, and stream playlists across a network.

Initially written as an alternative to the Python based Edna software it has evolved a lot since then.

The software supports browsing, searching, and streaming all via your browser with support for MP3, OGG Vorbis, WMA and many other types of audio files.

Installing the software is as simple as running:

apt-get install gnump3d

This will download the software and start the debconf based configuration. When the software is installed it will ask you three questions:

  • The directory containing all your media, /var/music by default.
  • The port number the server should listen upon, 8888 by default.
  • The user the daemon should run as, gnump3d by default.

Each of those settings can be changed as you wish - either initially, or by later running:

dpkg-reconfigure gnump3d

It is suggested that you leave the server running as a dedicated user, although if you wish you could change this. (A common change is create a dedicated musical archive with ownership set to user and group music, then add the gnump3d user to that group).

Once the server has started it will create an index of the tags contained within your music. This tag database will be updated once a day via a cronjob located in /etc/cron.daily/gnump3d - to ensure it is constantly up to date.

Once the media is indexed then the server itself will start, and you can point your browser to http://localhost:8888/ to view your audio collection.

The interface is designed to be clean and simple to navigate, and several different themes are available. To change the theme you wish to use simply click upon the "Preferences" link.

If you wish you to customise the server you can examine and modify the configuration file /etc/gnump3d/gnump3d.conf. This file is commented fairly extensively.

The most common things users change are:

  • The default theme.
  • The security options.
  • The downsampling support.
Default Theme

The default theme can be changed simply by adjusting the following section in the configuration file:

##
#
#  All the output the server produces is generated with the help of
# some HTML template files, these are referred to throughout the
# program and each collection of templates is referred to collectively
# as a 'theme'.
#
#  This next option allows you to specify which theme should be used
# by default.  (Any client can select one of the available themes by
# the use of cookies).
#
theme = Tabular
Security Options

The security options of the server are two-fold. You can either:

  • Restrict access to the server via a password file - less secure.
  • Restrict access to the server via IP address - recommended.

To restrict access by username and password simply create a file called .password within the root of your music archive, containing lines of the form:

username1:password1
username2:password2

This will prompt visitors for usernames and password. However if a visitor knows the structure of your archive they can directly download music without being prompted. This is because the server will always stream/serve media without authentication as very few audio players support it. The password option only protects your server from people viewing the HTML interface, and provides a small measure of security by obscurity.

The recommended way to protect your archive is to restrict the machine(s) which can access the server by IP address.

To that end there are two settings which can be used allowed_clients and denied_clients. These two settings are colon-seperated lists of IP addresses which are either allowed to connect or denied access respectively.

The commented out examples show how they can be used:

#
#  Only people on the same subnet, (class C):
# allowed_clients = 192.168.2.0/24

#
#  Allow access to everybody on the LAN and one remote address
#
# allowed_clients = 192.168.1.0/24; 194.194.194.194
Downsampling Support

Downsampling of media is supported if you have a tool installed upon your server machine which can do the job, such as lame.

To enable downsampling you need to setup a couple of different options:

  • First of all you must enable the downsampling option.
  • Then specify the hosts for which it is enabled.
  • Finally specify the commands required to do the job.

To enable downsampling set "downsample_enabled = 1". This will enable the support.

Once that's done you'll need to decide who gets their media downsampled. The way this is specified is by IP address - with two distinct groups. There are clients who always get their media downsampled, and clients who never have their music degraded.

The most common scenario is when the music server is installed upon a gateway. There the clients on the local LAN side of the gateway should never have their music downsampled, whilst those accessing it from the remote side should always have it reduced.

To do this is very simple, we start by saying "downsample to all clients", then modify that to ensure the local clients get the full bitstream:

downsample_clients = ALL
no_downsample_clients = 192.168.0.0/24

Again these configuration settings are commented in the configuration file.

Finally you need to setup the quality levels - these can be changed by the end user, so if you wish to mandate a particular quality level you should set all of them to the same.

The default quality level is "medium", and is altered via the default_quality option.

For each quality level, and each file type, you must specify a program the stream should be piped through.

The configuration options vary as they are designed to be flexible for different media types. They are constructed by the following "formula":

downsample_"quality level"_"file suffix"

The examples given are fairly good though:

default_quality       = medium
downsample_high_mp3   = /usr/bin/lame  --mp3input -b 56 $FILENAME -
downsample_medium_mp3 = /usr/bin/lame  --mp3input -b 32 $FILENAME -
downsample_low_mp3    = /usr/bin/lame  --mp3input -b 16 $FILENAME -

Here the clients are presented with three different quality levels, 16, 32, and 56 bit streams. They can choose which level they get by altering the preferences in their browser - by default they receive the 32 bit stream.

If you wish to ensure they only ever get the low quality stream set:

downsample_high_mp3   = /usr/bin/lame  --mp3input -b 16 $FILENAME -
downsample_medium_mp3 = /usr/bin/lame  --mp3input -b 16 $FILENAME -
downsample_low_mp3    = /usr/bin/lame  --mp3input -b 16 $FILENAME -

 

 


Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by SquireCD (24.117.xx.xx) on Tue 19 Jul 2005 at 14:46
I've been using GNUmp3d for about 10 months now. I was very happy to see that someone else was using it. I really had no idea how popular it was when I tried it. My linux friend suggested a different server when I started thinking about a media server and what he suggested was absolute junk. Did an apt-cache search for media servers, found GNUmp3d, and gave it a go. It's by far the best and I'm glad you wrote this article.

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Steve (82.41.xx.xx) on Tue 19 Jul 2005 at 15:22
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I guess the biggest issue with it is the inability to create and save different playlists - I know that a lot of other servers allow that KPlaylist for example.

Still it's a nice stable server, and does everything I need it to. Development is pretty much ceased, although I don't really regard that as a bad thing - there's very little that could be added without complicating it more.

(The issue of using a database backend gets raised every now and again, but is unlikely to ever occur).

Steve
-- Steve.org.uk

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by SquireCD (24.117.xx.xx) on Tue 19 Jul 2005 at 16:16
I'd be very unhappy if GNUmp3d started to use database systems. The best thing about it is how easy and lightweight it is. If you start needing to install sql to use it... That'd be a very sad day for users of GNUmp3d. I, like you, don't see the cease of development as such a bad thing. It's a finished product and I'm sure if something comes up that needs adding, then they'll pop back in and add a new feature.

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Steve (82.41.xx.xx) on Tue 19 Jul 2005 at 16:24
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I did produce a small experimental server using a database backend to see how much speed gain there could be and how much effort would be involved in making it optional.

As expected indexing the music archive became both simpler, and faster, and the rest of the server was largely unaffected. It seemed like too much work to integrate the changes into the main project and make them "optional" though - so the work was abandoned.

I do small amounts of development every few months. But things are very slow with nothing substantial changing between releases. The only real changes recently have been new themes contributed by users, and the occaisional bugfix - if anybody suggests something very novel and useful/interesting I'd be tempted to add it - but not at the expense of increasing complexity.

(In case it's not clear I wrote the code; hence my mention of bias at the start of the article).

Steve
-- Steve.org.uk

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by SquireCD (24.117.xx.xx) on Thu 21 Jul 2005 at 04:34
YOU coded GNUmp3D???

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Steve (82.41.xx.xx) on Thu 21 Jul 2005 at 08:52
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Yes, that'd be why my name is on the bottom of each page upon the gnump3d.org website, etc.

Of course other people have sent patches, big and small, they are credited in the AUTHORS file.

Steve
-- Steve.org.uk

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by SquireCD (24.117.xx.xx) on Thu 21 Jul 2005 at 11:56
Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Anonymous (195.137.xx.xx) on Fri 29 Jul 2005 at 14:45
Thanks for the tip, Steve! I really love KPlaylist. Sorry Steve, but I'm going to remove gnump3d...

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Steve (82.41.xx.xx) on Fri 29 Jul 2005 at 14:48
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Hey use whichever program you prefer!

Zina is a nice alternative too, simple and clean.

Steve
-- Steve.org.uk

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Anonymous (67.35.xx.xx) on Wed 10 Aug 2005 at 18:19
Use Mp3kult and Mysql to built your Mp3lists ;; you'll love it!

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by denny99 (80.204.xx.xx) on Tue 19 Jul 2005 at 15:11
great software! after reading your article I installed gnump3d on a sarge and played foo fighters right away :)
thanks

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Steve (82.41.xx.xx) on Tue 19 Jul 2005 at 15:16
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Good choice - I was listening to them earlier!

Steve
-- Steve.org.uk

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Anonymous (213.164.xx.xx) on Tue 19 Jul 2005 at 15:29
Cool. Please can we see a demo by posting a link to your personal gnump3d server? :)

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Steve (82.41.xx.xx) on Tue 19 Jul 2005 at 15:44
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Nice try!

Google is your friend .. there are a few servers out there which are publically accessible. I'm not sure I should encourage anybody though ;)

Steve
-- Steve.org.uk

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Serge (213.119.xx.xx) on Tue 19 Jul 2005 at 19:50
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Thank you for this good article, Steve.

The thing I'm wondering about streaming media, is what about the client?
What I mean to say is, most server have a web interface, like this one, but then you need a computer for playback.

To what extent is there some kind of standardisation - client side? What black box device should I have if I want a client hooked up to my HiFi music installation in my living room?

If it wasn't obvious yet, I don't now anything about streaming stuff. I'm just looking for a nice solution to encode all my 500 cd's and be able to listen to them from anywhere in the house :)


--

Serge van Ginderachter


[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Steve (82.41.xx.xx) on Tue 19 Jul 2005 at 20:07
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To use the web interface you'll obviously need a browser of some kind.

I've heard of people using iPaqs and other wireless PDA-type clients for recieving and playing the music. Personally I just use xmms and firefox running on a desktop with speakers attached, or a laptop.

Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.

If you're looking for a black-box type device for receiving music from a central location you're probably going to want to look at something like the Squeezebox from SlimDevices, although I've never had the money to spare on one of them!

Steve
-- Steve.org.uk

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by fsateler (200.104.xx.xx) on Tue 19 Jul 2005 at 20:49
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How can this be useful in a home LAN? I actually have no problem in sharing the folders through samba (I'd like to try nfs, but we have to ocasionally use windows), and letting anyone at home mount it. What advantages would I get from setting a streaming server?

----
Felipe Sateler

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Steve (82.41.xx.xx) on Tue 19 Jul 2005 at 22:15
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If you're happy with your existing solution there may not be a lot of reasons to switch.

What this solution does offer though is:

  • The easily ability to create simple customized playlists.
  • The ability to generate "random playlists".
  • Centralised statistics so you can see the most popular artist/songs/etc
  • Reasonably good searching facilities.
  • Browsing your archive by tag informaton.

It really depends what your usage is. Some people will load up a massive playlist with all their songs in it, and just play that randomly. Other people prefer to load specific things based upon their mood - that is probably a scenario better suited to a dedicated streaming server.

Steve
-- Steve.org.uk

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by cpankonien (68.34.xx.xx) on Wed 20 Jul 2005 at 00:37
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well...instead of mounting a samba or an nfs share, you just open the browser and click on the song, then away you go...i am pretty sure that smb/nfs are not very secure, so if you have a cable modem/dsl connection and are using smb/nfs then you had better be behind a firewall...if you do have a firewall, then using gnump3d you can access your music from anywhere, assuming proper router/firewall config. hope this helps...

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Serge (213.119.xx.xx) on Tue 19 Jul 2005 at 22:39
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OK, I'm stuck with some weird behavior. It's probably my fault and it's getting too late, but alas, it appears I'm not the only one: http://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/gnump3d-users/2004-06/msg00006. html

I just apt-got my self into gnump3d, and replaced /var/music by a symlink to my music archive, and ran the indexer manually (as root, maybe that wasn't ok?).

When I directly go to other links (e.g. http://goldorak:8888/playlist/) I can browse the web interface, except the root link.

When I click a song, it seems the index has it, but the server can't find the song:


Error
The requested file /mp3/99/U2 - Sunday Bloody Sunday.mp3.m3u couldn't be found. Please try returning to the index.


At first I thought it might be a permission problem, but chmod o+r didn't help.

O well, I'll look into this tomorrow, using a fresh head.


--

Serge van Ginderachter


[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by bsod (204.50.xx.xx) on Wed 3 Aug 2005 at 15:02
I had the same problem, it seems to be a chown/chmod problem. (something like : gnump3d's user need write access to all subfolders)

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Anonymous (85.182.xx.xx) on Wed 29 Nov 2006 at 17:36
make chmod for folder or requested file 777

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Anonymous (71.202.xx.xx) on Wed 12 Jul 2006 at 04:32
Did you ever find out how to fix this problem? I have the same issue, file couldn't be found...

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Anonymous (77.23.xx.xx) on Thu 1 Oct 2009 at 20:15
I had the same problem.
I just fixed it while writing this comment so I had to rewrite it;)
My example and what the problem is:
I changed the gnump3d-root to /media/data/music.
Even though I gave chmod 777 to that folder and everything inside, I could not get gnump3d accessing it.
Then I noticed that it works if gnump3d runs as root.
This is no solution of course.

The problem are the rights of the mount-point (/media/data in my case).
For me, this was 760 with my own user being the owner. I had thought that this was a good idea when I mounted the drive. But the 0 means other users (except me - and root of course) are not allowed to access anything in there, even if the rights of the subdirectory would allow that (chmod 777 of /media/data/music).
So chmod 777 /media/data fixed the issue.

(Another solution would be to mount-bind /media/data/music as /var/music, then the mount-point would be /var/music which you could give enough rights.)

Btw, thanks for the great software!

Another issue:
I plan to use it over VPN to securely access it from remote, but https-support would be perfect.. You could make a https-browser-login which generates a session-id which is included in the links so you do not need the login-capatibility of the media player ;)

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by cpankonien (68.34.xx.xx) on Wed 20 Jul 2005 at 00:22
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i just installed gnump3d doing a simple apt-get install and it worked immediately. i can now shut down smb on that share, and not only can i stream on my network, i can access it from ANYWHERE! i must admit i've been trying to figure out how to do that for some time now but am not a programmer, so i didn't get very far. the interface is exactly as i was thinking about so thanks for keeping it simple...

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Steve (82.41.xx.xx) on Sat 23 Jul 2005 at 20:29
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One of the initial goals was to make it as simple as possible to setup and use.

With the support for downsampling things got a little bit more complex, and when Windows support was bolted on some more changes were introduced which spoilt things a little.

But on the whole I think it's still simple to setup and use for 99% of all users. Which is a good thing.

Steve
-- Steve.org.uk

[ Parent ]

Many clients in one flat
Posted by Anonymous (141.52.xx.xx) on Wed 20 Jul 2005 at 10:27
I'm wondering if it will work to run around three clients in my flat at home, all playing in a __very_well_synchronised__ manner, i.e. I can walk between different rooms in my flat without hearing an echo when standing in between rooms.

Next question is if this will work on wireless. I'm also considering bluetooth...

Marcus.

[ Parent ]

Re: Many clients in one flat
Posted by Steve (82.41.xx.xx) on Wed 20 Jul 2005 at 12:11
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The server isn't really setup to allow that. I suspect you'd just get frustrated unless you were capable of getting other people to all start playing the same playlist at the same time.

Steve
-- Steve.org.uk

[ Parent ]

Re: Many clients in one flat
Posted by Anonymous (216.191.xx.xx) on Thu 21 Jul 2005 at 19:02
I've had some success running that sort of setup using IceCast/Shout, but the playlist controls are extremely crude. In my modest 2 room appartment, if I connect two clients to one stream and reduce the client buffer to a minimum, the synchronization is sufficient that I can continue to sing along as I move from one room to the other.

[ Parent ]

my two cents
Posted by megaprogman (66.0.xx.xx) on Wed 20 Jul 2005 at 12:26
Gnump3d is a very good system. Personally, I have been using it for a little over a year now. I especially enjoy the ability to set up downsampling defaults based on the subnet accessing the server.

I do have one comment though ...

Steve, have you ever considered adding a module to upload a song through the webpage that gnump3d generates?

[ Parent ]

Re: my two cents
Posted by Steve (82.41.xx.xx) on Wed 20 Jul 2005 at 12:29
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I've thought of it several times ;)

The hard part is doing it securely - usually I suggest instead that people use an ssh, or ftp server to manage the uploads. Steve
-- Steve.org.uk

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Nikem (194.126.xx.xx) on Wed 20 Jul 2005 at 13:31
Could not you add to GNUMP3d FAQ list of all supported media formats? :) I was unable to find anything except mp3 and ogg.

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Steve (82.41.xx.xx) on Wed 20 Jul 2005 at 13:33
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Not a bad idea.

Right now the file suffixes of all supported media is contained in the library file lib/gnump3d/files.pm - so that's the place I check first.

It's not very obvious though, and a list might be useful to lure more users in.

Steve
-- Steve.org.uk

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Anonymous (216.191.xx.xx) on Thu 21 Jul 2005 at 18:53
Wow, this is an amazing way to stream music!! I've been using Icecast/Shout for a couple of years now, and this beats it hands down. I really like the ability to control the playlist from the client side of things.

Anyhow, thanks for posting about this GNUMP3d thing!

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Steve (82.41.xx.xx) on Sat 23 Jul 2005 at 20:28
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I'm glad it was useful :)

Steve
-- Steve.org.uk

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by medwayman (212.159.xx.xx) on Sat 23 Jul 2005 at 20:03
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Thanks for a great piece of software!

Just one niggling, pedantic comment:-

I listen to music that I would not classify as a "song".

Is there a way of changing the default file description to something more accurate, like "track"?

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Steve (82.41.xx.xx) on Sat 23 Jul 2005 at 20:19
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Sadly not at the moment. Most of these strings are contained in the template files you'll find beneath /usr/share/gnump3d - you could edit them there, but an upgrade would remove your changes.

It hadn't really occurred to me that this might not be the most appropriate label, although I guess things like "audio books" shouldn't really be called songs. Steve
-- Steve.org.uk

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by natarajmb (59.92.xx.xx) on Sun 24 Jul 2005 at 07:01
I have been using it for three months its a wonderful tool. I have three system to cater to for music and one of the user for those machines is my father and he listens to songs quite often, and its always a problem with win-98 to load network partitions best solution put musics on local lan. Steve keep up the good work...

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d - can it handle .flac?
Posted by summitwulf (72.130.xx.xx) on Sat 28 Jan 2006 at 08:50
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I just installed this, and it looks great and seems to work fine with mp3s. However, all my audio is ripped to .flac - and it doesn't work with those it seems. I am streaming from a Debian box to a Windows laptop, and when I select the flac file in a browser, Winamp fires up nicely but there is no playback. The same flac file is played properly if copied to the laptop, BTW.

Am I being very dense and missing something? I thought this supported formats besides mp3, ogg...

Sorry if I'm being dumb, I've read the docs and just can't see what is wrong.

Very nice for mp3s however.

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d - can it handle .flac?
Posted by summitwulf (72.130.xx.xx) on Sat 28 Jan 2006 at 09:00
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Interestingly, 'Downloading' the file from the link to the right of it in the browser, and then playing it, also works - so it doesn't like something about the streaming...?

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d - can it handle .flac?
Posted by summitwulf (72.130.xx.xx) on Sat 28 Jan 2006 at 09:09
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FYI, a wma file also works fine.

Sorry for the multiple follow-ups... I'm anxious to find out what the problem is so I can play my 2 Gb of (.flac'ed) music!

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Anonymous (169.200.xx.xx) on Fri 28 Jul 2006 at 21:33
I've been running this server for about 7 months now and enjoy it greatly. However, I do have one very large issue with it that has brought me to coding my own media server. It seems that if I let it run for more than a week, it will eat up all of my memory. There really aren't any other apps on the server that could be doing this and I've done as much as I can to narrow it down to this program. Is there any way to fix these memory leaks/figure out what the hell is causing them?
Anyway, Steve, thanks for a great piece of software and it sucks that it looks like I'm the only one experiencing this problem.

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Steve (62.30.xx.xx) on Fri 28 Jul 2006 at 22:53
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I guess the perl debugger/profiler is the obvious approach...

Personally I restart it once a week for the addition of new music, so I've never seen this. Maybe that is a "solution"? If you could track down any issues I'd fix them .. but I guess coding your own replacement is just as good an approach ;)

Steve

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Anonymous (81.70.xx.xx) on Sun 18 Oct 2009 at 22:03
Steve, it seems you have dropped gnump3d from Debian lenny and squeeze? What mp3d would you recommend now?

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Steve (2001:0xx:0xx:0xxx:0xxx:0xxx:xx) on Sun 18 Oct 2009 at 22:15
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It was removed because none of the people volunteering to maintain the package actually did so.

These days I'd probably pick mpd/mpc for controling music, but if you specifically want streaming then I'd suggest libapache2-mod-musicindex.

Steve

[ Parent ]

Re: Streaming music with GNUMP3d
Posted by Anonymous (76.11.xx.xx) on Wed 28 Oct 2009 at 17:25
Interesting to see the comments continue into 2009... Well if you are still checking these, I just wanted to say thanks for your efforts.

Just compiled gnump3d on my SheevaPlug... I would still highly recommend it over mpd on very basic servers as mpd required ALSA and a bunch of other junk when I don't even have a sound card.

[ Parent ]