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I have an old clunker PC that I'm looking to convert into a juke box. I want to hook it up to my entertainment center and organize and play all ...
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  1. #1
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    Clunker Juke Box to be my first Linux PC?


    I have an old clunker PC that I'm looking to convert into a juke box. I want to hook it up to my entertainment center and organize and play all my music. My music collection is already converted to MP3s (and MP3s only).

    The machine is an HP Pavillion 8570C. It's a Pentium III whose memory is maxed out at 256 MB. It has a 20 GB hard drive that came with it and another 90 GB one that I added later. Its original operating system was Windows 98. It's now a dual boot machine with Win 98 and Windows 2000. I could never find a sound card driver that worked under Windows 2000. So with Win 2K being unable to make any sound, that OS is ruled out unless I finally find a driver or install a new sound card. I tried to make this work under Win 98, but the juke box programs I was interested in using (MediaMonkey or WinAmp) will not run under Win 98. No big loss. Win 98 is a horrible operating system.

    So that leaves my contenders Windows XP or Ubuntu Linux (who a friend raves about). Security and malware are not an issue with this PC, regardless of OS. I will not be connecting it to the Internet or any network. Once it's set up, the only files I'll add to it are MP3s that I've already Kapersky scanned for malware.

    Windows XP is an attractive choice for me because:
    1) I'm extremely familiar with it.
    2) MediaMonkey and/or WinAmp run under it.
    3) It already has some audio playing features.

    Its potential downfalls are:
    1) Will it run well enough with this very limited hardware?
    2) XP has some extra crap in it that I don't need that I'll have to uninstall.
    3) It may keep bugging me about there being no Internet conncetion.
    4) It has to be activated.
    5) I'd have to either pay money to Microsoft, a comany I loathe, or illegally crack it.

    Ubuntu Linux sounds attractive to me for these reasons:
    1) A very PC savvy friend raves over it.
    2) It requires only modest system resources.
    3) It doesn't have to be activated like Win XP does.
    4) I'll finally get to try out this Linux thing I've heard so much about.

    Possible downfalls to going Linux are:
    1) Same thing as Win 2K -- will I be able to find a sound card driver?
    2) Will I be able to find MP3 playing software that I like?

    Of course, the first one could be overcome if I got another sound card that definitely runs under Linux. How could I find such an animal if I need one? Can I get one cheaply? The point of this project is to use existing hardware that I have in lieu of paying out a bunch of money for an MP3 player. The PC has available PCI slots.

    Are there good MP3 playing programs for Linux? I want something that will let me categorize music based on artist and album and genre. Then I'd like to be able to choose to play an album in the song order that the artist chose -- or I could shuffle it up -- or I could choose to shuffle all songs by an artist and have them play randomly. I would also like to be able to play a genre randomly -- have it play all 70s rock or all 60s love songs. Or it could random play stuff that is popular to me based on how much I play songs.

    I've heard you can sometimes run programs designed for Windows if you have something called WINE. Is there any way for me to find out in advance if MediaMonkey and/or WinAmp run under Linux/WINE?

    The only reason I'm mainly interested in Ubuntu is because I have a friend who uses it. Is it the best choice for my juke box needs or should I consider some other brand of Linux?

    Any suggestions are appreciated. I've also post about this on another forum. Here are the links there in case anyone is interested.

    ClunkerJunker as a Juke Box - My Super PC Forums - Build Your Own Computer - Message Board - Discussion

    Clunker Junker II: I've started and am stuck - My Super PC Forums - Build Your Own Computer - Message Board - Discussion

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom_ZeCat View Post
    Possible downfalls to going Linux are:
    1) Same thing as Win 2K -- will I be able to find a sound card driver?
    Most likely. Nowadays, the support for sound cards under linux is very good, overall, if you are speaking about hardware from the pII era.

    2) Will I be able to find MP3 playing software that I like?
    You can always try to run under wine your favourite windows player. But if you are going to do that, I advise you to stay on windows. There'd be no point in running linux if you are going to continue running windows programs.

    The other option is to choose a linux native media player. There are lots of them around: mplayer, kaffeine, amarok, smplayer, gxine, audacious, mpd, xmms(2), moc and many more.

    Of course, the first one could be overcome if I got another sound card that definitely runs under Linux. How could I find such an animal if I need one? Can I get one cheaply? The point of this project is to use existing hardware that I have in lieu of paying out a bunch of money for an MP3 player. The PC has available PCI slots.
    Don't worry. I doubt you will have to work too much to get your sound working. Though it umtimately depends on the distribution you choose.

    Are there good MP3 playing programs for Linux? I want something that will let me categorize music based on artist and album and genre. Then I'd like to be able to choose to play an album in the song order that the artist chose -- or I could shuffle it up -- or I could choose to shuffle all songs by an artist and have them play randomly. I would also like to be able to play a genre randomly -- have it play all 70s rock or all 60s love songs. Or it could random play stuff that is popular to me based on how much I play songs.
    I would check amarok or exaile:

    Screenshots | Amarok
    Exaile | Music Player for GTK+: Screenshots

    They are heavy, but have lots of functionalities. If all you are going to do is to play mp3's on that box, then the resouce consumption is not important.

    For videos I suggest kaffeine or smplayer:

    Features | Kaffeine - KDE Media Player
    SMPlayer - Screenshots

    Kaffeine is wonderful for dvd playing.

    I posted these links so you can see some screenshots. Your distro will allow you to install the programs fro it's native package manager, you don't need to download anything yourself.

    I've heard you can sometimes run programs designed for Windows if you have something called WINE. Is there any way for me to find out in advance if MediaMonkey and/or WinAmp run under Linux/WINE?
    Probably. If you want to try something under wine, first go to the wine site here:

    Wine AppDB - Wine Application Database

    Enter the name of your application in the bottom left, where you can read "Search the AppDB". Probably someone else tried before you, and there is some help or info on how it works and what can you expect.

    But, again, if all you are doing is to run windows applications, then you should be using windows. It'd be easier, wouldn't it?

    The only reason I'm mainly interested in Ubuntu is because I have a friend who uses it. Is it the best choice for my juke box needs or should I consider some other brand of Linux?
    I think (but I am not sure, so, better ask your friend), that ubuntu doesn't install all the propietary media codecs and stuff by default (ubuntu comes from debian, and debian people are really picky about the phylosophic aspect of freedom and all that stuff).

    There are workarounds of course, and with a bit of help, you can install the correct stuff in any distro, so, if you want ubuntu, go ahead with it. Once you have it installed and running, all the people around here can help you to correctly set up things.

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    I think (but I am not sure, so, better ask your friend), that ubuntu doesn't install all the propietary media codecs and stuff by default (ubuntu comes from debian, and debian people are really picky about the phylosophic aspect of freedom and all that stuff).
    No, it doesn't; but it's easy to do it. Alternatively, you can install Mint which does have all the codecs. However, I would fear that Ubuntu and Mint would be a little on the heavy side, especially if you plan on running Amarok, which fits your criteria for a music playing application very nicely. Better off going for Xubuntu methinks. In any case, I'd like to add my voice to what i92guboj has just said: there is absolutely no point in having a Linux machine running Windows programmes, especially when there are very good native Linux equivalents for practically everything.
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    I've just thought of something that is important to add. You must remember that Linux is *meant* to be run with an Internet connection. Being a derivative of Unix, an OS that was designed to run on a network, Linux feels lost when it doesn't have the Internet. What you might well find with Ubuntu is that when you boot it up it will desperately look for the Internet connection and only start until it gives up. This means that whereas start up time in Linux is generally far faster than under Windows (my computer running on Debian with Fluxbox takes precisely 39 seconds to boot and then 2 seconds to get from the log in screen to a fully workable, and I mean fully workable, session), you might have a long wait. If this happens you may need to disable DHCP. Just bear that in mind: if it happens, post a new thread to ask for help and we'll guide you through the steps.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manchunian View Post
    I've just thought of something that is important to add. You must remember that Linux is *meant* to be run with an Internet connection.
    The net is a natural thing on every *nix system. But it's perfectly possible and safe to have linux on a networkless system. I've had it for years, and that's how I knew linux in first place, when I was a child and I couldn't afford an internet connection.

    Linux feels lost when it doesn't have the Internet. What you might well find with Ubuntu is that when you boot it up it will desperately look for the Internet connection and only start until it gives up. This means that whereas start up time in Linux is generally far faster than under Windows (my computer running on Debian with Fluxbox takes precisely 39 seconds to boot and then 2 seconds to get from the log in screen to a fully workable, and I mean fully workable, session), you might have a long wait. If this happens you may need to disable DHCP. Just bear that in mind: if it happens, post a new thread to ask for help and we'll guide you through the steps.
    This is just a problem with ubuntu having included by default ALL the imaginable services, and not with linux in general. I am pretty sure that the ubuntu docs describe how to disable dhcp (and if they don't, well, that'd be another reason why I don't like ubuntu at all).

    Anyway, dhcp will only try to listen for connections if you have network interfaces. So, if you don't have any ethernet card, and your mainboard doesn't have any net chip either, then dhcp will not try to listen anything. And there's always the possibility to just remove the network drivers from your kernel, so the hardware will not be functional and there will not be any ethernet interface that linux can see.

    All that linux needs is a network connection. But that doesn't mean "a physical network connection". All the linux distros do start a loopback network connection when booting, and that's why we can always get to our machine by pinging 127.0.0.1 or localhost. Linux could even operate without that, but lots of problems would arise, that's true.

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    As far as I'm aware Ubuntu no longer waits for an internet connection. With Feisty it used to wait up to 20 seconds during boot for a connection. That was bad news if you were using a wireless card as it would keep searching whereas a disconnected cable would let it continue.

    With Gutsy this doesn't seem to be the case anymore - boot will just proceed after maybe a second or two.

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    Yes, this is all true. I just wanted him to be aware that Ubuntu risks starting slow without the Internet connection and that this is not because Linux is always slow to start. I have two other computers that run entirely on Linux. One is installed with Slackware 12, the other DSL. Neither of these two computers is connected to the Internet and neither have slow start up time. But the computer I'm using now, a Debian Etch machine, will take a long time to start if the Internet is disconnected, so I hypothesise that Ubuntu might do the same thing.

    Edit: I wrote this just before you gave us that precision bigtomrodney. Thanks for that.
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    Many thanks, i92guboj. That's extremely helpful info. Those programs look like exactly what I need.

    i92guboj:
    I think (but I am not sure, so, better ask your friend), that ubuntu doesn't install all the propietary media codecs and stuff by default (ubuntu comes from debian, and debian people are really picky about the phylosophic aspect of freedom and all that stuff).
    No big problem. I've found a link that summarizes what I ought to add to Ubuntu after installation:
    Linux on Desktop: 13 Things to do immediately after installing Ubuntu

    It's no big deal at all to install that stuff after my OS install.

    Manchunian:
    No, it doesn't; but it's easy to do it. Alternatively, you can install Mint which does have all the codecs. ... [snip]In any case, I'd like to add my voice to what i92guboj has just said: there is absolutely no point in having a Linux machine running Windows programmes, especially when there are very good native Linux equivalents for practically everything.
    I agree. The only reason I was considering MediaMonkey or WinAmp would be if I couldn't find a Linux-based app that does the job. I would prefer if possible for this PC to be a Linux-only computer with only Linux applications. Since I'm only using it as a glorified MP3 player, it looks likely that that's very doable. I also don't want it to be a dual boot. While dual booting with a Windows/Linux PC has its advantages, I see no reason to do that here or to run any Windows programs under Linux.

    Manchunian:
    However, I would fear that Ubuntu and Mint would be a little on the heavy side, especially if you plan on running Amarok, which fits your criteria for a music playing application very nicely. Better off going for Xubuntu methinks.
    Well, I haven't committed to Ubuntu yet. I've only downloaded the iso and created an install CD from it. I only favored it because I know someone who likes it. If Xubuntu would serve me better, I can still go with it. Do you guys think I should do that?

    Manchunian:
    What you might well find with Ubuntu is that when you boot it up it will desperately look for the Internet connection and only start until it gives up ..... you might have a long wait. If this happens you may need to disable DHCP. Just bear that in mind: if it happens, post a new thread to ask for help and we'll guide you through the steps.
    Okay, thanks. If the first boot up is long, but I can correct it for subsequent bootups, that's no problem at all.

    i92guboj:
    Anyway, dhcp will only try to listen for connections if you have network interfaces. So, if you don't have any ethernet card, and your mainboard doesn't have any net chip either, then dhcp will not try to listen anything. And there's always the possibility to just remove the network drivers from your kernel, so the hardware will not be functional and there will not be any ethernet interface that linux can see.
    It has a PCI-based ethernet card in it, plus a dead ethernet port from the motherboard. When the ethernet port died, I installed a PCI-based one so that I could connect to the Internet. Since that's no longer an issue, I can remove that card. I'll probably wait, though, until I have Linux up and running in case I want to download any updates. In other words, I'll probably hook up to the Internet initially for a brief time period, then permanently disconnect it.

    This reminds me. I have a Belkin USB port card in one of the PCI expansion slots now that gives me two USB 2.0 ports. If I boot to Win 98, Win 98 throws a fit trying to find a driver for it. If I boot to Win 2K, Win 2K does fine; I can use the ports. If Ubuntu or Xubuntu can easily use those USB ports, I'd like to leave that card in. It's not crucial that I have those ports since there is a native USB 1.1 port on the front that works. And once my entire music collection is on this hard drive (via an external hard drive), I'll only be adding music to the PC in small amounts, meaning USB 1.1 performance will be adequate.

    Is it no big deal to leave that USB 2.0 card in?

    How about my external hard drive? I actually have two to choose from, a fairly recent Western Digital Mybook 500 GB drive and an older Maxtor 120 GB one. I plan to use one of them to port my music collection over. Is Ubuntu plug and play with those devices?

    I also have a question about file systems. I'm going to ask that on the Installation forum.

    Many thanks. You guys' help is very appreciated.
    Last edited by Tom_ZeCat; 04-19-2008 at 10:21 PM. Reason: typo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom_ZeCat View Post
    Well, I haven't committed to Ubuntu yet. I've only downloaded the iso and created an install CD from it. I only favored it because I know someone who likes it. If Xubuntu would serve me better, I can still go with it. Do you guys think I should do that?
    Well, xubuntu ships the xfce desktop:

    Xfce - Desktop Environment

    Xfce is supposed to be somewhat lighter, but, to tell the truth (and in my humble opinion) nowadays it's not much different from gnome or kde with a default configuration. It just feels lighter, cleaner, but the code footprint is not that small like people seem to think (after all, it's just another gtk2 desktop, just like gnome).

    Anyway, if you can, you should try ubuntu, kubuntu, and xunbuntu, and decide which desktop you like best. They are shipped respectively with gnome, kde and xfce.

    The configuration of your desktop and the apps you choose is what is really going to make a difference.

    And anyway, as said above, the performance is not critical in this box, since it will only be doing a very specific task.

    This reminds me. I have a Belkin USB port card in one of the PCI expansion slots now that gives me two USB 2.0 ports. If I boot to Win 98, Win 98 throws a fit trying to find a driver for it. If I boot to Win 2K, Win 2K does fine; I can use the ports. If Ubuntu or Xbuntu can easily use those USB ports, I'd like to leave that card in. It's not crucial that I have those ports since there is a native USB 1.1 port on the front that works. And once my entire music collection is on this hard drive (via an external hard drive), I'll only be adding music to the PC in small amounts, meaning USB 1.1 performance will be adequate.

    Is it no big deal to leave that USB 2.0 card in?
    I don't think you will have any problem. And you can continue using those ports, as long as the relevant driver and the ehci driver are both loaded. That is, if you want to use them.

    How about my external hard drive? I actually have two to choose from, a fairly recent Western Digital Mybook 500 GB drive and an older Maxtor 120 GB one. I plan to use one of them to port my music collection over. Is Ubuntu plug and play with those devices?
    Linux can handle all usb storage devices via a single usb storage driver. You should have no problem. Whether it is automounted or not, depends mostly on the configuration of the distro you will be using, and how the "autoplay" feature is going to help, is determined by your desktkop environment. Surely, an ubuntu user can give you better input on this, but I know that gnome and kde both support this to some extent (I don't use any of them either). Xfce has also some virtual filesystem stuff, so it should also support some kind of autoplay feature.

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    If Ubuntu or Xubuntu can easily use those USB ports, I'd like to leave that card in.
    I don't think this should be a problem.

    How about my external hard drive? I actually have two to choose from, a fairly recent Western Digital Mybook 500 GB drive and an older Maxtor 120 GB one.
    I think you'll be able to use either. I myself have a 500gb Iomega external hard drive, and another 120gb one, and both are recognised. Actually, Linux should work with most stuff that hooks up via usb.
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