A pleasant surprise: VortexBox

As a test for my new torrent slave, I downloaded an ISO of VortexBox, which is something I hadn’t ever heard of, probably because I don’t travel in Fedora circles very much. I had no rationale for grabbing that torrent; it just happened to be at the top of the stack at linuxtracker.org.

For fun, I tried installing it on the X60s. I don’t have any snapshots for you this time, mostly because there’s nothing to see — install it and you’re just at a command prompt.

I know that scares some people, and even in my case, I had to say, “Okay, now what?” Luckily there’s this page, aptly entitled, “OK I installed it, now what?”

The best part of the “now what?” is dropping a CD into the drive. VortexBox automatically rips the CD, labels the files and drops them into its file structure. You access the machine by its web interface, which means you can arrange and configure the network any way you please, then use other machines to stream music from it, connect network audio players or even play music directly through the computer.

It’s a rather cool implementation of the classic “turn your computer into a music machine” idea that everyone has thrown at them whenever there’s an old computer lying around. This takes that idea to an extreme, wholly dedicating the machine to the task. Which is a good thing.

I like it. It reminds me a lot of what FreeNAS would probably be, if the FreeNAS project was suddenly hijacked by audiophiles. And it’s a good idea for an outdated machine.

I don’t know how far back “outdated” can go though. I don’t have enough experience with Fedora in its most recent incarnations to know if something as slow as, say, 550Mhz can reliably handle running VortexBox. I can tell you startup time on the X60s was rather slow, but that’s not necessarily an indicator of it’s lightweightishness. 🙄

I also wish there was an option for a “live” environment; from the Grub menu you can only install or install (if I remember right). It would be nice to try out the system before committing an entire machine. That might be a technical impossibility though; perhaps someone else can look closer.

I like the principle though. It seems like a natural project for something ultra-lightweight, maybe Slitaz-driven or something like that. I don’t know how much work it would be to accomplish the same feats but use a different distro. Perhaps I can investigate further when I have some free time. Okay, that last part was funny. … :mrgreen:

3 thoughts on “A pleasant surprise: VortexBox

  1. Adrian

    I can’t see how it could be heavyweight. It’s nothing but a sambaserver with some scripts running automaticly when media is inserted.

    Or am I wrong here?

    1. Andrew

      There is actually quite a bit to VortexBox. It rips to FLAC but it can also mirror your collection to mp3 or ALAC. VortexBox also has a host of built in features including backup to USB attached storage. But it’s real claim to fame is it’s ability to stream music to any media player.

      Not only does it have SMB and NFS sharing it also has DLNA, and DAAP (iTunes) protocol. VortexBox also runs SqueezeBox server for compatibility with Logitexh SqueezeBox players and it has a built in player that can be controlled by an iPod.

      Not to bad for a free Linux distro.

  2. Pingback: Links 19/4/2010: Synaptics Gesture Suite on Linux | Techrights

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