Once I had everything, it was time to test it.
The SlimServer was easy. I had copied my WMA files (I’ve been ripping all my CDs at 192Kbps WMA for use on my Creative Nomad Zen 60GB) to my Windows desktop at work (160GB hard drive) for use at work. I installed SlimServer, pointed it at my music folder, and hooked the Squeezebox2 to my external computer speakers through its headphone port.
The Squeezebox2, BTW, has the most amazing UI considering it’s basically a 2-line display. The arrow keys on the remote are incredibly intuitive, and selections and fields move with an inertial scrolling effect that’s not only beautiful to watch but provides very tangible feedback. The menus do what needs to happen when you need it. Initial setup is pointing it at your wireless network, where it will then scan for SlimServers, and start if it finds one. If not, you enter the IP address in manually. It works great, and literally 5 minutes after I opened the box the Squeezebox2 is playing digital music perfectly.
I got the KuroBox together–opening it up and getting the hard drive in there. Opening it was a bit of a trick–I had the instruction sheet that came with it, in Japanese with pictures. I didn’t figure out from the pictures that the gray plastic trim piece holding the halves together slides forward to come off the case, and I broke one of the tabs on it. But it doesn’t seem to have any long term repurcussions. Again, the case has the IDE and power cables you need so you don’t have to buy a retail drive kit with them. You’ll want the 2 inch IDE cable from the Kuro Box inside there as well.
The Kuro Box comes with a CD to install its operating system. It doesn’t work. Well, it probably works if you’ve got Windows 2000 or earlier but it won’t on Windows XP SP2 (or Linux, or Mac OS, etc.) I ended up doing a manual install which for someone with a little Unix admin experience is very easy. It’s basically exactly what the automated setup does anyway.
So I did it. The basic install creates a 128MB root partition. I kept running out of space trying to download and install optional packages. So, I said, what the hell, and redid the manual instructions with a 1GB root partition. Much better.
I got it all running eventually and played with the Web interface. I have a Buffalo router and the Web interface isn’t its greatest feature. The stock Kuro config interface is similar. But I got a Windows share going. Which didn’t work. It took much playing and turning on of logging to realize I had turned on Recycle Bin support, which isn’t available in the stock image.
I attempted to get all my music files from my office PC to the Kuro Box. I got over half of them over but it was going to take several hours.
I took it all home and played with it. I installed the Squeezebox2 into our entertainment center (which is a semi-custom unit). Had to move the receiver up a notch and put it in above the DVD player. The cool thing is the display sort of floats in the air since the Squeezebox2 is black.
I got the SlimServer software downloaded to the Kuro and I ran it. I pointed it at the music folder, went to play the files, and it didn’t work. I figured it was various Unix file permissions problems, but nothing fixed it. I then hit the forums and newsgroups and figured how to turn on logging in SlimServer. Watching the logs, the problem was that it couldn’t play the WMA files.
Now, one of the selling points of the Squeezebox2 is that it plays all sorts of audio files. However, the only ones it can decode natively are WMA, MP3, FLAC, and AIFF. Everything else goes through a translator. On Windows, the SlimServer install comes with wmadec which is dependent upon the Windows Media Player DLLs. None of those on Linux. You can get it working with the ffmpeg package, and I did, but only about 1 out of 6 of my WMA files would play. And either it worked fine or not at all. I can only assume there was some sort of problems with my files that ffmpeg couldn’t handle.
At any rate, this is the last stand. I’m going to be re-ripping everything anyway, so once I’m done the Nomad is getting loaded with quality 160Kbps (or VBR) MP3s.