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  • Vortexbox Alternative

    I've been using VB's since they very first appeared. I've built more than 10 over the years, but I'm now getting quite fed up that there is no development or updating going on. We are 10 versions behind the current version of Fed !! Fed 25 has a HDD limit of about 16TB. Basically Andrew doesn't have the time or the interest to bring it up to date and at some point I imagine it will just grind to a halt. The 16TB limit is a pain for me too, because I have a very large music collection and I also use the VB as my NAS and media server, so I have a lot of stuff on VB (about 14TB currently) . So, I got to thinking about an alternative to VB, something that does all the same things but which is regularly updated and based on a modern revision of a Linux distro that has solid support. My solution was OpenMediaVault (OMV). So I knocked up a 24TB (with RAID) OMV box and installed their OMV Extras, which gave me Docker/Portainer and a few other bits and pieces. I then installed LMS, Transmission, Nextcloud, Subsonic, Bliss, OpenVPN and a couple of DNLA servers and other bits and bobs. And there you have it, basically all the functions of a VB with a current latest Debian and LMS and some great other features. It works superbly and the whole thing is running on a basic Mini ITX motherboard (ASrock J5005) with only 8GB RAM. There's loads of how-to videos on Youtube covering OpenMediaVault, so none of this was at all difficult. I even have the Nextcloud app on my phone so I can talk to my Nextcloud

  • #2
    Did you install OMV on a usb flash drive or a partition on the storage drive?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by pclinux1 View Post
      Did you install OMV on a USB flash drive or a partition on the storage drive?
      I used a USB thumb drive .iso to boot from and installed OMV5 onto a SATA SSD. I used a 120GB ssd in fact but only 16GB is required I believe to hold OMV5. I just had the 120GB ssd to hand. I used 3 x 8TB HDD's for my storage in a JBOD (RAID 'Linear') arrangement. I followed this video on Utube to get it all up and running (plus a couple of others for transmission and LMS)
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_oxzpvMPTE

      I now plan to build a second OMV machine and in this I will use RAID 5, so that I can recover if 1 HDD fails. I will setup an RSYNC CRON job on the two OMV machines such that they sync up a couple of times per week, or whatever. The OMV5 admin GUI has fill in boxes for scheduled jobs such as this. I'm always paranoid about HDD failure and losing all my movies/music etc so I'm a bit OCD about maintaining backups
      Last edited by SeanMiddleton; 11-30-2021, 11:54 PM.

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      • #4
        please have a look at https://www.daphile.com/, as an alternative.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Vroderick View Post
          please have a look at https://www.daphile.com/, as an alternative.
          Looks really good. I'll give it a go !!

          Installed very easily and works really well. As far as playing/ripping music goes it does all that Vortexbox does. Not sure if it has DNLA server built in (I need, but can easily install at command line if its not built in to Daphile). Also Transmission and Subsonic not present but again I could probably install from the command line. So, yes indeed, this is a very credible alternative to VB. Its probably the easiest/smoothest install I have ever done of any linux app !! EXCELLENT
          Last edited by SeanMiddleton; 12-24-2021, 09:39 PM.

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          • #6
            Installed Daphile in Virtualbox on my Linux system. Added Music from a USB and tested ripping a Music CD.

            i am able to connect to it by IP and it works very well as an Audio Player

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            • #7
              Originally posted by pclinux1 View Post
              Installed Daphile in Virtualbox on my Linux system. Added Music from a USB and tested ripping a Music CD.

              i am able to connect to it by IP and it works very well as an Audio Player
              I played around with Daphile. I have somemajor issues with Daphile, that prevent me from wanting to really use it:
              1. No acces to the system. No login (only with the beta versions is it possible). So you do not have control over the system
              2. I could not find a way to mass import music. I have 2 TB o music files, and can not import them (drag on drop in the website only works for limite number of files).
              3. I do not think Daphile is actively supported anymore, nor are there any active users groups


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              • #8
                Originally posted by Serge View Post

                I played around with Daphile. I have somemajor issues with Daphile, that prevent me from wanting to really use it:
                1. No acces to the system. No login (only with the beta versions is it possible). So you do not have control over the system
                2. I could not find a way to mass import music. I have 2 TB o music files, and can not import them (drag on drop in the website only works for limite number of files).
                3. I do not think Daphile is actively supported anymore, nor are there any active users groups

                Some valid points I guess.
                I have used the latest beta version, which does have SSH, so remote console logging is available. I haven't found any problems or issues with the beta. I also have about 2TB of music and managed to import these OK, either using the Daphile GUI based file manager, Windows File Manager or Bitvise - SSH Client (Putty with a better left/right file management capability and console capability - highly recommended). RSYNC also works fine.

                Its such an easy product to install and set up that I don't see forums as that important. Its LMS based, whcih is great and it has CIFS/SMB etc capability, so using it as a NAS works fine. The install process is the easiest I've ever done for software of this type and it runs fine either from a USB thumb drive or internal drive. I'm happy with it.

                But if you want anything more sophisticated, were you can add Transmission, Subsonic, Bliss etc etc (as per VB) then openmediavault is better. I have both OMV5 and OMV6 running all this stuff fine. The Docker capability on OMV is excellent, there are so many Docker apps available to install its insane. The learning curve for OMV is a lot steeper than Daphile. RAID on OMV is built in and very easy to set up, with a lot of options

                My take is that if you just want an excellent music media server with NAS capability that's easy to install/use then try Daphile. If you want all the functionality of VB (plus a lot more) then go the OMV route. I'm now running OMV5, OMV6, Daphile, Daphile beta and 2 VB's on my LAN with all NAS and media files synced. At some point, once I've really tested them all out for long term reliability and support etc I will decide whcih is my best solution. I'll retain 3 of these and do CRON RSYNC's between them so no no backups needed.

                I'm now happy that there are viable long term alternatives to VB

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                • #9
                  If one is seeking a music server that can run LMS (and is not interested in the ripping function or other programs such as BLISS or movie streaming etc.) then running an rPi3B+ or rPi4, with the piCorePlayer OS (a stripped down linux) with an attached USB HDD (or link to a NAS) is dead simple. Lots of instructions and support at the slimdevices.com forum. One does have to setup the rPi SD card (and put in a case if one desires), but I was able to do it with no knowledge and just following the simple step by step instructions. I run an rPi4 with attached 4TB USB drive, feeding 4 squeezebox zones in my house. The rPi can also serve as a squeezebox player too (running squeezelite). See https://docs.picoreplayer.org/

                  p.s. I loved my many vortexboxes over the years and they served me very well. The software was way ahead of its time. But the piCorePlayer on rPi setup has proven to be very stable, easy to maintain, and only requires a few mouseclicks to keep the LMS version (or OS version of piCorePlayer) updated.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by garym View Post
                    If one is seeking a music server that can run LMS (and is not interested in the ripping function or other programs such as BLISS or movie streaming etc.) then running an rPi3B+ or rPi4, with the piCorePlayer OS (a stripped down linux) with an attached USB HDD (or link to a NAS) is dead simple. Lots of instructions and support at the slimdevices.com forum. One does have to setup the rPi SD card (and put in a case if one desires), but I was able to do it with no knowledge and just following the simple step by step instructions. I run an rPi4 with attached 4TB USB drive, feeding 4 squeezebox zones in my house. The rPi can also serve as a squeezebox player too (running squeezelite). See https://docs.picoreplayer.org/

                    p.s. I loved my many vortexboxes over the years and they served me very well. The software was way ahead of its time. But the piCorePlayer on rPi setup has proven to be very stable, easy to maintain, and only requires a few mouseclicks to keep the LMS version (or OS version of piCorePlayer) updated.
                    Agreed. I do the same in fact for one of my player/servers not on the household LAN. I used a HiFiberry AMP2+ attached to the Rpi so its effectively a player + LMS server + 2 x 60w amplifier all in 1. I run it frm a laptop 19v PSU. I'm not sure this setup could cope with 2TB of flac files though. I just have a 1TB SSD connected but I haven't loaded all my music onto it. I set mine up as a wireless Access Point in the Picore software so I just WiFi to the AP with my smartphone and use OrangeSqueeze to play my music....... I also use Picore plus the official Raspi Touchscreen with a aHiFiberry DAC as my players on my main LAN steaming from VB, Daphile or OMV. Works superbly.

                    Another option for a small scale LMS server is just to install the Rpi version of OMV on to an Rpi and install LMS onto OMV. A bit more complex to do than the Picoreplayer route but its more versatile in terms of being able to install additional software.

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                    • #11
                      I'm going to give OMV a try...before I get into it, will this solution work as both a server (LMS) and a player?
                      Assuming you can install ALSA?

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                      • #12
                        I havent tried that, Im affraid. If you enable audio in your motherboard BIOS OMV may pick that up and install appropriate drivers, give it a try. OMV is Debian based, so all of the features of the latest Debian (Bullseye, I beleive) are avalable to you. I've installaed a few thnigs at the OMV command line and it works just as a normal Debian installation

                        If you install the Apt Tool plugin in OMV u can then use that plugin to find and install a Player / ALSA. The Apt Tool Plugin has a search option in its GUI so if you know a particular Player app the Plugin will search for it and install it. Alternatively you could search for a Docker based Player / ALSA. There seems to be many Docker based players around. See this https://libs.garden/docker/search?q=music+player Docker based players would probably be prefferable

                        I just searched for "player" using the Apt Tool plugin and a stack of ALSA and ALSA players pop up instantly. You can just click on one and Apt Tool will install it. I see lots of ALSA related stuff listed e.g:
                        alsaplayer-common - audio player (common files)
                        alsaplayer-daemon - alsaplayer daemon
                        libalsaplayer0 - alsaplayer plugin library

                        and many more................................

                        After posting the above I decided to check out what comes instalaled as standard with OMV. (I checked on my RasPi machine, I assume same on other platforms). I found that ALSA is instalaled by default anyway and there are various Plugins whcih can be instalaled as Players. So, doing what u want to do should be straightforward.

                        A search using the OMV Apt Tool also list these players as being installable:
                        squeezelite - lightweight headless Squeezebox emulator - ALSA version
                        squeezelite-pa - lightweight headless Squeezebox emulator - PortAudio version
                        squeezelite-pulseaudio - lightweight headless Squeezebox emulator - PulseAudio version
                        Last edited by SeanMiddleton; 04-29-2022, 03:41 AM.

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                        • #13
                          Here’s another angle to consider if choosing between OMV vs Fedora Server as a base. I was thrilled when I discovered the VB distro as everything was bundled in a (relatively) turn-key fashion. I knew some Unix/Linux but I was far from being able to administer my own system. But with that convenience came vulnerability.

                          One key argument for Open Source is that dependency on non-OS software makes one vulnerable and over time that vulnerability will manifest. Truer words were never spoken. Every key non-OS component of VB has eventually lost support and/or needed replacement:

                          Logitech: Initially all of my clients were Logitech-manufactured, and they abruptly exited the LMS client business. The server package itself remained open source, but the user-base were forced to improvise when it came to clients. This was done through a combination of open-source projects (Squeezelite and piCorePlayer), and open-architecture inexpensive hardware (Raspberry Pi).

                          Subsonic: Forked to closed-source, then became abandonware. Replaced by OS forks Airsonic and then Arisonic-Advanced off of the pre-closed-source Subsonic codebase. The latest stable version of Arsonic-adavanced is more robust, much quicker to re-index, and more feature-rich than Subsonic ever was.

                          VB Menus and Customization (Ripper install, Mp3 auto-mirror, etc) – Not completely open-source. Existing packages could not always be migrated to newer versions of Fedora as support ended for existing versions. This functionality was replaced by:
                          - Cockpit Admin menus in Fedora
                          - Containerized version of Ripper
                          I grew out of MP3 mirror as it became much more practical to have Subsonic/Airsonic transcode to MP3 on the fly as needed.

                          There were a few other non-OS packages bundled with VB which I didn’t use.

                          To leave the VB womb I had to become more comfortable managing Fedora myself. This happened naturally over time. The release of Cockpit made it that much easier.

                          I feel relying on a mainstream, generic Fedora Server base and popular packages / containers leaves me less vulnerable to a sudden support gap triggered by either a vendor change in strategic direction or project drift in which there aren’t deep teams of developers / supporters. Even if there were some seismic change to Fedora Server that rendered it less appealing, it would not be too difficult to migrate to another Linux distro. The recent CentOS dust-up was both a reminder that such events can/do happen. The subsequent rapid emergence of AlmaLinux and RockyLinux as turn-key CentOS replacements proved the ultimate robustness of the open-source mainstream Linux model.

                          OMV sounds intriguing but for me it would represent a retreat back to a nichey, less-supported, and consequently a more potentially vulnerable architecture.

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                          • #14
                            Sean, OMV with dockers looks like a good replacement for Vortexbox.
                            I have had 3 old Pentium powered VBs die in this year. Mobos and disk drives just don't seem to last much over 6 years.

                            Was looking at https://havetheknowhow.com/ , Ubuntu 22.04 server, got up to configuring SAMBA and it looked complicated so I cheated by copying smb.conf from a working VB, instant access to the lv_Storage on the two hdd from one of the defunct VBs.

                            Visited here to see if anyone else is trying to replace a VB and there are two threads detailing replacement VBs by people I have respected over the years both here and on the Squeezebox forum.

                            So, just downloaded OMV, I will install it over the top of Ubuntu and start giving it a go tonight.

                            Will be back with questions.......

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Wirrunna View Post
                              Sean, OMV with dockers looks like a good replacement for Vortexbox.
                              I have had 3 old Pentium powered VBs die in this year. Mobos and disk drives just don't seem to last much over 6 years.

                              Was looking at https://havetheknowhow.com/ , Ubuntu 22.04 server, got up to configuring SAMBA and it looked complicated so I cheated by copying smb.conf from a working VB, instant access to the lv_Storage on the two hdd from one of the defunct VBs.

                              Visited here to see if anyone else is trying to replace a VB and there are two threads detailing replacement VBs by people I have respected over the years both here and on the Squeezebox forum.

                              So, just downloaded OMV, I will install it over the top of Ubuntu and start giving it a go tonight.

                              Will be back with questions.......
                              I don't think OMV6 runs under Ubuntu, I thought its was specifically Debian 11. Better check. These days I just install a minimal Debian 11 from a thumb drive then run the one line OMV6 installation script. Works great

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