Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm hoping someone can make some suggestions for using Ubuntu & FOSS to meet a few requirements I'm have for my home network.

Currently I have a network containing:

  • a laptop running Windows XP
  • a desktop, several laptops and a netbook all running Ubuntu 10.10 Desktop
  • a 'server' (an old Dell Vostro running Ubuntu 10.10 Desktop) with an SMB share containing photos, music and videos
  • an HP Color LaserJet CP1215, attached to the server and shared via SMB
  • an iPhone (iOS 3.x)
  • an HTC Desire (Android 2.2)
  • a stereo connected to the line-out on the server

There's no LAN cabling; all devices including the server are on WiFi, which is why I'm running Desktop on the server as I found it easier to set up wireless networking that way.

What I'd like to be able to do is:

  1. Synchronize the music across all systems except the phones, thereby propagating any change on one system to all other systems. This will allow me to take music with me away from home, load music on the phones and other MP3 players, and manage my library from any machine.
  2. Leave the videos on the server, and stream videos from the server to any OS (iOS, Android, Ubuntu, Windows) on the network.
  3. The videos should be available via an SMB share, so that I can manually copy individual videos to any system should I need to (say if I want to watch a movie on the train)
  4. Hook my stereo up to the server and play music on it, controlling the playback from any other machine on the network.
  5. Easily back up the contents of the server to an external (USB 2.0, sigh) HDD
  6. Print from any machine on the network

Can anyone recommend a good approach to take here, and some software to achieve it?

One approach I was thinking was to set up cron jobs on all the machines (including the XP box courtesy Cygwin) so as to maintain synchronisation between music libraries on all machines using rsync. The back up could happen the same way. I'm imagining I might have conflict issues with that approach though.

Printing could be easily handled by samba, as could file shares for the video. That's what I'm doing now in fact :-)

I'm not at all sure what to use for streaming media from the server, ditto for remote control of music playback on the server. If it were just me I'd use ssh and rhythmbox-client for the latter, but I'd like something a lot friendlier for family & guests :-)

If someone can suggest a package or a range of packages that would allow me to achieve my requirements without building everything from scratch (I can code, but I'm time-poor) that would be greatly appreciated.

share|improve this question
up vote 2 down vote accepted

For the music, use mpd ( It's very spiffy, and has clients for all kinds of devices, even Android phones.

For streaming video, use VLC ( I'm not sure how easy it is to set up though.

Do you really need the music synced? I use Samba and NFS to share my central MP3 repository between machines. If you do want to synchronise, designate one computer the master (probably the server) and do all syncing to/from that. I would personally make syncing to the server manual. Make the update on, say the laptop, then run a "push changes" script from an icon. Keep the rsync cron job for pulling updates from the server.

If you make updates too often for that to be easy then use unison ( instead.

For backups check out rsnapshot ( Run it from a cron job, but test to see if the disk is mounted first and if it isn't, have the script send you an email.

All of these are available from the Ubuntu repositories.

share|improve this answer
Thanks - I ended up taking some of your advice, & arrogantly disregarding other parts of it :-) I didn't sync the music, used MediaTomb to serve music & videos, AcidRip to encode DVDs, XBMC as the media client on all OSs, and will use rsnapshot once I get things on the disk tidied up a bit. – Duncan Bayne Jan 3 '11 at 22:31

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .