I use a Pinnacle ShowCenter for as my network media player for playing back music and movies on my A/V equipment. It’s a nice bit of hardware but the software it comes with doesn’t fit my needs. Fortunately the player uses a simple web browser for it’s UI and this is served from the Pinnacle server so it’s possible to replace the server component with a new one that provides whatever functionality you like.
There are a few open source server packages out there for the ShowCenter (and other Syabas based media devices) but the one I use, and in my opinion the best of them, is the SwissCenter (available from www.swisscenter.co.uk).
This software is written using PHP, Apache and MySQL and runs on either Linux or Windows. However, on Windows there is a nice simple install option using another project called Simese (Simple Media Server). This provides a single installer for the Simese media server, PHP, MySQL and SwissCenter.
You can install this on a WHS quite easily, I just downloaded the latest build (1.45 Simese and 1.20.1 SwissCenter at the time of writing), logged on via terminal services and installed it. I made sure that I entered the media locations as UNC paths and that the user Simese was running as had access to the media locations and it all works fine. Upgrading the box to 2GB helped though since running this stuff on a standard HP MediaSmart with 512MB is a little slow.
In addition to installing Simese and SwissCenter I also installed MusicIP. This is an optional component that SwissCenter can use in order to create custom playlists based on similar music, you simply select a track in SwissCenter and then get a link to ‘play similar’, this functionality uses MusicIP to generate the playlist which the SwissCenter then plays.
Installing MusicIP on the WHS was also pretty easy, I just followed the instructions for a standard install on Windows. The only thing I needed to change was to change the user the service runs as to ensure it had access to my media.
Overall a nice little setup and I’m quite happy I can run it all from my home server now.