I’ve had a Maxtor 300GB NAS drive for a few years now, serving as a back-up solution and also a samba share for my digital music files and videos. I recently saw somebody else’s NAS solution, a DLink DNS-323 with RAID options for the two drives that it holds it also boasted an iTunes server that got me thinking and a little jealous.
My Maxtor was running an old firmware version 1.2.2 and there was an update available 2.6.2 so naturally I tried it out and discovered that the new firmware provided an iTunes server, DAAP (Digital Audio Access Protocol) compatible. Joy sadly turned to dismay when I configured the service only to discover that it wouldn’t work. It caused VLC to crash out and simply just wouldn’t allow connections from iTunes despite showing up as a share in the iTunes application. So not to be defeated on my afternoon’s adventures I decided to dust off my old Ubuntu box and install MT-DAAPD on it. MT-DAAPD is just a free multi-threaded DAAP server with basic configuration options that allows you to serve uPnP music to compatible clients. After a bit of messing about and finding the right Debian packages I managed to configure the service and got it working. Now you may well ask why? Well the reason is simple enough, configuring an iTunes server allows you to maintain playlists on the server rather than maintaining a separate iTunes database on each machine you want to listen to music on. It also means that you don’t have to be worried about drive letter mappings, etc like I currently had to do while using a Samba share. It also has a refresh function like Windows Media Player that detects when new music is added and gets around my only bugbear with iTunes, the dreaded duplicate entries and inability to detect only new files in your library. So, I’m happy to say that it all works pretty nicely now.
Then I started thinking more about how nice a touch screen would be in my study to control my media library and be able to relax while reading a book or kicking back after a tough day. Sadly a 17″ touch screen is coming in at about Eur 550 and I don’t really want to go that far in terms of expense. So, a thought came to me, my iPod Touch; what a perfect solution! I could dock it and connect a decent set of speakers, use my uPnP DAAP server to remove the 16GB storage limit of the iPod and play all my content. I could move it about the house with me, use it as an entertainment unit when guests are around and never have to worry about copying content from place to place. Sadly Apple haven’t yet enabled the iTunes software on the Touch to be like the desktop client and you can’t connect to network shares. 🙁 So, please, please, please Apple, please release a firmware update with an iTunes client for the Touch that allows the discovery and connection to network DAAP shares. It would certainly be the icing on a very nice media cake.