Whatever happened to SlimServer?

The bedrock of my home music network has always been Logitech Media Server (LMS). LMS is a piece of software that serves up audio to different music players in my home.

Why have a centralised piece of software to do this? Why not just have a music player and copy files to it? The reason is that duplication is evil. Copying files leads to a maintenance nightmare; if you want to, say, change the album artwork for a given album, how do you keep track of all the copies of the album that you have? It's always best, as a minimum, to centralise your music files in one place.

Assuming they are all centralised in one place, why not just allow each music player to access them and play the music directly? Accessing music files directly is certainly simpler. However, having a centralised software music server allows a number of advantages.

The first advantage is that by co-ordinating music listening, the server is able to collect and share data. Metadata about your music that you would otherwise not want stored in music files (such as a count of the number of times a track was listened to, or user-based ratings) can be conveniently stored in one location, accessible by all.

A home music network normally extends beyond simply listening to your music files; a household may stream music from the Internet, listen to Internet radio stations, download podcasts and more. Centralising that work means that all music players can benefit from the audio, rather than just music players which are configured in that way.

There are simpler software music servers out there, implementing standards such as UPnP or DLNA. Why not just use them?

LMS has built a community of developers over the years that have built many useful plugins, such as software to show more detailed statistics, and ways of building access to the BBC radio streams directly into the player interfaces. The larger this community the more productive and the more flexible your home music network becomes.

Logitech Media Server: a history

I may have erroneously referred to LMS by a different name in previous blog articles. Indeed, I've been writing the blog so long now some articles may pre-date the latest name change! When you consider how many name changes the software has gone through, that's understandable.

LMS was originally called SlimServer. This nomenclature fitted in with the name of the developers, Slim Devices, and the name of their principle player, SliMP3. Slim Devices made the early (and wise) move of open-sourcing SlimServer, a decision that would have benefits to the users of their products later.

Slim Devices adopted the "Squeeze" title into their products in the mid 2000s. First the "Squeezebox" was released (it was further refined with new versions as time went by) and then the SlimServer was renamed to, first, "SqueezeCenter" and, later, "Squeezebox Server". If I have used any of those terms in the past, I'm really referring to Logitech Media Server!

It was only when Logitech acquired Slim Devices that the server software was renamed to "Logitech Media Server". At the time, many users of the software were worried that their home music network may, with time, become obsolete as Logitech withdrew support for the software, and the community would die.

The future

In reality, the community has remained strong, and Squeezeboxes continue to work to this day. Development on LMS continues due, in no small part, to the fact that the LMS code was GPL'd. This means anyone can download, modify and redistribute the software, given certain caveats.

This all means the future remains bright for LMS. Version 7.8.0 was released a month ago, and the software is now hosted on the popular GitHub site, easing the workflow for developers to report and suggest changes.

I'm continuing to use LMS as part of my VortexBox music server. Given LMS bundles a DLNA server, plenty of modern music software can connect to it and play music through it, so for now I've not seen a reason to stop using it!

Thanks to superUbO for the image above.
tags: music server open source
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The Music Library Management blog

Dan Gravell

I'm Dan, the founder and programmer of bliss. I write bliss to solve my own problems with my digital music collection.