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Netvibes + Slimserver Mashup = All Your MP3s Anywhere, In Any Browser [Jan. 29th, 2007|05:33 pm]
Recently, I've been using netvibes for my rss needs. It's a slick, fast interface with ajax tabs and all sorts of actually useful web 2.0 interface bits. One of the cooler things about netvibes is you can subscribe to podcasts on your netvibes page, and it will play them in a small flash (?) mp3 player at the top of the screen, no external application required.

For a long time, I've been using SlimServer to listen to my music library at work / wherever. It monitors my iTunes database (but can point to folders), and will transcode on the fly to a lower bitrate so that I can stream at a listenable quality on my residential cable connection. I've been using winamp to listen to the stream, but that was a little clunky, and I thought there must be a better way.

Looking on the netvibes ecosystem (a repository of rss feeds, podcasts, and custom netvibes mini-apps called modules), I couldn't find a SlimServer control/streaming module. So, I decided to hack together my own solution which, if I say so myself is pretty ding-dang neat.

Here are some screenshots of it in action:

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So, without further ado, How to Listen To Your Entire Music Library From Anywhere w/ SlimServer and Netvibes

Step 1: Register for Netvibes

It's easy, I promise. Just visit netvibes.com, and click "Sign In." On the right of that popup window, click "Sign Up Now." Now, whever you visit netvibes, from any computer, when you sign in with your email and password, you'll have all of your feeds and tabs laid out just how you want them, with the content you've chosen.

Step 2: Install SlimServer and LAME

SlimServer is essentially a combination shoutcast server and web interface. It's intent was to stream to SlimDevice's SqueezeBox device, and stream mp3s around the house. It's function is greatly extended however, by the fact that you can load its stream in any mp3-capable device. It's also capable of transcoding flac, wma, unprotected aac, and more for remote streaming in bandwidth-limited situations.

So, download it and install it on the machine you want to share your mp3s from. Wait for the tray icon to stop blinking and you've got your server up and running.

In order to transcode your files to a lower bitrate, SlimServer needs the LAME library and executable to be installed. To do this, download a copy of LAME from here. Extract the files LAME_enc.dll and LAME.exe to wherever you installed simlserver under server\bin\. For me, on a default install, I put those files in C:\Program Files\SlimServer\server\bin\.

MAC/LINUX USERS: There are versions of slimserver available for you as well! Download from the same site as the others. Follow these these instructions to get transcoding going.

Step 2: Getting Your Stream into NetVibes

Substep A: Create a fake podcast for your SlimServer stream

Netvibes doesn't have the ability to stream mp3s by file input. So, to trick it into streaming our SlimServer feed, we need to make a fake podcast for it to load. I just took the This American Life xml and edited it to my liking. For reference, your SlimServer should now be running on http://yourip:9000 (for the interface) and the stream is at http://yourip:9000/stream.mp3.

Here is an example podcast xml (save as and edit in notepad). Simply change yourip.com to whatever your actual IP is (where the SlimServer is running), and replace. It should look something like this, with the bolded portion replaces with your public IP:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<rss xmlns:itunes="http://www.itunes.com/dtds/podcast-1.0.dtd" version="2.0">
<title>Home SlimServer Stream</title>
<description>My MP3s at home.</description>
<title>My MP3s</title>
<description>Listen to this podcast to stream your mp3s using SlimServer below.</description>
<enclosure url="http://yourip:9000/stream.mp3" type="audio/mpeg" />
<pubDate>Mon, 29 Jan 2007 00:00:00 -0600</pubDate>

NOTE: This must be your PUBLIC ip not your LOCAL ip if you want to access your music outside of your home network. Visit whatismyip.org to find out your ip easily. Additionally, you will need port 9000 forwarded to the machine you are running SlimServer on. Refer to your router documentation for how to do this. 


Now, save that file as whatever you like (.xml), and upload it to someplace you have web hosting.
****If you do not have web hosting, scroll to the bottom of this post and look for how to host your xml yourself using SlimServer. It's a bit of a pain, so if you have some, use it.

Substep B: Add your fake podcast to your netvibes page.

Back on your netvibes page, on the lefthand side, click "add content." then "add a feed". Simply put in the address where you've hosted your edited podcast xml. It will show up as a podcast with only one entry. Click on the entry, and the post will pop up. Click 'listen,' and the mp3 player at the top of the page should connect, buffer, and play nothing but silence. That's OK!

Step 3: Setting up SlimServer in Netvibes

The reason the stream is blank is because our SlimServer's playlist is empty. That's OK! We need to at least connect our "player" to the server so that it registers in its list of available players. Now, let's look at that SlimServer interface!

The netvibes ecosystem provides all sorts of cool tools for your netvibes page. The one we are particularly interested in is just called the "Web Page Module". Essentially it wraps a web page in an iframe, and embeds it on your netvibes page. Handy! Go to its page, click the add to netvibes button, and place it wherever you like on your netvibes page. Click the edit button at the top of its frame to input the url and title you want. I reccomend something like "SlimServer Interface." For your address, put in the address of your SlimServer interface, found at http://yourip:9000 (again, change to your public ip) I use a height of 400, but feel free to adjust however you like. You should now be looking at your SlimServer interface in a tiny window on your netvibes page. Now, let's set up our player to stream over the web.

Step 4: Set Up Your Transcoding

In your SlimServer interface (http://yourip:9000), either on your netvibes page, or in a seperate browser window, you should see a section for Server Settings, and something like Player Settings with a bunch of numbers after it. This is the address of whatever machine you have tried to connect to your SlimServer with (in this case, the one you tried streaming with netvibes from). Click that player's settings, and then choose Audio settings. There should be a section for bitrate limiting and LAME quality, assuming you followed the above step of extracting the LAME library and executable. For a common connection, I have mine set to stream at 128kbps, with a LAME quality of 5. On the general portion of the player settings you can also name whatever computer you are streaming from ("work" "joe's house" "mobile phone" etc).

NOTE: You will have to change these transcoding settings for every computer you use to connect to your SlimServer. Fortunately, you should only have to do it once per machine.

Step 5: Change your SlimServer Interface.

You may have noticed that the two-pane interface that SlimServer defaults too is too wide for your netvibes page. Under server settings, then interface, you can choose a different skin. I reccomend handheld, as it is light and translates well to a vertical column, if you should choose to arrange your netvibes module that way.

Step 6: Test Your Stream

Load your podcast stream in the built-in player. If it was playing before, stop, and restart it. This will make sure it's playing at the desired bitrate you set in the player settings.

In your SlimServer interface window, browse to an artist or album and click the play icon. It should take you to the status window if you are in the handheld view, where you can see the currently playing track. If everything goes as planned, you should hear the song shortly (as soon as the SlimServer stream buffers up to it).

You're done! Enjoy your entire music library from anywhere without using any external applications!

If you have any suggestions on how to improve this guide, please leave a comment. If you want to see what a lunatic I am, please visit glitterparade.com.

****If you have no access to web hosting, you can actually host your podcast xml on your slimserver itself. The files that are served are in the directory C:\Program Files\SlimServer\server\HTML\EN\html. For example, you could save it as C:\Program Files\SlimServer\server\HTML\EN\htmlpodcast.xml and then when you add the feed to netvibes, put in http://yourip:9000/html/podcast.xml.

If you really need web hosting and want to buy some, I've set up a promo code at dreamhost.com. Put in GOMEANSGO and it will waive the 50 dollar setup fee for a monthly account, giving you 189 gb of space and 1.89 tb of transfer a month for 10 bucks with no setup fee. Not bad!


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[User Picture]From: thisiscontrol
2007-01-30 11:19 pm (UTC)
this is the coolest thing you've done since that walking project.
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[User Picture]From: charlesv
2007-01-31 01:00 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: breyten
2007-01-31 10:59 am (UTC)
Hey, you got Lifehackered :)

Cool writeup, I might give it a shot.

Do you have a large MP3 library? I tried SlimServer a while back, but it had some trouble coping with the size of my library ;).

And I couldn't get it to play somehow ;p

But maybe I should just try again...
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: charlesv
2007-01-31 08:59 pm (UTC)
I haven't checked recently, but last time I looked I was right at around 85gigs and around 12k songs? Maybe more songs, I have no idea...
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
From: (Anonymous)
2007-02-01 03:16 am (UTC)
So I can access this from my linux box at home, but cannot access at work. I type in http://ipaddress:9000/ on the linux box and it loads up the server fine. But at work I cannot access the same address. Also, when I tried adding it to NetVibes, it would not load the podcast, even when I put the xml file in all skin directories.

I have to look, I'm wondering if I forget to get the slimserver service to start on boot or if I have to start it manually. I'm at work now, so I'll check when I get home in the morning. But so far, I cannot access from work. I'm not sure if this is a problem with the network setup at work or the slimserver setup at home.

Other than that, I love the idea of this.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: charlesv
2007-02-01 03:19 am (UTC)
If you can access it inside the network (i.e. on your linux box), and you're sure it's started, but can't access it outside, it's almost definitely a router/firewall issue. Look at your router documentation for how to forward port 9000 to your local ip. Depending on the router, it may know that you are accessing your public IP, route it back to your lan ip, and ignore any port forwarding that would need to happen in a public-facing instance.

If you can get your stuff forwarded correctly, I highly reccomend installing VNC on mac/linux or enabling remote desktop on a windows machine, so that you can check that kind of stuff from wherever. It's saved me more often than I'd care to admit.
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From: (Anonymous)
2007-02-02 08:03 am (UTC)
netvibes has a box.net module for easily storing files, perhaps that could be used to host the podcast.xml
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From: (Anonymous)
2007-02-02 08:04 am (UTC)
are there any security concerns here? any way to make it more secure if needed? thanks
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From: tumbla1
2011-01-14 12:25 pm (UTC)
Id also like to know this, abit worried about the security side of things. How Many Calories Should I Eat A Day
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From: 7wrc
2007-05-02 06:42 pm (UTC)
interesting tool, thanks.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2007-07-06 06:38 pm (UTC)

Some useful information

The information here is a gem!

You should be rewarded

(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2007-07-09 02:28 am (UTC)

HELP!! - Problem with accessing http://yourpublicip:9000


I was going great setting up this program and then when I went to test it went down hill. I can't access my publicip:9000. Not from just typing the address in IE nor can I access it from Netvibes. I've turned my ZoneAlarm Firewall off and have done the Router Forwarding (Linksys WRT54G). I'm pretty sure I've done it right. I've hosted the (.xml) file on a web hosting I already belong to for my sister's website. Hope you can help me!

(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2007-07-15 07:35 am (UTC)


Pleasant design, successful navigation.

(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2007-07-17 10:35 am (UTC)
I have no access to web hosting,and I have never done this before,but your
explanation was really good and Helped me a lot:)
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2007-08-26 02:26 pm (UTC)

Thank You for site

Thank you for your site. I have found here much useful information.
Good site ! ;)
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2007-11-21 08:35 pm (UTC)

testing this one...

thanks for the GREAT post! Very useful...
(Reply) (Thread)
From: esztereqiwo
2008-07-16 10:51 pm (UTC)
September 23rd, at pm 51 Jason Golod Says: Thanks for the great preview/write-up. I am glad that some kind of tagging support will be native in WP as I am tired of using plugins that only get me of the way.
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From: atlasvain
2007-12-01 01:54 am (UTC)
This is very cool. Keep it up.
(Reply) (Thread)
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Hello all I'm new here !

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Much to read and learn here, I'm sure I will enjoy !
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