FitPC2 as Squeezebox server -- success!
Here is a selectively edited post I made to the Squeezebox board (http://www.slimdevices.com
). I've set the Fit up as a music server using the SqueezeCenter software, feeding two Squeezebox duets and a Squeezebox Boom. For those who don't know this system, it allows the distribution of lossless music content to regular (non-computer) stereo systems, at very high audiophile quality.
I bought a Fit2 with the 1.6 Ghz processor, diskless, wifi. I installed a 500gb Seagate drive and then installed XP, SqueezeCenter and Second Copy (a backup utility). I uninstalled WMP, Windows Messenger and a couple other things normally installed with XP that might run in the background.
Since the Fit requires an HDMI/DVI monitor, I bought one -- the old panel was perfectly functional with a VGA connection, but I kind of like the 16:9 ratio so am trying to convince myself not to factor the cost of the new monitor into my overall Fit cost.
It, of course, also requires a USB keyboard and a USB mouse -- found an old wireless mouse that works fine on it, and bought a new keyboard -- which was fine, the action of the old one, while still functional, was starting to reflect several years of crumbs and spills.
The Fit is really small, way smaller than the SB receiver, about the size of a full pack of king size cigarettes, a bit thicker. I've put it on my main workdesk, beside the monitor, where it is easier to access. Both it and my standard computer are connected to the monitor (on the DVI and VGA connectors respectively, and the monitor switches to the DVI port if there is no VGA signal coming at the time of the Fit boot - no way to toggle).
I've connected the keyboard to the front of my regular computer (rather than as usual to the back), and can easily unplug from there, and plug into the Fit; the wireless mouse receiver is plugged into the Fit, but I might get a cheap wired one for dedicated use -- won't be used very much, and this particular mouse never turns off unless the receiver is snugged into a dock on the mouse, so the batteries will run down. I've connected it to an ethernet switch used to share the single connection in my office with the regular computer -- could have used wifi, but elected to go wired.
So, once all the connections were done and tested, and the Fit fired up and used to access webmail as a test, I proceeded to copy the music library to it from my 500gb external drive. About 12k files were copied using Second Copy. The initial scan by Squeezecenter (compiling a database of the files) took about 45 minutes -- SqueezeCenter hung at one point during the initial scan, and I had to force a shutdown -- however, started right up again and all was well. Not sure what the problem was, but it's not replicable.
Have since been using fairly steadily, feeding two Duets and a Boom. All is well, sounds great. No problems came from disconnecting the keyboard (I was worried about that).
My intention is to make all new music acquisitions (ripped or downloaded) to the external hard drive connected to my regular computer, as I have been doing. I will then use Second Copy to "update" the folder on the Fit, copying only changed or new files. I will do this using the USB connection, although I might try to see if it can be done through the home network.
The Fit does run a little warm -- it's a fanless design, with the thick aluminum case used as a heat sink. Under load with the hard drive working continuously (as in when copying the music files) it gets "almost" hot -- I can put my hand on the case and hold it there without pain, but it's not all that far off of hot. At rest, or with less demand, it is significantly cooler. The SC load on the processor and the drive is less than a number of other apps one could see being installed, so I consider this the normal operating temperature and I think (hope?) that it doesn't affect drive longevity.
In theory it's a silent device, what with no fan, but there is a (barely) discernible hum that becomes unhearable when the other computer is turned on but is nonetheless there. I don't think it's the spinning of the drive, but it might be. Not a real issue, unless you are very sensitive to noises, indeed -- it's way way quieter than any other computer or laptop I've used.
I had a bit of a glitch when I realized that I couldn't connect the Fit to the internet to download drivers, as one of the necessary drivers is required for the ethernet functionality. Had to reconnect my regular computer and download the drivers, and then transfer with a flash drive -- would have been easier to do that before I started, but I didn't think of it.
So, success! I have a 24/7 music file server up and running, that happens to be a full-fledged PC the size of a fat CD case. I can turn off my regular computer and still have access to my music. Sweet.