There are two common problems that a music lover faces in the digital age. (Well a lot more than two.) Keeping access to music across multiple computers, and the fact that music libraries can grow to enormous sizes, which can be problematic when your primary computer is a laptop with limited ability to increase your storage capacity. My solution: Firefly Media Server. I copy all of my music over to the home server (my incredibly energy efficient linux box). It indexes my music and provides it as a shared library over the network using the same interface as an iTunes Shared Library, which means there’s no need for any special configuration on the computers accessing the library. Now I just need to write a script to check my library and copy over new music as I purchase it to keep the central server up to date.
Here’s how it shows up in iTunes:
Of course it isn’t a perfect solution:
- It requires you have an always on computer in your house. Which still isn’t as common as it should be.
- You lose information like data added, and rating (see the screen capture of iTunes I posted).
- Out of the box firefly will only work when you’re on your home network.
- Providing music to secondary computers
- Providing music to media extenders designed to work with shared iTunes libraries so you can listen to your music anywhere you have the proper hardware installed. (XBMC works great for this.)
- Pooling music between members of a household
- Slimming down an otherwise overflowing iTunes Library on your personal computer without losing easy access to the files at home.