Topslakr September 26th, 2007
I’m always looking for better ways to access my media when I am away from the house. For a while I was using Microsoft’s streaming server because I had free access to it through a company I was working for but it was very limited. To access the music you had to be using a current version of Windows Media player which was a hassle. For the music to stream you had to actually copy the music files to the server and create a station. You basically had to create static playlists, when you wanted to add or remove a song you had log into the server to make the changes and copy the files. It was a huge hassle and bandwidth performance was pretty weak. I just stopped using it.
I have looked into a number of streaming internet radio servers that were available. There are a lot of good, open source options but at the end of the day I wasn’t looking to just stream random music. I wanted to be able to pick a track or an album and play it back.
So, onto the product. Jinzora is basically a web based content management system that presents you music collection online and makes it simple to stream your music over the web or network to where it’s most convenient. It has support for users so that you can allow people different access. For instance you can setup a user to be able to stream music but not download the files to their computers.
I have installed Jinzora on a linux server running apache, MySQL, and PHP 5. What we would typically call LAMP, a software configuration that is very common to web developers and geeks alike. Once the base system was in place the installation of Jinzora was dead simple. I downloaded the Jinzora installation files, uncompressed them, and put them in a place my that web server could access. I ran the installation routine that Jinzora provides, made a few of the recommended configuration changes that the installer pointed out and in about 10 minutes I was streaming music. It’s not an installation that anyone could handle but in terms of web based software it was very simple. If you have ever installed your own blogging or wiki software you should have no trouble.
Once inside the interface things are a little confusing. It’s written by geeks for geeks and as such has a bit of a learning curve. Once you sort out what eight or 10 icons mean it’s no problem to move around the interface and start playing some tunes. This is where the genius of the app comes into play. All it does is creates playlist files on the fly and makes the music available to be streamed. When I clicked to play something Firefox (my web browser) asked me what I wanted to do with the .m3u file. I told it to open it with iTunes and voila music started a-comin’ out of my speakers. It supports a number of other playlist types to ensure compatibility with just about everything I can think of and you can basically use whatever client you would like. Winamp for windows, xmms for linux ect. Any program that support playlists should be fine. What’s important for software like this is being able to play music with no modification of the host machine. I don’t want to install a client or update something.. I just want music. Jinzora does that very well.
The web components are pretty light on my server in terms of system usage and with a decent web connection you should have no problem producing 3-5 music streams at once.
The only problem I’ve run into is just after the installer finished and I tried to access the site all I got was an error telling me ‘Invalid Language’. A quick search in the Jinzora forums and I had a solution. It did require some manual editing of a configuration file but it was well laid out and simple enough to do. Finding a solution so fast though seems to suggest that this is a common issue, perhaps a bug to fix in a coming release. I’m running version 2.7.5 which seems to have been released about 6 months ago, hopefully the project is still active…. It seems their blog is not…