Serving up music with Sockso

Sock Box

© Automatika, Fotolia

© Automatika, Fotolia

Article from Issue 96/2008
Author(s):

The Sockso music server offers easy listening regardless of your system or location.

The Sockso personal music server [1] lets users distribute digital tracks over a network. Sockso comes with a server and a neat front end that gives users easy access to audio data. The Sockso server supports popular audio formats such as MP3, OGG Vorbis, and WMA.

Legal Issues

The technical ability to serve music does not give you the legal ability to infringe on copyrights. If you intend to stream music on the Internet, either obtain permission from the copyright owner, or else make sure you only use tracks that are under a free license.

Configuration

It makes sense to run the Sockso server on a separate machine and use a browser to access it. The front end is programmed in Java and will thus run on Linux, Mac, and Windows.

To run Sockso, you need the Sun Java Runtime Engine and a network connection. If you will be serving up tracks to friends on the Internet, your PC needs a fast connection.

Java is included with most Linux distributions today. If your distro doesn't have Java, launch a package manager to load the package. Users with Ubuntu must additionally set the Sun Java version as their preferred version by giving the sudo update-alternatives --config java command.

Compressed archives of Sockso are available on the web [2]. Just download and unpack the archive. To launch Sockso on Linux, run the linux.sh script. Typing chmod +x linux.sh at the console makes the script executable. You can then launch the server and the front end by typing ./linux.sh.

Getting Started

Sockso lets you configure and manage tracks through a graphical user interface known as the Collection Manager (Figure 1). The Collection Manager provides five tabs for managing your music: Music, Collection, Users, General, and Encoders. The first step is to select the music directories you want to share.

Figure 1: The Collection Manager helps you manage and configure the music server.

To do so, change to the Collection tab and click Add Folder to pop up the Open dialog. Then browse to the directory you want to share. Open changes to the desired folder, telling the software to read the tracks in the directory and any subdirectories below it. This process can take a couple of minutes for larger collections, even if you have fast hardware. To get started, you might prefer to select less densely populated directories and avoid loading too many tracks at the same time.

The tracks you load are shown below Tracks in the Music tab, and you can use the tracks in this list to compose playlists. To do so, hold down the left mouse button and drag the desired tracks, albums, or artists to the right-hand side of the Music tab.

After finishing your selections, press Save Playlist and assign an intuitive name to the new entry. Any playlists you save are listed under Playlists.

Web Interface

After setting up a playlist, it makes sense to test whether the program is working in your browser. To do so, click on Your address at the lower edge of the Collection Manager window, where you'll see a menu in which you can select My Computer. Sockso then launches the web front end in your browser (Figure 2). A menu bar lets you browse your collection for interesting tracks.

Figure 2: Sockso's browser interface lets you navigate easily to your favorite tracks.

Browsing by album cover is a visually appealing function. The software automatically loads image files for your albums off the web and integrates the images with the search function. Unfortunately, the software tries to display large cover images despite the low resolution source material: this typically means blocky graphics.

The program sometimes fails to find album covers. The identification mechanism is not entirely reliable, even for more popular albums. In some cases, Sockso displays the same cover for different albums by the same artist.

Even without covers, you can still play or download tracks. On top of this, Sockso lets you compose and manage your own playlists via the web interface – once you have registered. After authenticating, you will find your playlists below Playlists.

Sockso provides two music players for the local machine. One player is integrated with the website, and the other with a Flash popup (Figure 3). As an alternative, you can use a standalone player assigned to the file suffix.

Figure 3: Sockso even offers a Flash popup player.

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