Roku and Linkstation - setup and customization tips

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Contents

Background

The term Roku can refer to any device produced by Roku Labs. These devices seem to play well with Firefly-equipped Linkstations and other hacked NAS's. Below are some tips and tricks that may provide a more positive experience for Roku & Linkstation users.

Hardware/Software Requirements

  • Any Roku soundbridge device (M500, M1000, M1001, M2000)
  • Any Linkstation w/ OpenLink or FreeLink installed on it
  • A wired or wireless (b or g standard) network - some Roku devices are WEP & WPA compatible
  • regular computer w/ web browser & terminal/command line interface program

Directory setup

On the share/data partition (hda3 usually) of your Linkstation, it is a good idea to set up some sort of directory structure for organizing your music files. Here is one possible example:

/share/freelinktunes/e_Music
/share/freelinktunes/i_Tunes
/share/freelinktunes/hpodderdownloads
/share/freelinktunes/mediarippertunes
/share/freelinktunes/lossless
/share/freelinktunes/internet_streams

Managing these files is easy if you have flexible access to them with Samba or NFS, so one can modify ownership and permissions to these directory with chown and/or chmod.

Firefly/mt-daapd Tweaks

Making Firefly's web interface configuration page "configurable"

If you notice that your Configuration page on the web interface (available by web browser at <linkstation-ip>:3689/config.html) won't allow you to make changes, then you may need to adjust permissions on the configuration file. The very first entry on the Configuration page lists the location of this file, usually at /etc/mt-daapd.conf . To make the web configuration work, cd to the directory where this configuration file is and modify the permissions of the file:

cd /etc
chown nobody mt-daapd.conf 
chmod 600 mt-daapd.conf 
 

Reload the web Configuration page and it should work now. This is a method suggested by an expert at Firefly Forums. If you have concerns about security, you may want to read this thread for details on keeping it secure.

Automatically refresh the database

Also on the Configuration page, there is an option for periodic updating of the database. To make your Firefly server update every hour, go to the Database area on the Configuration page, choose or enter the following:

  • Scan Type 0 - Normal,
  • Rescan Interval 3600 (seconds, ie. 1 hour),
  • Always Scan Yes.

Add Additional Recognized File Extensions

Also on the Configuration page, there is an option for getting Firefly to scan for more types of files. Normally it will only scan for .mp3 and a few others. You can add other types, such as .url files (for internet/stream play lists). See Firefly's documentation for more details on types of files supported.


Restart Firefly from the command line

You may have to restart your mt-daapd server from the command line for some of these configuration changes to take effect.

/etc/init.d/mt-daapd restart

It takes a minute or so for it to come on line after a (re)start.

Playlists

Static Playlists

Smart Playlists

URL/Internet/Stream Playlists

Although Roku's firmware has built-in presets, these can be cumbersome to use, as they require the user to Change Configuration. Some people find it easier to put the internet/radio streams in a .url file and access them through the Roku's Playlist feature - it is much faster that way. To create and use an internet stream playlist for Firefly and Roku, do the following:

  1. Get the name, bit rate and URL of a stream that you want to listen to through your Roku SB. For example: Public Radio WNYC-AM from New York City, at 32 kilobit per second, with URL ,http://wnycam.streamguys.com/ (no link arrow, though).
  2. Start your favorite editor, e.g. nano, and create a file called (again, for example): nano wnyc-nypr.url.
  3. Enter the following information on one line, in the format and order of <bit rate in kbps>,<desired display title>,<URL> . For example it would look like the following, all on one line:32,WNYC-AM Public Radio,http://wnycam.streamguys.com/ (no link arrow, though)
  4. Save it to a directory for streams, such as /share/freelinktunes/internet_streams, so they are easy to find/organize/edit.
  5. Add as many as you like. They are easier and faster to access from your own Playlist than they are from the Presets. In fact, you may want to copy the presets that you like to your own internet_streams directory.
  6. In Firefly's Configuration page, add .url as a recognized extension.
  7. Update Firefly's database.

hpodder

Hpodder is a podcatcher that is available as a Debian package, so it is a natural choice for those running Freelink. At the time this article was written, it is available in testing and instable, so remember to (temporarily) adjust your /etc/apt/sources.list as needed - that is, you must have either the testing or unstable branch of Debian enabled.

Once you install hpodder, check its man page. It gives details on configuring it and the first run of hpodder.

You will have to declare a download directory for hpodder (like /share/freelinktunes/hpodderdownloads) , as listed above in Directory setup.

One nice implementation would be to run hpodder as a daily or periodic cron job.

Customizing the Roku

CAUTION: Customizing your Roku, like any device, could void its warranty or turn it into a Brick, or in the case of a M500/M1000/M1001/M2000, a Baton, or an Expensive Aluminum Pipe. Proceed at your own risk. See your Roku manual for details.

It is relatively easy to gain access to a Roku M1001, for instance, via telnet at your Roku's own IP address, through port 4444. A list of command available is given below.  :

telnet <roku IP address> 4444 
Trying <roku IP address>... 
Connected to <roku IP address>. 
Escape character is '^]'. 


Welcome to the SoundBridge Shell version 2.7.38 Release 
 
Type '?' for help or 'help <command>' for help on <command>. 


SoundBridge> ? 
Valid commands are: 
?               - displays this list 
help            - provides help on a command 
clear           - clears the terminal window 
stty            - sets shell tty parameters 
consoleprint    - sets consoleprint on or off 
version         - prints out the software version 
exit            - exits the shell 
cycles          - displays a count of processor cycles 
uptime          - reports system uptime 
reboot          - reboots the system 
ps              - lists threads 
ifconfig        - lists network interface configurations 
ping            - pings an ip address  
ipset           - sets up a manual config  
mfg             - performs mfg tests  
sketch          - draw on the display  
irman           - capture, monitor or send IR commands  
memstat         - prints out memory statistics 
romcheck        - print rom sizes 
log             - dump the persistent log 
logclear        - clear the log 
logadd          - add string to log 
attract         - attract eyeballs 
irwait          - wait for a specific IR command 
displaytype     - print type of currently connected DISplay 
time            - displays the current time 
clearsettings   - clears CascadeSettings and reboots 
softwareupgrade - perform software upgrades from network or local storage 
srbmod          - modify srb for oem test 
rcp             - enter the RCP shell


Many accounts of hacking Roku devices can be found on the web:

References, etc

Thanks to Bauldrick for advice on model & setup, and digging up the Weather & MOTD hacks at Jeff's Roku Soundbridge page

Linkstationwiki.net Forum Thread on Roku & Other Soundbridges w/ Firefly/mt-daapd - http://forum.linkstationwiki.net/index.php?action=vthread&forum=4&topic=1892