itunes on WHS - is there a dummies guide? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Sorry for another itunes thread everyone but I've searched and not found an answer that's straightforward enough for me to understand. 


    I've had WHS since the beta, I used it only for backup for a while but now with PP1 I'm feeling optimistic and I'd like to consolidate the music libraries on the different PCs around the house.  We all use itunes because of syncing with the ludicrous number of ipods in the family but we have it set to rip to MP3.


    As I understand it I can't just point all the itunes at the same music library as they each maintain their own library file - so updates and playlists made on one PC don't appear on another?


    I've looked at Firefly and followed a few forum threads but don't really understand what it does.


    So, eventually, the question:  What's the best way of letting different computers work with one music library?  Need to be able to sync ipods at any of them but could limit ripping CDs to just one.  Not really bothered about sharing playlists either.  But do want each computer to be able to 'see' changes in the library automatically.  JUst to make it that bit more difficult (maybe) there's an xbox360 in the mix too. (It's quite happy to stream music from WHS and has always just worked)


    Any help or links much appreciated.




    Sunday, June 15, 2008 4:37 PM


  • Install Bonjour first (don't bother with any of the other stuff that Apple wants you to install, especially not the Apple Updater), then Firefly. I don't use the add-in, because it doesn't allow nearly as much configuration as the web interface.
    Tuesday, June 17, 2008 3:10 PM

All replies

  • Steve,

    Out house is similar to yours: however, we ended up with Firefly, it has the WHS Add-In, and everyone appears to accept it.

    However, I think a quick 'google' is a better bet, as there appears to be a few differing ways to achieve what you want.




    Sunday, June 15, 2008 5:44 PM
  • My son uses an Ipod and iTunes. I used Firefly to "serve up" the music on the WHS. According to my son, after I installed firefly, it just appeared in his iTunes as a "source" for music. Simple as that. Seems to work flawlessly for music.


    Monday, June 16, 2008 5:36 PM
  • Thanks for the replies - I guess there isn't a dummies guide anywhere.


    I'll give firefly a try.


    Looks like the procedure is:

    install firefly on WHS

    install bonjour on WHS

    install the firefly add-in (as configuring firelfly via the connector is just cute)

    Point Firefly at a directory full of music on WHS


    and voila music should be served up to any of the itunes around the house.


    If I've missed any vital steps please let me know.



    Tuesday, June 17, 2008 1:32 PM
  • Install Bonjour first (don't bother with any of the other stuff that Apple wants you to install, especially not the Apple Updater), then Firefly. I don't use the add-in, because it doesn't allow nearly as much configuration as the web interface.
    Tuesday, June 17, 2008 3:10 PM
  • Thanks - all up and running - no trouble - as you say just appears as a source in itunes.


    Still got a question or two but I'll head over to the firefly forum!

    Tuesday, June 17, 2008 4:51 PM
  • If you decide that Firefly isn't for you, you could just copy all of the music to the WHS and use iTunes Folder Watch.  This nifty utility is installed on each client computer.  You configure it to watch the share, and it will automatically update the iTunes library.
    Wednesday, June 18, 2008 12:38 AM
  • We also have many iPods in the house.  I however am not a fan of itunes, so we use windows media player to sync our ipods and windows media player seems to work really well with the WHS. I just point  wmp to the shared music folder on the WHS.

    To get windows media player and the iPods to work together, i used and purchased a copy of MGTEK dopisp at http://www.mgtek.com/dopisp/

    I can't remember the last time i used itunes.


    Wednesday, June 18, 2008 2:18 PM
  • I hate to reincarnate this thread, but:

    So I'm a relative media noob.

    We have iTunes on one client PC and a large collection of tunes with album art and all of the corrected catalog data and so on. I'd like to have that exact same collection with all of the metadata and so on available on more than just one of the client PCs.

    I'd also like to be able to rip from more than one client and have what I rip (and clean up the catalog data for and get album are for and so on) shared across iTunes on all of the clients wihout lots of gyrations and appear in the iTunes library on all of those clients.

    Does Firefly/Bonjour enable this? I understand, conceptually, the media files (.m4a and so on) themselves. But what is the workflow/process to get all of the metadata out of the client iTunes and into the Firefly server on WHS?

    One more ignorant noob question: everything I read says to point the server on the WHS machine to the D:\shares\music folder. I thought that code running on the WHS machine had bad karma with DEM if it didn't use the shares as \\servername\sharename. What am I missing?
    • Edited by Dick Watson Wednesday, December 10, 2008 4:37 AM I hate typos
    Wednesday, December 10, 2008 4:36 AM
  • Ken Warren said:

    Install Bonjour first (don't bother with any of the other stuff that Apple wants you to install, especially not the Apple Updater), then Firefly. I don't use the add-in, because it doesn't allow nearly as much configuration as the web interface.

    Several more noob questions: what web interface are you referring to? Does FireFly have one? And this is just served up by IIS on WHS? And this relates to the existing WHS web interfaces served up how? Or does Firefly serve it up on some other port separate from all of the IIS stuff? Firefly doesn't add some exposure to the Remote Access interface does it?
    Wednesday, December 10, 2008 4:44 AM
  • Dick, Firefly Media Server has a very nice web site, which includes forums and a wiki. You'd do well to go take a look. :) However, if you remember that Firefly is an open-source, cross-platform media server, you can probably guess all the answers I'm about to give.

    • Firefly has a web interface; this is what I was referring to.
    • Firefly serves the web interface itself; it has nothing to do with IIS.
    • The Firefly web interface is unrelated to the WHS sites, and does not interfere with them.
    • There is a way to serve Firefly-streamed tunes up from afar, but (again) it's not related to WHS. It's also not part of the core of Firefly.

    Now, as to your earlier post: Firefly is a streaming server. It is capable of streaming a number of file formats using Apple's DAAP protocol (which iTunes itself uses, along with products from manufacturers like Roku). But a streaming server is all it is. Workflow is left as an exercise for the student.

    There are also some things that Firefly doesn't do. Among them is album art; it's known to crash the server (I believe because Apple did something incredibly stupid in how they implemented the embedding of it), so it's ignored if present.

    As for metadata, anything present in the media file as a tag will probably be available. Note that this doesn't seem to include ratings (I think Apple decided they should reside in your library file).

    It should no longer matter if you point to D:\Shares\Music. When I put Firefly on my beta servers, I pointed it to the UNC path and it seemed to work fine.

    My workflow is to rip to Apple Lossless on my desktop computer (using Exact Audio Copy), tag and rate there, and then copy the files to my server occasionally.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Wednesday, December 10, 2008 4:56 PM
  • Thanks for responding, Ken. Yes, I've spent a significant amount of time perusing the firefly web site. Perhaps the questions I posted were answered over there but it seems to presume you already know all of these basics. Like many sites related to open source stuff it seems to take the approach that if you didn't know what it was and did and basically how you wouldn't be there in the first place, so let's dive right into how you build it from the source code and what the last line in the config file does in the latest nightly release.

    So, remembering that I'm not a big "Media" person, if you could help me here just a little more: We use iTunes to rip CDs to write files to iPods to listen to on iPods. In general (not 100%, maybe just 90%) if I want to listen to music, the computer playing MP3s via iTunes is almost the last place I'd want to do it. With that use case, I infer from the emphasis on Firefly being a "streaming server" that it is NOT particularly useful for, say, storing a library of tunes to be copied at breakneck speeds--not streamed in real time--by iTunes to an iPod. Do I infer correctly?

    I just want to be able to rip on my machine in the basement and have the tunes I rip show up in my wife's iTunes Library on her machine upstairs and vice versa. And if I fix the catalog data (when I fix it--the online database info for lots of the CDs we seem to have varies from OK to pathetic) for the CDs I rip, I want those changes to show up in her iTunes library just as well. And vice versa. (Are these fixes written as tags to the ripped audio files? Or are they just stored in the iTunes library data files? Got me. I just don't follow all of the "media" computer stuff that closely. And I don't rate any of this stuff in iTunes. The fact that I carried the CD downstairs and ripped it in the first place is an implicit rating.) I'm not looking to replace a $100 iPod with a $1,500 computer and a $900 server and a whole lot of network plumbing and so forth for purposes of playing compressed music. (Perhaps I should investigate Apple Lossless and Exact Audio Copy and so on, but that's a LOT of ripping to do again.)

    Sorry if these questions are just too noob.
    Wednesday, December 10, 2008 8:05 PM
  • Very interesting thread. I also have a house full of Ipods, mine happens to be a Ipod Touch. Which is the "Smallest" of all at only 16 Gig. It is a constant effort to maintain an interesting selection and keep track of what and where in the house all of the digital enjoyment is.
    Thursday, December 11, 2008 3:28 AM
  • Not "too noob", Dick. You have questions, we have answers (sometimes :) ).

    I did warn you Firefly is an open source project. There is definitely a presumption that you're already technically proficient in the area, or at least that you're willing to become so.

    From the way you describe your environment, you're probably finding that iTunes offers a lot of frustration right now. Firefly will not alleviate your particular brand of suffering, though. It is, as I've said, a "streaming" server, which means that it serves up tracks as they're being played by a media consuming device (computer, DMR, etc.). The whole concept of a streaming server is that you use it to play music, not deliver files. So Firefly doesn't serve as a central repository that iTunes can pull physical files from, and that's what you need to be able to load music on your iPod.

    I hesitate to recommend changes to your workflow, but I think you'll need to make at least some. One option is to use a tool (there are several; I don't use any of them as I'm the media "master" in my house, and my wife just listens to music) which can synchronize the files in an iTunes library with a central repository of media. Depending on the tool, there will be some areas that it will handle better and some that it will handle worse. It has to be an external tool, though, because as far as I can tell, Apple doesn't see a need to do this. (There isn't even a "watched folder" option in iTunes.) This is probably the way you're going to have to go.

    The main alternative is to configure iTunes on both computers to point to the same library, stored on the server. The problem with this is that iTunes doesn't know about this sharing, and so it's possible to corrupt the iTunes library file. I can't recommend this solution, unfortunately.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Thursday, December 11, 2008 4:17 PM
  • I have a strong dislike of iTunes, so the easiest solution for me was to use Winamp. Supports my 16gig iPod Nano out of the box. Just set the UNC path to your music folder on WHS as the watch folder. Winamp also has options to scan for new files in the watch folder at startup, or set intervals so you don't have to worry. All this assumes you are using a PC of course.
    Sunday, December 14, 2008 2:35 AM
  • Like many others, I'm not a great fan of iTunes - BUT - I have a relatively simple way to achieve the aim of sharing your iTunes metadata / album art etc.  Assuming you have PP1 installed which solves the issue of corruptions on shared folders...

    1. Copy your music to the WHS\music folder and make sure this folder is visible with read/write access to whichever family members require it
    2. Install the latest iTunes on one client PC and build your library from the WHS\music folder.  Add whatever metadata you wish along with album art etc and set the iTunes library as shareable.
    3. Create a new shared folder on your Home Server e.g. WHS\iTunes and make this available with read/write access to the same family members at 1
    4. Close iTunes on the client PC and copy the contents of the iTunes folder in My Documents\My Music\iTunes to the iTunes share on your server
    5. Hold down the shift key and start iTunes on the client PC - this will give you the option of which iTunes library to select.  Simply browse to the library on your server share and select it instead of the default.
    6. Repeat 5 for whichever other PCs you want to access the library.  All users now have access to the same iTunes library.

    I have used this successfully to synchronise 3 different iPods on 3 diffferent PCs with different playlists and music choices etc.  There may be an issue (I haven't tested this) with 2 users trying to update the library at the same time but in my situation my wife and son mainly move items from the library to their device rather than adding new items to the library.  It takes a bit longer to open iTunes as it is loading the library from the server and when you close iTunes it seems to copy a backup of the folder to your local PC - this may be an issue with a slow wireless connection (I have a wired network using homeplug).

    Hope this helps


    Thursday, December 18, 2008 2:03 PM
  • Yogi,

    I am a new user in this forum and setting up a WHS on a HP Proliant ML110 G6. Thank you for your notes; I am planning to use your instructions to centralize the library.

    I have a mixed environment at home - Windows 7 Professional Laptop, MacBook Pro (my wife's laptop), iPhone, AppleTV and couple of iPods. Over time we have also bought music and video from Apple store. Do you have any experience how the shared library will react to DRM issues? (generally iTunes will ask to authorize the computer for protected content before the playback).


    Thank you in advance.


    Thursday, December 16, 2010 3:33 AM
  • Please be very careful. At heart iTunes is a single-user, single-computer media platform, and Apple warns against using a network location as storage for your iTunes library files. It's very easy to corrupt the iTunes library, which will cost you playlists, ratings, play counts, and at least some metadata if it happens.

    The "pure Apple" way is to use one iTunes client to share the media library, and consume the shared content from other iTunes clients. Since the iTunes client is a desktop application, that means you'll need to log in to your server's desktop before streaming will work. A better alternative is to use software such as Firefly on your server, which appears within iTunes as a computer sharing it's library.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Thursday, December 16, 2010 4:50 AM