I have a linux Jukebox !

Finally, after years of putting it away, after a few design changes and a fried motherboard I have a linux jukebox. Well, not a jukebox but more an internet radio.

Check at the bottom for the latest updates.

Linux internet radio inside a vintage Blaupunkt radio case

When I first had the ideea I noticed an old ~ ’50s Blaupunkt Radio my father had in his basement. I investigated if the radio was worth restoring but the inside was rusted, the capacitors were long gone and most of the tubes were missing. It was more a case of rebuilding rather than restoring. I checked around the internet and saw that many models like this one existed, so it was not rare. And so, the radio was gutted and the insides went away. I cleaned and repaired the case as best as I could.

The first ideea was to have a big harddrive inside, an amp and external speakers hooked to it. It worked like this for a while until the motherboard I used fried and so did the amp. The project was eventualy put aside.

Anyways recently, I aquired an old Pentium III Compaq. By the case I could swear it was a small motherboard. It was NOT, and also the custom compaq psu had very short wires, but I managed to fit it inside. Since I have a media center pc hooked to the tv and the surround with all the music on it I decided to change the original ideea and make it what it originally was: a radio.

So, I gutted an old set of very good sounding Altec Lansing computer speakers and installed the small amp and speakers inside. I also mounted the motherboard and psu inside. One small fan on a side does the job of cooling everything down. I use one of the buttons on the front for the amp and another one for the computer.

I gave up the harddrive from the original design for a compact flash <-> ide adapter and the system now boots from a 4 Gb compact flash card. I think I could have squeezed everything on a smaller card but I decided to do all the compiling in place and since cards are cheap I went for a big one. The adapter has space for a second card and, if I want I can fit a second, bigger card, to hold some music.

I have a usb numpad for control and the usb lcd display featured some time ago on this site for display.


  • mpd for playback
  • mpc for mpd control
  • Lcdproc and lcd-stuff for usb lcd display
  • esekeyd for numpad control
  • a bunch of bash scripts to glue everything in place

I hit a few problems:

  • Event Music Player Client daemon does not work, at least with my keypad. So I had to use an external daemon - esekeyd with mpc to control mpd.
  • lcd-stuff does not display the Name tag (that would be the radio station name, just the artist and track name. Fortunately it has a configuration tag to use as a title for the screen - on every playlist change a bashscript modifies that configuration setting to reflect the radio station’s name and reloads lcd-stuff - it’s ugly but it works.
  • I didn’t find a way to save .pls and .m3u files and have them recognized by the mpd database. So a script is called at boot time (and also can be started from one of the keys on the keypad) to generate a playlist of the radio stations. Control is easy after that, it’s a matter of play/stop, next / prev
  • I wanted to have a way to shut down the system safely from the keypad. OTOH I didn’t want shutting down every time I hit the wrong key. But esekeyd doesn’t support combinations. So I had ***** create a file, / create a second one but only if the first file (created by *) existed and on backspace press verify if the two files exist and if yes poweroff.

I’ll post soon more photos, the insides and the configuration files and bash scripts used.

2011 Update

It never functioned reliably and so I decided on rebuilding it once more 🙂

  • The Compaq Deskpro EN was reassembled and donated to charity.
  • I bought the cheapest intel motherboard with an atom processor.
  • With the motherboard I also bought a small, slim PSU which happened to have the loudest annoying fan I ever heard. Fortunately the motherboard and disk use small amounts of power so no heat is produced. I hooked the fan to 5v and now it’s quiet.
  • I got a good deal on a pair of Microlab powered speakers (were the last in stock, open box) so I hooked those up to the radio. It’s still possible to use the insternal speakers but why would you want to 🙂
  • Used a 500Gb sata disk that I also had around.
  • Took the oportunity to update slackware, mpd and everything else to the latest versions.
  • Took out the LCD until I can find time to build it in a nice case
  • The usb numpad is still there but I’m having trouble finding a daemon that actually works between two reboots
  • I use Client175 for web control and also Sonata on n800 and DroidMPD on my wife’s tablet to control it. Having 500Gb it’s got it’s music back (not only internet radio).
  • Since playlist support seems to be better now I have each radio stored in a playlist that DroidMPD or Client175 can simply load.
  • The best thing is that there are no custom hackish scripts left that could break all the time. It’s just stock mpd, playlists and the clients. Oh, I also have the command line clients installed for when I ssh into it using my n900.
  • The only problematic thing left is the shitty usb wi-fi adapter I use (don’t know, might be the drivers) it’s slow and sometimes connection drops. I added ping -c1 GATEWAY_IP in cron every 2 minutes and this seems to help.

Somebody in the comments asked for the configurations and scripts  The original ones, from the compact flash should still be in backups somewhere but I don’t see how they could help, as they point to old or discontinued versions.  (lcd-stuff comes to mind). The configuration I use now is as stock as one can get with mpd. Let me know if you have questions about it and also please recommend me a daemon that can listen for keystrokes from the usb keypad and it’s stable.

Have fun.

I have a linux Jukebox !