Jeff Sexton

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mediatomb and Playlists

I found a few issues adding playlists (m3u files) to Mediatomb. It works, but there are problems I have not been able to completely pin down. The main thing is that I have to add the individual playlist files to Mediatomb rather than depending on a timed rescan or a directory. When I time-rescan a directory containing a new playlist (only), the load operation appears in the Mediatomb console, but the playlist never appears in the database. If I add the single file however, and the list file has not been previously scanned, it works.

Also, once a directory is processed by a timed rescan, I have trouble adding new playlist files, individually, from that location. A couple of weeks ago, inexplicitly, a playlist I had previously used without trouble disappeared from Mediatomb, and I could not add it back (no errors, it just didn't show up). I removed my other playlists and found I could not add those back either. So I made a brand new file, and that would not add. To fix this I had to be sure that the directory and all playlists were removed from Mediatomb, and there were no timed rescans on that folder. I added back each m3u file individually, and they worked fine.

I think it's best to stay away from timed rescan, on my installation away, for playlists (I've had no trouble with rescans of music, video and photo files). I should note that this feature is supposed to work. And I should note that I have seen Mediatomb pick up m3u files on timed rescans from my music folders in the past. But from my playlist directory, I've had odd behaviors (no, this is not related to file/diectory permissions in my case, that is a common problem though. Check that if it is not working for you).

For creating playlists I have been using fapg. This worked well for me because I had already some long lists of files to work with and fapg can take these simple lists on stdin. Many people that use Mediatomb and similar servers use other media handler just to create playlists. I have been experimenting with juk. Juk seems to be particularly suited to larger collections (a problem I have with many of these tools is that they simply have not been designed for large and well organized media collections, with correct tags and such). There are other choices. I've seen Rhythmbox mentioned quite a bit. Such tools tend to support media playing or streaming on their own, but they also have nice playlist editors and search features that are useful alone.

One of the reasons I have been working to replace the system I had built myself, is that more standard bits and pieces (like m3u files) will allow me to use a variety of off the shelf packages (there are any number of programs available to edit playlists and now I can use any one, or more than one). There are also other servers and clients that support the same protocols. One does not have to be limited to one combination, if one server is better than another for, say, one type of content or another.

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