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VLC multiroom

Introduction

VLC๐Ÿ”—
is a VideoLAN's media player, that, among other cool features, facilitates command-line mode of operations and a web interface for remote control
Multiroom๐Ÿ”—
is an audio system that allow for playback and control of music throughout an entire home or building.
SystemD๐Ÿ”—
is an init system used in Linux distributions to bootstrap the user space and to manage system processes after booting
ALSA๐Ÿ”—
is a software framework and part of the Linux kernel that provides an application programming interface (API) for sound card device drivers.
VLC-multiroom is a shell script that on a Linux-based media computer configures systemd to run multiple VLC Media Player instances for audio playback via all available ALSA sound cards and for web based remote control with a purpose to make the media computer the core of a multiroom audio system. Project sources are available on github https://github.com/hutorny/vlc-multiroom

Prerequisites

  • A computer running Linux OS with one or more ALSA-compatible audio cards (devices)

Preparations

Recent Linux distro use PulseAudio as the main audio interface. Unfortunately, PulseAudio is not operable in a system deamon mode and VLC has to be switched to use ALSA audio interface. The script does it via command line, but ALSA drivers initially comes muted and have to be unmuted before using.


Install ALSA tools

sudo apt-get install alsa-base alsa-tools alsa-utils

If the graphical environment available, you may also install ALSA GUI tools

apt-get install alsa-tools-gui

Unmute all audio outputs

In a graphical environment you may run qasmixer, otherwise run alsamixer and follow instructions from this post For pure command-line approach please refer to this post

Ensure VLC makes audible output via ALSA

With GUI

Switch VLC to use ALSA interface, please follow this link for instructions how to do this Start playback and try every hardware card via Audio > Audio Devices menu options

With command line

List all available ALSA devices:

aplay -L

From this list the script will use only direct hardware output devices, selected as the following

aplay -L | grep plughw:CARD

Test an audio device

cvlc --novideo --no-sout-video --aout alsa --alsa-audio-device="plughw:CARD=Generic,DEV=0"

Repeat this test for every audio device you plan to use.


Setting up VLC as systemd services

Obtain files from this project

wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/hutorny/vlc-multiroom/master/vlc@.service
wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/hutorny/vlc-multiroom/master/install-vlc-services.sh
chmod u+x install-vlc-services.sh

Make a dry run

./install-vlc-services.sh

It should list mapping of VLC instances to audio devices.

Run the script

sudo ./install-vlc-services.sh <password>

where <password> is the password to be used for the http interface

On success it should print the map VLC instance -> audio device and the list of VLC services

Each instance should be accessible via http://hostname:909N
where hostname is the computer's host name or address and N is instance number, e.g. http://192.168.0.100:9090/

Troubleshooting

Open vlc@.service in a text editor and uncomment lines

#ExecStartPre=-/bin/mkdir -p /var/log/vlc/
#ExecStartPre=-/bin/chown -R vlc /var/log/vlc/
and
# -vvv --extraintf=http:logger --file-logging --logfile=/var/log/vlc/vlc-%i.log

Restart VLC services

systemctl restart vlc@{0..9}

Analyze log for errors

Take corrective actions

Useful links

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