Remote Playback With esd

I have a laptop which contains my 30 gigabytes or so of music collection. I also have a networked MythTV box hooked into the main AV equipment, with nice speakers etc.; however, dealing with playlists with a remote control and a TV as the UI is awful. So ideally, if the laptop could be used as the friendly front-end for MP3 selection, that'd be much better.

Given those two, it'd be great to have a way to select and cue playlists on the laptop, with the sound coming via the Mythbox.

It turns out this is stunningly easy with the venerable ##esd## (the Enlightenment Sound Daemon). Here's how.

STEP 1: On the Mythbox, run this command:

  esd -tcp -public -port 5001

(you may need to install the ##esound## package first.)

STEP 2: On the laptop, run this command:

  export ESPEAKER=mythbox:5001
  mpg321 -o esd /path/to/file.mp3

Sure enough, the sound comes from the Mythbox! Any app that supports ##esd## as a method of sound output -- JuK, Rhythmbox, mpg321, xmms, the Flash plugin, etc. -- can be run in place of ##mpg321##. As long as that picks up the ESPEAKER environment variable, you're laughing.

It appears the sound stream is plain old TCP/IP, running at about 200KiB/second. That should be fine, even on a lossy wifi network like the one I'm using.

Giving this a UI

I threw together a few rudimentary scripts to make this usable. Here they are.

First off, the changes made on the Mythbox itself --

/usr/local/bin/ :

esd -tcp -public -port 5001 &
echo $! > /tmp/

/usr/local/bin/ :


pid=`cat /tmp/`
if [ "$pid" -lt 3 ] ; then
  ( echo "Server was not running." | festival --tts ) &

  kill $pid
  rm $pid
  ( echo "Server stopped." | festival --tts ) &

These lines were added to the end of /usr/share/mythtv/mainmenu.xml , just before the </mythmenu> line:

     <type>Start Remote Sound</type>
     <text>Start Remote Sound</text>
     <action>EXEC sh /usr/local/bin/</action>

     <type>Stop Remote Sound</type>
     <text>Stop Remote Sound</text>
     <action>EXEC sh /usr/local/bin/</action>

And I wrote this script to run JuK, the excellent KDE music player application, with playback through the Mythbox:

~/bin/mythjuk :

exec juk

Correspondingly, ~/.kde/share/config/jukrc has these lines added to the end so that it'll always play via esd: