Every year my wife and I host a St. Patrick's day party. I am in charge of the music.
First came records, and I was stuck next to the turntable (nobody else was allowed to touch my Thorens or later, my Rega).
Then came cassettes, and I would let someone else change them. But they all had to be recorded first.
Then came CDs, and someone else could change them too. A 5-disk Sony changer made it easier to mix the music without needing to record cassettes for hours and hours.
But when we moved to Texas and went all networked and wireless, I started my quest for the ultimate, streaming, synchronized system. This search is still on, but that's another story.
I ripped with all of my Irish/celtic CDs to network attached drive (ADSTech NAS Kit, on sale) in preparation for the streaming machine.
My vision was to have multiple laptops running the "streamtuner" located around the house, each connected to an amplifier and speakers. But 'twas not to be.
I experimented with various systems, some Linux, some Windoze. None of them really worked the way I wanted (Slimserver/Squeezebox came closest, but that's another story). I had not anticipated that it would be so difficult to synchronize mp3 streams, but this appears to be one of the great unsolved problems in softwareland.
I had installed DSL on the oldest, weakest laptop in the house (333Mhz Dell Latitude CPiA, 5GB, 128MB). After some initial fits and starts, I was wirelessly playing music off of the network drive. At one time I had the thing running playing the same 25 songs in a loop for 10 days, nonstop and without a glitch (testing,testing, testing...).
The night before the party, I gave up trying to get Slimserver & Squeezebox to work for more than an hour on two Windoze laptops streaming from central location. It was time for DSL and XMMS to save the day.
I set up the old Dell in the living room and hooked it up and created a playlist of all available songs (~530 after taking out the Tannahill Weavers because they were from Scotland and some of the older Dubliners because they give me a headache). I let it start playing on Thursday night. It played all night, all Friday and all through the party. No glitches.
All the while the CPU load was under 10% and the network download was 20-50kbps. No sweat at all.
Of course all of this depended on my Netgear access point and Lynksys router not glitching. And the ADSTech NAS chugged along without problem either.
My quest for multi-room, synchronized mp3 streams is not over, but I survived the party. One of our guests is a SuSe user (work and home) and he was duly impressed. Not so much with the fact that it was possible, but just satisfied that there was a 100% windows-free solution to my problem.