New toy!

I managed to procure a Cobalt Qube 2 today. It’s been a while since I’ve geeked on hardware, so I’m sort of looking forward to playing with it. It’s a neat little box — we had it lying around
at work because they’re technically a competitor to one of our
products, and a long, long time ago someone wanted to see what the
Qube can do.

But obviously I’m not going to be using it as a small office
server. It’s a strange little box — two ethernet ports and a serial
port, but no video, keyboard or mouse; initial configuration was
done via a little panel on the back. Cobalt Qube src="http://www.lafferty.ca/lj/qube.jpg" align="right"
width="106">It’s got a 250 MHz MIPS
processor and a 10GB hard drive, but only 16MB of RAM — and finding
more RAM for these guys is tricky, because it needs 3.3v 72-pin SIMMs.

Anyhow, I think mine’s going to become the mp3-playing component
of my stereo system. It’s a shame the panel isn’t on the front for
panel geekery, but essentially I just need something to permanently
affix an audio cable to. I can hook it up like a tape deck, and then
use it for playback and for converting my record collection to
mp3.

I figure I’ll throw NetBSD mipsel/cobalt on, or maybe
debian-mips, although I’m more familiar with NetBSD in low-memory
scenarios, and then set up a variety of ways to get music to it,
to be played by mpg123. It’s got one PCI slot, so I’m assuming that I’ll
be able to get some common sound card working, and after that it’s just
about software control from my laptop or over the Web — all the
physical box has to do is sit on the shelf and glow a bit. Mind you, the
panel is drivable in NetBSD — it’s just in the wrong place to be
useful.

Suggestions on control interfaces are welcome — things like
Apache::MP3 don’t cut it because they’re backwards (files there, play
here). I need a control mechanism that is “files here, play there”, or
at least “files there, play there”. I will at least be implementing
Simoncozens‘s idea of queueing mp3s with lpr, but that’s
mostly hack value — I’d much rather have something with a little
(but not a lot) more eye-candy. Anyone solved this problem for me?

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