How to Guide: Turn Windows XP PC into a Music Server - diyAudio
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Old 5th November 2014, 08:29 PM   #1
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Default How to Guide: Turn Windows XP PC into a Music Server

How to Guide to Turn Windows PC into Music Server

This is for those on Wxx machines. Attempts to convince me of the usefulness of Linux will earn an ignore and be reported as thread trolling. Discuss Linux in another thread.

I use Windows XP as it has a Hardware Profiles feature that has been discontinued on newer MSFT OS'. XP is MSFT and has a massive base of applications and drivers that work easily, it is an excellent platform for a music server.

Since the target machine is a dedicated laptop and has no internet connectivity, wifi, bluetooth, or any other function, essentially a dumb set top box with a large display, any and all security issues are not germane.

To do this you need:
-An old laptop
-A copy of XP home or pro

Install the OS and create a user account with admin level privileges.

Step One
Create additional Hardware Profiles.

Desktop>Start Menu Button>Control Panel>System>Hardware Tab

In the lower right hand corner is a Hardware Profiles button. Click on that.

A window opens showing you have Profile 1 (Current). Make two copies of this and give them names.

Set the time out option to something you like. I use 6 seconds.

Click 'OK'.

Close out of this series of dialog boxes.

Step Two
Modify the services profile of your new Hardware Profile.

Start Menu Button>Run>

Type in "services.msc" without the double quotes.

Click 'OK'.

A box will come up with a list of services.

To disable a service, right-click on it, scroll down to Properties, click on that line in the menu.

Click on the Log On Tab

At the bottom of the box is a list of your Hardware Profiles.

Use one of the NEW ones, not your current, and modify which services will start and run in that profile.

The minimum to have XP perform as a music server are:

Event Log
Plug and Play
Remote Procedure Call (RPC)
Windows Audio

It will play music, but not much else and will appear like W95.

NOTE
There is a ""Remote Procedure Call (RPC) Locator"" service, that is not the same as in the list above and this can be disabled.

HOWEVER the Remote Procedure Call (RPC) service that is listed and needed MUST BE ENABLED or your machine will not boot. If you disable RPC, your OS and machine will NEVER BOOT AGAIN.

This breaks your machine. Do not disable it.

Tweaking these services can destroy your machine beyond the repair of any tech geek. Reinstall as well as BIOS level switch adjustments will be needed to get your machine back if you make a mistake.

If you break your machine, it is not my fault.

Once you get your new Hardware Profile changed, reboot the computer.

At start up a white text on black menu will appear for you to choose a profile. Use the down arrow key to scroll to your new profile, hit enter.

When your machine boots note the stripped down appearance.

A few final tweaks.

Get any music on USB or otherwise and load or copy to your music server.

Start your music player of choice. I have ASIO as well as a half dozen different players installed.

Start playing your music.

Press ctrl-alt-del to open taskmgr.exe.

Task manager:
You can set the priority of the music player app to ''realtime''.
You can also close explorer.exe once you get your music player running. Highlight in Task Manager and click the close this process button in right hand corner.
You can then close task manager, and your pc will be a bare blue screen with one app running and the minimal amount of services needed.

Fidelizer will automate some of this and elevate many processes to ''High'' priority.

I have VLC, foobar2000, Russian Album Player APlayer, WinAmp, ASIO drivers, and so on.

In case you are thinking of closing any of the processes or services remaining, don't.

I have learnt through trial and error and several OS reinstallations that what I have posted is as lean as you can get it.

If you close any remaining processes (ANY svchost, services, lmass, lsass, winlogon, csrss etc), you will just force your machine to reboot as the OS will become unstable and close itself within 60 seconds with an error warning countdown box.

That's it. Sound is as clean as it can be made and feeds my USB DAC without interruption and good SQ.

To reiterate, this is a dumb box. It's not a PC it only plays music as configured. You will not be able to do anything else. No Internet and no wifi and many of the functions you take for granted that work silently in the background will not work.
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Old 5th November 2014, 09:15 PM   #2
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how do you avoid windows messing up the sound with app volume, master volume, mixers, system sounds, resampling and other stuff?
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Old 6th November 2014, 10:23 AM   #3
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System sounds are disabled, that is a registry entry or sound panel choice.

My PCs also have a 60kb Registry hack file that dumps a lot of garbage as well.

All other issues are addressed by the ASIO plug in. This takes over system control of the sound from the master volume, mixers and such and feeds the stream directly out the USB.

If you want an added level of control, get virtual cable and software wire your machine internally to avoid everything and see where it all goes.

Virtual Audio Cable Home Page

Last edited by miragem3i; 6th November 2014 at 10:26 AM.
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Old 6th November 2014, 10:27 AM   #4
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FINALLY. Someone else in the world who appreciates just how much of a miracle Windows XP is to the non-programming public.

And to the people who do not need the clunkyness and confusing changes of Windows 7/8/9/10/+

They should have continued pushing ahead with Windows XP x64 (64bit version)!
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Old 6th November 2014, 03:41 PM   #5
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Very inexpensive laptops can be ordered and they will come with XP as the default. These are small footprint systems with only 1GB of ram, but for a music server they are ideal devices. The display is low quality, but this is a music head end so this does not matter.

The XP OS as the head end makes the ability to customise and tweak the appliance very easy, and because it is MSFT there are hundred's of thousands of applications to choose from.

Online resources to speed up, tweak, and control XP are applicable and usable. Registry files, settings, and service optimisations are all available by a quick online search.

Unlike Android, there is no resampling issue.

I find this solution to be ideal, and there is no learning curve attempting to re-learn a new OS as I have been using XP for years.
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Old 6th November 2014, 07:40 PM   #6
Julf is offline Julf  Europe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miragem3i View Post
Unlike Android, there is no resampling issue.
What is the Android "resampling issue"? At least in Android 5, resampling only occurs if you try to play a file or stream that has a different sample rate than the DAC. Is that in any way different than what Windows does?
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Old 6th November 2014, 07:48 PM   #7
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Use 7 or 8.1- much better interface. It's easy to disable wifi and bluetooth services.
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Old 6th November 2014, 10:52 PM   #8
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mirage: so if i follow your guide i get a windows pc with music playback or a remote accessible server ?
I would only need a playback computer not a server. Also, how do you know what player does not mess with the sound data stream?
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Old 7th November 2014, 07:14 AM   #9
Julf is offline Julf  Europe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ViennaTom View Post
how do you know what player does not mess with the sound data stream?
It appears he doesn't.
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Old 7th November 2014, 09:10 AM   #10
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If you use ASIO as he mentions, you can be reasonably sure that it won't mess with the sound data as ASIO bypasses the whole Windows audio stack. But this requires a soundcard with an ASIO driver, or something like ASIO4ALL which has its own setup issues.

I used XP for audio and got good results, before I discovered some other OS that I mustn't mention
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Last edited by scopeboy; 7th November 2014 at 09:12 AM.
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