Streamer, server, and confusion

Greetings all,

I had recently started to transfer my (mostly CD based music), onto a general purpose file server. The file server OS is a "real" UNIX - OmniOS, FreeBSD, if it matters. I then connect to the remote server via NFS, SMB/CIFS, depending on the OS of the local computer I am using, and play the file with a music player on the local computer. So the content of the file is transfered over TCP/IP from the remote server to the local computer.

Several of the topics in this section discuss different implementations of streamers. So, I was trying to understand what the term means, but as usually the Internet iis less than helpful, in fact rather contradictory. To wit:

The difference between a Music Server and a Music Streamer is a Music Server has digital outputs a Music Streamer has analog outputs
So, a Streamer is a device that purely fetches the digital information over the network, and hands that to a DAC, while a Music Server is a more complex device, able to run music cataloguing software such as Roon, to organize your music library.
and so on.

So, I was wondering if someone could explain the difference and if not clear from the difference a user case for each.

Kindest regards,

Think in a logic level client-model system. (since you are using real unix ;) (Like a real man)

Storage File server--->Streamer (interface)---->DAC(digital to analog converter)--->Audio device(preamp or amp).

The streamer, is basically software that reproduce content, it can be from internet (spotify, tidal, youtube, etc) or from a local source (NAS, File Server, internal storage, etc).
This software (streamer service) can be installed on a PC for example (spotify, foobar, roon, jriver app for example) or on other cases it runs on a dedicated device ( blue sound node, arcam st60, aurender streamers for example).
Streaming is also a term used to broadcast content using cameras, stream decks, microphones... but I think you are thinking more into reproducing local content.

At least is how I see it.
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Hi Hipocrates, rpi,

thank you for the explanation.

To restate it, so that I make sure that I understand, the term "streamer" appears to be a generic term that refers to a "transfer of a content from a source network node to a target network node" regardless of the underlying implementation/protocol and/or means of a consumption of the content at the target node.. If that is correct, then e.g., ftp, sftp, scp, and the like would be streaming protocols.

Or, does the term mean a specific protocol designed for a consumption of the content at the target node, while the transfer of the content is ongoing?

One of the reasons I am confused is that a friend has a Synology NAS/server. Synology also advertises "streaming application". However, we are able to watch videos, stored on the Synology, without the "streaming application" being installed.

Kindest regards,

Streaming means to transfer content/files as a stream/sequence of bytes. There are several streaming protocols:
Streamer is a program which can stream your files to clients using one (or all) of those protocols.
Do you need it if you can play your files using NFS/SMB? Not really if all your client devices can connect to your content over NFS or SMB. Usually that's the case for a home network.

Streamers (programs dedicated to streaming) can serve multiple concurrent clients better than NFS/SMB. But if you have just 1-2 clients that's not so important.
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Hi rpi,

thank you for your reply, it is becoming clearer.

Based on my current understanding, I do not need a streamer; we were streaming the same video file from my friend's computer over SMB/NFS to three target nodes without any problem. I was just interested in understanding the difference.

I really appreciate your time and help.

Kindest regards,