Neutral Axis

Firefly Media Server

by on Apr.11, 2013, under Uncategorized

firefly[Found this draft copy of a write up I did on Firefly Media Server in January of 2010, but never published.  Those who know me, know what intervened.]

Firefly Media Server is a light-weight iTunes compatible music server for Windows or Linux.  I’ve mentioned it in several posts before and thought I’d do a run down of it with some screenshots.  Due to its slim requirements, it will run on even something as small as a NAS drive like the Western Digital World Edition products.  If the device runs a Linux kernel and you can get into it, which may require some hacking, it can probably run Firefly.

Firefly can be downloaded at for free as a Windows installer, or for Linux.  I’ve never installed the Windows version before so I won’t be discussing that, but once installed, I don’t think there’s any difference between the Windows and Linux versions.  The developer’s website isn’t too reliable and is often inaccessible.  The user forums have been having spam trouble too.  For Ubuntu Linux, the easiest way to install is to search for “Firefly” in the Synaptic package manager.  You’ll find a package called “mt-daapd”, which is the old name of Firefly, and is how all the files will be named.  The current stable version is 1696 and is the one that you’ll get through this method.  Install the package in the normal way and it will be installed and set to run automatically at startup.

To configure it, you can either go through the web interface, at http://localhost:3689, (3689 is the default port) or manually edit /etc/mt-daapd.conf.  See the screenshots below of the options available as they appear in the web interface.  I’ve encountered a bug in the web interface where sometimes I make a change and it doesn’t get saved correctly into the mt-daapd.conf file.  The most typical way this has occurred is when changing the password.  For instance setting the password to “JoeBlow123” will get stored into the config file as something like “JoeBlow123%*&~”, which then has the lovely affect of not letting you log in to fix it because you won’t know what random characters got appended.  The only way to proceed is to manually edit mt-daapd.conf with a text editor and look for the glitch.

I believe the default configuration has the program scanning the library once ever 600 seconds.  I consider that to be too often and just have mine do it every 12 hours.  From the web interface you can trigger a manual scan whenever needed.  After the music folder has been scanned, you’ll see it appear in iTunes as a shared library.  Any other networked device that can read an iTunes library will have access to it as well.  I use it with the Roku Soundbridge player.  In addition to a built-in playlist function, it will also read any iTunes XML files in the scanning path and extract any playlists within, including smart playlists.  However, the iTunes smart playlists are imported as static playlists, so they won’t change until the XML file is scanned again.

It’s also possible to run multiple instances of Firefly, which I do to be able to stream FLAC files on my LAN and MP3 files over the web.  Each instance just needs to be set up with its own mt-daapd.conf file named differently (eg mt-daapd1.conf, mt-daapd2.conf), matching database folders, and set to operate on different port numbers.  In addition you can set a password to control access to the configuration menu, and a password to control access to music playback.

For installing Firefly to NAS drives just do a google search for “Firefly” and the name of your device and see what you find.  For the Western Digital Mybook World Edition, the procedure I’ve successfully used was found here.

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