I’ve had some spare time on my hands this Christmas and having just moved house, a huge pile of DVDs and CDs I’ve been meaning to do something with. I have an old Asus laptop, a Celerion with a DVD and a 2TB external drive gathering dust.
Vortex box is a media ripper and server designed to run on old PCs with limited hardware. You just put a CD or DVD in the drive it rips it, adds the correct metadata and makes it available on the network as a shared drive. The nifty thing is the extras it installs to make sharing media really easy.
The great thing about Vortexbox is that you manage everything through a web interface which not being the prettiest means you can do everything you need without needing to login to the machine directly, making it ideal to run headless (ie no monitor, mouse or keyboard) and leave it in a cupboard out of the way. You can do more fancy stuff but that involve getting jiggy with the terminal (it runs on Fedora Linux).
It rips CDs as lossless FLAC files and makes them available on the network as MP3s or ALAC (Apple’s lossless format). It runs both a Squeezebox server and Supersync which makes the files appear as an iTunes library. It also shares music as DLNA meaning XBox and loads of other hardware can read the files.
Vortexbox rips DVDs as MPeg4s and in the same way as with music makes them available on the network.
A couple of clicks and Vortexbox installs and configures Plex media server.
Plex is a pretty nifty video manager. You can stream videos to mobile, iPad, Xbox, Chromecast, Roku, you name it, Plex has a client for it. There’s even a great webclient. The videos are also shared as DLNA or SMB meaning pretty much any computer, console, TV or set top box can access them.
It also manages photos, has a BitTorrent client and is an AirPlay receiver (plug a stereo into the headphone socket).
Go get VortexBox.
The only thing, with ripping CDs and DVDs it takes time, I reckon I might have got mine done by the end of 2015…