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Begin

Introduction

This guide serves as a reference for VortexBox beginners. VortexBox(external link) is a Linux(external link) system, based on Fedora(external link), and many useful features may seem hidden at first use. Most of the information covered here is already handled in other Howto's. The aim of this guide is to provide an overview of installing, configuring, operating, and maintaining your VortexBox from Day One.

Installation

If you're installing VortexBox on a spare computer, the first thing to do is download the VortexBox ISO(external link), verify the md5sum(external link), and install VortexBox on your machine. You will need a monitor and keyboard attached for this process. Details of this procedure are sorted out on the wiki page How To Install the VortexBox 2.0 ISO. Once you have VortexBox installed by following this procedure, it is time to Login.

If you have purchased a certified VortexBox Appliance from Small Green Computer or elsewhere, this section is not needed; skip to Login.

Login

Of course, logging in to your VortexBox is not always necessary as most jobs can be handled graphically (which we'll get to next, under Web GUI), but it is a very important tool for general maintenance and trouble shooting problems. When your VortexBox boots up after the installation, you will see a command prompt. The default username:password on VortexBox you will use is root:vortexbox. If you entered a different password during installation, use the password you entered there to login instead.

Logging in directly with monitor and keyboard attached is not the most efficient way of doing so. VortexBox is designed to run headless(external link). The best way to login is remotely via SSH(external link). The details of logging in remotely are explained in How To Login to VortexBox.

Networking

By default, VortexBox is dynamically assigned a local IP address under DHCP.(external link) When your VortexBox boots, its local IP address is displayed in the terminal above the login prompt. It is recommended that you also assign a Static IP Address to prevent the IP address from changing after various reboots and power cycles.

Web GUI

With the admin access sorted out, it's time to use one of VortexBox's strongest features: the Web GUI. The home page is accessible at http://vortexbox.(external link) If that doesn't work, type the local IP address of your VortexBox (displayed in the VortexBox login prompt) in your browsers URL bar; e.g. http://192.168.1.151.(external link)

Features

CD Ripping: VortexBox's strength is automatically ripping, tagging, and getting cover art for CD's you put into your optical drive. This means the toils of ripping a large album collection are minimized. There is a great guide that everyone should read at How To Rip Your CD Collection on VortexBox for getting started with CD ripping. VortexBox rips your CD's to FLAC(external link), and you can mirror them to four (lossy) MP3 formats(external link): MP3 320, MP3 V0, MP3 V2, MP3 V4, and Apple's lossless codec(external link) ALAC (M4A) at http://vortexbox/flacmirror.php.(external link) If a CD is giving you ripping troubles, see below under Ripping Issues.

DVD/BD Ripping: In addition to CD ripping, VortexBox will also automatically rip DVD's and BluRay's thanks to the wonderful software MakeMKV(external link). The files generated during a DVD rip are in Matroska Video(external link) and maintain the original quality of the DVD/BD, but you can mirror them to MP4(external link) if you like at http://vortexbox/ripstatus.php.(external link) If you choose to mirror, both the MKV and MP4 will remain on your system; you can delete the MKV's after the transcoding process to free up space (see File Management below). If you have a PlayStation 3, you can choose the option to remux(external link) the MKV's to M2TS on the rip page without losing the original quality of the DVD.

Logitech Media Server and VortexBox Player: VortexBox works great with Logitech Squeezebox devices, and has a built-in Logitech Media Server(external link). You can even play audio directly from your VortexBox's sound card with the prebundled software package Vortexbox Player or an add-on DAC by visiting the LMS page http://vortexbox:9000.(external link) (If you cannot configure audio from the DAC, login to your VortexBox, type aplay -L in a terminal and choose the right sound device for your system, e.g. "hw:CARD=CMI8768,DEV=0", and paste that under "Audio Device" on http://vortexbox/vortexbox-player.php.(external link) Generally, typing "hw:0,0" or "hw:1,0" may not work, but issues with DACs can be quickly resolved by using the output from aplay -L and restarting Logitech Media Server.)

File Management

Accessing files stored on your VortexBox from Windows, Mac, and Linux all have their own guides. Visit the corresponding pages to learn how to access your VortexBox media files on your clients operating system. To access the Samba shares(external link), see the page VortexBox file share layout, and note the difference between the privileges of different shares. To access all files on your VortexBox, see Accessing files beyond the files Samba share

Safety and Maintenance

It is good practice to do two things routinely on your VortexBox: update and backup. Accidents do happen, both on the side of buggy software or user error. Keep your VortexBox up-to-date to help fix software issues and grab the latest features, and keep a back up in case you accidentally your entire library.

To update, you can either (a) click "Start Upgrade" on the upgrade page at http://vortexbox/upgrade.php(external link) (easy), or (b) login and type "yum clean all; yum update" in a terminal (advanced).

To backup, attach an external drive to your VortexBox via USB, and visit the backup page at http://vortexbox/backup.php.(external link) To backup, see How To Backup /storage to a USB Drive; to restore from an external USB drive in case you reinstall VortexBox, see How To Restore /storage from a USB Backup Drive.

Try to do update at least once a week and backup whenever you finish a ripping session.

Media Players

Enjoying your music and movie collection is fairly easy. There are tons of options to playback content on a separate player on your network. For video, Boxee Box(external link), PS3(external link), XBMC(external link), or any other DLNA(external link) capable device like a SmartTV works great for enjoying movies and music. For audio, Logitech Squeezebox devices(external link), Sonos(external link) and Linn(external link) receivers are especially great for music. See Recommended Hardware Devices for more info.

Likewise, there are numerous Tablet and Smart Phone apps that can turn your Tablet or Smart Phone into a remote for any one of these players. Similarly, there are apps available for playing back content directly on your touchscreen devices. Search your App Store to find the best app for your device and be sure to tell us about your experience in the VortexBox General(external link) forum.

On a standard computer, you can playback music and movies with a good, modern media player. See Recommended Software Devices for more info.

Library, Cover Art and Tagging

There is a vast plethora of tools you can use to fix tags and get cover art for your albums. Whether you downloaded an album and would like to add it to the VortexBox library with consistent structure and tags(external link), or to grab cover art VortexBox may have missed in the ripping process, there are tools available to help you do this. See Recommended Taggers for tools dedicated to solving your problems.

Ripping Issues

On the off chance VortexBox cannot rip a certain CD, there are a many preferred rippers available incorporating enhanced, secure ripping features. See Recommended Rippers for more info.

Getting Help

The VortexBox community loves to help other users, both beginning and advanced. If you have troubles, search the Forums(external link) to see if your question has already been answered, search the wiki for various howto's and software setups, and give google a try too. If still no joy, make a post on the Forum under Help for general help, and if your issues are Audio/DAC/VortexBox-Player related, post under "VortexBox Player". VortexBox has a great community of helpful users doing what they do for free, be polite and your question will be quickly answered. Be sure to tell us about new relevant software you find helpful, which can aid other VortexBox users, in the General Forum.

References

VortexBox forum: http://vortexbox.org/forum/(external link)
VortexBox wiki: http://info.vortexbox.org/(external link)
Slimdevices forum: http://forums.slimdevices.com/(external link)
Hydrogen audio wiki: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/(external link)
Fedora forum: http://www.fedoraforum.org/(external link)