MinimServer is a new UPnP AV music server with a number of innovative features that make it easier to organize and explore your music collection. If you have a network music player that supports the UPnP AV standards (see this page), you'll get much more from your music collection if you're using MinimServer as your music server software.
Interested? Find out about the benefits of MinimServer in the following sections.
Get more from your music
Enjoying your digital music collection isn't just about getting excellent sound quality. As your collection grows, it's important to have a convenient way to find the music that you want to play. Browsing a digital music collection is very different from having your CDs on a shelf or in a rack and finding the one that you want by remembering its position! Instead, you'll be looking at your collection on a computer or a hand-held device such as an iPod or iPad (or the Android equivalent). Choosing the right music software can make a big difference to how easy it is to find and select music, especially if your music collection is large or contains classical music.
When you browse your music collection looking for music to play, you're narrowing down your choice from all the music in your collection through a series of smaller selections until you decide on a specific piece of music. With most music servers, you're limited to going through these selection steps in a given order with a small number of variations such as Album/Track and Artist/Album/Track. This simple approach doesn't work well for songs with multiple artists, or for albums that have a mixture of tracks by different artists.
Intelligent Browsing in MinimServer allows you to make any combination of selections in any order. For example, you could search for a violin concerto by artist, then composer, then conductor, then orchestra, then album. Alternatively, you could search first by composer, then select violin concertos, then artist, then orchestra, then conductor (or any other order of selection). At each step you see all the music that matches your previous selections.
As you make your selections, Intelligent Browsing presents you only with relevant choices that help you to narrow down your current selection of music. Continuing with the example of choosing a violin concerto, if you've started by selecting recordings by violinist Rachel Podger, and these recordings are all Bach compositions, your next selection menu won't include an option to select by composer—this is redundant because the only available composer is Bach. Some time later, you might add to your collection a Rachel Podger recording of Vivaldi concertos. If you now select all of Rachel's recordings as you did previously, you'll automatically get a next selection menu with a Composer option and choices of Bach and Vivaldi.
Take control of your tagging
The information shown by the music server is taken from the tags in your digital audio files. Whether you've purchased these files as downloads or ripped them from CDs, this tagging information is usually fairly basic and often has errors or inconsistencies (for example, in the exact spelling of an artist name or composer name). To get the most from your music collection, you'll probably need to edit some of the tags in your files or add additional tags.
MinimServer helps you to fix problems with your tagging by providing a detailed log of tagging problems that it finds in your files. You can use this log in conjunction with a separate tagging program (such as Mp3tag or puddletag) to fix incorrect or inconsistent tags. The MinimServer index also includes entries for files without any tags and files that are missing a specific tag (such as Genre, Date or Composer), which makes it very easy to locate and fix missing tag values.
MinimServer doesn't attempt to fix tagging inconsistencies itself. For example, if you've got some tracks tagged with the artist ABBA and others tagged with the artist Abba, MinimServer will show these as separate artists instead of trying to guess which of them is correct. By doing this, MinimServer puts you in control to get your tagging the way you want it, rather than applying its own rules which might not do what you want.
Everything you need for classical music
Classical music doesn't fit well into the conventional Artist/Album/Track hierarchy. For a classical music collection, the music server needs to handle full composer indexing for albums and individual tracks, musical works with multiple movements, and artist information that can include a conductor, an orchestra, and one or more soloists. MinimServer does all this because it was designed with classical music in mind. The simple and powerful browser interface indexes your music by composer, composition, genre, conductor, orchestra and soloists so that you can explore all aspects of your music collection and quickly find what you're looking for.
A silent low-power music server
You can run your music server on a computer (laptop or desktop), but this means that you need to have the computer running whenever you are listening to music. Also, if your music server is in your listening room, you'll want it to be completely silent with no distracting fan noise.
A good solution is to run your music server on a low-power Linux computer. For example, the SheevaPlug uses only 5W of power, is fanless and completely silent, and has a USB port for attaching a hard drive containing your music collection. See this forum post for details of how to run MinimServer on the SheevaPlug. MinimServer also runs very well on the Raspberry Pi and on a wide range of NAS devices from various manufacturers.
Support for multiple platforms
The current beta release of MinimServer supports Windows (x86 and x64), Mac OS X (64-bit and 32-bit), Linux (x86, x64, ARM and PowerPC), QNAP NAS (x86 and ARM), Synology NAS (x86, ARM and PowerPC-Qoriq), Raspberry Pi, and NETGEAR ReadyNAS (x86 and ARM). The Linux downloads support both desktop and "headless" environments.
MinimServer is compliant with the UPnP AV 1.0 specfications, which means that it can be used with a wide range of music players and control points which run on a variety of platforms.
About the name
The name MinimServer was chosen to provide a musical connection and also to suggest that the server is small and simple. The latter aspect deserves further explanation. It doesn't mean that MinimServer has minimum standards of capability or quality, or that there are things missing that should really have been included. Instead, it means that MinimServer follows a "less is more" design philosophy where simplicity is of prime importance and features are included only if they provide important capability and are easy to understand and use.