need upgrade ideas for dedicated roon server

rogerfederer

Junior Member
i found this statement on another thread from @MikeyFresh inspiring: "It would appear that I have failed at the job of digital moderator based on these comments. Either I speak in a language completely foreign to most, or I somehow come off as not easily approachable, though I do take all manner of questions both in the forum itself, and via PM." so here is a question!

i am running roon to a 3 P3 allo digione players (plus apple TV in HT and a CCA in the garage). qobuz is my streaming service. when i bought a new personal laptop i moved my former desktop to roon server duty. it is a dell inspiron 3668. i think i added more ram; 16gb installed. i3-7100 cpu @ 3.9ghz. i don't do anything else w that PC besides roon but it still has a bunch of programs installed. i have my ripped CDs (all ALAC; i used to run itunes to airport expresses everywhere) on an external drive that connects to the PC. at one point i used fidelizer to prioritize roon and block other windows functions.

i like having a monitor, mouse, keyboard there so i can easily browse roon but could live without that. i have an ipod mini that communicates with roon.

what are upgrade ideas? ideally i would like to keep using the dell but figure out a way to force it to prioritize roon. i am not super computer savvy but could probably do a linux install with enough coaching. i could spring for a NUC if that would really make a difference.

i read this and didn't understand a lot of it: 10 more thoughts on Roon ROCK + Intel NUC | Darko.Audio

many thanks in advance :)
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
i found this statement on another thread from @MikeyFresh inspiring: "It would appear that I have failed at the job of digital moderator based on these comments. Either I speak in a language completely foreign to most, or I somehow come off as not easily approachable, though I do take all manner of questions both in the forum itself, and via PM." so here is a question!

i am running roon to a 3 P3 allo digione players (plus apple TV in HT and a CCA in the garage). qobuz is my streaming service. when i bought a new personal laptop i moved my former desktop to roon server duty. it is a dell inspiron 3668. i think i added more ram; 16gb installed. i3-7100 cpu @ 3.9ghz. i don't do anything else w that PC besides roon but it still has a bunch of programs installed. i have my ripped CDs (all ALAC; i used to run itunes to airport expresses everywhere) on an external drive that connects to the PC. at one point i used fidelizer to prioritize roon and block other windows functions.

i like having a monitor, mouse, keyboard there so i can easily browse roon but could live without that. i have an ipod mini that communicates with roon.

what are upgrade ideas? ideally i would like to keep using the dell but figure out a way to force it to prioritize roon. i am not super computer savvy but could probably do a linux install with enough coaching. i could spring for a NUC if that would really make a difference.

i read this and didn't understand a lot of it: 10 more thoughts on Roon ROCK + Intel NUC | Darko.Audio

many thanks in advance :)
Ha, well I appreciate being the impetus or inspiration for asking a question, all questions are good questions and it could just be that various others also have your same (or similar) question too.

That said, I'm not a Roon user and so not the ideal guy to chime in on this one per se, however I think the question actually needs some clarification.

You said you had used Fidelizer to prioritize Roon, and block other Windows functions, but then you also said you'd like to figure out a way to force the Dell to prioritize Roon.

Which one is it, you tried and never got Fidelizer going, or you are using it but not satisfied? What other processes is that machine running that are in some way interfering with Roon currently?

Related to the above, a Linux install should be easy and while a NUC would seem ideal, you can even do a Linux install on an older Windows machine thereby repurposing it. Myself, @airdronian and @billfort have all done just that, breathing new life into an old Windows machine with Linux Mint for example.

So if the Dell had useful life left in it, and already has updates onboard such as 16GB of RAM, maybe you'd just take that to the nth degree and get rid of shitty Windows and all of those unwanted/unneeded processes and just run a lean Linux distro instead on that very same machine, and possibly incorporate another update to it such as a blazing fast SSD.

But beyond the above I'd just ask what kind of upgrade did you have in mind? For instance something such as HQ Player that would add sophisticated upsampling to the mix, or was the idea of an upgrade something different in your mind.

I hate Windows, and also hate the idea of a big huffing and puffing inefficient tower computer with multiple fans chug-a-lugging electricity, to me thats the reason to go to a NUC, or even something like the small form factor PC that @airdronian just deployed in replacing his aging Mac mini.
 

rogerfederer

Junior Member
thanks, mikey

i tried fidelizer a few times; didn't notice any difference but not clear that difference would be apparent until windows does some weird thing that sacrifices roon's activities. i could certainly go back to that. i guess i don't really know what windows is doing that might screw with roon but its constant updates, etc routinely re-boot the PC without my involvement shutting down roon (ok, not the hugest complaint) are annoying.

i would rather leave any upsampling to the DACs associated with each of my streamers (and 2 are non-upsampling).

energy use is a reasonable concern but my solar system is about to go online so all inefficient PCs will be powered by the sun!

sounds like your suggestion would be a linux install.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
thanks, mikey

i tried fidelizer a few times; didn't notice any difference but not clear that difference would be apparent until windows does some weird thing that sacrifices roon's activities. i could certainly go back to that. i guess i don't really know what windows is doing that might screw with roon but its constant updates, etc routinely re-boot the PC without my involvement shutting down roon (ok, not the hugest complaint) are annoying.

i would rather leave any upsampling to the DACs associated with each of my streamers (and 2 are non-upsampling).

energy use is a reasonable concern but my solar system is about to go online so all inefficient PCs will be powered by the sun!

sounds like your suggestion would be a linux install.
I think a Linux install would make sense, stop swimming upstream with endless annoying Windows updates, and maybe with it also install an SSD which are just way faster and better with greater reliability than an aging HDD would be.

Plus you could actually then preserve that Windows install on the existing HDD and just set it aside in mothball fashion, but it would be there for you to use or clone should you somehow decide you aren't digging Linux, which I highly doubt, but it would remain an option if you don't actually nuke it.

It wouldn't even need to be a large capacity SSD as the Linux OS will use very little space itself, and your actual music files are on external storage, so a smallish SSD would be all thats needed, and those are not expensive.

One consideration you'll want to research is what disk formatting is on your external drive, i.e. is it NTFS, FAT32, exFAT, etc? You'll want to be sure that a Linux install will mount that drive properly. You could also upgrade there if that drive is a moving parts spinner HDD, update the external drive to an SSD and that too will improve library performance and track access speeds for your ALAC files, and then you'd have the ability to format the new external SSD as you like and copy/write the files to it, while retaining the old one as a back-up.
 

rogerfederer

Junior Member
here is the external HD:
this says it is NFTS
i think pretty much everything i listen to is from qobuz so the speed of the HD in the PC or the external HD is not going to be that relevant. am i misunderstanding how that works?

re linux, this link has linux install info: Ubuntu Roon server install tips
this would use ubuntu, which is a linux variant, correct? does that makes sense to you?

i'm pretty sure saving the old windows install on a separate HD is way beyond my own capabilities.

many thanks!
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
here is the external HD:
this says it is NFTS
i think pretty much everything i listen to is from qobuz so the speed of the HD in the PC or the external HD is not going to be that relevant. am i misunderstanding how that works?

re linux, this link has linux install info: Ubuntu Roon server install tips
this would use ubuntu, which is a linux variant, correct? does that makes sense to you?

i'm pretty sure saving the old windows install on a separate HD is way beyond my own capabilities.

many thanks!
If you swap the main HDD for an SSD, everything happens faster and also runs a little cooler too. You'd just be partially disassembling the PC to swap out the HDD for an SSD, and that older HDD with the Windows install on it could just be set aside and retained, if it's Windows 10 that license is worth a little money and could even be reused someday in a clean install.

But I'm not pushing you to do anything, just throwing out the possibilities. To me the lure of a cheap SSD upgrade is well worth it, and then you'd just hang onto that HDD with Windows on it. If that existing HDD has already spun up a million times, you've already eaten up a portion of it's lifespan, replacing it with an SSD starts you back at square one with the Linux install, and SSDs don't wear out like HDDs do, they are perfect for just leaving on/up and running for long periods ready at a whim to serve some tunes.

Yes Ubuntu is a Linux variant and an excellent one at that, if thats what Roon recommends I'd use it.

The speed of the external drive would only affect the access times to the locally stored library and would not impact Qobuz streaming performance at all.
 

rogerfederer

Junior Member
OK, i am nervous about the SSD install. here is a how to; does it look OK?

here is a rec for a SSD; i have had good advice from wirecutter in the past:
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
OK, i am nervous about the SSD install. here is a how to; does it look OK?

here is a rec for a SSD; i have had good advice from wirecutter in the past:
Those look like instructions to replace a fan for the motherboard CPU cooling, I don't see anything there about replacing the HDD with an SSD.

Again, I'm not pushing you to do anything, but usually replacing a HDD is pretty easy. Your mileage on any specific computer may vary. If you've never done it before then maybe it's not right for this project. But at a minimum, taking that tower apart will also allow you to vacuum out the dust build up that inevitably occurs with computers that have fans, usually there is an alarming truckload of dust build up inside, so you'd take that opportunity to fully vacuum it out and even wipe down the insides too. I wipe each and every fan blade clean when I'm in there.

here is a rec for a SSD; i have had good advice from wirecutter in the past:

You will need to know what kind of drive is in the unit before buying a replacement for the HDD, I would seriously doubt that the drive in there now is anything but a SATA drive in terms of the interface, but you will need to confirm that. The NVMe drive in the Wirecutter article is something relatively brand new and typically used in laptops and other smaller form factor computers, I'd be shocked if that is what is in your Windows tower, 99.9% sure it won't be that type of drive, almost definitely it will be a SATA drive interface, perhaps 2.5" but also very common in Windows towers are a 3.5" drive. The SATA SSDs are 2.5" form factor so you'd likely have to use an adaptor bracket if the drive being replaced is a 3.5" drive.

So probably an adaptor bracket such as this. Again, you'll need to confirm that this Windows tower has a 3.5" SATA drive in it, many do but it really just depends on the age of the unit, and what form factor it is, the smaller form factor PCs often have 2.5" SATA drives in them, meaning you would not need the adaptor bracket if that were the case.

If it does have a 3.5" HDD in it, an adapter bracket will be needed to accommodate a 2.5" SATA SSD such as this. The Amazon site among others can be useful in determining what parts will fit on your computer if you enter it's exact model number into their check fit feature.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
Now surely I'm not going to be the sole member here taking all the blame for espousing the virtues of undertaking an upgrade from a moving parts HDD to an SSD in an old Dell Windows tower?

I'm thinking for sure I can spread the blame for this upgrade recommendation to at least @airdronian , maybe @S0und Dragon , and others too, right?

Fast easy and worthwhile upgrade, plug n' play, just vacuum out the dust and good to go, ready for the Ubuntu Linux installer run from a thumb drive, right?
:chin
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
tell me how this works :)
"ready for the Ubuntu Linux installer run from a thumb drive"
It works like this.

Fast and easy in my experience, I also did my Linux Mint 19.1 install that way, and when I tell you the install was done in 5 minutes, I'm not kidding or exaggerating at all.

Literally 5 minutes from when I inserted the thumb drive to having a working Mint install, and yes that computer had already had its HDD swapped for an SSD, which does speed the process because the write speed for the install on the SSD is lickity split.

What I've not ever done, because I'm not a Roon subscriber, is then install Roon over the top of that OS, I don't know what the best way to do that is but the Roon website must have instructions.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
here is a different install link:

however, this link from dell says it is a SSD:
am i reading that correctly?
Have you confirmed that you have a Dell Inspiron 3668? If so that would be interesting as that particular model was available with one or two hard drives installed, including the option for an SSD, meaning you might already have one onboard.

What is your Inspiron's model #?

That 2nd link you posted says it has a SATA interface, which is what I was describing to you earlier. If so it makes the first article you posted somewhat irrelevant/does not apply, that article is talking about installing an NVMe type drive, your motherboard is highly unlikely to accept such a drive unless it is very new, 99.9% likely you have a SATA interface, either 2.5" or 3.5".

EDIT: I see the first link does discuss both NVMe, and SATA installation.
 
A few thoughts.

My understanding is that the old hard drive with the Windows 10 on it will not automatically boot on another computer because the digital license is maintained in the BIOS of the original computer. I have never been able to reinstall Windows 10 after converting the computer to Linux (non dual boot).

Any Linux distro based on Ubuntu 15 is ancient. Support for that generation stopped five years ago. Support for Ubuntu 18 goes until 2023 and for Ubuntu 20 series distributions goes until 2025. Most of the current distros are based on 18 or 20 generations of Ubuntu. I have been using Linux Mint for the past several years and find it does almost everything that I need quite well. I still maintain a Windows box for those things that Linux doesn't do.

For a cheap fanless modern server computer consider repurposing a newer thin client style of computer, especially if you are going to maintain your music files on an outboard hard drive. I have played around with several different ones and really like the Dell/Wyse units with Quad core processors. They work well with Linux. I like the 5020,7020 and 5060 models. They all can support 16 GB of Ram. I have been able to stuff laptop SSD units into the 5020 and the 7020 boxes. I haven't tried to put one in the 5060 yet. These computers and the similar products from HP can be easily found on eBay. Avoid the older 32 bit single core processor Thin Client units that you may also see on eBay. They can be made to work but the newer units are so much better.
 

rogerfederer

Junior Member
Have you confirmed that you have a Dell Inspiron 3668?

If so that 2nd link you posted says it has a SATA interface, which is what I was describing to you earlier. If so it makes the first article you posted somewhat irrelevant/does not apply, that article is talking about installing an NVMe type drive, your motherboard is highly unlikely to accept such a drive unless it is very new, 99.9% likely you have a SATA interface, either 2.5" or 3.5".

EDIT: I see the first link does discuss both NVMe, and SATA installation.
yes, when i go to system it says inspiron 3668 and 16gb ram
so i can skip the SSD install
if i do this do i then overwrite my existing windows 10 and everything else? i am fine w that
 

rogerfederer

Junior Member
A few thoughts.

My understanding is that the old hard drive with the Windows 10 on it will not automatically boot on another computer because the digital license is maintained in the BIOS of the original computer. I have never been able to reinstall Windows 10 after converting the computer to Linux (non dual boot).

Any Linux distro based on Ubuntu 15 is ancient. Support for that generation stopped five years ago. Support for Ubuntu 18 goes until 2023 and for Ubuntu 20 series distributions goes until 2025. Most of the current distros are based on 18 or 20 generations of Ubuntu. I have been using Linux Mint for the past several years and find it does almost everything that I need quite well. I still maintain a Windows box for those things that Linux doesn't do.

For a cheap fanless modern server computer consider repurposing a newer thin client style of computer, especially if you are going to maintain your music files on an outboard hard drive. I have played around with several different ones and really like the Dell/Wyse units with Quad core processors. They work well with Linux. I like the 5020,7020 and 5060 models. They all can support 16 GB of Ram. I have been able to stuff laptop SSD units into the 5020 and the 7020 boxes. I haven't tried to put one in the 5060 yet. These computers and the similar products from HP can be easily found on eBay. Avoid the older 32 bit single core processor Thin Client units that you may also see on eBay. They can be made to work but the newer units are so much better.
i have another smaller form factor PC in the garage. will see what it is. easier to use the box that is right in front of me but get your idea...
thanks!
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
yes, when i go to system it says inspiron 3668 and 16gb ram
so i can skip the SSD install
if i do this do i then overwrite my existing windows 10 and everything else? i am fine w that
That computer may or may not have been ordered with the SSD option, can you tell if yours has it already?
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
My understanding is that the old hard drive with the Windows 10 on it will not automatically boot on another computer because the digital license is maintained in the BIOS of the original computer. I have never been able to reinstall Windows 10 after converting the computer to Linux (non dual boot).
Good point, and I somehow glossed over in the OP that this was in fact a Dell Inspiron 3668, which is relatively newish and did ship with Windows 10, I kept thinking and referring to this as "an old Windows tower" which in my mind meant it might even be running Windows 7/8, as he did say it was only a music server for Roon and not used for anything else.

Any Linux distro based on Ubuntu 15 is ancient. Support for that generation stopped five years ago. Support for Ubuntu 18 goes until 2023 and for Ubuntu 20 series distributions goes until 2025. Most of the current distros are based on 18 or 20 generations of Ubuntu.
That must be old information on the Roon site that mentions Ubuntu 15, seems unlikely they are telling people to use such an old version of Ubuntu to run a Roon server.
 
Top