[Noisebridge-discuss] seeking help setting up minimal shoutcast source laptop

Jake jake at spaz.org
Thu Nov 3 03:57:02 PDT 2011

I want to put together a laptop for streaming audio, to put at OccupySF 
and other occupations.  I have the hardware, but i want someone else to 
figure out how to cram the software onto it.  It turns out that older IBM 
laptops are ideal because they can run straight from a car battery without 
an inverter or brick of any kind - very efficient.

I know that people have been streaming live video from their phones, so it 
may seem strange to want to stream mp3/ogg audio to a shoutcast server 
from a laptop, but hear me out.

it's one thing to be able to sit at home and chew your nails while 
watching the line of riot-cops advance on the black block.. because you 
saw someones livestream link on the twitter feed.  riot porn is great.

but if people can stream audio every single day, on the same channel, from 
the same place, it's a radio station.  People can tune in at work, every 
day.  People at the "station" figure out how to entertain listeners, get 
them to call in and be on the air, and get them to tell their co-workers 
or other people what the movement is all about.

Some people might even set up FM transmitters to repeat the signal...

but a radio station depends on hardware.  I know a lot about this. 
Fortunately, the hardware for an internet radio station is minimal. 
Literally all you need is a standard PC.  Laptops have a built-in 
microphone, an external microphone jack, and some even have a line-in 
jack, which can be faded separately from the microphone - and of course 
you can play recordings and mp3s from the hard drive.. but most content 
will come in through the line-in jack from people's iPord or whatever.
This machine is just there for the radio station, not for facebook.

unfortunately, after trying a bunch of different options, i have settled 
on IBM thinkpads as the perfect hardware for this, in the context of the 
occupation.  They are ubiquitous (we have several at noisebridge) and they 
have the very helpful Line-in jack, and most importantly, they can run 
straight from a car battery, like at the occupations.

I know how to set up Ubuntu on a laptop, and install Darkice, and 
configure it to stream audio to a server.  That's fine.  What I can't do 
is get that to work on a PII running at 366 MHz.. it doesn't fit.  I think 
many of the thinkpads I can get ahold of are faster than this, but i don't 
know how much faster.  I think we can do it.

We also have to make sure that the user interface makes it easy to join 
and select wireless networks, and to control the laptop's built-in mixer, 
and to start and retry the streaming MP3/ogg encoder.  It's fine if there 
is no browser, this is a dedicated-purpose machine.

Note: some of these thinkpads don't even have wifi.  I have USB wifi 
devices, but in some instances it may be better to connect via Ethernet to 
stationary wifi hardware, so that this computer moving around doesn't 
affect its connection to the internet, and cause streaming dropouts.

If we develop a recipe for making a streaming source on an old thinkpad, I 
will build the hardware for OccupySF, and for OccupyOakland, and for 

If you want to help make the software side happen, or if you have 
an IBM thinkpad to donate, or a wifi bridge like WRT54G, please email me.


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