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Linux-powered device gains Sirius playback

Aug 15, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 6 views

Sonos has integrated Sirius radio playback into its Linux-powered whole-house audio equipment. The commercial-free service can be trialed for 30 days by selecting a menu option on the Sonos Digital Music System's PDA-like controller (pictured at left), the company said.

(Click for larger view of the Linux-powered Sonos Zone Controller)

Sirius is best-known for its satellite radio product, which competed with XM Radio before the companies announced a merger earlier this year. However, Sirius also offers an Internet radio product. Both products feature exclusive content, such as Howard Stern, Martha Stewart Living Radio, Cosmo Radio, MAXIM Radio, Playboy Radio, SIRIUS Football Radio, and four different comedy channels, it says.

Sonos's Digital Music System comprises one or more Linux-based, PDA-like Zone Controllers, together with up to 32 Node players. Node players are available with or without Tripath-based digital amplifiers, and can be connected to wired networks. They also form their own wireless SonosNet mesh network.

Sonos said its Digital Music System connects to Sirius via the user's broadband Internet connections. No equipment or antennas need be installed, and no PC is required. Users merely “pick a room, pick a channel, and hit play — in up to 32 rooms,” the company said. This suggests that different Sirius channels can be played back in different rooms or zones (groups of rooms) in the house.

Sonos Linux implementation for its devices includes a “one-button” firmware upgrade feature. Users are notified of updates via email, and then invoke a wizard to perform the upgrade. Sonos uses the feature to enable new features, such as WMP11 support.

The pictures below depict the process of installing Sirius on the Linux-based controller, after the one-button feature has been used to update the firmware. The pictures were captured from Sonos's Flash demo, here.

Setting up Sirius on the Linux-based Sonos controller
(Click to enlarge)

Thomas Meyer, marcom officer for Sonos, said Sonos hopes to add additional services in the near future. He said. “We're looking to add services with a global reach, because 40 percent of our customers are outside the U.S.”

Meyer also hinted that Sonos intends to drive a standardized API (application programming interface) for service controll functions such as fast-forward, play, and rewind. He said, “As more digital music services become available, and more devices become smart and connected, you're going to see us push for an API that everyone can use.”

Asked if Sonos plans a video-enabled version of its product, Meyer replied, “Video is still in its infancy. Nobody is demanding multi-room video yet. There is no widely used standard analogous to MP3. It's still shaking itself out.”

In a statement, Mel Karmazin, Sirius CEO, said, “Working with innovators such as Sonos is important to our ongoing strategy of delivering our content beyond the car.”

Sonos CEO John MacFarlane added, “Our software updates keep making the Sonos Digital Music System better and better over time.”


Using Sirius with Sonos requires a $13/month subscription to Sirius Internet Radio. Existing subscribers to Sirius Satellite Radio must pay $3/month to add Internet service. Sirius on Sonos is available only in the U.S.

Sonos has previously offered free trials for Rhapsody and Pandora. It claims that its products support more digital music services than other whole-house audio systems. Its Digital Music System is widely distributed at major music and consumer electronics outlets, including BestBuy.

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