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Use Your Old Smartphone as a Media Server

This guide will show you how to use an old Android smartphone as a music streaming server.

If you’re the type of person who maintains a library of music and/or movies, then you can benefit from a home media server. That will contain all of your media and stream it to other devices on your network as necessary. You can, for example, stream a movie from your library to your home theater projector. But not many people want to set up a dedicated computer for that purpose, which is why you may want to check out this guide from David Hamp-Gonsalves that explains how to use an old smartphone as a media server.

This guide covers music streaming, but you can do something similar for video. The only hardware you need is a smartphone. Most of us probably have an old smartphone or two sitting in a box somewhere and this is the perfect use for them. This doesn’t require a whole lot of power, so it should work with many smartphones made in the last decade. However, the instructions from Hamp-Gonsalves only apply to Android devices, so iOS users will need to find another way. But if you have an Android smartphone with enough storage for your music, then you can proceed.

As Hamp-Gonsalves explains, there are a few different strategies you can try. The first doesn’t require root access or any special OS installation —you can use the factory Android installation. To do that, you’ll need to install Termux (a terminal emulator) and then use that to install the Navidrome music streaming server. That worked for Hamp-Gonsalves, but Android’s throttling killed the performance.

The next option is to install PostmarketOS, which is a real Linux distro tailored to smartphones. With that installed, you can do pretty much anything you could do on a Linux desktop. But PostmarketOS only has full support for a handful of different phone models. If your phone isn’t on that list, then you could run into issues.

The final solution, which Hamp-Gonsalves settled on, was to use LineageOS. That is an Android distro, but one that is streamlined to be as lightweight as possible. It gives users the ability to strip down the OS to the basics, which frees up RAM. From there, Hamp-Gonsalves was able to succeed with his original plan of using Termux and Navidrome.

If you’re in need of a streaming server and have an old smartphone lying around, then this guide should be very useful.


Writer for Hackster News. Maker, retrocomputing and 3D printing enthusiast, author of books, dog dad, motorcyclist, and nature lover.


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