Some time ago Apple game out with the AirPlay feature (an upgraded AirTunes) which enables iOS devices and iTunes play music and videos on a remote device.
In our office we have a Linux box, a set of speakers and a few laptops sporting Mac and Windows. Tonight I set out with a goal to turn that Linux box into an AirPlay speaker so that each of us can play music from their laptop without having to reconnect the cables every time.
First off I stubled upon RougeAmoeba’s Airfoil, which is a $25 sofware piece that, enables half a dozen device classes to be hooked up as remote speakers to a Mac or Windows (yes, that too). And, better yet, instead of only enabling iTunes to play, it can reroute all sound to that remote speaker. Though, it’s Linux speaker software is free download, it still seems to require paid Airfoil to route audio, because bare iTunes couldn’t care less of the wannabe Linux speaker that should have appeared to the WiFi. As the price would have been multiplied by the number of laptops, it was unfortunately out of question.
With a bit of googling around, I next found Shairport, which (if I got it correctly) is based on data found in a hacked and reverse engineered AirPort Express. ShairPort turns a random PC into a fake AirPlay speaker set. The software itself got installed relatively quickly after going through the short docs (perhaps because I had most of the dependencies like avahi etc already in place because of the Airfoil).
Also, for Airfoil, I had already opened firewall to Zeroconf/Bonjour and ports TCP:5000-5005 and UDP:6000-6005 which seemed to apply to Shairport too.
After starting up the daemon, all of our iTunes magically discovered the new remote speakers and allowed us to play music there with a simple mouse click. Even from Windows. And from iPhone. And, if wanted, all at the same time. Voila!
This is definitely much easier than messing with the wires all the time.