I stumbled upon my first-generation Raspberry Pi yesterday. And told myself I should do something with it.

Also, I spend most of my days listening to music. But I don’t like the idea of paying for whatever fancy streaming service. So, yeah, here is how to make your custom web-radio with on old computer and a couple of commands.


While I’m a fierce defender of Arch Linux as a general purpose operating system, I think it’s best to stick to basic for such a project. Also, Arch is a pain to install on a Pi, and it’d not bring any advantage over Raspbian here.

I’m not going to explain how to install Raspbian on a Pi in this post. Every information is to be found here. It takes half a dozen of clicks to make it right with the GUI tool.

No need for a fully-fledged desktop environment here. Pick the Raspberry Pi OS Light (32-bits) under the Raspberry Pi OS (other) menu.


I’m using a venerable Raspberry Pi 1 here. So, no Wi-Fi, no Bluetooth, only a reliable ssh connection over good old Ethernet wires.

The installation tool allows creating a user with password and a ssh public key. I chose this option in order to avoid plugging it to a screen.


Once the system is on the SD card, it’s time to power it on.

For once, I was happy to pock around the box. You know, the box of wires you keep in case you need it but never do? Well, today I did.

USB in one port, RJ45 in the other. Both plugged right into the ISP’s hardware. The Raspberry Pi 1 does not need much power to run so no need for a dedicated power source.

Software installation

apt update && apt upgrade -y
apt install -y mpd ncmpc

Basically, update the system and install :

  • mpd to play the music,
  • ncmpc to control mpd.

Ncmpc is a ncurse interface over mpc. I find it much more enjoyable than mpc as it comes with embedded help and better music library browsing. But in the end, it does the same thing and won’t be used much.


At the end of the installation process there are those two lines :

Created symlink /etc/systemd/system/multi-user.target.wants/mpd.service → /lib/systemd/system/mpd.service.
Created symlink /etc/systemd/system/sockets.target.wants/mpd.socket → /lib/systemd/system/mpd.socket.

Awesome, mpd will start on boot! And it’s already running :

root@rpi1:~# systemctl status mpd.service
● mpd.service - Music Player Daemon
     Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/mpd.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
     Active: active (running) since Wed 2023-05-03 10:08:54 CEST; 15min ago
TriggeredBy: ● mpd.socket
       Docs: man:mpd(1)
   Main PID: 5221 (mpd)
      Tasks: 3 (limit: 415)
        CPU: 8.037s
     CGroup: /system.slice/mpd.service
             └─5221 /usr/bin/mpd --no-daemon

May 03 10:08:44 rpi1 systemd[1]: Starting Music Player Daemon...
May 03 10:08:53 rpi1 mpd[5221]: May 03 10:08 : exception: Failed to open '/var/lib/mpd/tag_cache': No such file or directory
May 03 10:08:54 rpi1 mpd[5221]: May 03 10:08 : output: No 'audio_output' defined in config file
May 03 10:08:54 rpi1 mpd[5221]: May 03 10:08 : output: Successfully detected a sndio audio device
May 03 10:08:54 rpi1 systemd[1]: Started Music Player Daemon.

It’s running but with a pair of messages :

May 03 10:08:53 rpi1 mpd[5221]: May 03 10:08 : exception: Failed to open '/var/lib/mpd/tag_cache': No such file or directory
May 03 10:08:54 rpi1 mpd[5221]: May 03 10:08 : output: No 'audio_output' defined in config file
May 03 10:08:54 rpi1 mpd[5221]: May 03 10:08 : output: Successfully detected a sndio audio device

The first line is here only because the tag_cache did not exist before. And mpd created it on first launch, so it’s not a real issue.

Time to fix the other two.

Software configuration

The configuration for mpd is at /etc/mpd.conf.

First thing first, make a copy of the original file in case you mess things up:

cp /etc/mpd.conf /etc/mpd.save.conf

I’m not going into details over each line as most are perfectly sane by default. My goal here is to fix the warnings seen above and have the web-radio work as intended.

music_directory    "/var/lib/mpd/music"
playlist_directory "/var/lib/mpd/playlists"
db_file            "/var/lib/mpd/tag_cache"
log_file           "/var/log/mpd/mpd.log"
pid_file           "/run/mpd/pid"
state_file         "/var/lib/mpd/state"
sticker_file       "/var/lib/mpd/sticker.sql"

user            "mpd"
bind_to_address "localhost"
#password       "${fancy-password}@read,add,control,admin"

input {
        plugin "curl"

decoder {
        plugin        "wildmidi"
        enabled       "no"

audio_output {
        type            "httpd"
        name            "My HTTP Stream"
        encoder         "vorbis"
        port            "8000"
        bind_to_address ""
        bitrate         "128"
        format          "44100:16:1"
        max_clients     "0"

That’s enough :

  • Files are at /var/lib/mpd/music. You can pick another path but be sure to create the directory before restarting mpd,
  • Pick a password and uncomment this line. More on this later.

Give it a try

  1. First, put some files in the music directory.
  2. Then restart mpd : systemctl restart mpd.
  3. Fires up ncpmd, enter your password and press Ctrl-U to update mpd’s library.
  4. Press 3 to go to the said library.

If all goes according to the plan, you should see the sounds you copied. Else, well, it works on my machine ® so, not sure about what went wrong on your side.

  1. Add some sound with a.
  2. Press 2 to go to the sounds queue.
  3. Press Enter to play a sound.

This should start playing some music. To see hear if it works as intended, open a new tab in your favorite web-browser and navigate to ${RPi-IP}:8000. You can get the IP address with the ifconfig command.

Here, I can hear the music coming from my Raspberry Pi to my laptop : I now have a local web-radio 🎉

Remote control

I’m pretty sure nobody wants to open a terminal to manage its playlists in 2023. And, be amazed, it’s possible to do it from your very smartphone!

The MPDroid is a nice little asset in our pocket. It’s not been updated for years, but it does the trick nicely!

Be sure to connect your smartphone to the same network as the Raspberry Pi !


Make it big

I don’t know about you, but my music library can’t fit in a 16Go SD card.

By chance, I also have a much bigger hard-drive lying around. And solving the SD space issue is pretty easy :

  • Plug the hard-drive and fetch its UUID or PARTUUID.
  • Use this information to auto-mount the HD on boot by editing /etc/fstab.
  • Update /etc/mpd.conf to use it as it’s new music_directory.

Done, you have more space for your music.

Make it wide

Okay, there is the web-radio. But it’s a local web-radio : it does not go outside your flat.

The trick here is to first give you Raspberry Pi a static local IP and then enable ports 6600 and 8000 redirection to it. I can’t give any advice on how to do it as it depends on your ISP and hardware.

Once done, suffice it to change the local Raspberry Pi’s IP address to your ISP’s box public IP. And, here you go, public facing web-radio for the win!


It only takes a few commands and a pair of settings to be able to stream your favorite music.

Depending on where you live it might be legal or not. I wish there would be a way to add password authentication on the 8000 port, but I’m not sure if it’s really feasible as is.

Anyway, time to copy my music library to the Raspberry Pi 🤘