Rivendell Playout Installation and Configuration


Rivendell is a highly sophisticated open-source radio automation system created by Paravel Systems. Supporting all the features you would expect from top tier radio platforms costing tens of thousands of pounds (for example multiple simultaneous users, voice tracking, automatic import and scheduling with clocks and grids), Rivendell is designed for professional broadcasters who need to allow multiple staff to work simultaneously and seamlessly as a team across multiple studios and locations.

In addition to the Rivendell’s standard features, we’ve also developed solutions to some additional essential requirements, such as remote voice tracking, allowing presenters to remotely upload music and pre-recorded shows or view logs via a simple web interface and the ability to send “now playing” information to Windows computers.

While the Rivendell software is provided completely free of charge, many stations that would benefit from its use have been put off because of concerns learning Linux and a lack of simple step-by-step installation instructions. We aim to eliminate both these issues by creating a set of build notes that will enable you to install and manage an entire system from scratch, with a look and feel similar to a modern Windows desktop.

Linux offers substantial benefits over Windows , not only in stability and security, but in the ability to prevent unscheduled updates from rebooting a system without notice (something that has become a serious failing in Windows 10). For this reason alone we believe Windows is no longer suitable for use on any system as critical as a playout system. Rivendell is not only a top tier playout system, running on Linux also helps eliminate these issues.

Rivendell and Linux also offer huge cost savings over Windows based solutions. Not only are both Rivendell and Linux effectively free (which can also save money on Windows licences), the hardware requirements for a Linux based system are minimal. In fact, Rivendell will run well on systems with just 1GB of RAM and a Pentium 4 processor (we recommend 1GB as the absolute minimum, a 64 bit processor and at least 120GB of disk space). At Destiny 105 in Oxford, all the main playout computers are second hand machines which have been either donated for free or bought used for as little as £20)!

Rivendell has the ability to make use of multiple cheap "consumer" soundcards to provide separate audio feeds to multiple desk faders, allowing substantial cost savings and permitting home users to implement a fully featured system. Alternatively, many professional sound cards are supported as standard. Rivendell can also act as or control a studio switcher, eliminating the need for some additional hardware.

Getting Started

IMPORTANT: Following these notes will wipe the target computer and erase all existing data. Please ensure you have some means to recover the machine or re-install Windows (such as a recovery CD) should you need to do so. These notes are provided as a rough guide only and may not include the steps required for some computers, hardware or software revisions. We cannot provide ANY support for members of the public following these notes. Installation is entirely at your own risk.

To install Rivendell you’ll need a computer running Linux. In order to provide a standard, stable and secure environment (essential for something as critical as a playout system), we always completely wipe the target computer and install Linux and Rivendell from scratch, following the steps in our standard build notes, which are documented below. These notes do require some technical familiarity with computers and OS installation (you’ll need to know to get into the BIOS and boot from CD or USB for example).

At the time of writing our current platform is based around Ubuntu 14.04 64bit LTS (the long term support version of Ubuntu) with the Gnome Flashback desktop and Rivendell 2.10.3. Instructions to install these are listed below. It's important you stick to the versions listed as changes may break dependencies between the OS and applications.

Most importantly, do not update Ubuntu to a later release unless documented. Despite the fact that at the time of writing we’re using Ubuntu 14.04, this is a "long term support" version that is supported by Canonical Ltd (the creators of Ubuntu) until April 2019. We plan to update to a later version well in advance of this date.

Please be aware that you should never update Rivendell on a live system, unless the upgrade has been documented and you have fully tested and planned the upgrade. Some Rivendell updates change the database structure, which means you cannot revert back to an earlier version and all machines accessing the database (for example all the machines at your station) will need to be upgraded to continue operating! You should test any update on a second unconnected test machine with a copy of your database. ALWAYS make a backup of the database before making any changes and make regular backups (ideally daily) of both the database and "/var/snd" folders of your system.

Build Notes

These notes are presented as a list of text files for download, each one documenting a task or feature. Click the links below to download and view. The files are divided into groups and some may provide alternative configurations or options.

Basic Ubuntu 14.04 64bit install with Gnome Flashback desktop and Rivendell.

Apply a nicer theme and some important fixes.

Some important fixes for laptops.

Configure a playout machine for remote access via RDP.

Initial JACK audio setup for Ubuntu and Rivendell

If you have a server without sound you can use JACK to pipe the audio elsewhere.

Configure JACK to use multiple sound cards for multiple desk faders.

Config details for additional machines and remote server access:

Configure your main Rivendell server for remote database access.

Sync your main server sound files with all your workstations using OwnCloud!

Stream audio directly from your main Rivendell Server:
This is especially useful if you only have one studio

Install Icecast on the Rivendell server

Setup Rivendell to route its audio direct via JACK to an Icecast server, using Darkice.

Remote Voicetracking using RDP/Linphone:
To provide remote access, we use Linphone for high quality real-time two way audio.

Connect a Rivendell server to Linphone via JACK.

Additional Useful Videos