Our Roon Core was last installed in 2018 using Ubuntu Cosmic Cuttlefish. This was a fall version with only 2 years of support available. Given that it had dropped out of support, I decided to reinstall the VM’s Guest OS. This post shares what I learned.
Linux is off in the clouds!
All of the major Linux distributions are taking a Cloud development focus because that is where the enterprise development money is to be found. By and large, IBM RedHat, Ubuntu, and their peers have ceded the desktop to Apple and Microsoft.
The large Linux distributions are now oriented toward cloud development in corporate environments and cloud application execution. All come with SELINUX, the National Security Administration’s gift to Linux security. An SELINUX system does not like to run arbitrary commercial applications like Roon Core. Even setting SELINUX to permissive, it is logging events every time Roon Core touches an application created object. Although not hard to mitigate, it does take some knowledge or a friend in the business.
Similarly, the corporate cloud Linux distributions have FirewallD enabled and a fairly restrictive rule set in place. After disabling SELINUX, I found that my Roon Core could not log in with Qobuz and TIDAL. Again this is not a hard problem if Linux firewall tuning is part of your day job.
So, an end user friendly alternative was needed. I remembered our friends at System76.
System76, a small Colorado computer manufacturer, publishes the POP_OS Linux which is curated for use by artists, scientists, and engineers as their daily driver computer. This is a very polished distribution without SELINUX and the firewall. It proved to be very easy to install and to add Roon Core to POP_OS. It was simple to follow Roon Labs instructions as written with no fiddling needed. I did have to add FFMPEG as expected. ALSA was already provided. CIFS_UTILS was already provided. Roon Core came right up. Mounting the backup directory was easy, and backups are restoring.
POP_OS runs nicely in a TrueNAS BHYVE virtual machine. After sour experiences with Fedora and Ubuntu, this was a pleasant surprise because it was off use case for POP_OS.
Note that those reinstalling Roon Core should select the Restore Backup option which can be off screen at the bottom of the display. This was my case. A little window scrolling exposed the link. Everything worked as expected.
System76 offers a curated Intel NUC under its Meerkat trademark. The current $500 i7 base system is adequately specified to run Roon Core. The system will come with POP_OS preinstalled and Roon Core may be be installed or the machine can be cleaned and ROCK installed. To install ROCK, you’ll need to switch from UEFI boot mode to depricated boot mode as described in the ROCK instructions.
Roon Core starts at user login on the Mac Mini. This requires leaving a user logged in. MacOS can start Roon Core as a service but this takes some tinkering to extend the startup service. Maybe some day.