Roon Core (as a Service?) - Windows vs Linux vs ROCK

I built a NUC using a Zotac Fanless board and a 1TB SSD.
I want to store my main music files on it, run the core and use the SPDIF output to send music to my DAC.

First tried Windows 10.

Works well - small issue - User has to be logged on and Roon App started for the core to be visible to other Remotes.

Can I set Roon to be a service?

Do I also get a SPDIF output signal if I install on Linux (Ubuntu) or on ROCK?

I assume ROCK would be the best solution. Comments?

Can I add a NTFS partition into ROCK? Or do I need to copy my 900GB music from the NTFS and copy back to the ROCK installation?

Can I dual boot with ROCK (first Windows install, then Grub, then ROCK)?

Thanks for the help

I run a Zotac CI662 nano as my Roon core under Ubuntu Server, but this Zotac model does not have S/PDIF output, which anyway does not matter to me because all of my Roon endpoints are separate devices on Ethernet.

First step: install Roon Core only.
If you need Roon App (remote control), then install this as a second step.


Caveat, I’m not using Rock, but IIRC, you can’t put your music on the system disk, it needs to be on a separate medium.

As @DanielAvasilichioaei correctly said, install Roon Server, which is without GUI and starts with the system.
You may additionally have Roon installed and start it to use the GUI.
Of course, you could just add Roon to the Autostart folder, so it starts after (auto-)log-on, which is mandatory anyways.

No - Roon is not designed to run as a service, and as you’ve found, the user account that has Roon installed must be logged in. That means you need to set up an auto login for a Windows 10 headless server.

If you’re going to use Roon on a Windows 10 headless server, then the optimum package would be Roon Server for Windows 10, as already suggested.

I don’t know for either OS.

If what you are looking for is a Roon music appliance, then that is what ROCK is designed for. If what you are looking for is a general purpose PC OS to run Roon on, then ROCK is not what you want as your OS.

You can’t add anything into ROCK - it’s a closed OS for a Roon music appliance. ROCK will support attached USB drives and an additional, separate drive for music storage; see here for details. You cannot store music files on the OS drive itself.


You can set the PC to auto-login.

When you load ROCK, it will consume the entirety of the OS drive and you cannot then use it to store data. That is why for ROCK installs I always suggest a robust and fast smaller SSD. And then an external USB HD to hold data like music and RoonCore backups. (note backups cannot be done to any internal ROCK drive even if it is being used for data - aka a secondary data drive).

If you load a second drive into a ROCK machine for use as data (which as I mentioned cannot be used for database backups), ROCK requires it format the drive before use, which it will do as ext3 or ext4 (don’t remember off the top of my head). You will then need to copy the data across the network to the newly formatted internal drive. One of the reasons I suggest external USB drives, as then you can format them as exFAT, fill them up on a different computer and then plug and play into the ROCK NUC.

IMHO, The best solution is a box (no matter the OS) which is dedicated to only running Roon. Could be a NUC, could be a desktop, doesn’t really matter. The OS doesn’t matter that much either. All the OSs will have a same SQ. It is really just a matter of personal preference and what you are used to, and, whether or not you might want to run other utilities. Since I like to know what my core hardware is doing in terms of temperatures, etc. I prefer an OS which I can monitor such things. ROCK does not let you.

Ok, Thanks for all the help and comments. maybe I can give some feedback to others.

I want to use my HiFi rack device as both a Roon Core, a Roon Bridge to link to my DAC and and 4K BlueRay Player linked to my TV and sound to my Hifi.

Choices -

  1. Windows with Roon Core and VLC
    Works, easy to set up

  2. Linux (Ubuntu) with Roon Core and VLC
    Works, also easy to set up, now trying with a slim Linux like TinyCore

  3. ROCK and TinyLinux with VLC (Dualboot)
    as ROCK uses SysLinux as a boot loader and EXT3 format, this is actually not that difficult to achieve. Install Rock on a small ssd (40 or 64GB). Install TinyCore and VLC on a second ssd, copy the folders from this ssd onto the roon ssd, create a menu in the syslinux config file. On startup it asks you for 30 secs (defineable) if you want to start TinyCore. Otherwise boots into Roon.

This can also be achieved by simply installing TinyCore and VLC on a USB Drive and simple rebooting with that plugged in.

Advantage - small footprint in memory, possible better performance in Roon?

Disadvantage, when watching a DVD or Blueray one needs to reboot.

As one needs a fair bit of graphics power for a smooth 4K picture the performance issue should be negigble.

A further question regarding performance and digital output via toslink to the DAC?

The motherboard has a direct SPDIF output, and this works well with the DAC(Wadia). I am setting up a little HiFiBerry to drive a second system with a DAC (Proceed). Is there a difference in the digital signal, I assume not, so probably a stupid question.

Rock is meant to be installed only on the specified hardware and environment. Any other installation is considered tinkering and not supported, so, you would have to be your own tech support.

Don’t use ROCK, in your use case, just load windows or Linux and that OS’s RoonServer…

Ok, no prob. Will stick to Windows or Linux

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