Roon Optimized Core Kit (previously reported as Roon OS)

I think that this thread has bread a lot of confusion over what Roon Optimized Core Kit (ROCK) is and especially what it isn’t. Hopefully this will clarify things a bit…

ROCK is a very trimmed down version of linux designed to be run on very specific hardware (5th and 6th generation Intel NUCs). Its purpose is to allow a user to purchase this relatively inexpensive hardware, assemble it, and within a few minutes have a small, quiet, and capable box to act as a dedicated Roon core. Since Linux in itself isn’t the easiest operating system for many to master Roon has included a web interface to handle the settings required to integrate RCK into one’s network.

The only way for Roon (which is a very small organization) to be able to do this and support it is to severely limit its use to very specific hardware and software.

This is an appliance. It’s a black box. All it does is run Roon Server.

This is not a general purpose linux distribution intended to be installed on any hardware. This is not a linux distribution for those who know the Linux command line and like to tinker. This is not a linux distribution which will allow for the installation of ANY software (Roon Server itself is pre-loaded in the distribution).

ROCK is small and lightweight. It installs quickly (with no intervention) and requires no knowledge of Linux (or really any other OS) in order to be used. There is no administration required as it will update itself automatically.

Instant, turn-key Roon Server… just add storage (either an external USB3 disk or an SMB share mounted from a NAS or other server).

This is a completely closed platform. Period.

Now before you say, “but I want to run it on my 4 socket, 16 core Xeon rack mounted server with 512GB RAM and 256TB of storage,” stop and think for a second… this particular product likely wasn’t intended for you in the first place!

ROCK is for the user who either has little (or no) computer knowledge or doesn’t want the headache of managing another computer, but does want a stable and reliable Roon installation. In order to satisfy that requirement that customer must be willing to sacrifice some flexibility.

If that sacrifice isn’t an option then you’re best looking at rolling your own using the operating system of your choice. You may get better performance and you certainly will have more flexibility, but that will be at the cost of simplicity.

Now Roon is pretty simple to setup and use (for many of us), but if you look at the support forum you’ll notice that there is a lot of confusion over configuration and management. These aren’t unintelligent people nor is Roon poorly-written software. It’s just something that is new and complex and well outside their wheelhouse in terms of day-to-day activities and knowledge.

Here’s a perfect example of the target for ROCK… I have a customer who recently purchased a Roon Ready DAC and is interesting in getting into file-based playback for its convenience, access to high resolution content, and all of the other benefits that we all know and love. He has average computer skills, but is intimidated by having to tinker with something to get it to work. He just wants to sit down and press play. (actually, I have A LOT of these customers).

For this particular customer I plan to recommend the ROCK and will likely source the parts and build it on his behalf. In fact I’ll likely handle everything from having his CDs ripped to installation and training in his home. From his perspective it will just be a little black box that makes Roon work. From my perspective it’s a support headache that I won’t have. I don’t need to worry about updates nor do I need to worry about any sort of ongoing management. If it does break in a bad way I know that I can quickly and easily re-install the software with pretty much zero time investment.

So here’s the question: Is Roon Optimized Core Kit a good fit for me?

If you’re looking for a small and simple way in which to light up Roon on your network and either don’t want/need or are willing to give up configuration flexibility then this is a good (potentially great) option.

If you do want / need flexibility in terms of hardware, other software running on the box, operating system configuration, or simply having shell access then you will be far better served by installing the OS of your choice on the hardware of your choice (it just won’t be Roon OS :slight_smile: )


Even for those of us who have been using *nix professionally since V7 was new (that dates me ;)), RCK is attractive, one less gadget to maintain manually on an already complicated home setup. I’m running Roon Core over Ubuntu on a NUC, serving music from a NAS. The only reason I might continue to do that after RCK shows up is that I have a cron setup to backup the Roon database to the NAS every night (The NAS then backs up that backup to Google Drive every week, together with all my digital downloads). If Roon 1.3 and RCK were to have automatic database backup to external storage, I would not need this customization and RCK would be perfect.


I think I remember adding that board because we need it for USB ethernet adapters, but we aren’t going to support you on that VM because it’s not one of the NUCs we support.

yes, it runs NTP.

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everyone asking questions about hardware… please read @AMP’s post above. He said it so much better than I did. +++++

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Nice post AMP.

I wouldn’t call myself a Linux expert by any means, but can just about deal with it - I’d be able to get a Linux Roon Server setup for sure.

Thing is, I just wouldn’t bother. I hate Linux and only have experience with it because I worked in a multi-OS boutique company and Linux was part if the deal for various reasons. For people with less skills than me, Linux has the potential to be a really horrible experience. Copying command lines you don’t understand in to a window that has potential to destroy your whole server isnt really quite the same as dropping a needle on a record or pressing play on a CD player after plugging them in. Hopefully RCK will do that for people that have no interest in computers. Should the building of the NUC be a step too far, people like yourselves can jump in.

Right now I don’t have a need because my Mac mini fills the role fine. But in the future if I wanted a specific machine to run my Roon Core I’d definitely start here with this kit, and let someone else worry about how it works.

Yes, web guis can be frustrating and limiting sometimes, but in the right hands, any options you need will be added as they become apparent. And I’ve no doubt it’s in the right hands!

Looking forward to seeing a glimpse of the web GUI and RCK in action.

2 posts were split to a new topic: What does exclusive mode mean?

Santa was kind (I must have been good ;-)). Anyway – it appears that I am more than ready for RCK (NUC6i5 Roonserver to the left; NUC6i3 to the right):

The i3 was up and running as full fledged backup server for pretty much anything digital in our household (including music files and Roon database) in less than 15 minutes.

I love Linux. :wink:


Ok. Detail the setup, please. How will you be backing up the music attached to your RCK?

You know it’s true love when your partner knows what NUC models you’d like for Christmas. :grin:


Easy: the i3 automounts the Roon share from /etc/fstab and rsyncs the music folder every night to the backup disk. Amongst other things. :slight_smile:

To be perfectly honest: the i5 has been serving my Roon needs for a few months now – but I may have dropped a hint or two about the correct spelling of ‘NUC6I3SYH’.


That’s good news if we can mount the USB share attached to a RCK. Would be better if we could run a backup from RCK. But your explanation is a bit beyond me, my Linux skills are still pretty limited. Haven’t done much of anything since setting up my NUC six or seven months ago.

Hi Danny

I’m really interested to move to this. I’m running roon on an old celeron nuc with win 10 so due for an upgrade.

Will you be able to import your existing windows database rather than start again?

many thanks


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Oh yes … absolutely.


Wondering how people might change the DNS Address on one of these Roon Core kits if they wanted to use the Google DNS, for example? Cheers.

Just curious, why would you want to?

This might be one reason. If you search for Google DNS on the page that comes up, there is some information of interest.

I’ve come cross more DNS censorship this year than in the past 20+ years. I can’t imagine it affecting Roon, Tidal etc., but it’s a trend I don’t expect to be reversed.

Brilliant, a new NUC on my shopping list now :slight_smile: