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 )