Linux and FreeBSD are becoming pretty viable platforms for developing multimedia applications. I’ve spent the last few days testing some of the software out.
I was actually quite surprised by how well things like mp3 music players and divx video players worked. The problem, as ever with Linux, is how difficult it is to get this stuff installed properly and working just the way you want it.
The purpose I have for this is to build some players that are simple to install, maintain and update, and that can be installed easily at remote sites by unskilled personnel.
This is the sort of task that (I think) Linux and FreeBSD are really great for. The simplicity and lack of fancy user interfaces are actually an advantage, because it means that everything is generally much more easy to script and change remotely.
The way I have it set up, you could also script the system to react to things happening in the environment. So you could tie the system into the fire alarm, or you could change the volume as the location became quieter or noisier.