Skill Help (Legacy)
The venerable LMS concept pre-dates the smartphone era and was never architected for cloud-based control. We therefore need to jump through some hoops to make this feasible, but the result is more than worth it ! In a nutshell, we need to create a way for Alexa to tunnel through your firewall to securely reach the LMS server on your local network while also keeping unwanted visitors out.
Amazon's account linking process for the skill is where you provide the external connectivity details for your LMS server. You don't create an account with us and don't link to it as such. Instead, we use the landing page shown during account linking to retrieve your configuration details which are then sent directly to the skill via oauth. Simple, and it keeps your data safer. There's also no LMS plugin required.
Our skills work by interfacing with your LMS server's jsonrpc interface, usually on port 9000. That's the same port you use in a web browser to access LMS via e.g. the Material skin. On your local network, you use something like http://192.168.1.10:9000 for this. However, for Alexa we need to specify a cloud-accessible URL for LMS and also to support both SSL encryption and secure authentication, so an extra step is needed — proxying. The skill communicates with your proxy and it is the proxy (perched on the LAN side of your firewall on your local network at home) that actually interacts with LMS:
Alexa ↔ [443/https] ↔ Proxy ↔ [9000/http] ↔ LMS
This means that access from the WAN is password-protected while access within the LAN is still open (you should not set a password in the LMS settings when using this skill).
We have two suggestions for your proxy but you are free to use others if you have the technical expertise:
Please note that it is not possible to use a VPN or Synology QuickConnect with Alexa skills.
You can optionally link our skills with multiple instances of LMS so that the superset of players from those servers will be accessible from a single Amazon account. Please see section Ⅴ for instructions.
Those using ngrok are highly recommended to read sections Ⅱ–Ⅳ in their entirety.
Visit the ngrok.com website (no affiliation) for an explanation of how it works and what plans are available. The free plan works just fine for our purposes so go ahead and set up an account. Retrieve your personal authtoken which you can find at https://dashboard.ngrok.com/auth/your-authtoken. The token will look something like 4nq9771bPxe8ctg7LKr_2ClH7Y15Zqe4bWLWF9p.
After downloading the correct version of ngrok for your platform, move the executable file to where the system expects to find it: sudo mv ngrok /usr/local/bin.
To setup authentication, at a command prompt on your ngrok host machine, type:
ngrok authtoken 4nq9771bPxe8ctg7LKr_2ClH7Y15Zqe4bWLWF9p ← paste your token here
If ngrok will run on the same machine as LMS, at a command prompt type:
ngrok http -auth "someusername:somepassword" 9000 > /dev/null 2>&1 &
Otherwise, if ngrok will run on a different machine in your local network, point it to LMS by prepending the IP address to the port number:
ngrok http -auth "someusername:somepassword" 192.168.x.y:9000 > /dev/null 2>&1 &
Don't worry — specifying http as protocol starts both http and https tunnels. Please choose strong values for someusername and somepassword and re-use them across all the LMS skills and proxy services.
ngrok will now run in the background due to the & at the end. You might need to disown to keep the ngrok process alive after you close the terminal (depends on your distro). Then, to find the assigned tunnel subdomain, we can query the ngrok web UI at port 4040 for the public_url entry by typing
curl -s http://localhost:4040/api/tunnels | grep -Po https://.+?\.io
The output will look something like https://70c663eee228.eu.ngrok.io. That's the server URL we will use in securely linking the skill.
As an alternative to the curl command, you can login to your ngrok online dashboard and see your assigned tunnel at https://dashboard.ngrok.com/status/tunnels
On Windows, ngrok does not use the registry so there is no installer package. Instead, it is run as a standalone executable from a directory of your choice. Download ngrok.zip and after unzipping, place the extracted file ngrok.exe in a directory such as C:\ngrok or C:\Users\Phil\ngrok. At a DOS or Powershell prompt, cd into that directory and issue the following command:
ngrok.exe authtoken 4nq9771bPxe8ctg7LKr_2ClH7Y15Zqe4bWLWF9p ← paste your token here
Take a note of the path to the ngrok.yml file which is auto-created for you — usually C:\Users\Phil\.ngrok2\ngrok.yml.
If ngrok and LMS both run on your Windows machine, type:
start "ngrok" ngrok.exe http -auth "someusername:somepassword" 9000
Otherwise, if LMS runs on a different machine in your local network, point ngrok towards it with
start "ngrok" ngrok.exe http -auth "someusername:somepassword" 192.168.x.y:9000
A new cmd window will pop open which shows the ngrok session and your assigned external address under 'Forwarding', e.g. https://70c663eee228.eu.ngrok.io. Do not close this window or hit ctrl-c in it as this will kill the ngrok process and shut down your tunnel.
On Mac, download the MacOS version of ngrok, open a terminal window and type the Linux commands listed above. You can use either curl in the terminal or point a browser to http://localhost:4040/status to determine the URL, e.g. https://70c663eee228.eu.ngrok.io.
Because your ngrok tunnel now points to LMS at port 9000, you can test that the tunnel is functional by visiting the assigned URL (e.g. https://70c663eee228.eu.ngrok.io) in a browser. The browser will pop a modal dialog box asking you for the someusername and somepassword values that you specified for the -auth switch. If you enter those you should see the familiar LMS web portal you normally access from your LAN, with the difference that you're now reaching it externally from the cloud. Note the icon indicating that the connection is secure/encrypted.
Link the skill
In the Alexa app or web-portal (a PC or Mac is preferable to smartphone or tablet for this) enable the skill and prepare for account-linking. You will use the assigned ngrok URL in the field on the account-linking landing page. For example: https://70c663eee228.eu.ngrok.io.
Fill in the and fields using the someusername and somepassword values that you specified for the -auth switch. These parameters must be reused for authentication across all your LMS-related tunnels/proxies and our LMS skills if you wish to use autoupdate (section Ⅳ).
Press the Validate button which will run some checks on the details you provided and verify that there is actually an LMS server responding at the destination. If there are no errors, the button changes color and function to become Submit — otherwise you can modify your inputs based on the error message and re-try validation.
Submit, and Amazon should tell you that the skill was successfully linked !
Although ngrok is now running in the background, a machine reboot will terminate it and you would have to run the command again in a terminal to restart ngrok. The next section Ⅲ describes how you can get it to always run as a background service when your machine boots.
Also, while the free ngrok plan works fine, it has the disadvantage that your server path URL will change every time you reboot/restart ngrok. As this then orphans the skill from LMS, it means choosing between: (1) redoing account-linking manually after every server-restart; (2) running a simple downloadable refresh script on your machine after ngrok starts; (3) using ngrok from a dedicated proxying RPi that you never reboot; or (4) getting a paid ngrok plan which persists your subdomain across reboots. The choice herein is yours — note that instructions for option 2 are provided in section Ⅳ, while option 1 is fine if you are still evaluating the skill
Please first read the introductory section Ⅱ on ngrok before attempting this.
Edit the config file that was auto-created for you during token initialization. On Linux/MacOS, nano ~/.ngrok2/ngrok.yml. On Windows, browse to the location you noted when the .yml file was auto-created and edit it with e.g. notepad. On all platforms, make the contents look as follows (note the indentation with spaces is required):
authtoken: --YOUR_AUTHTOKEN-- web_addr: 0.0.0.0:4040 region: eu tunnels: lmstunnel: proto: http bind_tls: true inspect: false addr: 192.168.x.y:9000 auth: "someusername:somepassword"
Here lmstunnel is the alias/name by which we can later refer to the tunnel, while addr is the IP address of the LMS server it proxies to. For auth, you should choose a strong username and password to maximize security.
You can test things on Linux/MacOS by typing ngrok start lmstunnel, or, on Windows, cd to the directory containing ngrok.exe and type start "" ngrok.exe start lmstunnel. A live status page should show in a terminal window if all is well. Whatever your platform, kill this again with ctrl-c, as it was just a test.
Create the systemd file needed to run ngrok as a service and configure that to run at system-boot by typing the command sudo nano /etc/systemd/system/ngrok.service and give the file the following content:
[Unit] Description=ngrok autostart Wants=network.target After=network.target [Service] Type=simple WorkingDirectory=/tmp ExecStartPre=/bin/sleep 5 ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/ngrok start -config=/home/pi/.ngrok2/ngrok.yml lmstunnel RestartSec=30 StandardOutput=syslog StandardError=syslog SyslogIdentifier=ngrok [Install] WantedBy=multi-user.target
The ExecStart entry as specified means we will autostart the tunnel named lmstunnel specified in the ngrok config file located at /home/pi/.ngrok2/ngrok.yml (change to suit your setup). You can autostart all your tunnels by replacing the name by --all or start multiple named tunnels by specifying the names separated by spaces. e.g. primary betatest.
If on Raspbian, in the GUI settings make sure to enable Preferences → Raspberry Pi Configuration → System → Network at Boot → Wait for network. You can do the same thing via the command sudo raspi-config on a headless system.
With the service file successfully created, type:
sudo systemctl daemon-reload
sudo systemctl enable ngrok
sudo systemctl start ngrok
If all is well, ngrok is now running as a service. You can check its status using sudo systemctl status ngrok or by visiting https://dashboard.ngrok.com/status/tunnels.
Using e.g. notepad or your favorite text editor, create a batch file called ngrok.bat containing the following commands (the cd command should target the directory where you placed ngrok.exe, e.g. C:\ngrok):
@ECHO OFF cd C:\ngrok start /min ngrok start lmstunnelNow press + R and type shell:startup, then select OK. This opens the Startup folder situated somewhere like C:\Users\Phil\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup. Drag a shortcut to your newly-created ngrok.bat into it. On reboot, ngrok will now run in the background.
From any machine in your local network, you can watch what the background ngrok process is doing by browsing to the IP address of the ngrok host machine on port 4040, e.g. http://192.168.1.1:4040 or http://localhost:4040. The status tab there will show you the ngrok subdomain(s) assigned to your tunnel(s).
Remember, when you reboot or otherwise restart the systemd service while on the free ngrok plan, these subdomains will change and orphan the skill from LMS. That is, unless you have auto-updating set up (see section Ⅳ).
Please first read the introductory section Ⅱ on ngrok before attempting this. You must also have setup ngrok to autostart as detailed in section Ⅲ.
Note that if you are linking both the LMS-Lite and MediaServer skills for LMS, it's best to do so from the same PC/Mac and browser as this will ensure that the same script/key updates both skills. The landing-page makes use of your browser's localStorage feature to effect this.
Pay heed that this process only updates the URL component of the ngrok tunnel and assumes unchanged -auth parameters. If you alter those details for whatever reason then it will be necessary to manually redo account-linking by disabling/re-enabling the skill(s).
The autoupdate procedure pushes your changed tunnel details to the cloud by means of the uuid key (e.g. d84fb223c34002944701a9a70e5e82b65e01cda21b6e8914) that was shown at the account-linking stage after your tunnel(s) were verified.
You have 3 choices here, depending on personal preference or platform convenience factor. Download either the python, perl or shell updater script and place it in a folder of your choice (remembering the path). The shell script has no dependencies to install but only updates a single named tunnel (useful on e.g. a busybox distro or pCP) . For python, the import dependencies will need to be installed using pip3, while for perl the use modules can be installed using cpan. Both of these scripts will update multiple tunnels when the skill is linked to multiple LMS servers. On Linux/MacOS don't forget to chmod +x the script to make it executable. Each script needs to be tailored to your setup as follows:
|python||myTunnels = ['lmstunnel']
myUuid = ['d84fb223c34002944701a9a70e5e82b65e01cda21b6e8914']
|perl||@myTunnels = qw/lmstunnel/;
@myUuid = qw/d84fb223c34002944701a9a70e5e82b65e01cda21b6e8914/;
Explanation: myTunnels contains the name(s) of the tunnel(s) you specified in your ~/.ngrok2/ngrok.yml file. If you have linked the skill(s) to more than one LMS server, this entry might look like python ['primary', 'betatest'] or perl qw/primary betatest/. Similarly, myUuid holds your uuid key(s). In the shell script, TUNNELNAME and UUID hold the same variables but are scalars rather than arrays.
To ensure this script runs automatically whenever your assigned tunnels change, we need to edit the systemd service file from section Ⅳ: sudo nano /etc/systemd/system/ngrok.service. Under the existing ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/ngrok start … entry, we insert a new line as follows:
The examples assume you have put the relevant script file in /home/pi but you can change that if you chose a different location. Now upon start/restart, the service will first run ngrok itself (the ExecStart target) to establish the new tunnel(s) and then the updater script (the ExecStartPost target) to update the skill(s).
Place the downloaded python or perl script in the same folder as your ngrok.exe file. Next, using e.g. notepad or your favorite text editor, modify your batch file ngrok.bat by adding the following 2 lines at the end of the file to run the updater script after a short delay:
timeout 5 updater.py
If you link all your LMS skills from the same PC/Mac and browser then the uuid key returned to you will be the same each time (e.g. d84fb223c34002944701a9a70e5e82b65e01cda21b6e8914). This means that one script can update all your tunnels with a single uuid and it just makes life easy. If you fail to do this and a new uuid is presented when you link a skill, you will have to modify your script with the new uuid. If, however, you have any LMS skills still linked with the old uuid, you should not just replace the old uuid by the new one, but you should add it and create a list of keys thus:
|python||myUuid = ['d84fb223c340...', '67f8f78097ac...']|
|perl||@myUuid = qw/d84fb223c340..., 67f8f78097ac.../;|
Alternatively, you could re-link the other skill from the same PC/browser so it gets the new uuid too and that way you still have only one uuid in use across your skills.
If you run the updater script manually from a command prompt you will see OK displayed for each successful update or Fail X if something went wrong. In this case, Fail 2 would mean that the uuid value in question is no longer valid so you can remove it from the list. At no time should your list be longer than the number of LMS skills you currently have linked (MediaServer, LMS-Lite).
If you already use ngrok for other purposes and want to be sure of the correct LMS tunnel association(s) when things change, you can optionally append the tunnelname in square brackets during account linking: e.g. https://f8427ade25.eu.ngrok.io[primary]
Please keep your personal uuid key secure — it's relatively harmless without your -auth details but don't tempt fate…
When linking your skill(s), it's possible to specify multiple URLs that each point to different LMS instances under your control. These can be at the same physical location (e.g. a primary server with a stable release and a betatest server running a nightly version of LMS) or at different locations such as your home and a holiday chalet. A prerequisite is that the aggregate of player names should not reflect repeats/duplicates among your servers/locations. Also, if you link one skill to more than one LMS server, you must also link the other skill similarly.
ngrok tunnels can be mixed with other forms of proxies as you please. Just remember that it's mandatory to use the same -auth and/or .htpasswd parameters for all your proxy services.
ngrok config edit
Make sure your ngrok tunnels appear jointly or severally in .yml file(s) and are configured to autostart in the associated systemd or .bat file(s). If your tunnels all run from one ngrok instance, your .yml file will have multiple tunnels — otherwise you will have a separate .yml file on each ngrok host machine. Multiple tunnels in one config might look as follows:
authtoken: 4nq9771bPxe8ctg7LKr... web_addr: 0.0.0.0:4040 region: eu tunnels: primary: proto: http bind_tls: true inspect: false addr: 192.168.1.10:9000 auth: "someusername:somepassword" betatest: proto: http bind_tls: true inspect: false addr: 192.168.1.22:9000 auth: "someusername:somepassword"
These tunnels would then be referenced as ['primary', 'betatest'] or qw/primary betatest/ in the auto-updating script from section Ⅳ.
Multi-link the skill
In the Alexa app or web-portal (a PC or Mac is preferable to smartphone or tablet for this) enable the skill and prepare for account-linking. Enter the comma-separated URL details in the field on the account-linking landing page. For example:
Note that if your list of URLs contains more than one ngrok URL, you must append the names of the tunnels (as defined in your .yml config file) in square brackets [tunnelname] like this:
Fill in the and fields using the someusername and somepassword values that you previously specified in the .yml config file under auth: "someusername:somepassword" (values should be the same for each tunnel).
Press theValidate button which will run some checks on the details you provided and verify that there is actually an LMS server responding at each destination. If there are no errors, the button changes color and function to become Submit — otherwise you can modify your inputs based on the URL-specific error message(s) and re-try validation.
Submit, and Amazon should tell you that the skill was successfully linked !
Don't choose this option unless you are computer-savvy — use ngrok instead as detailed earlier. If you do want to do things this way, this is not a step-by-step tutorial but here's your checklist:
# put this in /etc/apache2/sites-available <VirtualHost *:443> ServerName joebloggs.myddns.me SSLEngine on Header always set Referrer-Policy "same-origin" Header always append X-Frame-Options SAMEORIGIN ProxyPass / http://192.168.1.10:9000/ Keepalive=On ProxyPassReverse / http://192.168.1.10:9000/ SSLCertificateFile /etc/letsencrypt/live/joebloggs.myddns.me/cert.pem SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/letsencrypt/live/joebloggs.myddns.me/privkey.pem SSLCertificateChainFile /etc/letsencrypt/live/joebloggs.myddns.me/chain.pem <Location /> AuthType Basic AuthName "MyProxies" AuthUserFile /etc/apache2/.htpasswd Require valid-user </Location> <Directory "/"> Require all denied </Directory> </VirtualHost>
You now have a valid internet-accessible URL that points to LMS at port 9000. In a browser, paste this URL and then enter the someusername and somepassword values in the authentication modal. You should see the familiar LMS web portal you normally access from your LAN, with the difference that you're now reaching it externally from the cloud. Note the icon indicating that the connection is secure/encrypted.
Link the skill
In the Alexa app or web-portal (a PC is preferable to smartphone or tablet for this) enable the skill and prepare for account-linking. You will use your proxy URL in the field on the account-linking landing page. For example: https://joebloggs.myddns.me:9443
Fill in the and fields using the someusername and somepassword values that you specified in .htpasswd. Press the Validate button which will run some checks on the details you provided and verify that there is actually an LMS server responding at the destination. If there are no errors, the button changes color and function to become Submit — otherwise you can modify your inputs based on the error message and re-try validation.
Submit, and Amazon should tell you that the skill was successfully linked !
Keep an eye on the validity of your SSL cert as the skill(s) will stop functioning upon an expired cert (e.g. letsencrypt certs normally expire after 90 days).