I just noticed that one of the bodegas in my neighborhood sells "universal remotes" for a few USD. These are designed to work with arbitrary televisions, and can be switched/programmed to emit various IR signals. I've got an NSLU2 running sid, which feeds audio to my stereo using mpd. I'd like to use one of the cheap-o remotes to at least start/stop the audio and adjust the volume.
I suspect that the way to do that is with LIRC (as Utumno mentioned), but i'm not sure what kind of USB infrared devices will be compatible. The NSLU2 only has USB ports -- no RS-232 or anything else. Anyone with more experience in this area care to suggest a USB IR receiver that works well with a TV remote?