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A Simple, Silent, TV-Based Linux Media Player

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the computers-as-home-theatre-components dept.

Media 67

jamienk asks: "My life has gotten simple. I can easily get the TV shows and movies I want on to my computer, however I get sick of watching them on my computer, and it's a drag to burn SVCDs or DVDs. Instead, I now want a silent Linux box to sit on my TV with TV out. I want to control it with a remote to run Mplayer (or something that can handle lots of formats) and play video files that are on my wireless LAN. I don't need it to record TV shows, play or rip CDs or DVDs, or even to have a hard-disk really, if the software could fit in RAM or something. Does anyone have links, pointers, or suggestions for cheap, easy, DIY solutions?"

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Buy a tivo. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11172504)

Really, go buy one. If you have to ask this, then anything beyond a tivo is beyond you.

Re:Buy a tivo. (1)

Hyrcan (316160) | more than 9 years ago | (#11172669)

I would have to agree with this AC... If you haven't been able to Google a linux PVR setup, haven't stubled MythTV, the mini-itx site, or hushPC then you're either not looking, or you have looked and what you have found is beyond your abilities.

I have googled this, and there is a considerable amount of information avalible. Much of it on the MythTV website... but it does require effort and a little technical experiance and money. If someone is lacking in any of these it would be best for them to purchase a pre-fab solution...(Tivo)... Even if that solution does not achieve everything you desire...

Re:Buy a tivo. (2, Informative)

jamienk (62492) | more than 9 years ago | (#11172789)

Myth TV and Tivo are all about aquiring media and playing it back later. But I already have aquired quite a bit, and it is sitting on my computer hard drive. Now, I just want to watch it on my TV from the couch. Tivo excells at recording shows off of TV. It is not good at playing my XVID files off my WIFI network. MythTV seems like maybe it could do what I want, but it's WAY overkill -- I'd want to put it on a computer with no DVD drive, no TV card, and with no Myth backend on my network, etc.

Re:Buy a tivo. (1)

Hyrcan (316160) | more than 9 years ago | (#11174628)

Then do that... MythTV is just as happy to be used for just a playback as it is for recording. And the MythTV backend could be on the same box, it is not required to have it on a separate system.

Re:Buy a tivo. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11175052)

I like mythtv, used it for a long time on my duron 750 for my HTPC until that box got converted to win2k for some school stuff. anyways I now use freevo on my p2 350 HTPC, which is alot less complicated then mythtv, I built a LFS system then put freevo on it and it works great for media playback

Re:Buy a tivo. (1)

Kymermosst (33885) | more than 9 years ago | (#11189776)

Myth TV and Tivo are all about aquiring media and playing it back later. But I already have aquired quite a bit, and it is sitting on my computer hard drive. Now, I just want to watch it on my TV from the couch. Tivo excells at recording shows off of TV. It is not good at playing my XVID files off my WIFI network. MythTV seems like maybe it could do what I want, but it's WAY overkill -- I'd want to put it on a computer with no DVD drive, no TV card, and with no Myth backend on my network, etc.

Try GeeXboX [geexbox.org] . It can be booted off CD or installed on a hard drive, automatically finds network shares with media files on them, among other features. It is Linux- and Mplayer-based, and is easily customized.

Re:Buy a tivo. (1)

LazyBoy (128384) | more than 9 years ago | (#11193556)

Yes, GeexBox is a nice little distro targeted distro for this.

And an old laptop with TV out is a quickly realized, small, quiet implementation. All you'll need is a little homebrew IR receiver.

Re:Buy a tivo. (1)

sakusha (441986) | more than 9 years ago | (#11179300)

Yes, the simplest, cheapest solution is to buy a TiVo. The TiVo box runs Linux, you can do a lot of hacks by yourself. You can't buy any hardware capable of running Linux and doing video capture for $99, which is the starting price for a basic 40 hour TiVo. Even if you factor in a lifetime subscription for another $299, you'd have an extremely difficult time getting any hardware that comes close to the quality of a TiVo for $398.

The ultimate RIAA/MPAA friendly device (2, Funny)

Otter (3800) | more than 9 years ago | (#11172525)

I like this guy's attitude! He wants to build a device that plays audio and video files but deliberately excludes any capacity to acquire those files through fair use!

Re:The ultimate RIAA/MPAA friendly device (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 9 years ago | (#11181067)

Ever think that he can already acquire those files with his current computer?

He doesn't want to exclude the capability, he just isn't concerned with having them in the new box.

LK

Go XBox (3, Interesting)

Gadzinka (256729) | more than 9 years ago | (#11172576)

Buy XBox, install modchip and use xbox media player (XBMP). It has ethernet, perfect video out, enough power to play mpeg2/mpeg4 with postprocessing and runs $100 used, with modchip, or $150 new without modchip.

And it can also run Linux, if you really want to type your mplayer commandline, but I'd advice against it -- XBMP is really cute-iful ;)

Similar machine in either ATX or ITX form would cost you at least twice more. With AV-gear type case, another 100% more.

Robert

Re:Go XBox (2, Informative)

Vaevictis666 (680137) | more than 9 years ago | (#11172685)

So to expand on this...

XBox Media Center [xboxmediacenter.com] installed on a modded [teamxodus.com] xbox really is all you need. Plug it into your hub/router/whatever, and with a little bit of config you can get it to run directly off of a samba share from your desktop.

Get the DVD package, and you have remote control access. The thing also plays DVDs (I haven't got XBMC doing DVDs yet, but running the xbox dash to watch it isn't bad) so that's most of your video bases covered.

Re:Go XBox (1)

pjl5602 (150416) | more than 9 years ago | (#11172842)

XBMC will play DVDs (at least recent CVS builds will.) Just stick it in and go if you have it set to autoplay. There is no menu support however. I suspect what they are doing is looking at the DVD stucture and playing the largest title.

Re:Go XBox (1)

Curtman (556920) | more than 9 years ago | (#11176144)

It's probably not too difficult to figure out what they are doing [sourceforge.net] . Although it might be.. I mean really, DLL's in a CVS repository [sourceforge.net] . Whats up with that.

Re:Go XBox (2, Informative)

Vaevictis666 (680137) | more than 9 years ago | (#11177365)

Ahh, that explains it. I have it set to no autoplay. I'll need to try that when I get home then :P

However, if I want to do anything with menus, like the misc featurettes from the LOTR "appendices" discs, I do need to boot to xboxdash - though IIRC they were doing a fund drive a few weeks back to see how much people *really* wanted full dvd support, and if it was enough to pay a developer to take some time to do full-time work implementing it for XBMC (and thusly, also mplayer)

Re:Go XBox (1)

najt (178981) | more than 9 years ago | (#11194587)

The new XBMC DVD player is under development, most of the basic features work (menus!), but it not yet mature enough to be committed to the cvs.

Re:Go XBox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11201388)

You could just put dvd-x on your box and set it as the default dvdplayer in the config file. If your using xbmc as your dashboard you could just put a dvd in the drive and dvd-x should start automatically.

I titter like a schoolgirl at modchips! (1)

thegnu (557446) | more than 9 years ago | (#11172768)

I can hack an XBOX without a modchip. Really, I don't know why you would need one. They don't come preloaded with a bios and you'd have to run through the basic Mechinstaller or 007 hack anyway.

Why not just flash whatever bios you're so hot about to the TSOP? You can always flash it back. And as for playing on games online, just buy a WRT54G and flash the xlink custom firmware to it and you're ready to go, and free (beer-like).

Re:I titter like a schoolgirl at modchips! (1)

Gadzinka (256729) | more than 9 years ago | (#11172849)

Well, I hear that the hacks with mentioned games don't work with new 1.6 XBox. Besides, I've just checked on Polish auction site: Duo modchip runs 56pln (that's below $20) and it doesn't need any preloading hacks.

Robert

Re:Go XBox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11174285)

An XBOX is anything but silent. It's like the PS2, man I hate that thing. You are hear it from two rooms away.

My MythTV silent PC system is much quieter. Get a silent thermal controlled power supply, Seagate hard-drive, fanless video card, silent CPU cooler and you're all set.

Re:Go XBox (1)

ottawanker (597020) | more than 9 years ago | (#11180416)

My MythTV silent PC system is much quieter. Get a silent thermal controlled power supply, Seagate hard-drive, fanless video card, silent CPU cooler and you're all set.
Silent Thermal Controlled Power Supply? What does it do, change size when it gets too hot? And a Seagate hard drive is silent?

If you really want silence, get a fanless mini-itx board, an 80 or 120 watt power supply (which has no fan), and do a network boot or boot from compact flash. That's what I have for the PC in my listening room. The mini-itx board has onboard sound/lan/video/tv-out. The onboard video isn't the best, and the onboard audio is AC97, but it should more than do for the application.

Re:Go XBox (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 9 years ago | (#11174746)

Right on.

I've got about the same goal as the submitter: All of my music exists on the computer, but I still have to find, load, and refile CDs in the living room to play any of it on the cool stereo and chill out on the couch with music.

Since that sucked, I decided to fix it. I built a reasonable machine with a composite NTSC output from stuff I had laying around. Tried Frevo, MythTV, and a few other things. They were all varying levels of terrible at playing music.

MythTV was a complete bitch to compile, making periodic upgrades more time-consuming than, well, anything I can think of off-hand.

Freevo was a little easier to compile, and its Python plugin interface seemed fairly flexible, but the interface was absolutely dog-slow.

Both were featureless in terms of music-playing ability.

The other things mostly centered around putting a computer monitor in the livingroom, but all (yes: all) available Linux software for playing music is either just as hard to make work as MythTV, or completely lacks any characteristics which would make a component MP3 player desirous (organization, speed, organization, mouseless operation, organization, legible fonts, and organization).

During this lengthy try-out process, I kept thinking to myself, "For fuck's sake, Wal-Mart has a cheap Linksys box with a pair of speakers, and RCA output, and 802.11g networking. I bet it's easy to set up, and works better than anything I've tried so far."

If time were money, I've already spent enough of it fucking around with everyone's brother's broken music playing software to afford an X-Box, an extra controller, a handful of games, and a modchip.

So, there's an X-Box, a controller, and some games sitting under the Christmas tree, waiting for the Big Day.

What chip would Slashdot suggest that I put in the thing? I'm leaning toward the v2 SmartXX, just now, mostly because XBMC supports an LCD module with it. Is there any compelling reason to choose any one over any of the others?

Re:Go XBox (2, Informative)

nathanh (1214) | more than 9 years ago | (#11175957)

What chip would Slashdot suggest that I put in the thing? I'm leaning toward the v2 SmartXX, just now, mostly because XBMC supports an LCD module with it. Is there any compelling reason to choose any one over any of the others?

No chip, unless you've really got your heart set on the LCD. Install a softmod. Very easy to install. Non-intrusive. Won't void the warranty. Works fine on all versions of Xbox. Search for UDE, UDE2 and UXE. There are many tutorials on the web, if you look hard enough.

You will be very pleased with XBMC as a music jukebox. I am over the moon with mine. All my music available, all the time, without having to shuffle my CDs in and out of a stupid carousel. Configure XBMC to be the default dashboard. Will take less than 5 seconds from power-on to music playing.

Re:Go XBox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11194143)

Lots of tutorials, none of which say much about how to get the process done.

So, having taken your advice and flashed my Xbox with UDE1, I'm impressed. Once I finally gathered enough information to understand what was going on, it was easy. But I was so stupified by the sheer volume of unintelligent, rambling tutorials, that I'll write one of my own (posted here to shamelessly take advantage of Slashdot's high pagerank):

The short version: You're going to load a magical savegame (ltools) under 007: AUF, and use that to mod your Xbox. You're cheap, and you want to do this as cheaply as possible. You therefore would prefer to do it all with stuff that you can borrow for free. Total cost of this project is between $5 and $40, depending on what you've got on-hand and/or decide to borrow instead of buy new.

And you're going to do this because you want to run XBMC, which is a completely tits-awesome way to handle media with a TV. (Yes, MythTV and Freevo goons - I said it.)

1. Decide if you've got a version 1.6 Xbox, or an older one. If you have a 1.6, fend for yourself.
2. Buy/rent/borrow/steal 007. There's two other games that work, but there are version conflicts with some of them, so ignore the fact that you can use other games. 007 always works, and it's common and really fucking cheap if you buy it used.
3. While you're out finding 007: AUF, pick up a male-female USB extension cable (or just extract a cable from your junk drawer), and also an Xbox controller extension. You'll also need to borrow/buy/rent/steal a memory card. (Yes, the cheap ones work just fine, too.)
4. Cut both of the cables in half.
5. Solder half of each cable together, so you can plug your Xbox controller into your PC, and (for the hell of it) plug your PC controllers into your Xbox. The colors all match. Ignore the yellow wire in the Xbox cable - nobody seems to know what it's there for, but everyone seems to agree that it doesn't mean diddly shit for what we're doing.
6. Find ltools. (Google won't do it for you, but EFnet will.) There are at least three versions - you want the one for 007.
7. Download and install the Action Replay software from the people who make the damned thing.
8. While you're at it, grab the HID driver wedge from lik-sang.com so that you can use your Xbox controller as a joystick in Windows.
9. Install ltools into Action Replay by simply dragging the zip file into AR.
10. Plug your Xbox controller into your PC. Marvel at it working just fine.
11. Plug your memory card into the controller. Marvel that the drivers are already installed, courtesy of the folks behind the Action Replay.
12. Install the ltools/007 savegame onto your memory card using Action Replay. Marvel at the realization that you just built yourself an Action Replay as a side-benefit of this project.
13. Boot your Xbox and copy the savegame from the memory card to the hard drive. Remove memory card from controller.
14. Boot 007, and load your savegame. Marvel at the fact that it starts playing your soundtracks and showing you The Matrix(tm)(r).
15. A menu will appear.
16. Install UDE using this menu. UDE1 supposedly works only on Really Old machines, UDE2 supposedly works on all of them except 1.6. UDE2 is therefore a safe choice. Pick PBL-Metoo for an installer, and whatever you decide for everything else.
17. Marvel at the fact that your Xbox suddenly boots Linux, supposedly backs up some files to some uber-secret location, and begins flashing its BIOS.
18. Wait.
19. Reboot when prompted, but not before (lest you want to prematurely turn your Xbox into a boat anchor).
20. Enjoy.

Re:Go XBox (1)

nathanh (1214) | more than 9 years ago | (#11196334)

Nice tute. Two mistakes :-)

16. Install UDE using this menu. UDE1 supposedly works only on Really Old machines, UDE2 supposedly works on all of them except 1.6. UDE2 is therefore a safe choice. Pick PBL-Metoo for an installer, and whatever you decide for everything else.

UDE2 works on all versions of Xbox including v1.6. UDE1 works on every version except v1.6.

Be aware that UDE2 only works on region-1 encoded Xbox (ie, American) so if you have a PAL v1.6 (eg, Australian) you need to perform further trickery to change the region code from 4 to 1. Or you can try UXE which works on all regions of Xbox v1.6.

17. Marvel at the fact that your Xbox suddenly boots Linux, supposedly backs up some files to some uber-secret location, and begins flashing its BIOS.

It doesn't actually flash the BIOS, though that's an optional step you can take on older Xbox.

Older Xbox have a flash-rom called the TSOP. That's where the BIOS is kept. During the boot sequence the BIOS is copied into RAM and runs from there. Some people like to flash the TSOP, though there's some risk involved.

The default UDE1 and UDE2 installers don't flash the TSOP. They instead place a specially modified file on the hard disk. When the normal BIOS is doing its startup stuff, it reads this file and triggers a buffer overflow. The buffer overflow copies a replacement BIOS (E:\BiosLD) into RAM, overwriting the BIOS already running there.

Anyway, I'm happy the enhancement worked for you. XBMC 1.1 just got released and it really is "tits-awesome".

Seconded. (2, Informative)

rasteri (634956) | more than 9 years ago | (#11175351)

I ran a network cable through to my living room, plugged an xbox into it, installed xbmc and now I can watch videos stored on my server (which has a large hard drive and runs linux). I just ripped most of my DVDs to Divx, which gives more than acceptible quality, and I have a lot of mp3s on there as well. It plays all of it. I am utterly amazed at how far the XBMC project has come along - give it a try, you will not be disappointed.

Definitely go XBox. (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 9 years ago | (#11175381)

Particularly if you're a European, but do so anyway. Even ignoring the price of the rest of the hardware you'll need, I've not seen a PC TV-Out-capable card for less money than an entire XBox that looks as good.

Most graphics cards will only output S-Video at best; Europeans wanting to connect in RGB Scart are looking at £100+ VGA to Scart transcoders, or other specialist hardware.

Plus there is an optical digital out on both the RGB Scart cable for Europeans, or the Component output for NTSC users.

Being able to play Halo when you're not watching films is just a bonus, really.

Re:Definitely go XBox. (1)

Gadzinka (256729) | more than 9 years ago | (#11175814)

Being able to play Halo when you're not watching films is just a bonus, really.

Nah, being able to play all the MAME, NES, SNES, C64 etc emulators on TV is a real bonus -- I'm 32 and my contact with games ended around late Amiga ;)

Robert

Re:Definitely go XBox. (1)

thebagel (650109) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182506)

While being terrible in 3D performance, the Connect3D Radeon 9200se 128MB has RCA-out support. I highly recommend it for such an application. And it's only like 25USD.

Re:Go XBox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11175931)

Buy XBox, install modchip and use xbox media player (XBMP). It has ethernet, perfect video out, enough power to play mpeg2/mpeg4 with postprocessing and runs $100 used, with modchip, or $150 new without modchip.

I agree that an Xbox running XBMC (Xbox Media Center) is far and away the best music console I have ever used. You can "view by album" and XBMC will download album covers from allmusic. It's like the best jukebox imaginable. That it plays games and videos as well is just icing on the cake.

Don't bother with a modchip. Use a softmod. You just need to find a friend with an Xbox memory card and an original disc (eg, Splinter Cell). The softmod procedure is extremely easy and does not require opening the case. Once the Xbox is softmodded you no longer need the memory card nor the original disc. You can easily configure the softmod to boot straight into XBMC. That's how I have configured mine.

Or you can try the hotswap technique to mod the Xbox. That is intrusive (you need to open the case) and a little scary, but all you need is a PC and enough brains to follow the procedure.

Somebody else in this thread commented that softmods don't work on the latest v1.6 Xbox. They are wrong. The older softmods like UDE1 do not work on the v1.6 Xbox. The newer softmods UDE2 and UXE work perfectly on the v1.6 Xbox. I have a v1.6 Xbox here with a softmod. Works 100% fine.

links 4 j00!!!!!one!! (3, Informative)

Beatbyte (163694) | more than 9 years ago | (#11172599)

www.htpcforums.com
and
www.htpcnews.com

Linux HTPC HOW-TO
http://www.sllug.org/how-to/linux-htpc/int roductio n.html

If you're actually staying silent you'll want this platform instead of standard ATX
http://www.mini-itx.com

TiVo-esque GPL software
http://freevo.sourceforge.net/

Without knowing what 'computer' you are capturing (1)

rusty0101 (565565) | more than 9 years ago | (#11172637)

to, it's a bit difficult to specify a solution.

If you are capturing to a Windows, or Mac, using Haupauge! software, you might want to look at the Haupauge! set top box to play from your recordings.

If you are using MythTV on a Linux box, you may want to set up an XBox MythTV front end. Or build a box based on a ViaC3 600 chip with a mpeg decoder.

If you are using some other setup to record your media, you are pretty much on your own for figuring out how to put together a front end for it. XBox, or possibly even a PS2 may work for you. The software you are already using may recomend some other alternatives.

Good luck.

-Rusty

Re:Without knowing what 'computer' you are capturi (1)

maggard (5579) | more than 9 years ago | (#11179277)

Without knowing what 'computer' you are capturing to, it's a bit difficult to specify a solution.
He's not.

That was the whole point of his post: He's not interested in capturing, just playback.

If you are using some other setup to record your media, you are pretty much on your own for figuring out how to put together a front end for it.
Hence all of the other, useful, responses.

Reading for comprehension - it'll do wonders for you...

Re:Without knowing what 'computer' you are capturi (1)

rusty0101 (565565) | more than 8 years ago | (#11229381)

Hence all of the other, useful, responses.

Hmm, like yours.

Ok, the hardware has been identified, use an xbox, or mini-itx based system, possibly with a fanless m6000 or m10000 via processor.

Provide whatever network hardware is necessary, up to and including a wireless usb adapter if you can get one of those to work.

Since you want this to be as quiet as possible, build it using either boot from lan, or boot from flash.

You will need some way of selecting the media file that you are going to play. If you are not using a setup like MythTV, or some other tool that stores the informaiton in a database you can access from the front end, then you will need some other way of keeping track of the metadata so you can find and play specific files quickly.

Share the files via Samba, or Windows File shared folders. (remember to keep the shares local and don't broadcast them across the Internet of course, but you knew that.)

You could use a copy of mc as a text mode file system browser to select the most recent file to show. I think gmc provides the same feature but in a bit more of a gui.

If you are willing to write some software, you could use any of a number of gui builders and programing tools to build a gui based file browser and keep metadata in related files that your browser knows how to access so you can pull that information up as you are browsing your files. It could even be built to read ID3 takes from mp3 files if needed.

So far as I know, there is no stand alone application that will give you useful information about media files beyond their file name, that is not built as part of a front-end/back-end package that includes the ability to record.

One last option however would be to build a mythtv based system, without a capture card, and trick the back end into running anyway (I don't know if this is possible, and think it is a silly proposition.) Tell it where the files are located, run the database on a system where you can read and write to it from your front end, and store the media files you are collecting in the 'videos' folder. You will have to update the appropriate file information yourself, though with ripped dvd movies, you may be able to just point at IMDB to get all the appropriate information.

In any case, have a good time.

-Rusty

Hauppauge MediaMPV (3, Informative)

passthecrackpipe (598773) | more than 9 years ago | (#11172699)

Got one the other day. PowerPC platform, runs linux out of the box. Lots of interesting projects going on around it. Very hackable. Dirt cheap. Love it.

Re:Hauppauge MediaMPV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11178520)

Does it include the source?

I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11173451)

What is the point of using a computer to do what any dedicated set top device would do?

MythTV (1)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 9 years ago | (#11173944)

www.MythTV.org

Re:MythTV (2, Informative)

ChaseTec (447725) | more than 9 years ago | (#11174861)

Parent post is right even if they aren't all that informative. I have a Gentoo system with a Geforce MX with tv out in my entertainment system and I ran MythTV on it for a couple of months without a tv tuner card. MythTV does more then just record and playback tv, such as play dvds and divx/xvid movies. It actually uses MPlayer or Xine(I prefer Xine) to handle playing but everything is basically presented in a girlfriend friendly enterface. As far as a remote goes I just have a wireless keyboard and mouse. And you mention wireless, 802.11b won't cut it for all movies so make sure you use G.

XBox (2, Informative)

ikekrull (59661) | more than 9 years ago | (#11174427)

I use an XBox with a USB wireless LAN adapter for this purpose.

It runs Freevo, and while not completely silent, could be made so with a bigger CPU heatsink and a silent PSU- the noise it does make simply isn't intrustive enough for me to bother, however

I use Xebian, so no mods were required for the hardware (I did need to rend MechAssault to get Linux on the hard drive), and I can play XBox games if I want to.

Movies and MP3s are played off a samba share on another linux PC, and it mostly works pretty well.

There are a couple of caveats though-

Limux's approach to swapping memory is pretty awful for this type of application. After a long period of idle time, attempting to play a movie results in about a minute of vigorous disk-thrashing before anything actually happens on-screen.

The XPad driver/XBox controller seems to behave erratically - often requiring an unplug-replug cycle upon bootup to be recognised. Currently i dont have the XBox remote, but it can be used in place of the controller.

Disks sometimes get 'stuck' in the drive and won't eject - no matter whether the software 'eject' command is used or the hardware eject button.

Depending on how much time you have, all these issues could likely be fixed, but if i was you, i'd just buy a wifi set top box like this one:

http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=318

The XBox is quite flexible, and it has been a fun toy to have, and does extra things like rip DVDs and act as a 'standard' Linux PC - but as far as a 'plug n play' solution, i doubt you will get what you want with any PC-based solution, at least without spending a lot of time tweaking - there are just too many things to go wrong, from boot time to peripherals to media error handling etc.

Re:XBox (1)

klaasvakie (608359) | more than 9 years ago | (#11175061)

Limux's approach to swapping memory is pretty awful for this type of application. After a long period of idle time, attempting to play a movie results in about a minute of vigorous disk-thrashing before anything actually happens on-screen.

Disclaimer: Being totally unfamiliar with Xebian, everything I spew now might be totally incorrect.

Under the 2.6 linux kernels you can control the swap behaviour by changing the value in /proc/sys/swappiness. if you do "echo 100 > /proc/sys/swappiness", it will swap very easily (for things like file buffer etc.), if you do "echo 0 > /proc/sys/swappiness", it will only swap if it absolutely needs to.
I personally use a value of 20, which for my purposes, works nicely. hth

Re:XBox (1)

ikekrull (59661) | more than 9 years ago | (#11175361)

Currently, my XBox runs a 2.4 kernel, but that is useful and intersting info. Thanks

Re:XBox (1)

earlytime (15364) | more than 9 years ago | (#11194211)

i think you meant: /proc/sys/vm/swappiness

thanks for the handy hint. I've always hated 2.4's disk caching, swap happy, slow-in-the-morning, vm.

mini-itx (1)

tchuladdiass (174342) | more than 9 years ago | (#11174589)

Look at mini-itx.com for some ideas. More specifically, check out the via epia series motherboards, they are very small, low wattage (therefore no need for a big fan), and have video out that can work with linux (again look through the forums on mini-itx.com for details).
Personally, I would set up one of these with an 802.11g card and network boot.

Try the Meadia MVP (2, Informative)

rmiller021 (620732) | more than 9 years ago | (#11174929)

I have looked into this cool linux product from Hauppauge and it looks promising.

Here are some links to get you started.

http://knoppmythwiki.homelinux.org/index.php?page= MediaMVP_LinuxHOWTO [homelinux.org]
http://www.byopvr.com/displayarticle191.html [byopvr.com]
http://www.shspvr.com/forum/index.php?h=0&pf=0&c=9 [shspvr.com]

Easy (1)

darkgoat (835274) | more than 9 years ago | (#11175271)

Well all you need is an xbox. It's not really silent, but for the price of $100 used, it doesn't matter. Second, is to softmod the xbox(www.xbox-scene.com). It's easy, simple todo, and will open up the xbox to much much more. Third, Load up XBMC(Xbox Media Center). This is the better and newer version of XBMP that someone suggested eariler. The XBMC will allow you to watch dvds, look through pictures, watch movies, listen to music, and listen to web radio, and much much more. Doing this you also get a modded xbox in the process, which allows to to do many more options other than a media center.

Geexbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11175396)

Geexbox does just what you want - a tiny (~6 MB iso image) linux distribution equipped with Mplayer: http://www.geexbox.org/ [geexbox.org] .

MythTV + Diskless (1)

mikolas (223480) | more than 9 years ago | (#11175511)

I have built my own media station using MythTV. I have a server in another room and the station boots from the server using PXE. It's silent and has huge amount of storage available without having a local hard disk. The only annoyance with the setup is slow ethernet (I'm using 100Mbit wired ethernet at the moment) but gigabit ethernet is cheap these days and I'm planning to upgrade my home network to use that.

Re:MythTV + Diskless (1)

gatzke (2977) | more than 9 years ago | (#11185239)

Could you boot MythTV off a CD / DVD for a nice diskless system? You would need two CD /DVD drives, since I don't think you can eject a CD after you boot from it.

Re:MythTV + Diskless (1)

SlamMan (221834) | more than 9 years ago | (#11248020)

Probably, but cds aren't exactly fast or quiet. Give booting off of a PCMCIA car a shot.

Re:MythTV + Diskless (1)

gatzke (2977) | more than 9 years ago | (#11248155)


The way USB / SD / memory cards are going, that is probably the best option.

I just priced 1 GB SD cards around $100.

Ideally you could put your DVD images on the backend Myth machine and have a totally silent front end Myth box.

Try MoviX2 (1)

Domini (103836) | more than 9 years ago | (#11175599)

Or is that MoviX^2 [sourceforge.net] ?

Perhaps also run it on this ASUS [asus.com] motherboard and casing combo.

Should be a snap.

You might try (1)

fozzmeister (160968) | more than 9 years ago | (#11175655)

MythTV on Linux on a Water Cooled XBox

Another vote for the XBox (3, Informative)

aderusha (32235) | more than 9 years ago | (#11175855)

The XBox isn't completely silent, but you can control the fan speed through software. Much of the noise is mediated if you replace the default 8GB HDD with a larger 5400rpm (slow and quiet) drive. Modding a newer unit (version 1.6) requires the installation of a modchip or using a softmod. Softmods don't require any soldering, but are prone to occasional failure as MS updates the XBox software. Your best bet is to troll your local pawn shops and video game stores for a used xbox. If you can get a 1.0 or a 1.1 version XBox you can mod it complete with a disable switch without having to buy a chip. Anyway, the point of all this is to run XBMC, which will play damn near any media format you can through at it, including newer container formats like OGM and Matroska. It can stream over the network using SMB/CIFS or one of a handful of XBMC-specific streaming protocols (stream servers available for linux, mac, and windows.) XBMC can also display local weather, stream web radio from shoutcast stations, rip cds, play dvds, display rss feeds, and with the python script engine it can even play movie trailers or even give you showtimes for movie theaters in your area.

Here's some handy links:
  • Home of all xbox knowledge: XBox Scene [xbox-scene.org]
  • Being a cheapass, I use cheap modchips. You can get an Aladdin XT for $11 from RobotPig [robotpig.com] . They're in the UK but they ship quickly worldwide. Good shop and cheap! The $60 modchips come with loads of neat but ultimately entirely useless features.
  • If you're scared of a soldering iron, here's a solderless solution for all versions of the xbox: The Spiderchip [modchipnow.com] . I've never used one of these things and I've never purchased anything from this shop so take this as a suggestion and not a recommendation.
  • Here's [xbox-scene.com] a great introduction to softmods. Again, despite what all the softmoddie guys say a chip will always be a better solution.
  • If you buy a new XBox, you'll be getting a 1.6 version and your modding options are somewhat limited. You're voiding the warranty anyway so you might as well pick up a used box. Here's [xbox-linux.org] how to tell which version XBox you're getting. Print it out and take it to the shop with you.
  • All versions of the XBox except the 1.6 can be TSOP flashed, which is just write enabling the onboard BIOS flashrom and flashing a mod bios to it. Cheap, relatively easy, and every bit as good as a chip. The only drawback to a TSOP flash is that you can't easily disable it unless you have a 1.0 or 1.1 XBox. Here [xbox-scene.com] is a pretty complete guide to TSOP flashing.
  • Here [xboxmediacenter.de] is the homepage for XBMC. They're hosted on sourceforge, so you can checkout the CVS [sourceforge.net] and compile your own copy if you have VS.NET 2003 and a copy of the latest XDK.


Check out the forums on XBox-Scene [xbox-scene.com] and for XBox Media Center [xboxmediaplayer.de] (XBMC) for useful tips rom the thousands of XBox enthuiasts out there. Good luck!

Re:Another vote for the XBox (1)

LazyBoy (128384) | more than 9 years ago | (#11193514)

If you buy a new XBox, you'll be getting a 1.6 version and your modding options are somewhat limited.
Actually, some stores still have old stock. I bought a bundle at Costco about a month ago and it was version 1.3. It was dusty.

a long video cable. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#11175970)

on the tv-out.
simple.
effective.
works.

or just mod a xbox.

if booting from cd is an option (1)

xonen (774419) | more than 9 years ago | (#11176013)

try geexbox:

http://www.geexbox.org/en/index.html

i've no experience with it yet, but heard good things about it so it is on my todo list.

Just get a modded XBox (1)

Gay Nigger (676904) | more than 9 years ago | (#11176146)

Does everything you're asking for and more. Even plays games! And it's quiet and much, much cheaper than any box of substandard parts you could throw together and put Linux on.

There's even a little bonus if you're one of the kind that really hates Microsoft - they sell their hardware at a loss, so if you don't buy any XBox games, you've basically incurred a (small) loss for them.

Pick one up on eBay, you can always find plenty there.

Actually, I did this recently (2, Insightful)

phorm (591458) | more than 9 years ago | (#11177185)

I've setup a linux box on an Epia-M10000 with Xine, Mplayer, Realplayer (although Mplayer suffices for this), appropriate codecs etc etc.

Then I picked up a little app called "autorun" which you can use to poll your CD-ROM and run scripts when a disk is inserted/removed. Built a script that checks for the content on disk and loads as appropriate:

VCD: Xine
DVD: Xine
Mp3/Ogg: XMMS
RealMedia: Realplayer
Quicktime/AVI/etc: MPlayer

Apps load with fullscreen set and play through. The only major issue is DVD's with menus in Xine. They don't like my touchscreen, but I'll probably either make it play through to the first play track or figure out how to make it like my touch.

Oh, and the M10000 has linux drivers and TV out, as well as DVD and basic 3d accel.

Forgot to link (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 9 years ago | (#11177200)

Autorun [freshmeat.net] details on freshmeat. You could email me [phormix.com] if you wanted more info or the detection script.

xbox: any way to remote the video (firewire/DV)? (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 9 years ago | (#11178935)

meaning, I'd like to run a long-ish cable from the xbox to a tv monitor. doing this digitally is the best since long cable runs degrade analog signals.

in the windows world (sigh) you can run a firewire controller and a converter box on the far end, that handles the video (composite or svideo) both in and out. I use a canopus box but there are many such 'media bridges' that go from firewire to video.

so I wonder - can you do this with the xbox? it seems everyone is recommending the modded xbox. fine - I'll give it a look. but I'd like to know if you can run DV style protocols and 'remote the video' that way. (hope the q. makes sense).

or, is there dvi for video out? I'm assuming its only S and composite.

(by remoting, its possible to bury a noisy drive system in a cabinet or something, some distance away from the viewing area)

Re:xbox: any way to remote the video (firewire/DV) (1)

aderusha (32235) | more than 9 years ago | (#11187676)

you would have to send video like you would any normal hdtv or vga signal - there is no digital video output on the xbox. audio authority makes very well reviewed long-haul extenders for both formats.

Try a Phillips DVP642 (1)

Kjyn (680787) | more than 9 years ago | (#11179303)

Although it isn't a linux box, a phillips dvp642 seems like it will do what you want. You would still have to burn cd's, but they don't have to be in vcd or dvd format. It reads the filesystem on the discs and you can choose what you want to play.

It plays pretty much anything I throw at it. Dvix, xvid, mp3's and they can be on cd or dvd. I burn some stuff I want to watch or listen to onto RW's, watch it, and enjoy. It comes with a remote. For $70 it might be worth a shot. If it meets everything you need, you've just saved yourself a bunch of time, probably money too if you had to put a system together from mostly scratch.

Do you have a wireless PDA? (1)

yuri benjamin (222127) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182152)

If so, you can create a web interface and use your PDA as a very fancy remote.

For windows, this is soooooo easy. (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209520)

0) Have a box with GOOD tv out (ATI cards).
1) Get an IRMan IR receiver if your computer does not already have one.
2) Get Girder
3) Download windows media player girder hooks
4) Using ANY remote, beam the codes you want in for each function (play, stop, etc)
5) VideoLAN/VLC player plays ALL formats with built in codecs. Although it does not have girder hooks, you can stop with spacebar, and it is easy to set girder up to send a space bar with a specific IR code. (So I can pause/unpause, which is all I really need a remote for. I don't want to CHOOSE the video with a remote control, that is better done via command-line tab-completion.. wanna watch simpsons? s)
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