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Build Your Own Linux Home Theater PC

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the we-have-the-technology dept.

Entertainment 250

Vic writes "If you have ever dreamed of building a home theatre PC, Extremetech has details on building a Linux-based system, and covers all the details of this epic journey. They did get the unit to run lots of features such as CDs, video, TV, weather, media libraries, guide viewing and show recording." From the article: "To paraphrase one forum quote seen during the research phase of this piece: 'Buy the beer first, this ain't gonna be easy.' But there is some good news here too. Getting a Linux-based HTPC has probably never been easier, though that is admittedly damning with faint praise. So here then is the tale of our ongoing adventure toward building a Linux-based HTPC."

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250 comments

First post (-1, Offtopic)

ColonelFubster (758353) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522564)

First post?

interesting (1)

TheScottishGuy (701141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522571)

i might actually have to pull my finger out and actually try this one, given the number of currently unused pc's sitting around this place

Hey, that should be the new OSS slogan (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12522578)

"but the beer first, this isn't going to easy"

Re:Hey, that should be the new OSS slogan (1)

jonbusby (880488) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522630)

lol. It should be... except in the morning when you try to read your code. Good luck with that.

Re:Hey, that should be the new OSS slogan (5, Funny)

hobbesx (259250) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522634)

From Linux Journal:


Windows: Where do you want to go today?

MacOS: Where do you want to be tomorrow?

Linux: Are you coming or what?

Re:Hey, that should be the new OSS slogan (5, Funny)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522668)

Linux: Are you coming or what?

More like:

Linux: Hey, are you going to eat that?

Re:Hey, that should be the new OSS slogan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12522954)

"Hey, are you going to eat that?"

More like :

Hey, are you going to eat that? Because its mine and your stealing it ! you bastard

Re:Hey, that should be the new OSS slogan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12523087)

no thats apple

Re:Hey, that should be the new OSS slogan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12523111)

Apple is based on Darwin , they stole BSD wich is OSS ...

Re:Hey, that should be the new OSS slogan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12522823)

It should be,

Linux: I'll go anywhere you want but first you gotta figure out how to tell me.

Re:Hey, that should be the new OSS slogan (2, Interesting)

dsginter (104154) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522872)

You'd think that some bright spark would just sit down with the typical hardware - an nForce motherboard and a Hauppauge PVR250 - do all this work and then distribute an ISO of the system for people to install.

That'd do wonders for Linux and OSS.

We do one better (3, Interesting)

Trigun (685027) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522950)

We have some bright sparks that set their pvr to record, automatically upload and torrent the file, and the rest of us don't have to set up all the esosteric hardware. We just have to subscribe to an rss feed and watch whatever we want, whenever we want, wherever we want.

Right now, I'm running a via-1000 mb with Freevo, and no tuner card. Plug it right into the tv, set up NFS and SMB shares to my fileserver and just wach TV.

'Buy the beer first, this ain't gonna be easy.' (4, Funny)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522582)

Wait, I thought that when it came to the GPL and FOSS that beer was supposed to be free. Where'd I go wrong?

Re:'Buy the beer first, this ain't gonna be easy.' (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522704)

Where'd I go wrong?
In between the sixth and second characters of the second line of your sig.
You've really got to read that source code a little more closely, and compile with -WTF next time.

Re:'Buy the beer first, this ain't gonna be easy.' (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522862)

Unfortunately my WTF compiler burned itself into a tiny piece of blackened cinder after I accidently ran a Maureen O'Gara article through it. By the time it was cool enough to the touch some very serious guys in seriously cheap suits came and took it from me. They said that while they had the caption, the rack, and the bread, they needed something else as well.

It wasn't until they had left that I realized my stereo was missing.

DUPE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12522595)

YOU'VE BEEN ZONKED!!

Dupe [slashdot.org]

Get an xbox and mod it (4, Informative)

pejo (733415) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522601)

all that and more...

at a fraction of the price.

Re:Get an xbox and mod it (3, Insightful)

TheScottishGuy (701141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522739)

don't see how that's flamebait, bit brief but not flamebait surely

Re:Get an xbox and mod it (1)

jonbusby (880488) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522994)

agreed.. but you wont be able to record tv... although, XMBC is amazing. V useful with the official xbox remote. I hardly ever use my pc to play back movies anymore. (appart from the media center pc)

This looks good (5, Informative)

jonbusby (880488) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522602)

I've been running media centre pc 2005 on our plasma screen for a while now... and although its good at tv, its complete rubbish when it comes to web interfaces, remote control and most of all the music library! It can take over 5 minutes to load, and there no option to organise on directories instead of media tags!

Sure, but... (4, Interesting)

Heliologue (883808) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522608)

Whoa...
  • Store music, home movies, recorded TV shows, digital photos
  • Play back all these media seamlessly
  • Support a wide variety of audio and video codecs
  • Play back DVD movies, and look as good as or better than a DVD player
  • Support the playback of DRM-encoded purchased/rented movies and music
  • Serve this media up to other client machines on the home network
  • Have a simple GUI that any family member can use
  • Be rock-solid stable 24/7
  • Go in and out of sleep states with no difficulty
  • Run quietly enough so that its fan noise doesn't interfere with the enjoyment of the content it's serving up
  • Be able to handle HD music and movie formats, both present and future, with minimal upgrades (okay, maybe we're reaching a bit on this one)
Am I the only one who thinks that this is a stretch for any OS? Getting past DRM and proprietary formats is even a pain in the ass on Windows.

Re:Sure, but... (1)

TheScottishGuy (701141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522686)

buy an xbox, chip it and use the XBMC, not sure how well it serves media to other machines, but you could always have the media on you primary pc, on that 300Gb HD that's full of pr0n right now, (or is that just me?) with the available X3 control panel you don't even need to have a screen on the thing to use it as an audio client. cost is liable to be much lower than buying/building a pc for the purpose, although admittedly less fun.

Re:Sure, but... (1)

TheScottishGuy (701141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522706)

sorry, forgot to add the need for a set top DVR unit, (got distracted by the idea of the pr0n i guess)

Re:Sure, but... (1)

NETHED (258016) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522700)

I see all these home built Mediacenters, but truthfully, how many average people use these for more than one week. I can see this being a novelty, but do people actually use these for longer than one month?

I can see the use of a TiVo being sustained, but are these homebuilt products mature enough that my mom can use this? (Mom is not very tech friendly)

If I'm going to plop down over a grand for this little thing, (i don't have the spare computers) will i use it?

Re:Sure, but... (1)

ouzel (655571) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522761)

We use our MythTV system every day as the primary media center in our house. It has seen constant use for the past year and a half.

Re:Sure, but... (3, Interesting)

Mr Guy (547690) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522770)

Dear god yes. And you will refuse to watch live TV ever again.

These devices change how you watch TV entirely. I only watch the shows I like, even shows I kinda like, and I watch them whenever I feel like it. I used to never watch TV because I get bored with the shows easily. Now I watch TV and fast forward through the parts that are boring. (Hint: If you watch ST:TNG you can get all the show in 30 minutes if you skip any scene involving Deanna Troi talking about people's feelings).

I've used mine for about a year now and it's completely ingrained. While visiting my inlaws, the reflex to delete a show after it's over resulted in me turning on their DVD player several times without thinking about it.

Re:Sure, but... (2, Interesting)

Golias (176380) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522838)

I see all these home built Mediacenters, but truthfully, how many average people use these for more than one week. I can see this being a novelty, but do people actually use these for longer than one month?

Step 1: Hook up a current Mac to the HDMI or DVI input of your TV.

Step 2: Hook up the EyeTV 500 from Elgato to your Mac via Firewire.

Step 3: There's no step three.

I've been using this set up for my media center for a couple months now, enjoying HDTV with PVR features, DVDs (mostly archived on my hard drives), Doctor Who rips downloaded from newsgroups, my entire music library (which I'm slowly upgrading from MP3 and/or AAC to Apple Lossless format), and World of Warcraft gaming on my 119" projector screen.

So far, nobody can figure out the convoluted way in which I programmed my remote control except for me, but one of these rainy afternoons I might set it up in a more logical way... if I'm not too busy playing WoW or watching shows on it.

Re:Sure, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12522906)


The MythTV box has had virtually daily use since I built it 6 months ago.

I actually built it because my wife was watching anime from my computer via svideo out, and it got to the point where 2 hours each night i couldn't use my computer because she was watching Tokyo Mew Mew or whatever.

So, yeah, the HTPC has been a blessing.

Re:Sure, but... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12523016)

For "media center" use, the MythTV is going to be more robust for the simple reason that it need not depend on a wifi network connection. You can dump all of your data to it and be done with it.

Plus, the rate of change with the commercial boxes is glacial. Sooner or later, the Gratisware competition WILL match Tivo in any respect.

A jukebox that contains your most used DVD's and ALL of your music, plus does the VCR thing would be very handy to most people.

Re:Sure, but... (5, Informative)

Mr Guy (547690) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522723)

No, but some of that is a hardware requirement.

Everytime a story like this comes out, the MythTV faithful sprout up, but it's hard not and a list of requirements like that shows why:

MythTv already does:

# Store music, home movies, recorded TV shows, digital photos
# Play back all these media seamlessly
# Support a wide variety of audio and video codecs
# Play back DVD movies, and look as good as or better than a DVD player
# Have a simple GUI that any family member can use
# Serve this media up to other client machines on the home network
# Be able to handle HD music and movie formats, both present and future, with minimal upgrades (okay, maybe we're reaching a bit on this one)

This one is hardware dependent for any OS:
# Run quietly enough so that its fan noise doesn't interfere with the enjoyment of the content it's serving up

I have no experience with this one:

# Go in and out of sleep states with no difficulty

Which only leaves these two:

# Be rock-solid stable 24/7

Frankly speaking, MythTV isn't TiVO, and your mileage may vary. My current uptime is 18 days on my mythtv box. For my wife, a MythTV crash (frontend or backend, she can't tell) results in a computer reboot to bring it back up for her because she's willing to hit the power button but not willing to learn to restart it.

# Support the playback of DRM-encoded purchased/rented movies and music

For any copy protection there is a way to beat it, but what you need is specific to the system. For things like DVDs and Apple's Fairplay the solutions are known and common. For things like downloaded movie rentals, I don't know of any cracks for them, so this could conceivably be an issue.

Re:Sure, but... (2, Informative)

ouzel (655571) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522735)

Not a stretch at all. My MythTV box does all of this, except for the last (HD) bullet - only because I don't have an HD card.

My wife and kid use it all the time, with no difficulty. All of our home videos and digital pix are mounted via NFS and we watch them through MythTV. Ditto with our mp3s - thousands of songs on random getting played through the stereo via Myth.

It's one of the best things I've ever built. Check out Jarod's guide [wilsonet.com] for building a FC3-based MythTV system. The guide is helpful even if you're not a fan of Fedora Core.

Re:Sure, but... (1)

Zone-MR (631588) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522776)

Not really.

My Windows MCE 2005 box seems to do all of those nicely. It plays back all my MPEG, DivX, OGG, files (and anything with a codec) without any issues.

The recorded TV is stored in a semi-proprietary format, which is nothing other than MPEG with some ASF framing and additional metadata, which can be stripped into a plain MPEG or converted to any other video standard.

I'm not forced to use only DRMed content with it.

Re:Sure, but... (1)

mboverload (657893) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522788)

None of this "ease of installation" applies when you are dealing with HDTV cards. You need to a a linux whiz just to set them up.

No HDTV? (4, Interesting)

Fulg (138866) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522609)

This is all well and good, but until someone manages to get an HDTV-ready HTPC, it's not worth it. Get a HD-ready PVR from your local cable/satellite company, combine with Xbox Media Center, and you're all set :)

Wasn't there an article about HTPCs a few weeks back (though it didn't specifically focus on Linux)?

Re:No HDTV? (1)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522650)

I wouldn't mind trying this. Except like all instructions, it's not detailed enough. To realistically build one, most people will need the instruction down to every single command to be dummy proof.

Re:No HDTV? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12522808)

Go knock yourself out.

http://wilsonet.com/mythtv/fcmyth.php [wilsonet.com]

Detailed instructions. Pre-compiled pre-configured everything. All you have to do is make sure you have the proper hardware and be able to download a OS off of the internet.

Re:No HDTV? (4, Informative)

TheFlyingGoat (161967) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522783)

I have mod points, but I'll respond since I have a HDTV HTPC setup. It's pretty simple actually... it runs Meedio and uses the ATI dongle to output to my TV. I have a HDTV OTA capture card that I schedule programs in. Meedio imports recorded shows and I can watch them whenever I want.

I don't, however, have the capability to do time-shifting. That's something I'll get once Meedio is done with their MeedioTV product. Also, I'll be looking into the cable card thing at some point, since I'd prefer to record from my cable service.

The whole thing is more of a project than a product. It's something that I enjoy playing around with and it relaxes me. Anyone who just wants something that works should do exactly as you said and rent/purchase one.

Re:No HDTV? (1)

Mr Guy (547690) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522901)

MythTV with a PCHDTV card'll do you just fine.

But... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12522618)

Doing so will mean that you're going to do nothing but violate the MPAA rules. You should only use MPAA-approved viewing devices that are keyed to your genome.

No HDTV ? (4, Interesting)

mybecq (131456) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522627)

I find it interesting that very few of these articles attempt to cover HDTV or digital TV. There is more than one DTV card supported in Linux and an article containing this would prove much more valuable that just the "here's how to setup a box with a PVR-250/350" story that I seem to see everywhere.

Where's the cutting edge stuff!?! :)

Re:No HDTV ? (1, Interesting)

enrico_suave (179651) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522713)

"I find it interesting that very few of these articles attempt to cover HDTV or digital TV. There is more than one DTV card supported in Linux and an article containing this would prove much more valuable that just the "here's how to setup a box with a PVR-250/350" story that I seem to see everywhere."

Even though it's HDTV, the DTV cards aren't that sexy because they involved using rabbit ears and getting broadcast HDTV only. (so no DiscoveryHD or HBO HD)... it's dissapointing (unless you live in an area densely populated with DTV broadcasts, then I guess it's pretty cool).

Before I get the nastygram replies:
On some cable company boxes (depending on whether the HD channels you want are QAM "in the clear" you can get HDTV that way via HDTV card.

There's also firewire transport from digital cable box, which I believe the latest mythtv release has some support for (but again I believe it depends on the roll of the dice on your cable providers settings)

e.

Re:No HDTV ? (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 9 years ago | (#12523035)

This is perhaps a nit-pick, but you don't use rabbit ears for over-the-air HDTV.

Digial broadcasts are on the UHS band. Rabbit ears are for VHS reception.

For my Mac-based HDTV PVR, I use a YAGI roof antenna.

I have no interest in paying monthly fees of any kind just for television.

Re:No HDTV ? (1)

pocketfullofshells (722066) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522793)

Where's the cutting edge stuff!?! :)

If I'm completely wrong, dont hate me, but don't you still need a HDTV ready TV even if you could get the signal processed by your linux box? This would explain your question, becase even though HDTV has been around for awhile, it is still not very popular. When I installed cable last year, I was doing maybe 1 HDTV install/upgrade a week, compared to almost 7 or 8 DVR/PVR upgrades/installs a week.

I think HDTV is a bit more complicated than most people are aware.

Re:No HDTV ? (3, Informative)

mjh (57755) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522805)

Where's the cutting edge stuff!?! :)

Right [eff.org] here [seltzer.org] .

Re:No HDTV ? (1)

Rev. DeFiLEZ (203323) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522878)

this reason you dont see HDTV tutorials is because the setup is EXACTLY the same, however here is a HDTV card w/ linux drivers http://www.itee.uq.edu.au/~chrisp/Linux-DVB/DVICO/ [uq.edu.au]

but the HDTV tuner cards cost a lot more so "reviewer's" usually dont spring for them for the project of the month.

I am currently running in HDTV mode @ 720p. Cant seem to get 1080i currently (i think my 1080i mode line is wrong) however for 1080i you need a athlon 3000+ (or equiv) and a semi modern Nvidia card to have it played back full screen.

Linux and Video Capture (1)

Hayzeus (596826) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522649)

On a slightly related (yet ironically slightly offtopic) note, does anyone know of a decent listing of capture hardware that runs under linux? The Video For Linux pages have a supported hardware list, but this primarily concentrates on supported chipsets, not end user devices. Obviously, it can be difficult to infer the latter from the former.

I ask because I have projects in the works that depends on working video capture drivers, and I'd like to be able to distribute (or distribute a pointer to) a list of supported video HW under 2.4 or 2.6. What lists I have managed to find seem out either wrong or somewhat out of date. Thanx -- m

Re:Linux and Video Capture (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522745)

By "projects," do you mean professional? The only high quality capture I've seen for linux is this [unigraf.fi] , which is a little over $3K I think.

Re:Linux and Video Capture (1)

Hayzeus (596826) | more than 9 years ago | (#12523138)

No -- consumer level capture capability is fine.

Re:Linux and Video Capture (1)

mickwd (196449) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522993)

I know you asked for a list, but here's one I found that actually advertises that their hardware works with Linux:

AverMedia AVerTV DVB-T USB2.0 [averm.co.uk]

I've no personal experience of how well (or not) it works under Linux, but I thought I'd share their link because it's nice to see a hardware manufacturer acknowledge that Linux even exists.

xbox (4, Interesting)

blackmonday (607916) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522657)

Just get a modded xbox. It's very easy to use and no headaches. I had it modded and the dude pre-loaded xbox media player. Plays pretty much anything. With the newer xbox 360 coming out, expect older xboxes to take a price dive around the holidays.

Re:xbox (1)

GizmoToy (450886) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522789)

The problem with the XBox is the vast majority of the optical drives that come with them are incapable of reading burned CDs, or in some cases even audio CDs. Even if you get the drive that's supposed to be the most compatible, the Samsung, it still may not be able to read them (like mine).

The XBox isn't a great solution because the drives suck. A good solution, yes, but not a great one.

Re:xbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12522882)

Can you not just replace said optical drives?

Re:xbox (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522951)

does the xbox speak dvi, natively?

(I don't own one)

any decent home theatre setup today should have digital video. either via firewire or dvi or that new pinout that is equiv to dvi (can't think of the name but its fairly recent).

or, am I the only one who wants to separate, as far as physically possible, the spinning drives and fan noises from the video display/speakers/viewing area?

long cable lengths with analog _anything_ (audio or video) is a no-no. I'm hoping that that new dvi thing will be a good first step at remoting the playback hardware from the viewing hardware.

but the xbox, no, I don't think its setup for that kind of thing. and since its not dead silent (with local drives), to me its not a good candidate for a proper solution.

Re:xbox (1)

blackmonday (607916) | more than 9 years ago | (#12523010)

The High Definition AV pack gives you component 480i / 480p (if the game supports it). That's good enough for DVDs and Xvid and the like. For HDTV you're gonna need something else. My xbox is very quiet and diesn't bother me at all.

Re:xbox (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 9 years ago | (#12523051)

My xbox is very quiet and diesn't bother me at all.


how do you serve content? from remote (ethernet) drives or via local storage?

for any decent sized movie collection, you're gonna need A LOT of drives. even at today's 400gb/unit density.

I'm saying - you need to consider the concept of 'remoting the display'. it just makes too much sense. then you can go wild with fans and drives and whatnot. just in a 'server room', which could be a spare bedroom or basement or closet. just NOT in the quiet viewing room.

Re:xbox (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12523068)

Just get a modded xbox. It's very easy to use and no headaches.

First you buy a XBox. ($)

  1. Then mod it. (+$)
  2. Replace the hard drive because 8GB is too small. (+$)
  3. Replace the CD drive because most don't play burned CDs. (+$)
  4. There's no way to add a tuner to watch or record live TV.
  5. There's no expandability.

Aside from that, it's not a bad idea.

Obligatory ATI warning (4, Informative)

Mr. Cancelled (572486) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522663)

We've been down this PVR road many times here on /., and I don't know that this article's really adding anything that hasn't been said multiple times in other articles, but it's worth repeating that if you're going to build a Linux-based PVR system, do not plan being bale to use your ATI AIW card.

It just ain't going to cut it under Linux (blame about why this is goes back and forth, but the end result is that it just won't work). Instead, plan on investing in a Hauppage card. The 350 [pcalchemy.com] is a good place to start.

Re:Obligatory ATI warning (1)

nb caffeine (448698) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522865)

Sadly, this is true. Even old AIW cards (like my original AIW Pro) have dodgy support, at best, and quite obivously, no mythTv support :(

for me, getting a nice hauppage is always 2 paychecks out.

A much bigger thing to express (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522672)

The first paragraph of the article states:

Linux is one of the most remarkable phenomena in the recent history of personal computing. In some ways, it's similar to the original homebrew PC movement of the late 1970s and early 80s. Equal parts cool kids club and grass roots revolution, Linux in its many different forms has proven itself a force to be reckoned with. A highly configurable OS that can both scale up to big enterprise iron and down to handheld devices, Linux can do almost anything. It even powers the most well-known PVR on the planet, TiVo.

I think there is something bigger here that merely Linux which is, after all, just a kernel of the OS. The kernel as well as the rest of the significant components are driven to development by the will of the community that finds interest in their own ends. They don't do this to win a popularity contest. They don't do it in order to bring anyone down. Mostly, they are doing it "because they want to." (And the only way to stop that is to take away their freedoms)

I think the project is cool and I will, one of these days, take it upon myself when I have the beer and other money to throw at it. But there is opportunity here for the entrepreneur!

The fact is, only a tiny portion of the public will do this for themselves... the rest of us will want to BUY it...

Building it is the easy part... (5, Funny)

machinegunhand (867735) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522673)

...just wait until you try finding something decent to watch.

shame you couldn't get it to work properly. (1)

JVert (578547) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522675)

Media Portal looks real good, its windows based but seriously mythTV just seems to be a little stagnant compared to the work being done in other PVR software programs.

Too Little Too Late (0, Troll)

BrainSurgeon (875819) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522687)

Hate to sound like a troll...but, eh

The xbox360 is going to dominate the living room, sorry to say to all you pro-linux folks. With specs like this [xbox.com] the Linux home system has some BIG shoes to fill.

Re:Too Little Too Late (1)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522886)

That is all the XBOX 360 will be, a media center, not a gaming console. It's an easy way to get more market in the MS MCE Dept. and I'm convinced this is the only way they will be able to market the 360 as the games are quite lacking.

Us pro-linux folks will have actual PVR media centers and you will have your XBOX 360 with its crippling DRM and MS only formats... yeah, we lose.

Re:Too Little Too Late (0)

BrainSurgeon (875819) | more than 9 years ago | (#12523114)

Did you even look at the specs??

With a TERAFLOP of overall system perf, I think it will be a little more than a "media center". This thing could power NASA!!

Yes, I agree, the games are lacking...because IT'S BRAND NEW!

As for the PVR, Microsoft is already in this space and has one out with Comcast the runs on 1/4 the hardware that the 360 has. Image what you'll get with a 3 cores running at 3.2GHz!!

DRM?? You're fooling yourself if you think the OSS community won't implement this one day. It's a dollars and sense game and big businesses are looking to get a piece of the action. DRM assists to make the technology more attractive.
MS only file formats? At double the compression of MP3 with the same quaintly, I'll take that any day.

So, yea, I guess you're right...you do lose. :(

Re:Too Little Too Late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12522940)

How's that compare to the Sony CELL based systems?

Thought so.

And evenmoreso, 350MHz PCs played DVDs just fine; so I don't see what's the big deal with all this hardware.

Re:Too Little Too Late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12522943)


Can it play mkv files with multiple audio streams and multiple sets of subtitles? Can it use any and all video codecs that exist on any platform, even if they aren't specifically released for it? Can it handle acessing the contents of an NFS share with two 300G drives RAIDed on the other end of it?

No?

Then it's not useful to me. It might dominate in someone else's living room, but why would I care about that?

Re:Too Little Too Late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12523118)

All together now, 1..2...3....ASTROTURFER!!!

wee (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522688)

script to script to script to script.. all existing .. just they took the time to make it work.. one something god knows it it will work for anyone else out there.. atleast not all the stuff..

My Mythtv Impressons. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12522699)

I am a happy Mythtv user.

I watch TV much anymore, but I wanted to muck around with it, so I bought a WinPVR-250 card.

I stuck it in my file server, and watch it on my desktop. Both are running Debian, of course.

For debian/ubuntu users check out this line:
#Mythtv
deb http://dijkstra.csh.rit.edu/~mdz/debian [rit.edu] unstable mythtv

I am sure you know what it is for.. (minus the /. add-on bracketry)

The only tricky part was that the guide was off by one hour (found a quick-n-easy SQL one-liner on the internet to fix that) and setting up MySQL so that it would accept remote connections (this is disabled in Debian by default).

I found out that it will happily run in a window and is fairly desktop friendly, which I didn't know they had it setup to do. My desktop resolution is 2 monitors at 1280x1024 and I run mythtv at 800x600. Nice picture and a pleasent distraction while mucking around with work or whatnot.

Also nice for when you want to watch TV with your laptop.

If I had a second chance at a card (bought it a while ago) I'd get one of those plexor's that use the go7007 drivers.

Plexor GPL'd the drivers themselves and they look nice. Much more capable then the WinPVR stuff.. Can encode in mpeg4 (divx-style) as well as mpeg2 and others, were the WinPVR can only do mpeg2.

I may actually buy one still.

One tip: when you find a show you want to watch, hit the 'r' button to start recording it. I find that when I let it pause for a couple hours and I come back to finish watching the show to many times I accidently change the channel and loose my buffer.

Re:My Mythtv Impressons. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12522727)

Oh, and here are the go7007 driver page from gentoo.
http://gentoo-wiki.com/HARDWARE_go7007 [gentoo-wiki.com]
Mythtv only supports it in CVS right now.

What will Microsoft's reaction be this time? (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522701)

What will Microsoft's reaction to this development be this time round? As a slashdotter and an upcoming pundit in the Computer Operating Systems' world, I am very interested. Is there an active community being built to improve this product? Hope so. Have a good weekend guys.

Re:What will Microsoft's reaction be this time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12522785)

Mythtv has been around for a long time now. At least a couple years.

Freevo before that.

Microsoft released MCE to try to capture the PC dvr/time shifter market.

Except that there isn't much of one. People get confused because they sold a few copies of it, but you have to realise that it's priced the same as regular Windows XP.

So which would you want? Regular XP or Regular XP + MCE crap.

Most people would be better off with a TiVo or a low-price DVR model from their Cable/whatever provider.

It's better then MCE and aviable at a fraction of the price.

I use Mythtv becuase I use Linux and have a PC and the card is 100 dollars and cheaper and more capable then a TiVo.

As long as it passes the "wife" test (3, Interesting)

Drunken_Jackass (325938) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522711)

I started a project like this last fall, but abandoned it after i determined that it wouldn't pass the most important test of all. If my wife wouldn't be able to use it, it was worthless.

Not like she's a retarded spider monkey or anything - she's a graphic designer and uses OS X (left myself wide open for that one, i know) but if she's got to use three different remotes and a keyboard, there's no way in hell she's going to use the damn thing. I don't need her calling me at work to walk her through how to watch a DVD or listen to music.

Plus, if it's really easy and slick, then she'll be a lot more accepting of the equipment purchases that i tell her about.

Re:As long as it passes the "wife" test (1)

superid (46543) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522751)

Give it a shot. The MythTV interface is really intuitive. My wife and 3 kids all picked it up in minutes with no problems.

Re:As long as it passes the "wife" test (1)

crow (16139) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522801)

It passed the test for my wife, and that was after she first got used to a ReplayTV, which has one of the best interfaces available.

She *loves* having the weather module.

Having the future recordings, and being able to tell it to avoid recording upcoming shows that we know we've seen is incredibly useful.

Re:As long as it passes the "wife" test (0, Troll)

clem (5683) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522806)

9 out of 10 retarded spider monkeys prefer Mac OS X to the leading consumer operating system.

Re:As long as it passes the "wife" test (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12522986)

if she's got to use three different remotes and a keyboard, there's no way in hell she's going to use the damn thing

You should be able to set up MythTV to be controlled using a single remote (preferably RF instead of IR), and have it control most of your other devices using an IR blaster.

Re:As long as it passes the "wife" test (3, Informative)

enrico_suave (179651) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522990)

regardless of platform (windoze/linux) a good htpc/pvr once setup/configured shouldn't need the keyboard & mouse; just a remote control.

It functions like a TiVo on steroids, except it's a PC (or a Mac).

Almost everything should be taken care of via the frontend, and for everything else (occassional admin type stuff) there's SSH, VNC, etc over your network.

*shrug*

Where's the HTPC Distro? (3, Funny)

cloudscout (104011) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522750)

When are we going to see a Linux distribution specifically geared toward home theater PCs?

Sure, I probably should research this before posting, but if I did that, I wouldn't be a proper Slashdot reader, would I?

Re:Where's the HTPC Distro? (5, Informative)

y2dt (184562) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522803)

Its called KnoppMyth, based off Knoppix

http://www.mysettopbox.tv/knoppmyth.html [mysettopbox.tv]

Re:Where's the HTPC Distro? (1)

cesman (74566) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522814)

Hello KnoppMyth. Check out my URL.

Re:Where's the HTPC Distro? (1)

enrico_suave (179651) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522897)

there's also plutohome [plutohome.com] although it has much different goals (imho) than that of knoppmyth. I guess it depends on what you are looking for.

How many... (1)

birdwax2k (787311) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522778)

How many times does /. have to post an article about this before I actually go and do it. Lets try a few more...then maybe.

been there (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12522780)

After fooling around with Linux and the VDR (HD recording software for TV) since 2000 and trying PCs for home theater, I quit all this. Too much hassle, 90% fiddling aroung and less than 10% real usage.

Now I got a MacMini here. Its small, quiet, comes with a good pre installed OS.

30$ for a remote control (BlueTooth -> SallingClicker)
and Im ready.

serves video, TV, audio, Internet (without virus probs) whatever.
Runs with or without a TV attached (use your mobile phone as a status display)

And most of all, it works ! Easy to configure and no maintenance required. Also uses much less power (25W, 40W max)

No real HD yet (only live via eyeTV from elGato and reduced resolution), but HD never worked flawlessly on my PC too.

Horrible article, here's a summary (4, Insightful)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522812)

This really was poor, a couple Linux N00b's try to get a HTPC together based on an almost automatic install of KnoppMyth and still can't do it due to lack of knowledge of Linux and fear of illegality to play DVD's.

Basically it is as simple as selecting the supported hardware, pop in the CD and go... these guys get tripped up tring to get a SUPPORTED remote to work and don't even know how to add two commands to the window manager so they don't have to go to the CLI to run Gedit!!! Morons.

This article did nothing, it didn't educate, it didn't enlighten, and it actually just spread more FUD about Windows MCE being better and easier. Thanks /. for helping promote Linux by posting "news" articles written by total n00b's with no idea of what they are doing as this is even their admitted numerous attempt to do this.

Linux-based PhotoBridge is much easier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12522830)

It is easier to just buy a PhotoBridge (Linux-based) for about $300

http://rokulabs.com/products/photobridge [rokulabs.com]

Then set up a PC in another room with a large disk drive and HDTV tuner card.

Details here:

http://frequal.com/pmn/TopComponents.html [frequal.com]

"Buy the beer first...", famous last words (4, Funny)

jfb3 (25523) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522859)

Don't they know that the difference between "Wouldn't it be cool if..." and a Darwin award is a couple of six-packs.

Re:"Buy the beer first...", famous last words (1)

jfb3 (25523) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522892)

Maybe that should be: The distance between "Wouldn't it be cool if..." and a Darwin award can be measured in six-packs.

Re:"Buy the beer first...", famous last words (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 9 years ago | (#12523061)

I always thought the difference would be between "Wouldn't be cool if . . ." and "Hold my beer and watch this . . ."

downloading movies (2, Interesting)

The Pim (140414) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522873)

One piece that seems to be missing is the ability to download movies from the various (legal) on-line movie rental sites (eg movielink.com). Most of them won't even let you into the site without IE. I haven't tried faking it out, because I'm afraid there will be further obstacles (for example, movielink.com requires me to install a Windows application before downloading). Are there any sites that can be made to work on a free system? And then there's the problem of playing the downloaded movies. I thought that this would be possible, but even with mplayer and the w32codecs, I had trouble with the WMV9 file from movielink.com. :-(

Downloading movies (yes, I mean mainstream movies with restricted licenses, not the few that are free) would be one of the killer apps for a Linux HTPC, but it seems there is no way to do it, even if I am willing to pay.

I'm in! (2, Funny)

PenguinBoyDave (806137) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522885)

FINALLY...I have been waiting for something like this. I'm too cheap to buy all the things you used to need. But I have a bunch of computers I can use.

Why are there not more turn-key versions of this (1)

monkeyfarm (197818) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522917)

Is there not a viable business model (cost, profit, customer service) that takes the Tivo model to the next level by having a more general purpose computing device as a digital media center, without the outrageous "premium" that comes with MS's Media Center PC's. Can't a sub $1,000 linux based, HD, headless digital media centric PC be designed, marketed, and built so that it "Just Works?" Seriously, I'd like to buy one. just not for $2,000 There's no way I'm going to blow the type of time it would take to roll my own.

I agree with this post (3, Insightful)

cavemanf16 (303184) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522944)

As several other /.'ers have already mentioned, the main issue with building a Linux-based PVR/DVR/HTPC/whatever you want to call it - is: "the wife factor." In other words, the system MUST operate like most other consumer electronics - you turn it on and it *just works*. Maybe it's not 100% flawless, but it better be pretty damn close.

For this reason, I had settled on a Windows XP install with a Hauppauge PVR-250 a while back on my old computer. The main problems I have had to date with it:
  1. The EPG guide from Zap2It is all messed up. It doesn't update each week at 3am like it's supposed to do, and the channels are flung all over the place and not in any apparent order.
  2. The hardware is too slow for GB-PVR. This software is pretty cool and works well enough, except on outdated hardware like mine. The menus are extraordinarily sluggish, sometimes with pauses of a couple minutes while the system "gets back up to speed" after sitting dormant for a while. (And this is a software issue, definitely not the hardware coming out of "sleep" mode or anything like that.)

Admittedly, I need some new hardware. When I do get around to installing a faster motherboard, proc, and memory I am going to install Linux anyways. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that the Linux solutions out there are still too much in their infancy to pass "the wife factor" right now. My wife can't use the current system because it's too sluggish and doesn't *just work* 100% of the time. (It doesn't work at all if I don't manually update the channel listings once a week which can take 20-30 minutes!)

My main point is: if you plan on building a Linux-based HTPC make sure that you have some pretty decent spare parts laying around, because if you don't it's probably just a lot more worth your time and money to go buy a top-of-the-line Tivo right now.

This is so easy (1)

bigjnsa500 (575392) | more than 9 years ago | (#12522946)

All you need is a Tivo Series2 with JavaHMO [sourceforge.net] .

Re:This is so easy (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12523122)

...then you loose the media center features as soon as the load on your JavaHMO server gets to high or the wifi network gets overutilized. Not that wifi is that robust to begin with. ...been there, did that. Still want to build a Myth. ...when Tivo Corp finally realizes that it's a good idea to cache all that nifty media content. Then talk.

PVR Hardware Database (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12522952)

One of the things you have to look out for when building one of these with Linux is hardware compatibility. Go to the PVR Hardware Database [goldfish.org] to see what others are running.

Other interesting links:
HTPCNews [htpcnews.com]
Build Your Own PVR [byopvr.com]
AVS Forum [avsforum.com] - they have a Linux section under HTPC.

Use Cases (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12523110)

The hard parts of this project are mainly the packaging of all the software components, the identification of compatible (and tolerably performing) hardware, and configuration of each with the other. The more people who publish their successful paths/configs, and others who edit that research result into HW lists and .deb/RPM packages, the less beer we'll have to drink while struggling through it ourselves. And the more beer we'll have to drink while kicking back to watch the movies when it works. So try to drink only as much beer as lets you report your results.

crap. (3, Funny)

sootman (158191) | more than 9 years ago | (#12523152)

no way will I have this done in time to record the Enterprise finale tonight.
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