Why Linux for media PC? Redux - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 273 Old 08-12-2008, 04:03 PM - Thread Starter
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I was planning on expanding upon the "things you can do with a Linux PC" post I made in the original "Why Linux" thread last week before the forum burp, probably making it a sticky thread.

Did anyone save a local copy of the thread or at least some of the posts?
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post #2 of 273 Old 08-12-2008, 04:06 PM
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Maybe some folks can redo their posts.
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post #3 of 273 Old 08-12-2008, 04:11 PM - Thread Starter
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post #4 of 273 Old 08-12-2008, 04:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rgb View Post

Did anyone save a local copy of the thread or at least some of the posts?

there's a tiny bit that is in google's cache
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post #5 of 273 Old 08-12-2008, 06:09 PM - Thread Starter
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post #6 of 273 Old 08-12-2008, 09:10 PM
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post #7 of 273 Old 08-13-2008, 02:53 AM
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1. Free or cheap.
2. More security
3. Other free software
4. No serial numbers or product keys to worry about
5. No product activation
6. Live cd that you can try before installing
7. Download an iso and try it right away
8. Linux is open source
9. Free from Microsoft's stronghold
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post #8 of 273 Old 08-13-2008, 03:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Here's part of my original response- Google cache didn't catch my later edits:

Besides the zero cost/no license issues, which can be BIG when you have 8-12 machines running in your house(s) (vacation home + primary), the freedom (don't roll your eyes ) and openess aspects are quite exhilirating and useful for fixing issues and getting help. And no, you can't use the same copy of XP on multiple machines, nor use warezed copies of either XP or commercial apps/media players/codecs (keeping casual readers honest here )

I guess at this stage of the game (for DIY'ers at a minimum), a better question would be: Why Windows?

I have been in the HTPC/media PC game since the mid 1990's, and even earlier if you count experiments with the first "multimedia" PC's (MPC's) of the early 1990's and even media stuff on Atari ST's, Amigas and Macs in the 80's.

At this point, I can do everything I was doing on Windows XP for my home theater and media processing needs, all in a safer OS (no malware), no cost, cleaner and faster (more resource efficient, no DRM, no bloat), and get all the high and low level help I need from great forums like this and ubuntu/mint forums. I simply don't need MS/Win any longer.

I never subscribed to any DRM'd or encrypted audio/video service (sat, digital cable, sat radio, etc), so CableCard/iTunes/Netflix streaming will never be an issue for me.

Moving forward, I really see no choice for DIY PC builders *other* than Linux. You can't easily build a truly stable, working OSX machine yourself (no, the Hackintosh mess doesn't count), and even if you want BluRay today, the state of the DRM'd and Protected Audio/Video Path on Windows is a clusterfunk, IMO- just read the issues in the Win forum. I believe Linux will get 8 channel PCM out via HDMI within a year or less if that's important to you, and/or passthrough of DD+/HD/DTS-HD bitstreams via HDMI, assuming you rip a BluRay first with DVDFab. I really don't care about the new audio codecs- I couldn't hear the difference anyways.


Besides, Linux captures the spirit around these boards circa 1999-2001 when we were all runnin' Win98SE on our HTPC's, fer you youngin's The coal doors were convenient on the sides of PC's in those days- at least it kept your feet warm in the winter
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post #9 of 273 Old 08-13-2008, 03:57 AM - Thread Starter
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BigGeek's OP:

"Ok, I've searched these forums front and back but can't seem to find an answer to this invaluable question. I've been around technology my entire life and and I'm a pretty quick learner. I'm not afraid to pick something up and give it a whirl. I've installed a few different Linux distros with little or no difficulty.

Now for the question:
Why would I choose to build my HTPC using Linux instead of Windows?

Please don't go off on me. I'm not looking for an all-out war or anything. I would just like to read some informative justifications for each scenario. Of course, the obvious is cost. Linux being free and all. But aside from the cost perspective, I'll be needing something that requires not much long-term tinkering, and takes into consideration simplicity for the WAF.

I welcome any and all answers to my questions, but please don't flame. Most people I've discovered on the AVS forums have been extremely helpful in the past.

Thanks in-advance for any information you can provide."
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post #10 of 273 Old 08-13-2008, 08:43 AM
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I use linux on a daily basis at work. I have a vista machine and a macbook at home.

I've always been a big home theater fan and have always wanted an htpc. I've just never had the time before. I recall in the past (2003?) installing mythtv and it was a cluster***. I'm hoping now it's much improved. I'm going to give it a shot once I get all my gear together.

However, I do know that the xp home theater just works. And seems to work pretty decent with little work required for the user. Which is why I think many people are using windows. They are afraid to/or don't want to tinker with linux and bang their head against their keyboard trying to get stuff to work.

Of course, that's just my impression. I haven't used linux as a desktop for years either, so maybe ubuntu is all it's cracked up to be... but I think the initial impression is that linux requires a lot more effort to get working.
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post #11 of 273 Old 08-13-2008, 09:04 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lostmind View Post


Of course, that's just my impression. I haven't used linux as a desktop for years either, so maybe ubuntu is all it's cracked up to be... but I think the initial impression is that linux requires a lot more effort to get working.

If you haven't used Linux as a desktop from one of the top liveCD installs of the past year or so- Ubuntu, Mint, PCLinuxOS, CentOS, even PuppyLinux/Macpup, then you haven't really used Linux

If anything, strong arguments can be made that these Linuxes are *easier* to make "just work" vs installing XP (home or Pro) from its bootCD from scratch.

In the case of Mint, most of the codecs and media players needed for media playback are installed by default, and in either Ubuntu or Mint, the balance of what you might want/need are a re point and click away in the Synaptic control panel/repository GUI, trivial for J6P/your Mom to enter the Search field like Google in Synaptic and find what she want/needs.

Also, many important apps are pre-installed like OpenOffice, Pidgin IM, etc, stuff your Mom would have to go out to separate websites, download an installer in Win then run through each separate installer for every app/function she wants in Windows, whereas most of the top 10 Linux distros

http://distrowatch.com/

pre install the most common/wanted apps/functions people expect.

Off the shelf PC's from stores with Win preinstalled are bloated with feature crippled and/or time limited "trial" versions of crapware no one wants- I had to take several hours de-crapifying a niece's Compaq XP Home notebook after booting it the first time last year, removing all the adware and useless trial-ware apps, then fixing the registry and defragging the HD to repair the damage from all the bloatware, just to make the machine stable and usable from the get go.

Mint 5.0r1 installs in 10 minutes on most recent vintage hardware, and has the drivers and apps most people need most of the time all ready at first boot.

If you add tuner(s), just click on mythbuntu-desktop in Synaptic, a few more clicks in the Mythbuntu Control Center panel GUI and voila- an MCE-style box for your media.

Add SMplayer and VLC from Synptic in a couple more clicks, and have all the medai playback you need for any file type on the desktop.
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post #12 of 273 Old 08-13-2008, 09:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Just to clarify/bust a common Win vs Linux "just works" myth-

In discussions all over the net, the "Win just works, while Linux doesn't" myth is prepetuated far too often. This is the BIGGEST fallacy and most easily debunked Win/Linux myth there is. The logic flaw employed nearly every time is that a DIY PC (or machine with the hard drive erased/overwritten) with self-installed Linux is compared to a Win pre-install from a brand name PC maker or brick and mortar.

You have to compare apples-apples. If you're talking about Linux installation issues- this includes downloading or buying a liveCD, booting it and installing it, plus any post install setup or tweaks- then you MUST compare to installing Win from its boot CD, and all the tweaks, driver and app/codec installs needed after the CD installation.

If you are talking about Win usability from a PC with Win pre-installed, then you must compare to a PC (notebook or dekstop) with Linux pre-installed, like the Asus eeePC 901, or full size notebooks and desktops from the Dells and HPs of the world, or a DIY PC with Linux installed for you by an experienced PC builder friend/coworker/family member/etc.

In both cases, apps, drivers and codecs/media players are set up for you.

However, the Linux pre-install will be bloat free, leaner, require no CPU and memory wasting anti-malware resident apps (Virus, spyware, etc), be free and clear of IP issues and software license issues (bits like MP3 codecs and deCSS notwithstanding, which only affect IP-broken countries anyways), be under YOUR complete control and gives you the gift of freedom forever.
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post #13 of 273 Old 08-13-2008, 09:45 AM
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Rgb, I have to say the argument for just works does apply after the OS is loaded too. Video playback on Linux doesn't always just work. Sometimes you do need to tweak some advanced settings to get fluid video playback. For example, it took me a long time to find that I needed to disable 3:2 pulldown when playing videos in MythTV to my SP4805. Once I found that it did work much better. To be fair the same thing could happen on other systems, but I haven't found that they do.

So, why use Linux over Windows or even Mac for HTPC? As mentioned before, the freedom of it all. There are no arbitrary limitations on Linux. Nobody is out there saying you must buy or install the ultimate version of a distribution to get all of the features. If you want terabytes of storage and record unlimited hours of TV, you can. If you want to share that video library with 15 frontends, you can. If you want to transcode files to flash and stream it over the internet to the device of your choice, you can.

Getting to the point where you can do all of that takes time and patience. Even the biggest Linux wizard will need help getting some things to work right. I've been using Linux for nearly 10 years and I gave up on MythTV! I only gave up however because I now lack the time it takes to do the really cool stuff. I need something that has been tested by someone else and know that all I have to do is install this or that and having a working DVR.

One thing against using Linux is you end up spending a lot of money on hardware building a monster system simply because you can

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post #14 of 273 Old 08-13-2008, 10:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mym6 View Post

...
One thing against using Linux is you end up spending a lot of money on hardware building a monster system simply because you can

Or building a ton of systems with older hardware laying around and from friends. I used Linux and netBSD back in the early-mid 90s and then went windows only until two years ago. Two years ago I had 1 XP Pro laptop and 1 XP home laptop. I had a networked dvd player (gateway adc-320) that I streamed audio and video to via UPnP. Enter linux --- I now I have 3 laptops (1 Vista, 1 Debian, 1 Ubuntu), 1 mac (dual boot with ubuntu), and 5 linux desktops, with enough spare parts in the garage to build another one (but It's only a PII). All of the machines are built from mostly used parts. All of thes primarily because I can do so much with linux on these systems that were "obseleted" by windows or required another windows license that wasn't worth it.

And I concur with the install argument. XP has always taken me longer to install and configure. The current releases of mint and ubuntu really take very little time to get setup like I want. Even myth installations are fairly quick for most functions. But for more personalized tweaking, as mym6 suggests, that takes a lot more time.

So for me, Linux is better primarily because it is free and actually easier for me to customize at no expense but my time. The second biggest factor is I do not like my HTPCs to be crippled by any DRM,

3rd biggest factor is that I like them to run 24/7. Most windows machines i've run have some difficulty with having occasional reboots and reinstalls. My main HTPCs have had 6 month+ uptimes. Heck, I just finally upgraded my Ubuntu 6.10 .20.2 Mythtv system. It was running so well and stable I never wanted to take it down. This is just my experience.

My other issue with windows is that although it seemed more things just worked out of the box, when they didn't work, they were harder for me to fix, and certainly harder for me to tweak.

And to top it off, I just like the Linux community.
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post #15 of 273 Old 08-13-2008, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by newlinux View Post

3rd biggest factor is that I like them to run 24/7. Most windows machines i've run have some difficulty with having occasional reboots and reinstalls. My main HTPCs have had 6 month+ uptimes. Heck, I just finally upgraded my Ubuntu 6.10 .20.2 Mythtv system. It was running so well and stable I never wanted to take it down. This is just my experience.

Uptime is good 10:44:24 up 635 days, 16:05, 1 user, load average: 0.00, 0.00, 0.00

Are you finding the latest Myth revisions to require entirely too much hardware to play HDTV? My myth box is a 2.2Ghz C2D, 2GB with Nvidia graphics. It stutters depending on the playback profile I choose. Rather counter-intuitive, it plays best when I use the CPU++ profile. The others choke it.

My mac mini is now also unable to playback HDTV as is my laptop running Ubuntu. All could at one point, but not with the latest updates.

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post #16 of 273 Old 08-13-2008, 10:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mym6 View Post

Uptime is good 10:44:24 up 635 days, 16:05, 1 user, load average: 0.00, 0.00, 0.00

Are you finding the latest Myth revisions to require entirely too much hardware to play HDTV? My myth box is a 2.2Ghz C2D, 2GB with Nvidia graphics. It stutters depending on the playback profile I choose. Rather counter-intuitive, it plays best when I use the CPU++ profile. The others choke it.

My mac mini is now also unable to playback HDTV as is my laptop running Ubuntu. All could at one point, but not with the latest updates.

Ahh you got me beat on the uptime - but mine were taken down because I wanted to swap out hardware - no errors . I think the longest I had was 200+ days.

CPU++ is the only out-of-the box profile that works well for all my media and different types of HD streams too. But I haven't spent any time customizing any of the profiles, since that one works. It really hasn't required any extra CPU juice for me. I run HD fine on all my desktops (E2180, X2 3800, X2 4200, X2 4600, P4 3.0Ghz), all with nvidia or intel graphics, all with 2GB RAM, and CPU utilization don't seem to be higher than they were. Maybe you will just need to play around with the playback profiles more. Have you looked at this page?

http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/index.php/Playback_profiles

I looked at it when I was having some playback problems. I think some of the other profiles were attempting to use features not compatible with my video drivers. You can change a ton of the playback settings. That would probably get your CPU utilization down and playback quality like you want it.
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post #17 of 273 Old 08-13-2008, 11:02 AM
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I just want to clarify my post.

I have absolutely nothing against linux, in fact I really like it! I rely on it for my business, I build and configure servers on a daily basis. New hardware is supported amazingly fast, linux is very stable and easy to configure - once you know what you are doing. If you don't, staring at a terminal doesn't really get you anywhere.

Of course desktop is quite a different animal. I think the last time I gave linux as a desktop a serious go was redhat 8. hardware compatibility issues out the wang, troubles getting software to compile and install, troubles configuring software to actually run. After a few days of intense work I gave up and lived with a crippled desktop for a few weeks, finally had enough and called it quits. Like I said, that was ages ago though.

My last attempt at an htpc was about 4 years ago, maybe 5 even. I installed knoppix, installed mythtv, had troubles getting my hauppage card to work, had troubles with any audio output at all, days of research led me in circles and accomplished nothing. Many posts telling me to RTFM, when I had in fact RTFM and the manual had no info on configuring the software, only on installing it. lol. In the end I scrapped the whole project and sold the hardware. Said to myself back then that linux still wasn't mature enough for a desktop and that open source still had it's flaws.

Now, I have a good friend who is not supremely computer savvy (being polite here) running ubuntu. Seems to really like it. Has been trying to convince me to run it for a while. I have no idea how good it actually is, as I haven't run it myself but if it is all it's cracked up to be, it'll be nice. I have to say, I gave mac a shot and I've been really impressed, so I'm quite open to trying out linux as a desktop/htpc soon.

My point was, that the impression of linux vs windows is still that linux is tougher to install and configure to your needs. All of your points are valid, bloat/mal/spy/trial ware is crap and thankfully absent from linux distro's, software is free with few limitations. But the perception of linux for most people is that it's still something reserved for the uber geeky and hacker types and not for your average user. My mother would never buy a pc and install linux - although she will buy a pc pre-loaded with vista and dell crapware and call me to find out why her pc is slow. LOL

The issue is the perception of linux. In the past, the perception was correct, imho. I hope that today the perception is incorrect.
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post #18 of 273 Old 08-13-2008, 11:17 AM
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RedHat 8 was GARBAGE relative to 7.3 and 9. It was just as crappy as you describe and then some. There was something entirely new then and I think it was GCC3. It introduced a ton of compatibility issues in compiling software and libraries because it was much more strict.

I've often said two things about Linux. One, it doesn't do anything any better today than it did 5 years ago and two, things that were good 5 years ago are still what are good today. It really says the same thing two different ways. I truly don't think the desktop experience has improved all that drastically from what you could get 5 years ago. Installation is easier, sure, wireless support exists in Ubuntu and others but the overall experience just isn't any better or worse that it was 5 years ago. Keep in mind, I've been using Linux for 10 years. When I setup a system I would spend the time it took to get wireless to work or whatever else, today's distros do all the hard work for you. But in the end you still have the same thing, it isn't any better at it. To me, one of the biggest things for ease of use on the Linux side in recent years is the ability to change X resolution on the fly. Compiz Fusion is cool but the system is just as useful without it.

All that said, you really do owe it to yourself to try the latest Ubuntu or Fedora release. I've used RedHat/Fedora for so long that I just prefer Fedora now. Ubuntu is still really good and I much prefer their startup routine over Fedora's, but in the end it is the familiar system layout that keeps me on the Fedora side.

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post #19 of 273 Old 08-13-2008, 11:33 AM
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mythtv installation has certainly come a long way since then. It can still be challenging depending on your setup needs and hardware, but for basic stuff it can actually be fairly straightforward and documentation has gotten a bit better, as has support, IMHO.

I think X has come a ways for me in the last 2 years. The biggest problem I had with my myth system 2 years ago was getting the video right with all kinds of tweaks to X. when I installed ubuntu+myth on those same systems a couple of weeks ago no tweaks at all were required. Just configuration of profiles in myth. It took me forever last time just to get the thing to be the right resolution. Nvidia and intel drivers have gotten pretty good, save hardware acceleration support.

The basic apps are a little more mature, there is a little better codec and flash other multimedia support - somethings have gotten better without needing user intervention. There were certainly more things that just "worked" and this is in the last 2 years.

But I do disagree a bit on the tougher to install. For me, XP has been tougher to install and configure how I want it than later releases of ubuntu. I haven't installed Vista so I can't speak to that.


That said, I still think Linux would be a pain for many. If they have a knowledgeable person at there side they could get a lot further. Linux isn't and never will be for everyone. It's different, and it's for different people. But there is no reason these days that anyone couldn't use it for regular desktop needs.
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post #20 of 273 Old 08-13-2008, 11:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mym6 View Post


I've often said two things about Linux. One, it doesn't do anything any better today than it did 5 years ago and two, things that were good 5 years ago are still what are good today. It really says the same thing two different ways. I truly don't think the desktop experience has improved all that drastically from what you could get 5 years ago. .

I disagree.

There are several points to my disagreement.

The desktop- the advent of live CD's that auto-detect and auto configure well really took off around 2004-2005, with Knoppix an early example, and then Ubuntu of course. Gnome and KDE have made continuous progress, easily surpassing XP's desktop at least, and KDE 4.1, released in the past few weeks, is getting great reviews as a modern competitor to OSX and Vista desktop environments, if that's your thing. Stock Gnome in Mint 5.x is fine for me. If all you want for a media PC is to replace your XP + MPC+ffdshow box, then Mint 5.x with SMplayer and VLC is a done deal, with trivial setup. OpenOffice has improved rev over rev, with 3.x due this year. Lotus Symphony from IBM is a newcomer in the free (beer) office suite space for Linux. WINE has made HUGE improvements in the past year or two, enabling the few Win apps you might need to run fine on Linux, and Wine keeps getting revved every two week or so- if your Win app doesn't work today, it probably will in a few months.

Media center/DVR/PVR- Mythbuntu came into being in the past 18-24 months, and represents a breakthrough in point and click ease for setting up a Linux Media Center. For me, all I want from Myth is tuner recording/playback/scheduling control, with a desktop-type interface, which MythWeb provides. MythWeb is trivial to install from the Mythbuntu control panel. THe other MCE style stuff for music and photos is also trivial to set up with a Mint+Mythbuntu combo.

The basics- Codec, media players and the low level video and audio drivers/API's have greatly improved in the past 5 years. Read the latest Linux Journal- you do have a subscription, don't you? . There is a nice writeup/roundup of the state of Linux audio API's/drivers. A *lot* of improvements/stability have happened in the past few years for ALSA, JACk and the newcomer PulseAudio. These are significant advancements that will enable more flexibility and capability to media PCs moving forward. Nvidia and ATI drivers have GREATLY improved, and are revved more often than they were just a year or two ago. Video driver install/unstall has become trivial via EnvyNG. Wireless support is FAR better than it was just two years ago. Codecs and media players like mplayer and xine were still in their infancy 5 years ago. Now they play basically every file known. VLC has matured (On all platforms, to be fair) to become a top media player in Linux. Flash has generally kept pace with Win/OSX, as well as Java. Both are either pre-installed for you (Mint) or trivial to install in *buntu's via Synaptic or the default auto-detect plug-ins in Firefox. These are very BIG improvements to the average user.
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post #21 of 273 Old 08-13-2008, 12:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lostmind View Post

My mother would never buy a pc and install linux - although she will buy a pc pre-loaded with vista and dell crapware and call me to find out why her pc is slow. LOL

The issue is the perception of linux. In the past, the perception was correct, imho. I hope that today the perception is incorrect.

Why not tell her to buy a Dell with Ubuntu pre-installed instead?

No crapware/crippleware bloat, no anti-malware infestations, ready to go and all configured.

http://www.dell.com/content/topics/s...=19&l=en&s=dhs
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post #22 of 273 Old 08-13-2008, 12:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mym6 View Post

Rgb, I have to say the argument for just works does apply after the OS is loaded too. Video playback on Linux doesn't always just work. Sometimes you do need to tweak some advanced settings to get fluid video playback. For example, it took me a long time to find that I needed to disable 3:2 pulldown when playing videos in MythTV to my SP4805. Once I found that it did work much better. To be fair the same thing could happen on other systems, but I haven't found that they do.


In the years I ran Win98Se and XP Pro in my theater, I had to do just as much (actually more) fiddling with MPC+ffdshow and even PowerDVD to get video and audio "right".
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post #23 of 273 Old 08-13-2008, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mym6 View Post

Rgb, I have to say the argument for just works does apply after the OS is loaded too. Video playback on Linux doesn't always just work. Sometimes you do need to tweak some advanced settings to get fluid video playback. For example, it took me a long time to find that I needed to disable 3:2 pulldown when playing videos in MythTV to my SP4805. Once I found that it did work much better. To be fair the same thing could happen on other systems, but I haven't found that they do.

Another problem that is common in these Win/Linux discussions- you made a broad statement "Video playback on Linux doesn't always just work"- when you *meant* "video playback in Myth sometimes isn't configured right".

Heck, anyone could say "Video playback on $ANY_OS doesn't always just work"- computers and OS's always have a problem at *sometime*.

The problem is, noobs read these threads and statements like that, and may get the wrong impression or be turned off prematurely from Linux.

Read the 100's of MCE threads in the Win forum- guess what? There's a WHOLE LOT of video playback issues in MCE for Windows, too (VIsta or XP MCE). The apples-apples here is Myth and WinMCE.

I'm certain if you used VLC or SMplayer to play the video, or perhaps KMplayer with Xine, the 3:2 pulldown issue might have been resolved, either automatically by the different media player, or trivially with a check box or two in the player's GUI preferences dialog, just like PowerDVD on Win.
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post #24 of 273 Old 08-13-2008, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Rgb View Post

I disagree.

There are several points to my disagreement.

The desktop- the advent of live CD's that auto-detect and auto configure well really took off around 2004-2005, with Knoppix an early example, and then Ubuntu of course. Gnome and KDE have made continuous progress, easily surpassing XP at least, and KDE 4.1, released in the past few weeks, is getting great reviews as a modern competitor to OSX and Vista desktop environments, if that's your thing. Stock Gnome in Mint 5.x is fine for me. If all you want for a media PC is to replace your XP + MPC+ffdshow box. then Mint 5.x with SMplayer and VLC is a done deal, with trivial setup. OpenOffice has improved rev over rev, with 3.x due this year. Lotus Symphony from IBM is a newcomer in the free (beer) office suite space for Linux. WINE has made HUGE improvements in the past year or two, enabling the few Win apps you might need to run fine on Linux, and Wine keeps getting revved every two week or so- if your Win app doesn't work today, it probably will in a few months.

Media center/DVR/PVR- Mythbuntu came into being in the past 18-24 months, and represents a breakthrough in point and click ease for setting up a Linux Media Center. For me, all I want from Myth is tuner recording/playback/scheduling control, with a desktop-type interface, which MythWeb provides. MythWeb is trivial to install from the Mythbuntu control panel. THe other MCE style stuff for music and photos is also trivial to set up with a Mint+Mythbuntu combo.

The basics- Codec, media players and the low level video and audio drivers/API's have greatly improved in the past 5 years. Read the latest Linux Journal- you do have a subscription, don't you? . There is a nice writeup/roundup of the state of Linux audio API's/drivers. A *lot* of improvements/stability have happened in the past few years for ALSA, JACk and the newcomer PulseAudio. These are significant advancements that will enable more flexibility and capability to media PCs moving forward. Nvidia and ATI drivers have greatly improved, and are revved more often than they were just a year or two ago. Wireless support is FAR better than it was just two years ago. Codecs and media players like mplayer and xine were still in their infancy 5 years ago. Now they play basically every file known. VLC has matured (On all platforms, to be fair) to become a top media player in Linux.

I certainly can't argue that setup has improved drastically, it certainly has. Improved setup alone should improve the perception of Linux being difficult.

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post #25 of 273 Old 08-13-2008, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Rgb View Post

Another problem that is common in these Win/Linux discussions- you made a broad statement "Video playback on Linux doesn't always just work"- when you *meant* "video playback in Myth sometimes isn't configured right".

The problem is, noobs read these threads and statements like that, and may get the wrong impression or be turned off prematurely from Linux.

Read the 100's of MCE threads in the Win forum- guess what? There's a WHOLE LOT of video playback issues in MCE for Windows, too (VIsta or XP MCE). The apples-apples here is Myth and WinMCE.

I'm certain if you used VLC or SMplayer to play the video, or perhaps KMplayer with Xine, the 3:2 pulldown issue might have been resolved, either automatically by the different media player, or trivially with a check box or two in the player's GUI preferences dialog, just like PowerDVD on Win.

I assumed we were talking about Linux as a media center, which generally means MythTV. I'm not trying to scare away new people, I'm just trying to be honest that a person can't assume that since they had issues on some other platform they will have 0 issues on Linux because the install routine has become so good. It is fantastic that the install routine has improved so much in Linux distributions, it is, but I've found installing Linux easy since RedHat 6.0. Despite the improved installation routine, improved hardware detection, improved this and that, the fact remains you WILL need to tweak some settings to get everything to work right just like all the rest.

I'm not sure how many words it would take to say that I have nothing against Linux and or MythTV, and that I agree with most of your reasoning, but that it also isn't a silver bullet. OS wars are taboo here, and that's where this has headed. The guy wanted to know, why Linux over Windows. I think we covered that.

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post #26 of 273 Old 08-13-2008, 01:43 PM
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Can you play HD-DVDs/BRs disks on a Linux computer yet? And no ripping and converting is not an option.
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post #27 of 273 Old 08-13-2008, 03:42 PM
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Can you play HD-DVDs/BRs disks on a Linux computer yet? And no ripping and converting is not an option.

No - not without the options!
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post #28 of 273 Old 08-13-2008, 03:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by zicoz View Post

Can you play HD-DVDs/BRs disks on a Linux computer yet? And no ripping and converting is not an option.


In the original thread before the forum reset, there were many posts re: the BluRay issue.

I will attempt to summarize.

First, there are a LOT of threads and posts like this in the Win forum

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...ht=throw+towel

that demonstrate that BluRay disk playback on Win is not easy, bug free, or worth the effort for lots of people, either. The DRM/protected video/audio baloney needed to play BluRay discs decreases reliability, increases cost due to updated video and motherboards needed, and uses more CPU and RAM.

And no, if you can't count ripping on Linux, then you can't count AnyDVD on Windows- AnyDVD costs more money, and all its doing is "ripping" in realtime.

Second, lots of Win people rely on/prefer ripping BluRay disks to servers rather than use the discs directly. Linux can do this with DVD Fab HD Decypter and play the movie from the rip without conversion with mplayer.

In time, probably sooner than later, Linux media players will be able to handle BD discs directly like AnyDVD, since one piece of software has done it, then it can be replicated/reverse engineered.


Third, lots of people don't care about BluRay, don't want the DRM, and are content with upscaled DVD:

http://entertainment.slashdot.org/ar.../08/07/1811259

http://www.abiresearch.com/press/120...ayer+Purchases

"Blame Hollyweird's obsession with DRM protection on their movies for that. The Blu-ray players have to do a load of self-authentication against internal keys, check for signs of tampering, and load the goddamn stupid JVM before you can view your movie.

*curses whoever thought a JVM was a good idea for an embedded consumer device*

The delay from pressing the 'on' button to getting something on the screen was a big issue when I was working with a certain consumer electronics company on the firmware, but it was very difficult to reduce it further because of all the required DRM/anti-tampering crap. The actual embedded kernel boots very quickly."

"90 seconds? that's a short one.

I had just came from a service call with a client. his Sony 300B Bluray player took 6 minutes from on to being able to use the menu on the Disc for "vantage point" that is fricking insane.

I have another client that stopped buying Blu Ray discs because his player does not give enough of a quality difference to overshadow his Denon DVD player that has a decent quality scaler attached to it. (decent quality means $1100.00 or more)

I am right there in the trenches with users that have >108" screens and 1080p projectors sitting on leather seating that costs more t han Most slashdotters complete AV setup. ($12,000 for a theater chair is high end btw) these people pay over $10,000 for their speakers and THEY dont see any worth in blu ray."

"A lot of the problem comes from the fact that Blu-ray quality quite often sucks. This has nothing to do with the format, and everything to do with the mastering process. I have seen countless Blu-rays that hardly have enough detail to justify a DVD release, let alone anything in HD; some examples include Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, the latter of which was done as a film transfer... and had dirt all over the film and jittered throughout the entire movie, along with the film grain, which seemed completely out of place for an animated feature.

Its difficult to market a new format with better quality when in reality a large number of the discs are produced so badly that there's no reason to get them in place of a DVD."

"Then everyone watched Live Free or Die Hard (SD-DVD). Nobody said anything for the entire duration of the film. It looked superb. At the end, I commented "Yeah, it's a shame it isn't currently available on HD DVD" at which point my wife and my mother both turned to me and said "Wait, that wasn't HD?"

To me, I could see it wasn't. But I also appreciated why they thought it was. It looked great."
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post #29 of 273 Old 08-13-2008, 04:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mym6 View Post

I assumed we were talking about Linux as a media center, which generally means MythTV.

The original poster, BigGeek, asked "why linux" for a *HTPC*, not a media center per se.

I never used a "front end" like MCE when I used Windows, and I only use Myth to handle the tuners on my Linux "HTPC's", or media PC's.

Many Win HTPC users *still* rely on desktop media apps like PowerDVD, Theatertek, Media Player Classic + ffdshow, foobar, etc, i.e. no "media center" or "front end".

Similarly, even if you have tuners, you don't need to use the Myth frontend/media center for day to day media playback. The tuners record fine in the background if you stay on the Gnome or KDE desktop and use Amarok/Banshee/Exaile/Songbird/Audacious to play/manage your music (or foobar2K or iTunes in Wine), and SMplayer, KMplayer and/or VLC to play all your video files. I just launch the Myth frontend when I need to use the tuner or watch a recording from a tuner (though you could watch a recorded program from the desktop with VLC, etc, since the recordings are just video files). I treat Myth as if it were WinTV2000 for the Hauppauge cards on Win.
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post #30 of 273 Old 08-13-2008, 04:31 PM - Thread Starter
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