My First Linux-based HTPC Bulid - AVS Forum
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Old 03-08-2011, 09:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello all, Im new to the forum and I would like to get thoughts and opinions of some of you experts out there on my idea for a basic HTPC build.

Hardware:
I have an old frankenstien'd HP m7490n PC that I plan on using. It has already been moved to a different case from the stock,but I will probably buy a proper HTPC case. The processor is a Pentium D 940 @ 3.2 GHz. The MOBO is a ASUS P5LP-LE. I believe I have 4GB of RAM installed but I might be wrong. It defiitely has at least 3 though. Im not home or else I would check for sure. For storage, I have a new patriot 32GB SSD that I just got back from Patriot RMA from another build that I want to use for the boot drive and a 320GB standard HD for starage. It also has an Asus Radeon HD 3850 GC with HDMI output ad an old AI HDTV Wonder ard which I will probably end up replacing as it does not do QAM. And of course, a DVD-RW drive which I probably want to upgrade to Blu-Ray. From the HTC, I will be connecting to a surround sound reciever for HDMI switchng and sound of course, and then out to a 50" LCD

Software:
This I not real sure of, but I'm leaning to Ubuntu and MythTV, or MythBuntu. I work on UNIX systems as a profession so Im not exactly new to the world of Linux, but I have never put together a full build before.


So out of that do you think I have enough horsepower for 1080p video playback? Any suggestions on OS and video/DVR software? Do any cable card, cards work wth Linux ( I have Comcast)? Any forseen compatbility or diver issues?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 03-08-2011, 11:38 AM
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So much of what drives the hardware is what you actually want to watch.

Generally speaking, for HTPC on Linux you want to use nvidia for video. AMD isn't supported that well. With that CPU you will need a modern nvidia card to handle the video on the GPU. My guess with the nvidia card you could watch 1080p.

If you watch a lot of Flash content from the web, hardware acceleration on Linux is just getting here now. Otherwise display of Flash video will need your CPU - so I would think you may have issues there...

There also will not be native Netflix on Linux because of DRM.

For TV capture you have to make sure there is a driver for the hardware on Linux. MythTV is very nice place to check things like this out. Check their wiki for that particular capture card. Mythbuntu is a solid distro.

Personally I use the network based HDHomerun for OTA or QAM. Everything else I use the HD-PVR via component cables from the set top box. The analog hole as they say. This way I can record anything I pay a subscription.
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Old 03-08-2011, 11:52 AM - Thread Starter
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I guess my whole purpose in diong this is to avoid paying for another set top box from the cable company, while incorporating a blu-ray/DVD player, and internet streaming like espn3.com, fancast.com (comcast online ondemand)hulu, YouTube, etc. Plus the ability to watch uscrambled analog cable channels and QAM HD chanels. Netflix isnt essential as I dont have a subscription currently.
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Old 03-08-2011, 06:31 PM
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I think strides are being made to play bluray directly under Linux but may not quite be ready yet. Most do rips and play the movies that way. Thats what I do - but I never cared much for the "extra features" on the disk anyway.

Again with bluray you will run into DRM issues. I have AnyDVD HD from Slysoft and run it in a virtual box on my desktop. I rip my blurays and put the movie on my NAS (FreeNAS) machine.

You can get "hybrid" cards that can do both unencrypted QAM and analog cable. I have the Hauppauge HVR-1600 (bought it to test my code) which works under Linux. You do have to be careful to check hardware - a buddy has the Hauppauge HVR-1800 and I think he has trouble with the analog tuner.

I might worry about being able to play the espn3, hulu etc content because more than likely the video will be decoded by the CPU. There is a thread here about Adobe adding hardware acceleration to the Linux Flash 10.2. But the sites that support it are hit or miss. I'm sure someone knows the details better than I....

Perhaps run a live CD of Ubuntu (or XBMC) and just see what your hardware can do. Bring Hulu up in chrome or firefox and just see if it can play it.
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Old 03-09-2011, 07:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Cool, thanks for the tips, I ll give that a try. I do have a hybrid ATCS/NTSC cable tunercard that does QAM in my windows 7 machine and it works pretty flawlessly. I cant recall which model though. But Id liek to keep it in there anyway and jsut get a new one for my HTPC. I definitley like your idea of ripping teh blu-rays and playing them that way. I dont really care about extra features either.
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Old 03-09-2011, 02:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djb61230 View Post

...

Perhaps run a live CD of Ubuntu (or XBMC) and just see what your hardware can do. Bring Hulu up in chrome or firefox and just see if it can play it.

I'd modify this to say try a live CD of Mint, because the Mint live CD has all the non-free codecs on it whereas the Ubuntu CD does not (don't know what XBMC has by default). Anyway it's one less issue for a newbie to deal with.
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Old 03-11-2011, 08:06 AM
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My $0.02:

For DVD backups/ripping, you want to use DVDFab under Wine-

http://www.dvdfab.com/download.htm

which also should rip BD's, but I've never tried that.

Then you won't need to use Windows or VirtualBox as AnyDVD requires.

Use Ubuntu then install the Mythbuntu-desktop from Synaptic per my install/setup procedure-

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1275302

For analog cable recording, use a WinTV card, preferably the PVR150 or 500 (same as 150 with two tuners)

http://www.hauppauge.com/site/produc...r500mckit.html

http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/Hauppauge_PVR-500

Check ebay or overstock.com or craigslist, as both are out of production. Try google shopping for old stock.

Use the Hauppage 1250 or 2250 (two tuners) for ATSC/clearQAM. I think the hybrid analog/ATSC tuner cards all have iisues, so I prefer using separate NTSC and ATSC+QAm cards.

Another option for ATSC+Qam is the HD Homerun. If the Homerun folks ever put in dual NTSC tuners with hardware MPEG2 encoders, combined with the current ATSC/QAM dual tuners, it would be the GREATEST HTPC tuner device EVAR

Use only an Nvidia fanless GT210/220/240 card and you should be good to go.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...CE&PageSize=20
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Old 03-11-2011, 08:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input everyone. Its getting close to the time when I'll actually need this thing so I'll post back with what I finally went with when it's finished.
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