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post #1 of 13 Old 10-07-2012, 12:17 PM - Thread Starter
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In Win7, my stuff is working.

I am a Software Developer who writes code for Windows Forms, so I know a lot about Windows. By contrast, I struggle with getting a command line in Linux.

I've got a Silicon Dust Dual Tuner on the network for Over the Air TV

I've got an ASUS EB1501 Media PC. It was sold as either Linux or Win7, and I picked Win7.

Most of our media resides on a 2TB hard drive that connects via USB.

The ASUS EB1501 has a wireless remote that is simple enough that my 5 year old knows how to navigate to the Videos folder, select the folder on Kid Shows, scroll over to either Adventure Time or SpongeBob, and select Play All from the menu.

I'd like to give this Linux thing a shot, but I'd need some sort of guide from someone that comes from Windows so that I understand what they are saying.

Is a Linux HTPC as user friendly today as a Win7 Media Center PC?

My only issue with the Win7 Media Center is it never seems to be able to play all file types at one time. Enabling a codec so that a particular AVI file plays renders an MKV or MP4 file useless, or I'll seem to have everything working nicely until a Windows Update blows through all of my settings.

I'm sure this is probably answered here, but I've searched before and spent 2 hours browsing the questions today. If the answer I'm looking for is in here, I have not found it.

Thanks in advance to anyone who can lend a hand.

Regards,
Joe
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post #2 of 13 Old 10-08-2012, 12:44 PM
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I wrote this guide for the benefit of noobs to Linux installs and/or converts from Windows-

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1275302/howto-ubuntu-lucid-10-04-1-maverick-10-10-media-htpc-install-setup-and-mythtv-guides

I don't know if you're an engineer and/or CS type, but it helps greatly if you've ever built your own PC and installed your own OS to a blank hard drive (Windows or otherwise).

The HOWTO link needs updating for Ubuntu 12.04 and the current Mythbuntu/MythTV, but is still a good place to start.

Once the OS, apps and drivers are installed and setup correctly, my belief is a MythTV setup, with possibly XBMC, is as easy or friendly to use as WMC, maybe easier.
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post #3 of 13 Old 10-08-2012, 01:53 PM - Thread Starter
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So Ubuntu Lucid with MythTV.

Thanks so much!

EDIT: Looks like the current release is called Pangolin, not Lucid.

So, if the EB1501 was made to run Win7 64, should I try the 64 bit version of Ubuntu? My EB1501 actually shipped with Win7 32 because the 64-bit version of Win7 was still flakey. I've never upgraded to the 64-bit version because of the extra headaches associated with installing/configuring 64-bit drivers and software. Is Ubuntu plagued with this, too?
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post #4 of 13 Old 10-09-2012, 07:50 AM
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Yes, the current Ubuntu series (Ubuntu-Unity, Xubuntu-XFCE, Kubuntu-KDE, Mythbuntu-XFCE, Lubuntu-LXDE, Ubuntu Studio-XFCE) is 12.04 Pangolin.

In the recent past, yes, there have been issues with stability with 64 bit on Linux, particularly with 64 bit Flash and related browser issues, plus perhaps some random driver issues with 64 bit though I can't give examples. Just normal laws of computer science in operation (bugs, regressions, etc) as the world is still shifting over to 64 bit, justified or not at this time.

There is no practical, real world benefit to using 64 bit currently for home users other than use of greater than 3-4GB RAM per process. There is a common misunderstanding that 32 bit Linux cannot access more than 4GB RAM. Not true. The limit is 3-4GB per *process*, which means if you have 8GB installed, 4 running apps could use 2GB each, or 8 apps could use 1 GB each, or 2 apps 4GB each. This applies to distros compiled to use PAE, i.e most common/popular distros now:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_Address_Extension
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_address_extension#Linux

http://pacoup.com/2009/05/27/pae-vs-64-bit-what-manufacturers-dont-want-you-to-know/

http://askubuntu.com/questions/134598/ubuntu-12-04-lts-32bit-does-not-detect-4gb-ram

A thread earlier this year demonstrated that Flash/browser issues are still there for 64bit.

To use the latest Flash on Linux (v11.3.x as of today), you must use the Google Chrome or Chromum (FOSS Chrome) browsers. Firefox is stuck at v11.2.x and may never go higher unless policies change.

Unless you're doing pro-level photo/audio/video editing, just use 32bit for now. By the time you *need* to use 64bit, I suspect there will be no more significant issues being discussed on forums like this re: 64 bit problems, and/or Flash will be banned from the Web wink.gif
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post #5 of 13 Old 10-10-2012, 10:34 AM
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I use 64-bit Ubuntu 12.04. Works perfectly except that some of the software seems to have some quirks that are tied to the particular versions that Ubuntu has in their repositories that have been modified for their use and not the 64 vs 32 problem which used to be a big thing for users. I know a lot of power users prefer to avoid the repositories for certain applications because of the lack of updated/fixed software that Ubuntu makes available.
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post #6 of 13 Old 10-11-2012, 11:14 PM
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one question as someone that uses linux, freebsd and windows 7 for different uses, why not just keep windows 7 and try to integrate XBMC instead of media center? Maybe use something like mediaportal to handle your OTA.

There are just some things in Linux that are tough when it comes to all the DRM crap out there. Netflix and some other subscription stuff just will not work on linux systems (last I checked). Setting up a remote is not easy unless you are using one that is know to work with the configs out of the box. If you are not comfortable with getting down and dirty with config files and a command line in a linux system you are probably going to get frustrated quickly.

My media is stored on a quad core Freebsd NAS server (freenas) that also runs the mythtv distro as a guest OS in Virtualbox. Right now all my HTPCs are running Win 7 and XBMC because I needed 3d support for gaming/vide (Nvidia). TV is handled through the Mythbox plugin and using mythtv web interface (mythweb). I had linux backend/htpcs for years up until I went 3d. If I didn't need 3d nvidia support and whatnot I'd be using the XBMC live distro because the XBMC application for media is just that good. (based on ubuntu) I am all for giving linux a shot at being your HTPC but maybe look into the XBMC live distibution or Mythbuntu... something that is already setup more for htpc use.
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post #7 of 13 Old 10-12-2012, 07:20 AM - Thread Starter
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The PC I'm on now has a partition so that I can reset it to factory specs (Win7 media pc with all drivers, etc) at the touch of a button. To install LINUX (any flavor), I have to format the freakin' drive first. I've tried installing it side by side, but it doesn't seem to work.

So, it's either all or nothing, so I'm trying to get as much info as possible to make my decision ahead of time.

There's a guy selling built Linux boxes on eBay. What do you think of this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/320930297072 My apologies to all the archives, because this won't pull up a month from now.
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post #8 of 13 Old 10-12-2012, 08:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jp2code View Post

The PC I'm on now has a partition so that I can reset it to factory specs (Win7 media pc with all drivers, etc) at the touch of a button. To install LINUX (any flavor), I have to format the freakin' drive first. I've tried installing it side by side, but it doesn't seem to work.
So, it's either all or nothing, so I'm trying to get as much info as possible to make my decision ahead of time.
There's a guy selling built Linux boxes on eBay. What do you think of this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/320930297072 My apologies to all the archives, because this won't pull up a month from now.

It's safer and simpler to just add another physical hard drive or USB/SD card to install/boot Linux from, installing the bootloader (GRUB) to the Linux OS drive and/or changing the boot drive when you powerup via the BIOs. Some BIOs' let you hit ESC or F-key to bring up a menu to select the physical boot drive just for that session.

Any old hard drive ~16GB or higher will do, 2.5" or 3.5" or USB stick.
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post #9 of 13 Old 10-12-2012, 09:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jp2code View Post

There's a guy selling built Linux boxes on eBay. What do you think of this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/320930297072 My apologies to all the archives, because this won't pull up a month from now.

I'd go with just using a small (external or otherwise) hard drive as rgb indicated. I'm kind of frugal though and don't see the need to blow that much money on something when already have an htpc smile.gif
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post #10 of 13 Old 10-13-2012, 07:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jp2code View Post

The PC I'm on now has a partition so that I can reset it to factory specs (Win7 media pc with all drivers, etc) at the touch of a button. To install LINUX (any flavor), I have to format the freakin' drive first. I've tried installing it side by side, but it doesn't seem to work.

Take baby steps to minimize the disruption.

Install VirtualBox, then you can install Linux within a virtual machine. Run the Linux VM for a few weeks or months to familiarize yourself with it without the possibility of harming your Windows setup. VirtualBox's snapshotting feature makes it easy to undo mistakes made within the virtual machine (and if you really want to learn Linux, you will make mistakes that screw up your configuration).

When you're comfortable enough to have Linux directly running your real machine, you can install Linux to a USB drive or create a partition for it on your internal hard drive.
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post #11 of 13 Old 10-14-2012, 06:42 AM
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Originally Posted by hdmi4ever View Post

Take baby steps to minimize the disruption.
Install VirtualBox, then you can install Linux within a virtual machine. Run the Linux VM for a few weeks or months to familiarize yourself with it without the possibility of harming your Windows setup. VirtualBox's snapshotting feature makes it easy to undo mistakes made within the virtual machine (and if you really want to learn Linux, you will make mistakes that screw up your configuration).
When you're comfortable enough to have Linux directly running your real machine, you can install Linux to a USB drive or create a partition for it on your internal hard drive.
I don't agree that this is necessarily the best approach. In the end, you may have learned a lot about Linux, but you won't have a working Linux HTPC.

The method outlined already, installing Linux to a separate hard drive is better. Change the PC to boot to the new hard drive. The GRUB bootloader will then make it possible to boot up to Windows or Linux. After you go through the learning experience, you should have a working Linux install that you can use. With Virtualbox, you will need to install and configure Linux again.

And, if you decide Linux 'aint yer thing, just tell the BIOS to boot the original Windows drive first, and no harm has occurred to the Windows installation.
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post #12 of 13 Old 10-14-2012, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by waterhead View Post

I don't agree that this is necessarily the best approach. In the end, you may have learned a lot about Linux, but you won't have a working Linux HTPC.

Given the context of this thread, it was implied that my last sentence included having HTPC software running on Linux.
Quote:
With Virtualbox, you will need to install and configure Linux again.
Same thing probably will happen without Virtualbox. It's quite likely that the first-time Linux installation to USB or internal partition(s) will be unsatisfactory with respect to partitioning and filesystems other configuration options and need to be redone, and mistakes will be more difficult to recover from.
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post #13 of 13 Old 10-17-2012, 01:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jp2code View Post

I'll seem to have everything working nicely until a Windows Update blows through all of my settings.

Linux isn't immune to that problem, either. You'll still notice the occasional breakage of minor things if you are doing wild patching. Some package managers make it easier to pick and choose which updates you take, but nobody has really solved the problem.

If you can't airgap the htpc from the internet, try to take only critical security updates, layer your defenses with a separate firewall & IDS, and don't run apt-get upgrade the afternoon before the Superbowl or Oscars or anything else your users care about :-D
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