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post #1 of 22 Old 12-10-2006, 02:57 PM - Thread Starter
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New tot he HTPC scene and I am about to build my first. I had assumed I would just use Microsoft XP or MCE, but realized I am sick of it and the issues I have on this PC. But I have never used Linux and know pretty much zero about what I would need to get it going, much less, what hardware would be compatible. Please help.

Main goal was video & music storage/playback, dvd playback, Internet browsing, possibly PVR, though I have DirecTV HR20 for HD DVR.

My TV is a Panasonic TH-50PX60u with DVI/HDMI/Component In

Components I have picked out are:
Case: Antec P180
MoBo: MSI P965 Platinum Socket T (LGA 775) Intel P965 Express ATX Intel
CPU: Core 2 Duo E6300
Video Card: GIGABYTE GV-NX73T256P-RH GeForce 7300GT 256MB GDDR2 PCI Exress x16
HDD: Samsung 250GB SATA
Power Supply: ENERMAX Liberty ELT400AWT ATX12V 400W
RAM: Corsair 1gb XMS2


I assumed that because I want to do internet browsing, and thus need KB and Mouse, I can't have it stored in a different room. So components needed to be quiet. Is there a way to have it stored elsewhere and still browse internet?

Thanks for any help.
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post #2 of 22 Old 12-10-2006, 03:37 PM
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thats overkill. you can build a htpc for way cheaper.

generally, you want a small case, microATX, even. cuz all you're gonna need is 4 slots - figure maybe 2 tuners, a sound card (or even better, 7.1 onboard w/ digital outs), and a cheap video card. you're not playing doom3, you will do just fine with a nvidia fx 5200. ($60)

maybe 512 ram.. a 350wt psu.. the one area you should go nuts in is your hard drive.. your cpu is WAY overkill - im running mine on a years old p4 2ghz and it works - fine -

idk

if i was building one (im not i actually just took a box i wasnt using anymore and installed it) .. id go cheap and quiet. and I never go cheap. I have a 17" macbook pro. almost 3 grand. but for a htpc.. its not like you need it.
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post #3 of 22 Old 12-24-2006, 02:58 PM
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I would suggest you give Ubuntu Linux a try. I have been using Fedora Core 5 and then 6 and recently switched to Ubuntu for its superior ease of use. It was a very dramatic improvement for me. I can now recommend it without hesitation to friends with no Linux experience. Getting all the extra bits of software that you need like nvidia drivers, multimedia codecs, dvd players, java, flash, microsoft fonts, encrypted DVD playback, etc. can be done using the graphical Add/Remove menu. Current version is 6.10. Highly recommended.
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post #4 of 22 Old 12-24-2006, 03:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by christo76 View Post

I assumed that because I want to do internet browsing, and thus need KB and Mouse, I can't have it stored in a different room. So components needed to be quiet. Is there a way to have it stored elsewhere and still browse internet?

You can use the same powered USB extension cable that drives your IR receiver to plug in an RF keyboard/mouse receiver and go wireless.
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post #5 of 22 Old 12-26-2006, 08:03 AM
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I agree that the specs are overkill. I've got a Sempron 3100 and I can record an HD and NTSC stream at the same time, no problem.

I knew nothing about Linux and I managed to get KnoppMyth up and operating. Depending on the hardware you end up with, you could have a Myth box in as little as 15 minutes.
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post #6 of 22 Old 01-05-2007, 05:18 PM
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I'm a AMD hater but they've got a new 32W and 64W line of X2 processors that use super low power, low heat, and produce ample results for power users. The Abit NF-M2 motherboard has a more than decent onboard sound and video card. Will reduce your sound, heat, and price dramatically.
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post #7 of 22 Old 01-10-2007, 10:14 AM
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I give my vote for Ubuntu too. It's so easy to use and the community/forum is by far the best and most helpful of all the distros.
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post #8 of 22 Old 01-21-2007, 05:07 AM
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i have suse and mythtv but you might want to steer clear because of the pain in installing drivers for hauppage pvr cards. Other than that i like this set up i have.
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post #9 of 22 Old 01-21-2007, 06:11 AM
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Lots of Linux distro options for first timers or with some moderate PC experience:

Ubuntu (easiest)
http://www.ubuntu.com/

Freevo (easiest Media Center style front end, not a distro by itself, installs on top of other distros)
http://freevo.sourceforge.net/

KnoppMyth
http://www.mysettopbox.tv/knoppmyth.html

MythDora
http://swik.net/MythDora
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post #10 of 22 Old 01-21-2007, 10:12 PM
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I'd recommend Ubuntu off the bat to you as well. But once you learn the linux way of doing things, check out VectorLinux. Everything, esp. ubuntu lol, just feels like bloatware compared to Vector.

Actually, if you are the type, like me, who likes to jump in an figure things out I'd just go with Vector straight off. You'll get lots of friendly help from their forum too.


Rgb, Freevo looks like an interesting distro. Know any history on it? Isn't even listed at Distrowatch.com.
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post #11 of 22 Old 01-21-2007, 10:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrCR View Post

Freevo looks like an interesting distro. Know any history on it? Isn't even listed at Distrowatch.com.

That's because Freevo is not a distro
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post #12 of 22 Old 01-21-2007, 11:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CityK View Post

That's because Freevo is not a distro

"Freevo is an open-source home theatre PC platform based on Linux and a number of open-source audio/video tools."
http://freevo.sourceforge.net/about.html

Just testing you...or not.
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post #13 of 22 Old 01-22-2007, 07:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CityK View Post

That's because Freevo is not a distro

My bad- I updated my post.

According to

http://freevo.sourceforge.net/cgi-bin/doc/Installation

Freevo is a front end that can be installed on numerous Linux distros, analogous to how MCE is installed on top of XP.
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post #14 of 22 Old 01-22-2007, 02:02 PM
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I too am building a back end for use with MythTV right now and the specs I've come up with for my machine are very similar to christo76's. Since everybody thinks Christo's machine is overkill, let me tell you my design goals and I'd appreciate comments as to the power of the machine.

My goal is to be able to simultaneously record up to 4 full definition HDTV channels encoding to MPEG4 H.264 and at the same time stream 1080p MPEG4 H.264 content to 4 diskless front end machines. Of course, I also want to be able to pause live TV etc on all the front ends.

I think the following will accomplish my goal:
  • 1 2.4 Ghz Core 2 duo, (E6600)
  • 1 MSI P965 Platinum Socket T (LGA 775) Intel P965 Express ATX Intel
  • 1 80 GB Seagate Barracuda 7200 SATA (System Drive)
  • 3 320GB Seagate Barracuda 7200 SATA drives (Data Drives, w/ room for 2 more)
  • 2 512MB DDR2-800 RAM
  • 2 pcHDTV-5500 tuner cards (with expansion space for 2 more)
  • 1 GeForce 6200 graphics card (passively cooled)
  • 1 SeaSonic S12 600W power supply
So, can my machine do it? Is it too much/too little? Where will my bottlenecks be?
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post #15 of 22 Old 01-23-2007, 12:13 AM
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No clue, just getting in to this myself, but I would think you would really start to appreciate the C2D's horsepower in such a setup.

You got the right PSU brand, though the 430W would probably be a better. You'll probably only run the 600W @ ~50%..not very efficent. It would be different if you were max OCing the E6600, but I assume you won't be doing that with a HTPC lol.

WD's would be more quiet for you too, and sigificantly unless that 80GB is a Barracuda IV, but I'm assuming you already own your seagates. If not, the WD SE16 500GB would be a solid choice, or WD3200JB if you want an older, cheaper, 320GB capacity drive. The WD5000KS is a big deal because it's the first large drive to nice and quiet.

SPCR nut, can you tell? lol. If you're rig is just a server in a closet somewhere as your post may imply, the HD noise naturally don't matter too much.
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post #16 of 22 Old 01-23-2007, 02:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timbuk3 View Post

My goal is to be able to simultaneously record up to 4 full definition HDTV channels encoding to MPEG4 H.264 and at the same time stream 1080p MPEG4 H.264 content to 4 diskless front end machines. Of course, I also want to be able to pause live TV etc on all the front ends.
  • 1 2.4 Ghz Core 2 duo, (E6600)
  • 1 MSI P965 Platinum Socket T (LGA 775) Intel P965 Express ATX Intel
  • 1 80 GB Seagate Barracuda 7200 SATA (System Drive)
  • 3 320GB Seagate Barracuda 7200 SATA drives (Data Drives, w/ room for 2 more)
  • 2 512MB DDR2-800 RAM
  • 2 pcHDTV-5500 tuner cards (with expansion space for 2 more)
  • 1 GeForce 6200 graphics card (passively cooled)
  • 1 SeaSonic S12 600W power supply
So, can my machine do it? Is it too much/too little? Where will my bottlenecks be?

If you are talking about OTA ATSC, it's already mpeg-2 and changing it to -4 would just be a waste imo. Recording ATSC takes very little cpu power so the backend server can be a lot weaker than the frontends having to actually decode and display the content. My original backend was a socket 754 A64 3000+ with 4 old air2pc cards in it and it never got above about 7% cpu usage recording 4 shows at once and it was running cpufreq and the cpu was only running at 800MHz. I've only got 2 other frontends, but ones a socket 754 Sempron 2800+ with another air2pc card in it and it doesn't have a problem recording while it's also watching a recording from the backend. For 4 frontends you will need a Gb network though. I think 3 is about the limit on 100Mb. Since you aren't going to find anything much faster than the E6600 I'd say you have plenty of cpu power. If I only used my backend as a mythtv backend I'd probably use the cheapest PC I could find and just throw a bunch of drives in it.
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post #17 of 22 Old 01-23-2007, 02:15 AM
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Ah, very good point. Didn't quite catch the backend aspect until the end and at that point only thinking about dBA. So yeah, low-end rig, lots of storage.

Hum, well, I'm still thinking in Linux terms. How low-end could you go for HDTV playback when paired with a solid vid card and WinOS-only PureVideo? ~1GHz?
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post #18 of 22 Old 01-24-2007, 02:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrCR View Post

Hum, well, I'm still thinking in Linux terms. How low-end could you go for HDTV playback when paired with a solid vid card and WinOS-only PureVideo? ~1GHz?

I think that's a little low. I got playback with XvMC on a duron 1600 clocked down to 1200MHz. And clocked at 2000MHz, it worked without XvMC. My 2 frontends now are both socket 754 Semprons (2800+ and 3100+) and they work fine.
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post #19 of 22 Old 01-25-2007, 11:01 AM
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If you've never used Linux, you probably want to start out with Knoppmyth, which is designed to automate the setup of Linux and MythTV at the same time. It won't always configure everything quite correctly, but if you choose the right hardware it should get you most of the way there. If you pick hardware from the Knoppmyth Reference Platform, called Dragon, it should work perfectly since its on this platform that Knoppmyth is tested. You can get full hardware specs off Knoppmyth's homepage which I can't post the URL of since I'm still a new member. If you don't want to use that hardware, another good place to look is on the forums on Knoppmyth's homepage. There are 3 forums there that have postings of peoples' hardware specs and their experiences getting them to work with Knoppmyth. So long as you pick components out of Tier 1, you really shouldn't have much trouble. You probably want to avoid using SATA drives if you can, because SATA support under Linux is still spotty depending on your controller. Going with an IDE setup will probably save you same headaches. The Chaintech AV-710 and Soundblaster Live are a couple good choices for the soundcard. The favorite video card is probably an Nvidia FX5200. As far as standard definition TV cards, the ones that tend to work out really well are the Happauge PVR series cards. I don't know about HDTV cards as I don't need HDTV.
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post #20 of 22 Old 01-29-2007, 07:28 PM
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I would recommend Ubuntu as well. I just completed my experiements on HTPC. I have an AthlonXP 2500+, Geforce 5200 FX, and KWorld ATSC-110 tuner card (both frontend and backend). It records and plays back fine. I also agree that recording ATSC does not require much processing power as it is already MPEG-2. So just get some SATA drives. Playback is also a breeze with any card supporting XvMC and does not require much processing. If you are looking to NTSC broadcasts, your processing requirements for backend will be higher. If you are really interested in a quiet solution, I would suggest that you split up a front end and backend. Use a Via-EPIA's ITX solution for the frontends and any kind of beast for a backend.
Go with Ubuntu. With the more recent releases, MythTV is available as a precompiled packages and installation is really simple.
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post #21 of 22 Old 01-30-2007, 07:45 PM
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Here's another challenge, my friends:

I am looking to build a cheap HTPC to serve as fileserver and playback, either directly from DVD or from the hard drive. My wife and I primarily use our laptops, but are severely limited in HD space (hers is 10 GB) and our DVD player is dying.

Here are the list of requirements for this system, listed in priority

1) Low cost, I am trying to build this for < $500
2) Approx. 300 - 500 GB of space
3) Decent playback on my Optoma U28 projector (DVI or Component)
4) Network connectivity so that my wife can save the files that she downloads directly onto the HTPC
5) Quiet system as this will be in my living room
6) Relatively easy to use as my wife should be comfortable starting whatever movie
7) Decent sound output (spent > $1000 on the projector, <$300 on the HTIB)

Future plans
1) Expand hard drive capacity
2) Wireless keyboard/mouse
3) HD Tuner (Hey, the projector can do it, why can't I?)

Joe Ipsen
Absorbing as much AV info as you can spew . . .
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post #22 of 22 Old 01-31-2007, 02:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roan View Post

Here are the list of requirements for this system, listed in priority

1) Low cost, I am trying to build this for < $500
2) Approx. 300 - 500 GB of space
3) Decent playback on my Optoma U28 projector (DVI or Component)
4) Network connectivity so that my wife can save the files that she downloads directly onto the HTPC
5) Quiet system as this will be in my living room
6) Relatively easy to use as my wife should be comfortable starting whatever movie
7) Decent sound output (spent > $1000 on the projector, <$300 on the HTIB)

Future plans
1) Expand hard drive capacity
2) Wireless keyboard/mouse
3) HD Tuner (Hey, the projector can do it, why can't I?)

1) Not a problem
2)OK
3)Yep.
4)MB nic's are pretty standard these days
5) Will depend mostly on PSU. get w/120mm fan
6)If my wife can use it, anyone can.:-)
7)OK

With Air2PC ATSC tuners about $25 each, might as well throw a couple in it to start. I'm not sure what the question is. Get a case and PSU, MB, video card, cpu, 512meg ram, etc. Assemble and test. Load softwar, setup Samba (file server), MythTV, and whatever else you want. Turn it on and forget it. Minimum cpu power should be no less than a Socket 754 AMD Sempron 2800+. Don't even think Celeron or P4. If you want Intel, go with the Core 2 Duo. Check ads for specials. Fry's almost always has good deals on MB/CPU combos. Never buy anything from them that's not on sale. thay had a Core2Duo E4300 and MB combo that ended yesterday for $149. Not long ago they had a nice Sempron 3100+ combo for $59. Now that was a deal.
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