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Best current Linux distro(s) for simple HTPC use?

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 
Per the aforementioned title, regarding this build, 'simple HTPC use' implies HD playback and streaming (1080p), music, web browsing, and DVD playback. Your suggestions for the best current Linux distro(s) to handle these tasks? Hardware looks something like this:

-Habey EMC 800B case
-120W Pico PSU
-ASUS H61 1155 mobo
-Pentium G620 / i3 2100
-4 (2x2) / 8 (2x4) GB RAM
-Small, yet effective SSD
-Graphics: Sandy Bridge IGP
-Slim DVD combo drive

I am looking for an OS that is quick, snappy, and looks similar to Windows 7, however, does not have to look like Windows 7. Thanks!
post #2 of 43
Can't tell about a specific distro as I have no experience for now with HTPC.

However, if you need something that looks like Windows, definitely go with a KDE desktop. For my laptop and everyday use (and professional work!), I am now using Linux Mint KDE 10. Works really well for me. I also use it to run XBMC with my laptop plugged in my TV.
post #3 of 43
Thread Starter 
I thank you ever so kindly for the reply, Balinus.

What can you tell me about the newest version of Linux Mint, "Katya?"
post #4 of 43
You should stick with Ubuntu 10.04, 10.10 or Mint 10/11.

Mint 10 comes in KDE flavor, it will be weeks/months before Mint 11 KDE is available.

These will be the easiest distros to setup and get running with good driver support.

Use the HTPC HOWTO for either Ubuntu or Mint install/setup-

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

Ubuntu 11.04 is too new and Unity too immature to use it for HTPC use at the moment.

I think Mint 10/11 might be the top picks for this year.
post #5 of 43
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Rgb, I was leaning toward Linux Mint. The Unity GUI that comes with Ubuntu just isn't my flavor.

I guess the next steps would be to make a live CD from the Linux Mint website (I have a CD/DVD drive in the HTPC), and install to the SSD from there?
post #6 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanSmooth View Post

I guess the next steps would be to make a live CD from the Linux Mint website (I have a CD/DVD drive in the HTPC), and install to the SSD from there?
Yes.
post #7 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanSmooth View Post

Thanks, Rgb, I was leaning toward Linux Mint. The Unity GUI that comes with Ubuntu just isn't my flavor.

I guess the next steps would be to make a live CD from the Linux Mint website (I have a CD/DVD drive in the HTPC), and install to the SSD from there?

I tried Kubuntu 10.04 LTS and I wasn't satisfied. Tried a couple more distros before landing into Mint KDE 10 and it worked flawlessly. Can't tell about Mint 11, but since Mint 10 is out since around last december, it is now quite stable. Unless you want to test a specific distro, use a distro that as been out for a couple of months. You will have better stability.
post #8 of 43
Thread Starter 
Couple of questions about Linux Mint (of course):

1. TRIM support for SSDs?
2. Good plug-and-play/"set it and forget it" ethernet cable networking support (easy-on internet via wired ethernet)?
3. Doesn't talk back and makes me a sammich (or two)?

Thanks.
post #9 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanSmooth View Post

Couple of questions about Linux Mint (of course):

1. TRIM support for SSDs?
2. Good plug-and-play/"set it and forget it" ethernet cable networking support (easy-on internet via wired ethernet)?
3. Doesn't talk back and makes me a sammich (or two)?

Thanks.

1. Assuming Mint 10 or later, which are based on Ubuntu 10.10 and later, yes.

http://blog.burlock.org/ubuntu/195-r...at-ubuntu-1010

Quote:


Ubuntu 10.10 uses a 2.6.35 kernel which has TRIM support, however, as yet, I've been unable to find out if it's enabled by default. It doesn't really affect me either way due to the way I'm using the SSD. If I however had a very expensive high capacity drive and was using it for my home folder, then I'd want to be sure it Ubuntu supported TRIM.

HOWTO enable TRIM support in Ubuntu 10.10/Mint 10-
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1504907&page=2

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1596214

2. No issues there, nor have there been for many years, assuming your Ethernet chip is supported by the built in kernel drivers, which shouldn't be an issue for most motherboards prior to a few months ago. Internet access on Linux (ubuntu/Mint and other major distros, at least) has been plug and go for many years- nothing to enable, turn on, or configure.

3. Turn off sound. Upgrade wife.
post #10 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rgb View Post

3. Turn off sound. Upgrade wife.

LOL.

I am currently downloading Linux Mint 10 "Julia" KDE (64-bit) in the 1.4GB DVD format. I have a 2GB flash drive that I will use to transfer it from this Extreme Gaming PC to the HTPC. Anything that I'm missing here? Do I need to make a special partition on the flash drive? On the HTPC's SSD? What programs should I use to do so, if necessary? Thanks.
post #11 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanSmooth View Post

LOL.

I am currently downloading Linux Mint 10 "Julia" KDE (64-bit) in the 1.4GB DVD format. I have a 2GB flash drive that I will use to transfer it from this Extreme Gaming PC to the HTPC. Anything that I'm missing here? Do I need to make a special partition on the flash drive? On the HTPC's SSD? What programs should I use to do so, if necessary? Thanks.

No "special" partition needed- usually just the default fat32 partition on USB sticks.

When you install Mint, it should handle the SSD partitioning.

Use Multisystem to install the Mint .ISO to the USB stick-

http://www.pendrivelinux.com/multibo...sb-from-linux/
http://liveusb.info/dotclear/

or Unetbootin-
http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/
post #12 of 43
Quote:


No "special" partition needed- usually just the default fat32 partition on USB sticks.

TRIM will not work on fat32... in Linux you must use EXT4 for TRIM.

Also it is recommended to turn off journaling.

Jerry
post #13 of 43
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Jawill.
post #14 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanSmooth View Post

Per the aforementioned title, regarding this build, 'simple HTPC use' implies HD playback and streaming (1080p), music, web browsing, and DVD playback. Your suggestions for the best current Linux distro(s) to handle these tasks? Hardware looks something like this:

-Habey EMC 800B case
-120W Pico PSU
-ASUS H61 1155 mobo
-Pentium G620 / i3 2100
-4 (2x2) / 8 (2x4) GB RAM
-Small, yet effective SSD
-Graphics: Sandy Bridge IGP
-Slim DVD combo drive

I am looking for an OS that is quick, snappy, and looks similar to Windows 7, however, does not have to look like Windows 7. Thanks!

Is blu-ray doable yet?
post #15 of 43
Thread Starter 
Haven't tried it yet.

Currently using Linux Mint 10 "Julia" and it looks great. The Pentium G620's IGP has some trouble keeping up with the special effects such as transparencies and fading in and out.
post #16 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by jawilljr View Post

TRIM will not work on fat32... in Linux you must use EXT4 for TRIM.

Also it is recommended to turn off journaling.

Jerry

I assumed he wanted to put Mint on the USB stick as a liveUSB installer, not the actual OS installation target he will run from daily.

FOr the target SSD, yes, ext4 is needed for TRIM.

As an installer liveUSB, I think the fat32 suggestion is valid.
post #17 of 43
Thread Starter 
Anyway to check if TRIM is enabled? Not sure if I used EXT4 when I installed LM10.
post #18 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanSmooth View Post

Anyway to check if TRIM is enabled? Not sure if I used EXT4 when I installed LM10.

Quote:


Next, check to see if your drive supports TRIM using the hdparm command. Assuming your solid-state disk is /dev/sda, issue this command:


hdparm -I /dev/sda

This will output a list of drive features, with an asterisk to indicate if that feature is supported on the drive. If your drive supports TRIM, you will see a line like this:

* Data Set Management TRIM supported
(Be sure there is an asterisk at the beginning of the line - that's what indicates if your drive supports the listed feature!)

Assuming that both your kernel and your hard drive have TRIM support, and you are using the ext4 filesystem as described above, you can now tell Linux that you want to enable it by adding the discard option in your /etc/fstab file. Look for the line with your ext4 filesystem, and change it from something like this:

/dev/sda1 / ext4 defaults

to something like this:

/dev/sda1 / ext4 discard,defaults

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showp...&postcount=263
post #19 of 43
Thread Starter 
Thanks, RGB.

By the way, to fix the issues that I was having with the special effects within the Linux Mint 10 KDE GUI, I simply disabled them. The GUI still looks great and runs smoothly now.

It takes some time getting to learn the terminal and terminal commands, and not being able to simply run an install wizard when you want to install a program, but, I'm getting used to it. I guess it's the price to pay for a free OS. Trying to display something as simple as CPU temps requires me to download sensors, and then bring up the terminal, type in some commands, and get them to display exactly what I want them to display. C+ class, anyone?
post #20 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanSmooth View Post

Thanks, RGB.

By the way, to fix the issues that I was having with the special effects within the Linux Mint 10 KDE GUI, I simply disabled them. The GUI still looks great and runs smoothly now.

As that was a week ago, how's it going?

And on July 7 you wrote: "I am currently downloading Linux Mint 10 "Julia" KDE (64-bit)"

Any issues come up with 64-bit Mint 10 for you?

I know that you've got 8GB of memory, but do you actually get any real world benefit from 64-bit in a current Linux distro like Mint/Ubuntu?
post #21 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanSmooth View Post

It takes some time getting to learn the terminal and terminal commands, and not being able to simply run an install wizard when you want to install a program, but, I'm getting used to it. I guess it's the price to pay for a free OS. Trying to display something as simple as CPU temps requires me to download sensors, and then bring up the terminal, type in some commands, and get them to display exactly what I want them to display. C+ class, anyone?

Just use Synaptic. It's the centralized software that you use to install/uninstall every program you need on your computer. You can also add repository for specific program (i.e. XBMC for example...).
post #22 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by OtherSongs View Post

As that was a week ago, how's it going?

And on July 7 you wrote: "I am currently downloading Linux Mint 10 "Julia" KDE (64-bit)"

Any issues come up with 64-bit Mint 10 for you?

I know that you've got 8GB of memory, but do you actually get any real world benefit from 64-bit in a current Linux distro like Mint/Ubuntu?

I'm using 4GB and 64-bit runs just fine. For what I'm using the 64-bit version for, I'm sure that the 32-bit version would run just fine. I just watch DVDs, stream YouTube/Hulu/Netflix, etc and browse the web.
post #23 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanSmooth View Post

I'm using 4GB and 64-bit runs just fine. For what I'm using the 64-bit version for, I'm sure that the 32-bit version would run just fine. I just watch DVDs, stream YouTube/Hulu/Netflix, etc and browse the web.

Given the above, what made you decide to spend the extra risk (if any at this point) of running a 64 bit Linux OS?

FWIW I've had good experience with my 1st 64 bit system; Win7/64 Pro this past 6 months. But this Windows version offers a good amount of backward compatibility, and it's allowed me to run several of my 11 year old Windows programs that I can't find a modern equivalent.

AFAICT Linux doesn't have the "backward compatibility" issue that Windows does.

Anyhow I'll wait a few weeks/months (for possible responses in this thread) and if nothing shows up I'll place an order for a 64 bit Linux distro. Maybe Mint 11 if it gets updated in the next months to include better KDE support.
post #24 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by OtherSongs View Post

Given the above, what made you decide to spend the extra risk (if any at this point) of running a 64 bit Linux OS?

FWIW I've had good experience with my 1st 64 bit system; Win7/64 Pro this past 6 months. But this Windows version offers a good amount of backward compatibility, and it's allowed me to run several of my 11 year old Windows programs that I can't find a modern equivalent.

AFAICT Linux doesn't have the "backward compatibility" issue that Windows does.

Anyhow I'll wait a few weeks/months (for possible responses in this thread) and if nothing shows up I'll place an order for a 64 bit Linux distro. Maybe Mint 11 if it gets updated in the next months to include better KDE support.

I just started running 64 bit Ubuntu on both my desktop rig and my new laptop and, honestly, the only things I've noticed any difference in were Adobe reader and flash. They were both significantly more challenging to install than their 32 bit counterpart, by comparison. Everything else has just worked so far.
post #25 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by OtherSongs View Post

AFAICT Linux doesn't have the "backward compatibility" issue that Windows does.

Probably early on apps that did a lot of bit twiddling had code that could break under 64-bit. There's been enough time for open source developers to fix those bugs.

Some company that wrote a closed source app 11 years ago often doesn't care about fixing their bugs because there isn't any money in it. In open source if the original developer gets disinterested in supporting their code, there is a chance someone else will pick it up. In a closed source app no one can do that.
post #26 of 43
I have no problem with 64bit Linux. Tried (K)Ubuntu, OpenSuse, Fedora (not recommended for beginner), Mepis (highly stable, but couln't install correctly Matlab sadly) and now Mint KDE 10.

With Mint KDE 64bits, you don't need to install Flash as far as I remember. It comes already installed.
post #27 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Balinus View Post

I have no problem with 64bit Linux. Tried (K)Ubuntu, OpenSuse, Fedora (not recommended for beginner), Mepis (highly stable, but couln't install correctly Matlab sadly) and now Mint KDE 10.

With Mint KDE 64bits, you don't need to install Flash as far as I remember. It comes already installed.

Ubuntu 10.10 and newer include an option to install flash during install as well.
post #28 of 43
Thread Starter 
Got an annoying problem, guys. Whenever I load my DVDs into VLC Media Player, it takes a good minute or two. Any ideas on how to fix this?
post #29 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanSmooth View Post

Got an annoying problem, guys. Whenever I load my DVDs into VLC Media Player, it takes a good minute or two. Any ideas on how to fix this?

Can you try on another DVD drive? Like an external one plugged in your computer.
post #30 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Balinus View Post

Can you try on another DVD drive? Like an external one plugged in your computer.

No.

This is software-related, not hardware-related. Apparently VLC Media Player and Linux don't get along so well.
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