I would also check out the main HTPC section and see what people are doing and how.
That's good advice Chuck because you're already running Windows XP on your Mac w/ Parallels. Here's the forum for discussing all the friendly Windows related options:
And Mythbuntu? There's a forum for that here as well:
I'm not that familiar with OSX...
Well, this is the place to help people do things in OS X...
...but I assume Time Machine should be sufficient to back up your data.
It's not. Time Machine is great for one layer of backup, as in backing up documents and photos and e-mails and little changes you make over time, it's great for the average user in a "set it and forget it" and "it just runs in the background" kind of way, but I think you really need to be much more savvy about backup in home theater terms. TM is great in a "whoops, I didn't really mean to move that to the trash and then empty the trash" kind of head-smackin' way. But, if you have a problem with the drive in your HTPC Mac you can't just boot up off of your Time machine volume and keep going...you can completely "restore" from TM but that takes a long time. What you want is multiple layers of backup...besides TM...like doing regular SuperDuper clones of your HTPC Mac's boot drive, then if there's a problem...say you allowed a software or firmware upgrade for something, anything, and uh, oh XBMC no longer works right anymore or your HDMI video passthrough is all of sudden screwed up...in minutes you can re-boot off your SuperDuper clone and be back right where you were before
the damaging update. I can't emphasize enough how nice that is because "home theater" still is a fragile equilibrium--from remote controls to iOS apps to codecs to tricky audio outputs or video resolutions, you work so hard getting everything the way you like it and once you do get your Mac playing nice with your HDTV and AVR the last thing you want is one little new thing to screw it all up.
TM is nice, TM + SuperDuper is nicer. And some of us backup certain things even more aggressively, like in my case my iTunes music library--I never ever want to rebuild that. It's a little over 750GB of ALAC at the moment, I have no less than 4 copies of it, with one copy kept off-site in my wife's office and I rotate drives around every month for updates so each remains a perfect copy.
If you're wanting to stick to OSX, then go to DVR software if EyeTV. It's like Media Center.
Well, EyeTV and Media Center are like and unlike each other: Media Center is much more full featured, it's an all-encompassing front end that integrates DVR functionality but also handles all the media player and organizational aspects for all your other content besides live TV & recordings. EyeTV is TV only and not really a viable front end for OS X, frankly it's not actually that good as a TV media player...all of my EyeTV recordings look and act much better in XBMC, for instance...and EyeTV is poorly integrated into the two HTPC front ends like Windows Media Center that most of us do rely on in OS X, Plex and XBMC. EyeTV is acceptable as DVR software at this point, but it was never what you might call "great" and it has been very poorly maintained and upgraded in recent years, starting right about the time El Gato shut down their public discussion forum. Anyone still using it...like I am...is doing so because 1) we are devoted to OS X, 2) there is no alternative to it in OS X and 3) we're not willing to turn a Mac into a Windows PC just for an expanded DVR feature set.
So give heed to what lovekeiiy says here:
Your biggest hurdle is going to be DirectTV. There are no TV turners for satellite TV. Thus, you'll need to get a capture card. I believe El Gato (the company that sells/makes EyeTV) sells them too.
Read up on the El Gato product called the EyeTV HD, it's roughly similar to the Hauppauge HD PVR, which EyeTV software also supports, and those are the two hardware devices that Satellite users turn to in OS X...they capture HD over component video out and record to your Mac over USB. From there it's pretty easy to add those recordings to iTunes or play them back with EyeTV or your front end of choice.
I currently have a MacPro1,1 with (2) 3.0 GHz Dual-Core InteI Xeon processors, 16X SuperDrive, 2GB RAM, ATI Radeon X1900 XT (512MB VRAM) (2 x Dual-Link DVI), and (3) 1TB + (1) 500GB Hard Drives.
Where will you have this in relation to your HDTV? Will you use it as a media player rather than merely a backend server/DVR? Will it drive two displays or perhaps you plan to add an Apple TV or two? Do you have an iPad that you could use as a remote control of the Mac Pro when you are on the couch?
What I am wanting to do is build a DVR system to record TV programs (we have DirecTV), use it as a music/movie server, and a network backup system.
Shouldn't be any problem at all to record with the purchase of one of those USB devices, your Mac is still powerful enough to play anything you throw at it...3.5 TB, that's not much storage space in the grand scheme of things...but if you go down the HTPC road you'll never have enough storage, your media swells to fill up any newer, larger drives you add when you're not looking. Add TM and whole house backup to its list of tasks and you'll need even more.
What I would like are some recommendations on what software and hardware has worked for you and what you like about it over another.
I have a couple of 2011 Mac Minis connected to HDTVs, an old PowerMac that also serves and backs up, and use EyeTV to record clearQAM cable but don't like it, I merely co-exist with it. Love XBMC. Love iTunes home sharing, AirPlay, iPads and Apple TVs as well as an Airport Extreme to tie everything together. Always have an iPad around the house for HTPC duties, multiple Apple TVs for Netflix streaming and AirPlay destinations, only one of them is hacked, an aTV1 running Crystalbuntu and XBMC. Everything is wired except for the iPads and a Macbook Pro, which like you I mainly use for work and only occasionally involve in home theater, a la screen sharing in to one of the Minis to move things around, transcode or rip something, etc.
Many many threads here about our favorite apps, favorite remotes, favorite for this and that. Go back and read. Besides XBMC, essential for me in iOS are Air Video and Screens, in OS X MakeMKV and Handbrake.
One thing that I am wanting to get out of this in particular is a RAID backup. (I'm a little on the paranoid side of loosing data, music, etc.)
You have a couple of things going on here, each of them a major new area which requires some effort and experimentation on your part, some learning curve. Recording TV, choosing a front end, organizing your media, serving your media, backups with TM and (hopefully) SuperDuper, I'd leave "RAID" aside for the moment until you starting setting your system up and actually using and testing things. Have you ever come across a thread where someone said that "RAID is not backup?" RAID is really a separate discussion. Best not to over-complicate things at this point.
Your first decisions, am I going to stay entirely in OS X and will I use my Mac Pro as both media player
and DVR/media server.