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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I posted this to the wrong forum, so here it is in the right place, I hope.


I am getting ready to dive into the world of Linux for the first time and I am confused by the plethora of downloads out there. I was going through the list on the sticky threads about the free apps for your HTPC and there are so many that my head is spinning. Let's say I just put together a HTPC and was starting from scratch. I know I need to download Linux Ubuntu right? Then I install that somehow and go find the drivers for my hardware, and hope they have Linux drivers. Then what? I am assuming I need to get an internet browser unless it is packaged with it like IE is with Vista right? So does anyone have a list of what you need from the beginning? I just downloaded XBMC for windows so I can play around with it on this computer before I do the HTPC install. Something like a step by step for retards like me. I have seen so many versions of Linux I don't even know what they are, like leaping lemming, or tranquil tiger.

So here's what I'd like to see, and I know everyone has different preferences for the programs, but here goes:

1. Download Linux version _______ that will take up the least amount of space and be quickest to load when you turn it on. It would be nice to see how you install it too.

2. Download this__________ to do this ________.

3. Download this __________ to organize your DVD and CD collection by DVD cover with movie data and description.

4. Download this ________ to make everything work from your remote and you don't need a keyboard.

5. Download this__________ to do this ________.

6. Insert all of your movies and this________ will auto-rip them to storage and find all the data for the movie.

7. I am a _______ for asking questions like this and you want to ______ me and my family.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Oh, one more thing. What is this I read about putting Linux on a flash drive instead of the hard drive? Is that to save space for more movies? How do you boot from that? Do you take it out once it is running? does it make the computer quieter?


I am not very good at all these code words you guys use for things, especially when it comes to initals and acronyms. Please explain it like you would a 10 year old
 

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Linux already includes drivers for (almost) all hardware it supports.


I think you are starting this from the wrong end though, first you need to decide and tell us what the purpose of your HTPC will be (DVD playback, ripped/downloaded files playback, TV viewing and/or recording, etc) then we can suggest which particular software is most suitable.


With regards to hardware, if you follow this guide you shouldn't experience compatibility issues.


Quite likely you won't need a full Linux distro install, you could use 'XBMC Live' or 'Mythbuntu' which are Linux distros that are already preconfigured to run XBMC or MythTV.


See here for XBMC Live:
http://www.xbmc.org/wiki/?title=XBMC_Live


and here for Mythbuntu:
http://www.mythbuntu.org/


A flash drive can be used instead of a hard disk (for Windows too, this is not Linux specific), the advantage is, no noise and good quality flash drives have much faster access and read times than hard disks.

Flash drives are too small to put movies on them (unless you have loads of money to spend for a big flash drive or you have very few movies), they are just for the Linux installation and software.


If I were you, to begin with I would start out with a normal hard disk though, you don't want to make things too complicated straight away!
 

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I just finished installing XBMC Live on my HTPC. I'm pretty new to Linux.. and I can say it is fairly straight forward.


Once you get the software installed, you can CTRL-ALT-F2 to get to the terminal and install the SSH server. Then SSH in from another PC and install any backend stuff you need. Like and FTP server and torrent client if you need it.


My advise as a Linux newbie.. Google is your best friend, but get a second opinon before you make any changes. One wrong step and your entire install will be trashed and you will have to start from scratch.


Also, make sure you have an Nvidia 8xx GPU or better for 1080p playback.


Just dig in and go for it.. you won't learn until you break it a couple of times.
 

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My advice would be to get hold of a 3-5 year old desktop computer with an nVidia-brand graphics card and use it as a test bed - to learn the process and to see what the linux htpc functionality looks and feels like. Make sure it's one that has a DVD drive and a hard disk whose contents you don't need to save. Then just go ahead and install MythBuntu and see how you like it. For this exercise, just attach a regular monitor and keyboard, and try watching some DVDs. Next step after that might be to get a tuner device - I highly recommend the HDHomeRun because it isn't directly tied to the HTPC box; then you can play around with recording and playback.


Once you have cut your teeth with Linux and MythTV (or XBMC, if you want to go that way), then it will be time to start designing a system you can use in the living room.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
"Quite likely you won't need a full Linux distro install, you could use 'XBMC Live' or 'Mythbuntu' which are Linux distros that are already preconfigured to run XBMC or MythTV."


Do you mean I don't even need an operating system that has to boot up to make it play DVDs? I don't care about playing games, I have other computers for that, I just want DVD/music storage and playback. I guess I need to go into more detail. Here's what I am dreaming of:

1. I walk into my room and pick up a remote and hit power. The HTPC turns on and the program that lets me select my choice of music or DVD starts up without me having to go into the progams and finding it.

2. I pick the movie or cd by album cover art, hopefully with a description of what it is and press play. Bonus would be if they were grouped by category or playlist. Dream would be if I could make little 5 minute demos from different DVDs.

3. When I get a new movie I put it in the slot and it automatically rips it to the hard drive and finds any informaton to make the album art and movie description.

4. It can also do Blue-ray when I get it.

5. I don't need a keyboard, just a remote.

6. It doesn't make any noise.


Now it would be really helpful to have the instructions go something like I have in the first post. I install all the parts in the case, turn the power on for the first time and then do ____, _____, _____. Then I install _____ and ______ and everything should be good to go.


Will any of the mini-itx board work that don't need fans? I have been reading about this one, but not sure if I should spend the money on it, and since I have extra parts lying around I could probably build this out of spares except for the big hard drives. Zotac ION-ITX-A Do I need to do RAID, whatever that is, or just buy really large drives? I have about 150 movies.
 

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You can do all those things with XBMC. The XBMC live CD should "just work" for the most part. If there is any special tweaking that needs to be done, it is going to depend on your hardware. Nobody can make an all-inclusive list of instructions because the steps would be different from build to build.


The IONITX-A board will be good enough for HD video playback, but only just barely. You'd be better off using the Zotac GF9300 with a cheap dual core CPU like the E5200 . Or you might be able to use what you have lying around, depending on what it is.


You don't necessarily need a RAID array , but you are going to need at least 1.5TB of hard drive space to hold your 150 DVDs, assuming you're not transcoding them.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris3377 /forum/post/16958175




Do you mean I don't even need an operating system that has to boot up to make it play DVDs? I don't care about playing games, I have other computers for that, I just want DVD/music storage and playback. I guess I need to go into more detail. Here's what I am dreaming of:

1. I walk into my room and pick up a remote and hit power. The HTPC turns on and the program that lets me select my choice of music or DVD starts up without me having to go into the progams and finding it.

2. I pick the movie or cd by album cover art, hopefully with a description of what it is and press play. Bonus would be if they were grouped by category or playlist. Dream would be if I could make little 5 minute demos from different DVDs.

3. When I get a new movie I put it in the slot and it automatically rips it to the hard drive and finds any informaton to make the album art and movie description.

4. It can also do Blue-ray when I get it.

5. I don't need a keyboard, just a remote.

6. It doesn't make any noise.


Will any of the mini-itx board work that don't need fans? I have been reading about this one, but not sure if I should spend the money on it, and since I have extra parts lying around I could probably build this out of spares except for the big hard drives. Zotac ION-ITX-A Do I need to do RAID, whatever that is, or just buy really large drives? I have about 150 movies.



1) You have to have an operating system, but that is part of what's included on the MythBuntu CDs.

2) You can easily configure MythBuntu to automatically log in and start MythTV, so it will already be waiting.

3) MythTV can be controlled almost completely with just a remote. You'll probably want to have a wireless keyboard and mouse handy somewhere, though, for the other 1%. You need some kind of IR receiver device inside your PC and then the remote control itself. MythBuntu comes with a wide variety of choices that it supports.

4) Turning the computer on from a cold off position CAN be done with a remote, but probably requires you to purchase an HTPC case with an integrated remote unit that's wired into the power button. Even though I have such a case, I just leave mine running when the TV is off.

5) MythTV does have a ripping program built in, but I have found it less useful that some Windows tools I already have. So I just run those tools under Wine to put my DVDs on the hard drive. That's a bit of a kludge, but I don't buy new DVDs every day.

6) The default view for MythTV video files (including DVDs) is the gallery view, which shows a cover art icon just as you described.

7) MythMusic has SOME of these features, but is still somewhat primitive. Itunes it ain't.

8) Blu-ray is never going to be as easy to work with as DVD. Some (not me) have been successful but it's a lot of work.

9) I have never bothered with RAID, because I've always been lucky with hard drives and don't consider my HTPC data to be that valuable. I could always rip my DVDs again or wait for those shows to come on again. I mean really, it's just TV.

10) Yes, go for big hard drives. Right now, 1.5TB drives are the sweet spot - I got two of them last week for $99 each.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
OK, here's where the "how to" comes in. I read somewhere that to install linux you have to download it and burn it to a disk, then set your bios to boot from disk first so you can load it. If this is correct then I am assuming the rest goes like installing Windows, just follow the options? Then what? Will it automatically find the drivers for my equipment? Once I have Mythbuntu installed what do I need to get next? Some kind of internet program or does that come with it too?

I downloaded XBMC and was playing around with it on my laptop, and it doesn't look like the pictures I saw on a link I was looking at. But I am going to play around some more with it. If any of this requires any programming knowledge then I am out of luck.

Pretty soon I am going to wear out the ? button on my keyboard.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris3377 /forum/post/16968511


OK, here's where the "how to" comes in. I read somewhere that to install linux you have to download it and burn it to a disk, then set your bios to boot from disk first so you can load it. If this is correct then I am assuming the rest goes like installing Windows, just follow the options?

correct
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris3377 /forum/post/16968511


Then what? Will it automatically find the drivers for my equipment? Once I have Mythbuntu installed what do I need to get next? Some kind of internet program or does that come with it too?

It should find automatically all drivers for your equipment (assuming all your hardware is supported by Linux).

A Linux distribution comes with all the most common software already installed, basically when you install Linux, you are not just installing Linux itself, but also Firefox and many other applications.

I haven't tried Mythbuntu myself so I'm not sure what exactly is included by default but it certainly will have MythTV and everything else you need to get going with your HTPC installed by default.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris3377 /forum/post/16968511


I downloaded XBMC and was playing around with it on my laptop, and it doesn't look like the pictures I saw on a link I was looking at. But I am going to play around some more with it. If any of this requires any programming knowledge then I am out of luck.

Pretty soon I am going to wear out the ? button on my keyboard.

XBMC is skinnable, which means you can change the appearance if you like. Any pictures you saw probably were taken with different skins.


Programming knowledge is definitely not required!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris3377 /forum/post/16968511


OK, here's where the "how to" comes in. I read somewhere that to install linux you have to download it and burn it to a disk, then set your bios to boot from disk first so you can load it. If this is correct then I am assuming the rest goes like installing Windows, just follow the options? Then what? Will it automatically find the drivers for my equipment? Once I have Mythbuntu installed what do I need to get next? Some kind of internet program or does that come with it too?

I downloaded XBMC and was playing around with it on my laptop, and it doesn't look like the pictures I saw on a link I was looking at. But I am going to play around some more with it. If any of this requires any programming knowledge then I am out of luck.

Pretty soon I am going to wear out the ? button on my keyboard.


I am about 3 weeks ahead of where you are.. so I will try to give you some pointers that I've learned along the way.


1.


Get yourself a computer and hook it to your TV. You want at least a dual core, 2 gigs of ram, 1 TB of hard drive and a >geforce 8xx series video card.. the rest is just personal preference and budget. There is a lot of good info out there on selecting hardware, but as was said, I'd get something cheap and easy to play around with for starters.


2.


If you aren't going to be doing any PVR stuff (playing and recording live TV).. I'd go with XBMC. It is really sweet.


3.


I had nothing but trouble with XBMC Live. I kept killing it. I belive even installing the most recent Nvidia drivers requires too much difficulty. I'd install via this guide instead. This will give you a "headless" Ubuntu install with XBMC firing up at startup. I just leave the Ubuntu bootup flash because I like it.



Install Guide: http://xbmc.org/forum/showthread.php?t=38804


I use Img Burn with great success to make the install disk: www.imgburn.com/



You can pretty much just use the default options during install. If you are starting from a blank HD, then it is pretty easy. Just make sure you have a network connection (not wireless)


If you DO have a wireless card in your system, this guide will help you get it working.

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=571188


4.


Install Putty so you can SSH in from another PC to work on your system. This makes it easy to cut and paste. (Right click in Putty to paste) http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~s.../download.html


5.


If you added all the PPA sources, you can install MediaStream by doing:

Code:
Code:
sudo apt-get install xbmc-skin-mediastream
This is by far my favorite skin for XBMC


6.


Important.. when you get your base system installed and working, follow this guide to make a backup. http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=35087


As a linux newbie, you WILL trash your system eventually and you will want a backup so you don't have to start over. I backup the system each time I do something new and it works.


7.


I installed Webmin so I can use a browser to manage files, share drives, and many many other tasks. Forward a port and you can even do it from work.

http://www.webxpert.ro/andrei/2009/0...nty-jackalope/


8.


Have fun with it.. I like working on my HTPC more then I like watching movies.
 

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As Jason said, get the base install complete then make a backup. However, the easiest and most reliable method is using Ghost on Hiren's Boot disk to make/restore ghost images. Just do a google search for Hirens Boot CD and it should lead you to the promised land.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by l2e /forum/post/16982960


As Jason said, get the base install complete then make a backup. However, the easiest and most reliable method is using Ghost on Hiren's Boot disk to make/restore ghost images. Just do a google search for Hirens Boot CD and it should lead you to the promised land.

In the spirit and support of FOSS alternatives, I would recommend using the Clonezilla LiveCD instead of Hiren's and Ghost.

http://clonezilla.org/


Hiren's is warez, not FOSS- Ghost is commercial, non-free software. Hiren's is basically a compilation of pirated programs. Not addressing anyone in particular, just stating a fact.


Clonezilla is free (beer/speech) FOSS software and does the same thing as Ghost. It uses a step by step wizard-like text interface vs the faux DOS GUI of Ghost. As long as you are familiar with Linux drive assignment/partition assignment conventions (i.e. sda, sda1, sda2, sdb, etc), you shouldn't have a problem using it.

http://tldp.org/HOWTO/Partition/devices.html#names
http://tldp.org/HOWTO/Partition/



IMO, Clonezilla is now superior to Hiren/Ghost, as Clonezilla uses the latest Linux kernel and drivers for SATA/USB drives, making fast, relaible image backups to any USB device easy, without the need for funky ancient DOS USB and CD-ROM drivers during the Hiren DOS load process.


Clonezilla handles all common filesystems and OS partitions. I see no need for any commercial imaging program (Ghost, Acronis, etc) any longer.
 

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Thanks for the info on clonezilla (and Ghost).. I am going to try it out. I agree that the method I posted isn't the best. I have had some issues trying to restore.


Now that I finally have my box working the way I want, I'm going to get an image of it.
 
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