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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good morning and afternoon everyone.


I know dedicated divx machines have been done to death but I tought a few of you might be interested in what i'm trying to acheive.

Backround


I'd just purchased all the necessary components i would require to build a new htpc (divx machine) except for a harddrive.


And since new hdd's aren't as cheap in nz as they are over in the states i was having a hell of a time choosing one.


Then it struck me - why have a hdd at all :) Especially since all this machine is going to do is playing back divx movies with stero sound into a standard PAL tv.

What i've managed to get going so far


I've got a simple boot cd image (with dos, quickview pro, and cd-rom drivers on it).


The boot cd works great except for a slight pause when initialising the cd-rom drivers (oak technologies).


QuickView works a treat on my movies and doesn't seem to complain if i remove the boot cd and replace it with a divx cd.


PQ is fine for me. Nothing amazing but that's probably due to my hardware: duron 800, 128mb ram, onboard video - trident blade (yuck), external scan converter for vga 2 pal s-video conversion.

What i need help with


Sound: I can probably solve this quite easily just haven't been hunting on the net for sounblaster compatible drivers for dos and the required autoexec bat/config.sys commands to get it going.


Ramdisc: I haven't had any troubles yet if i remove my boot cd but it would probably be beneficial if on boot i could copy the boot cd contents over to the ram drive (4mb should be enough). So if someone can point me in the right direction for guides to setup ramdisks then please do (i probably should get google out and look myself :)


DVD: Anyone know if QuickView or other dos media players are capable of playing back dvd discs? It's not essential but would be nice.


Networking: Is it possible to network my dos machine upto my winxp server and playback movies directly from the server? If so how? If not - to bad :)


Other than that if anyone has some more ideas/tips/tricks I'll' be glad to hear them. Oh and if you'd like me to post the bootimage that i'm using let me know.
 

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Why not make it easier on yourself and just do a bootable copy of Windows? Setting up the streaming of content and some of the other stuff you want to do is a royal pain in DOS. I just made a 500 MB image of Win 98 with office installed today without trying. If you used 98lite, you could shrink that down a ton.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
However will windows 98 continue to function without the boot cd still in the drive?
 

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Good point.


I remember reading somewhere about someone getting Windows to run in a RAM drive...no idea where. Google might help?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
....but from memory they had 256mb ram - could be mistaken.


Thanks anyway.
 

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You could do this with a compact flash card and not have to worry about removal of cd. You'd have to turn off paging, or use a ram drive to avoid wearing out the compact flash (100,000 write cycles)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the sugestion.


Unfortunetlly the cost of a 128mb flash card an CF-IDE convert is just as much as a new 40gig hdd :)


On the good side, I've got the audio working except it sounds terrible. (I supose that's what you get for onboard ac97 codec). So it looks like I'll just get a hdd and be done with it as the quality of my scan converter is much worse than first thought :(
 

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if you have another pc you could hook the two up via 10/100lan and remotely boot the htpc from the other computer. boot times probably would suffer but if all you're doing is divx then it shouldn't really matter.


Leo
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
pomidor - woot sounds good.


Any pages out there that explain how to remotly boot a computer?
 

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I would recommend getting a Sigma Designs X-Card (or whatever it's called)... a hardware MPEG2/Divx PCI card with on-board TV-out.


I have not actually used it myself, but used its predecessor (the Hollywood+) for TV output from my old PC. A much nicer picture than any scan converter would be capable of, I imagine.


One major potential drawback for your situation, however, is the fact that it only outputs video content. No desktop/Windows through the TV out. However, you could keep your current Trident + scan converter combo for that purpose, and switch between the two.


An even better solution would be a new AGP video card with onboard TV output. Using TVTool , nVidia based cards can be thoroughly tweaked to look their best on a TV screen, and there's some very cheap cards available that would suit this program.


Other options include the Radeon 7500 and Matrox G450, but these are pricier than it sounds like you'd be willing to spend.


-Bon
 

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At my last place of employment we had linux running on a 16MB CF card ($6 on dealnews.com) and we had the server appliance kit version of win 2k and win nt running in 48MB. You can certainly get dos running in 16MB. It's tricky but possible. Regardless of whether or not it costs as much as a hard drive, it has lots of advantages (heat power space reliability etc) But if you are trying to do this based on cost then....
 

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As someone said before, CF cards have a limited life and should not really be used for the main OS files. If you could work something so the CF simply stores the files which are then loaded into a RAMdish, that might be a little better.
 

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Why not go for Linux instead?

Then you have a lot of options on how to boot. Network Boot from server is something I would like to try, since the boot-up time is much faster than hd. With linux you could also use CD/CF etc.

Like Cal Z says, do not use CF on a regular win*; it will break. Maybe embedded XP could work though, have not tried it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for the idea's people... hmm I presume i should eb able to get linux to boot of a cd right.


Any recomended linux divx players i should check out?
 
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