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HTPC: Windows or Linux?

624 Views 11 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  jvincent
I'm looking to build a HTPC and the first decision I need to make is what OS to run, certainly both Linux and Windows have their pluses and minuses (I run linux for what it's worth =) but the OS I decide to run will have implications for what hardware I can buy for the system. What experiences have others had with these OSs? Good stories and bad alike, I want to make a fully informed decision. Feel free to comment on what hardware you run on your system (especially if you're running linux, as it's a little trickier to get hardware that runs like it's supposed to under linux).
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Aren't you going about it in a wrong direction?

Shouldn't you figure out what are your HTPC needs are before deciding on which OS?

Seems to me once you figure out what features you want, it will dictate what applications you will want, which in turn will dictate what hardware you buy and OS you will use.

Unless your aim is to create another Windows bashing thread, this thread seems EXTREMELY vague.
It is pretty safe to say that Windows allows for a fuller HT experience due to the huge number of HT-related software packages, WMV-HD, as well as support (ususally primary) for every existing PC device on earth. So if you want to experiment with lots of implementations, codecs, devices etc. and be on the cutting edge of HTPC experience, Windows is the way to go.

If you ask about my personal opinion and experience, I gave up on Linux completely 3 years ago because my SoundBlaster Live audio card (one of the most common on the market) sounded awful with the drivers available then. Also I couldn't browse to a bunch of multimedia related web sites and trying to play WMA and WMV was extremely difficult and user-unfriendly. So I'm biased :) Things might have changed since then, but I wouldn't waste a minute looking back.
I've used MCE and MythTV. MCE is pretty, but you can't do much to customize it, and long development cycles. MythTV can do much much more, but doesn't have a nice interface.
In response to Gameboy, my needs are: I want to be able to record and playback TV, live TV pausing would be a plus, play dvds, as well as DIVX and other movie format, I want to be able to play my music and have access to a tv guide as well as nice extras like weather reports. I've looked at MythTV and it has everything I'd need, but I assume there's solutions for windows that do too. , which leads me to hardware concerns and the difficulty of getting things to work perfectly under linux.
The reality is that there is much, much, much more selection of applications for Windows.

From decoders to front ends, you've got lots of options. The only good reason I can think of going for linux is avoiding the cost of XP, which is probably a false economy these days anyway.

I say this as a long time linux supporter and XP based HTPCer.
I run HTPCs off both. Like gameboy says, the OS doesn't really matter. Figure out your needs, get appropriate hardware, then check the linux forum to see if that's an option.

If you have uncontrollable upgradeitis, use XP

If this box will have static hardware, and you expect it to perform the same tasks for the next three years, go with linux.
I'm mainly concerned with ease of use and power savings, which tends to point me in the direction of windows, comments?
Also, I really want to be able to share any movie files out easily across the network, which leads me to think linux and something like NFS, but I'm concerned about setting up resolutions and timing for DVI in linux.
Well, Linux vs. Windows - excellent question. If you jump over to the PC Magazine forum you'll see one of their columnists (Dvorak) posting an opinion today, that Windows will ultimately move onto a Linux base. However ... whether this will happen in this century or the next, no one knows. Well, maybe Bill Gates does.

But for us mere mortals: ok, I'm biased. I'm an old-time UNIX pro. I worked on fighting the original Morris-Worm in 1987, the world's first real Internet virus. For me, the book of Genesis starts with "In the beginning, there was the command line ...".

So - Windows or Linux for my HTPC? Easy answer: Windows. Huh? OK, here's the scoop: flaked out on the couch and watching TV I don't want to deal with command lines and configuration issues. Comparing the Windows MCE and MythTV interfaces, MCE wins hands down. Take it from me - I wish it was the other way round.

And, second reason: hardware drivers. Absolutely no new HTPC equipment comes on the market without a Windows driver. However, Linux drivers are very often missing, or come months late.

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How do you go about sharing out your files (if you do?) Do you just use windows shares or do you have an NFS server or something installed?
I don't share any video off my HTPC, but it is also a print server, file server for digital pictures, etc.

All done using Windows file sharing. Of course, all my other PCs are running Windows to, so this is the easiest route.

hubertk really nailed it on the head wrt to drivers and H/W support.
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