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Old 01-20-2014, 01:34 PM   #1
Lionel1020
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Can Linux be used for a Media Centre?


My first question so I'll say hello to everyone. I'm English my wife is French and the kids are confused....most of the time!

I am trying to build a “Media Centre” with an “old” computor.

It is a Compaq EVO D510 SFF.......Pentium 4 @ 1.80Ghz, 504 mb of ram.

I know it's old but it has very small form factor 10cms high x 33 cms across and will go neatly under the television if I can get it set-up right.

I have been working on it for a couple of weeks now...Windows XP pro... as soon as I get one thing working something else will stop working...very frustrating...still not all working now.
Upgrading to say win 7 is not viable money wise.. So I thought of Linux.

I was hoping the members here would be so kind as to answer a few questions.

Firstly I am a complete newbie with regards to Linux...but not to bad with computers.
Thing is.... it's not really what Linux can do... that I need to know. It's more, Can Linux do.... what I want it to do. Can it look the way I want it to look? Can it operate in the way I want it to operate.

I'm not being obstreperous here...let me explain. The computer will go under the television, connected to only the television. Operated with a cordless mouse and keyboard or a remote if I can get one. The average age of an operator will be 10 years old, my kids. The interface language can be English, French or Spanish.
On the television remote is a “source” button, when you select the source that leads to the computer the opening screen must be simple, Don't really need a task bar just a few rows of big “buttons”, a bit like the screen on a smart phone.
For a home media centre a few basic "buttons" are needed like “music”, “films” “photos” “home videos” “internet” and “email”. Simplicity and Linux are words not normally used in the same sentence but this is what I am looking for.
When you click on the “films” “button” you get a list of films...when you “click” on a film title it plays... Believe me 10 year olds are not interested in how this is done or what player or codec is being used they just want to see Harry Potter and his mates.
The same simplicity must apply to the rest of the “buttons”, Click on music you get a list of albums...click on the album/title.... it plays

Nothing like this (that I know of) exists but can one make it using Linux?
 
Old 01-20-2014, 01:56 PM   #2
Ryanms3030
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I'm pretty noob myself so take what I say with a grain of salt. Yes it can definitely be done. Google xbmc that's a popular option. I think you might want to upgrade your ram a bit
 
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Old 01-20-2014, 02:31 PM   #3
MARogue
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Welcome!
What you are desiring to do is absolutely possible in Linux. For starters, as stated, more ram may be a necessary and is definitely recommended for handling media. There are a number of media centre type programs used commonly in Linux. My personal favourite is VLC. The real issue you need to look at is what Linux distro will be right for you. Due to the age of your computer and new user status you may want to try a light distro like Xubuntu or Linux Mint XFCE or LXDE.
Be ready to read the instillation guides and other info about what you are trying to do (there is a ton of info and tutorials on the internet to help guide you). When you run into a specific problem feel free to drop another post here and we can help.
You will have fun while your are learning with some patience.

Regards
 
Old 01-20-2014, 02:45 PM   #4
Lionel1020
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Thanks for the reply...downloaded xbmc and gave it a quick test run on this computer....

Definitely goes in the right direction, but it's a bit longwinded.

Last edited by Lionel1020; 01-20-2014 at 03:26 PM.
 
Old 01-20-2014, 02:58 PM   #5
rokytnji
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I use Hulu Desktop. Xmms. (I guess qmmp for a modern version would do for a newbie). Lighter on resources. I pipe my media center
through a 200 watt per channel 1970's pioneer anolog amplifier and play mp3's and stream internet radio from http://loudcity.com/
all day long in my motorcycle shop.

Yeah, Linux can be used as a media center http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...d-deliver-174/

Edit: Just realized you were in Paris. So Hulu is not a option. Look into Miro instead.

2nd edit: Thinking about it. Also look into using Minitube also.

Last edited by rokytnji; 01-20-2014 at 03:02 PM.
 
Old 01-20-2014, 03:08 PM   #6
dolphin_oracle
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You can skin xbmc with variety of themes to change the look.

You can check out openelec as a distro, as I believe it is xmbc based.

http://openelec.tv/
 
Old 01-20-2014, 03:47 PM   #7
Addicted2linux
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Here are some info on setting up an xbmc
http://lifehacker.com/5900626/create...complete-guide

If you have a Raspberry PI or plan to get one in the future, it can be made into a media center as well
http://lifehacker.com/5929913/build-...5-raspberry-pi

Also, another option is mythtv, but it requires a bit more work to setup and a more beefy system. The process has been made easier with a specialty distro called Muthbuntu.

Good luck on whatever option you choose.
 
Old 01-20-2014, 04:33 PM   #8
Lionel1020
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Thanks everybody for the replies...certainly a lot to look at.

If I've got this right the general consensus is to install a "light" operating system (distro?) and then add a media player which would basically play anything???
Then figure out how to make shortcuts to each type of media showup on the opening screen.

In the Compaq at the moment there are two hard disks.....one is empty (D) the other has windows on it(C). Can I install a Linux system on the empty disk then remove the windows disk. This would leave just the Linux system...would it boot up?
 
Old 01-20-2014, 05:03 PM   #9
rokytnji
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Unplug the Windows hard drive. Install linux on the one plugged in. Then you can use bios to pick which hard drive to boot.

I run dual drive desktops and dual boot linux only (no windows) a number of different ways but I know my way around a computer
I guess a little better than you. It takes some skill to set up a dual drive booting system.

Hence why I suggest the simple way out.

Lighter operating system install instructions (make sure windows hard drive is unplugged though).
 
Old 01-20-2014, 07:14 PM   #10
Lionel1020
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Hi Rokytnji,

“Unplug the Windows hard drive. Install linux on the one plugged in. Then you can use bios to pick which hard drive to boot.”

Unfortunately I can't do this as the hardware set up is bit weird. The computer had several problems before I had the bright idea to make it into a “media centre”. Not the least was the fact the CD/DVD drive was broken ( physically broken) and the bio's have no option to boot from a usb. This left me with a very small “c” drive filled with windows xp. My solution was to remove the CD/DVD drive and add another hard disk. I then added an external DVD via a usb enabled by windows. Should I “Unplug the windows drive” I loose the DVD and the USB capability on boot. Additionally using the bio's to pick a primary boot would become tiresome after a time. Had the “c” drive been larger I would simply set up a duel boot system with linux in a separate partition. After this one could simply delete the windows partition to recuperate the space.

I do agree with you that setting up a duel boot system using only linux distro's could be a delicate operation due (I would imagine) to the guess/ estimates one would have to make as to the size of the required partitions. Something I would further imagine has become easier with the availability of larger drives which give a larger margin for error.

So returning to my problem I need the windows system to enable the CD/DVD player and the USB's. There is no room on the windows disk to create a Linux partition. I have to go through windows to create a Linux installation on the second disk. Question is will the Linux work once I remove the windows disk??

Last edited by Lionel1020; 01-20-2014 at 07:16 PM.
 
Old 01-20-2014, 07:32 PM   #11
Dman58
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You really dont need windows at all unelss you just want to keep it for keep it sake. Any distro you download can be installed and configured from that cd/ dvd by itself. Windows is just what your used to or comfortable with but don't think that it's a requirement in order to install Linux because that is totally false.
 
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Old 01-20-2014, 08:25 PM   #12
Lionel1020
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Hi Dman58,

I do not really want to keep windows, But windows makes the Usb's work and the DVD drive is connected by usb. No windows = no usb.....no usb= no dvd drive. So I have to keep windows...just until Linux takes over.
 
Old 01-20-2014, 08:38 PM   #13
lleb
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something to keep in mind, that old of a CPU is going to really lag when it comes to dealing with any kind of HD content.

as for services i enjoy both XBMC and Plex. Plex takes much longer to setup and configure, but in the long run is very nice and much easier for the average person to use.

XBMC (That is X-Box media center btw) is no were near as nice of a front end (the GUI) but is faster to configure and can access more types of files by default. Plex will not use any codec installed on the system as it will ONLY use codecs it has native access to via Plex, XBMC on the other hand relies on the codecs you have installed and configured on your server.

you may wish to look into a Raspberry Pi running RaspBMC as a better performing low cost media server.
 
Old 01-20-2014, 09:10 PM   #14
rokytnji
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Ok. Wow. Hoops to Jump through and everything. Low ram. No usb bios support. Cdrom usb. Only works in Windows.

Shucks. Lightweight distro also. No experience with dual drive grub installs whether grub legacy or grub2.

I'm stumped pardner. Maybe a wubi ubuntu or mint4win install to secondary hard drive but the problem is going to be.
Your ram challenged for that. It'll bog down like a tractor trailer in a Louisiana swamp. Like I said. I am kinda stumped.

Maybe a poorman install of something where you use windows to install grub to the other free drive mbr. Then a boot from iso type of install. Things that a miles above my skill set to advise on.

Quote:
From harddisk copy of Knoppix, "Poor man's install"
http://smtp.knoppix.net/wiki/Complet...sed_HowTo_page

Above is just for study and reference. To give you a idea on what the heck I'm talking about.

Some more reading and scratching your head. Make a pot of coffee I guess.

I would try this with Lubuntu 12.04LTS on your specs

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Grub2/ISOBoot

You sure made it hard for this Linux using outlaw biker to figure out how to answer your recent post.

Edit: Fingers crossed hoping he says "yeah I have a internal floppy drive that I can boot from and bios sees it in the boot order".

Last edited by rokytnji; 01-20-2014 at 09:19 PM.
 
Old 01-20-2014, 09:35 PM   #15
dolphin_oracle
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I would spend 10 bucks on a cd/dvd drive, take out the windows drive, plug in the cd drive, and install your linux distro of choice from there. you might be able to find one a your local thrift shop. Our goodwill as a parts bin. you never know what you can find.
 
  


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