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Old 08-15-2005, 09:50 AM   #1
cliff76
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Registered: Feb 2005
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How To build a Media Center


Hello everyone. I am a Linux newbie and I'm looking to build a Media Center PC. I'm not sure where to start so right now I think I just want to play with Myth TV on my main PC at home. This is an AMD 2800+ with 1G RAM a 80GB HD and a cheap $20 TV capture card (WinTV-GO). I have Mepis Linux installed alongside WinXP. It looks rather intimidating to install Myth TV as I don't see any RPMs or deb files just a source tgz. My plan is to figure out how to work it then buy/build a budget PC specific for media center computing. I guess my main question is what's the best distro for installing MythTV? While I'm looking for user-friendly, I'm not afraid to dig and get my hands dirty with some manual tweaking as long as the end result is a user friendly system that requires no further manul fiddling. Ultimately I want to buy a SFF box and build a media center for my living room. What would be a rough estimate for a budget box that could record and watch TV simultaneously? I've done some Googling and I found some info on budget SMP with dual Celerons runnin 450Mhz. While I'm not looking to be that cheap I thought it would be cool if I could do something fancy like build my own dual proc box using low end CPUs. I may be in way over my head dreaming this up but does it sound practical? Are there any projects out there that I could use as a guide?
 
Old 08-15-2005, 11:06 AM   #2
fouldsy
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A lot of it comes down to memory in terms of watching + recording tv, but bear in mind you'd also need two tv cards for this. Processor speed isn't as important, but still nice when encoding video. Budget wise, something like a 2ghz Celeron or Semperon 2200 would do it, with minimum 512Mb memory, 1gb ideally. You can do it with less, but you might start dropping frames. Depends on budget you're looking - dual 400Mhz's with 256Mb RAM would work, technically. Hard drive size will also be important if you're planning on storing lots of movies, photos, and the video you record.

Distro wise, I believe there is an off-shot of Knoppix at the moment running Myth, KnoppMyth which could be cool to look at and see if MythTV is what you'd want running. Installing + configuring isn't too difficult, but is a little time consuming.
 
Old 08-16-2005, 07:32 AM   #3
cliff76
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Thanx for your reply fouldsy. I looked at KnoppMyth originally believing that it would save me from having to install anything however it requires an install as well. Even more, it requires 4 disk partitions to run. That seems a little much for my already multi-booting system and I may have to look into a separate driver specifically for my Media OS. I'm checking prices on parts right now to see where I'd stand. I remember looking into an Asus NForce-2 MOBO like I already have and it was relatively cheap as were the AMDs that go with it. Kingston ValueRam has been going dirt cheap at my local Circuit City for a while too and I'm looking at just over $200 for the MOBO, Proc, and 1G memory. That looks like a solid deal considering the MOBO has integrated Dolby 5.1 surround sound saving the cost of a sound card. It also sports Qfan controls to throttle the case fans on heavy demands. Now I'm looking for a good ATX case, power supply, video card and capture card. The ATI AllInWonder series looks promising but I'd have to price them as well. I was hoping to keep the total cost under or around $300 but I don't know how feasible that is.
 
Old 08-16-2005, 11:30 AM   #4
fouldsy
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Asus nForce2 boards are pretty solid and been the basis of a number of machines I've built. Didn't find the onboard 5.1 sound up to the same quality as a separate card, but will make do in terms of saving money. You probably won't notice the difference unless you have very high end speakers. Otherwise, looks like a pretty good setup underway there! I've heard good things about the ATI All-in-Ones so long as you're not to use it for games as well, and gives you a decent card, tv recording + tv out for a decent price. Not sure about US prices as I'm in the UK, but sure they match up about the same, but $300 including the case, PSU, DVD drive, etc. might be a bit tight - might need to throw on a extra $50 or so, but getting there!

Let us know how it all goes.
 
Old 08-29-2005, 12:36 PM   #5
snickwad
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Hi cliff76, I have been toying with a Linux based PVR solution over the past few weeks, so hopefully my comments about the experience will help.

I am a Slackware user, but the main 'issue' about the experiment has been ensuring the hardware is supported and properly configured. The system I am using is just a prototype; it is based on an old PC Chips micro atx board, a Duron 1200, generic cd-rom drive, small 4Gb hard drive and 128mb sdram, with cheap Pinnacle TV card purchased from E-bay for 10 which included a IR receiver and two remotes. After an out of the box install of Slackware 10.1, I went to the Freevo site (http://freevo.sourceforge.net). I was very fortunate to find someone had packaged all the dependencies for Slack into a meta-package, which I downloaded and installed. There were a couple of apps that I had to download and compile, but none of these were essential. It did involve a lot of reading, and editing configuration files, but so long as you can use a text editor, you will be fine.

So, I had a working PVR solution. What this then revealed was the limitations of my hardware. Although I am still waiting for confirmation, I do not believe the integrated graphics supports hardware scaling (SIS630/730 chipset) etc, so on a display set at 1024x768, my TV display is in a 640X480 box

I am now looking at sourcing a Matrox G400 AGP card to play with, as this is documented on the Freevo site as well supported. Ultimately, this hardware will be put in an HTPC case, and the hard drive upgraded to give me plenty of space for recordings, but I would estimate that excluding the new HTPC case, my expenditure would be about 100. Of course, what will probably happen is that I decide to upgrade the tuner to DVB.......

Good luck anyway.
 
Old 08-29-2005, 05:49 PM   #6
Wakinglimb
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I'm looking at doing a similar thing with a dual p3 667 HP Kayak I bought cheaply off of eBay. The site you linked to above looks very comprehensive - thanks for that. I'm now scouring eBay for a cheap TV card to play with - my Kayak came with a Matrox G250 which looks fairly decent, but will see how it performs.

snickwad, the guy I bought my Kayak off of sells G400/G450's on eBay for about 10/15, so worth doing a search there.

I have no real favourite distro (I change dependant on what is best the task) - anyone else had good/bad experiences with a particular one?
 
Old 09-28-2005, 03:45 PM   #7
abcdefg
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Look into small form factor systems such as Iwill, Shuttle, and Ideq (there are others).

Little toaster sized pcs is what they are, although pricer than a mid-tower atx.

If saving money really is important, check out newegg.com. They usually have good deals. A 3000+ Amd venice core, or even a sempron, 200GB hard drive for ~$100, cheap motherboard, cheap videocard with tv-out... should be able to do it for under $300.00 US.

Ive heard something about 64-bit cpus doing better at video encoding than 32 bit, Im not entirely sure if this is true. All I know, is my $154.00 (6 months ago) 3000+ amd cpu really seems to do well with video encoding. Intels are supposed to be slightly faster with encoding, but they are also considerably more expensive.

But if its only playback, my PII-400 dell just barely does the job. Nothing fancy is required, but I would recommed something more powerfull than a PIi .

I build a gaming computer awhile back (feb 2005), I might go ahead and build a HTPC.

Although If I have the money or the need for it, I might go with an FX55 or an opteron. Waiting for videos to encode is worse than dialup internet for me.

Last edited by abcdefg; 09-28-2005 at 03:46 PM.
 
Old 09-28-2005, 08:10 PM   #8
Lleb_KCir
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http://ssma.us/debian_media.html

this does not run MythTV, but IIRC there is a repository for MythTV so you can apt-get it. IIRC you also have to have MySQL running to get MythTV up and running properly. that is the reason i never messed with it.
 
Old 10-09-2005, 06:00 AM   #9
aerogate
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This may be usefull :-

http://www.electra.pwp.blueyonder.co...tv/linuxtv.htm

Last edited by aerogate; 10-09-2005 at 06:02 AM.
 
Old 12-07-2005, 06:34 PM   #10
phishman3579
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snickwad
Hi cliff76, I have been toying with a Linux based PVR solution over the past few weeks, so hopefully my comments about the experience will help.

I am a Slackware user, but the main 'issue' about the experiment has been ensuring the hardware is supported and properly configured. The system I am using is just a prototype; it is based on an old PC Chips micro atx board, a Duron 1200, generic cd-rom drive, small 4Gb hard drive and 128mb sdram, with cheap Pinnacle TV card purchased from E-bay for 10 which included a IR receiver and two remotes. After an out of the box install of Slackware 10.1, I went to the Freevo site (http://freevo.sourceforge.net). I was very fortunate to find someone had packaged all the dependencies for Slack into a meta-package, which I downloaded and installed. There were a couple of apps that I had to download and compile, but none of these were essential. It did involve a lot of reading, and editing configuration files, but so long as you can use a text editor, you will be fine.

So, I had a working PVR solution. What this then revealed was the limitations of my hardware. Although I am still waiting for confirmation, I do not believe the integrated graphics supports hardware scaling (SIS630/730 chipset) etc, so on a display set at 1024x768, my TV display is in a 640X480 box

I am now looking at sourcing a Matrox G400 AGP card to play with, as this is documented on the Freevo site as well supported. Ultimately, this hardware will be put in an HTPC case, and the hard drive upgraded to give me plenty of space for recordings, but I would estimate that excluding the new HTPC case, my expenditure would be about 100. Of course, what will probably happen is that I decide to upgrade the tuner to DVB.......

Good luck anyway.
If you have any questions, I have alot of experience with Freevo. I am starting a help page specifically for Freevo. http://freevohelp.com
 
Old 12-07-2005, 11:23 PM   #11
KimVette
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Vikings: Spam spam spam spam...
Waitress: ...spam spam spam egg and spam; spam spam spam spam spam spam baked beans spam spam spam...
Vikings: Spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam!
 
Old 12-08-2005, 12:55 AM   #12
purelithium
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KimVette
Vikings: Spam spam spam spam...
Waitress: ...spam spam spam egg and spam; spam spam spam spam spam spam baked beans spam spam spam...
Vikings: Spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam!
What.....?
 
Old 12-08-2005, 05:55 AM   #13
trickykid
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KimVette
Vikings: Spam spam spam spam...
Waitress: ...spam spam spam egg and spam; spam spam spam spam spam spam baked beans spam spam spam...
Vikings: Spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam!
KimVette,

We're well aware of this users recent posting habit and they have been notified. What we don't need are these types of replies to them. Just report the post and move along in these situations.

Thanks.
 
  


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