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Having trouble installing a piece of hardware? Want to know if that peripheral is compatible with Linux?


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Old 12-19-2007, 01:21 PM   #1
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Hardware recommendations


I plan to get a new pc to use at home, I want to install linux and a graphical desktop on that and use it as home theatre, for that I need to know what hardware would be compatible with that.

I mainly want a graphical card with an svideo out that would work with linux and a sound card that would as well work.

My favourit distros are FC8 and Debian, if you recommend other distros I'm open

Old 12-19-2007, 02:15 PM   #2
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I'd recommend Debian-based Ubuntu, but you should really pick up a distribution based on your own thoughts, not somebody else's.

Hardware question is difficult to answer..there are a lot of hardware parts that do work under Linux (read: that already have working, native drivers in the kernel), and more coming all the time. The LinuxQuestions HCL (check the link at the top) helps you decide, but primarily you should pick up the parts either based on their price or quality/what you need. Price because there is no reason to pay too much, and quality/needs because the computer is your tool, not just something you decided to buy with blind eyes. After those selections you usually have several options, from which you can decide based on price and hardware compatibility (refer to HCL and search the web).

Nowadays pretty much any pc in the store does the job. Linux kernel has driver support for a lot of hardware, the most usual ones work just as certainly as they work on Windows (or even better), and even for those that are "difficult" there are usually easy solutions. Ubuntu is a good example here; it's Restricted Drivers Manager app lets you just click some checkboxes and have it fetch what is needed to get some of the hardware work that needs proprietary drivers: nVidia and ATI graphics cards, (for example Broadcom) wireless cards that don't have native Linux drivers that would work without parts of Windows drivers etc. Some people say that Broadcom43xx chips should be avoided because they're impossibly difficult to get working under Linux; that's crap, on Ubuntu you need two clicks to get it work. Even manually it's a matter of few simple steps. some ads or visit local stores, pick up a few pc offers that look appealing to you (pay attention to the amount of RAM, cpu frequency, grahpics cards or whatever is important to you) and collect their specification lists. Go back home, get a cup of your favourite beverage, visit LQ's HCL and/or do a web search to find out if the hardware is known to work without trouble under Linux. Most of it should. The troublematic parts are usually graphics cards (they usually work, but getting 3d accelaration at full speed means the manufacturer must have drivers for Linux - ATI and nVidia do, at least for the newish cards), webcams and maybe some not-so-standard products. Not sure how Microsoft wireless magic keyboards work

The last good advice I can give you is to fetch and burn a Linux live-cd distribution, and ask from the store if it's possible to test it with the pc you're intending to buy. Live-cd distribution doesn't need to be installed and it doesn't "interfere" with the machine, so it won't break anything - but you get to know if it boots, if sound and video works (note: not all codecs might be there on the live-cd disc, but test with the common formats if you can) and so on. Ubuntu Desktop disc is a good one - it's a live-cd, you can later use it to install the thing, it should detect most hardware easily, and if there are some that require proprietary drivers or such, it should tell you that too (with other live distributions those hardware parts might not work at all, so they would seem like they don't work to you, even if they did with the right drivers installed after the initial setup).

That's about it..don't think it's so difficult to find hardware that Linux likes to run on. Maybe it used to be, but not anymore.
Old 12-19-2007, 03:30 PM   #3
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For running a home theater you do not need much. I have an old PIII 1ghz with 512mb ram hooked up to my 40 inch lcd. Works fine. I run Centos5 (RedHat EL5 with logos removed) now rather than Fedora. Fedora's support life is now down to about 1 year. Centos's support life is 5 years. For a home theater stuff does not really change all that fast. Pick a "mainstream" remote, some of the cheapies are a bear to get to work. I would stick with nvidia cards. ATI has a history of being less than stellar in Linux support, although with AMD buying them it is getting better (slowly).

If I were going to buy a new box for a home theater:
64w am2 x2 3800+(the low watt is the important part)$50
2gb ram (total)in 2 sticks (ram is cheap and more is always better)$90
Get a good power supply (seasonic) in the 500 watt or more range(this is the last place you want to try and save money)$120
Most motherboards come with integrated sound $90
Video passive cooled nvidia (fans really ruin the movie experience) $50
Try to use 140mm fans where you can.They are MUCH quieter than 80s or most 120.
DVD,hard drive,case, etc just pick what you like.

All this stuff I would look at 's reviews of specific components. I would also stay away from the latest greatest stuff. It takes a little time for the community to get stuff worked out.

You might want to take a look at MythTv.

Good Luck


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