On Sun, May 3, 2009 at 14:33, RedShift firstname.lastname@example.org wrote: <snip>
With those goals set, I started looking for hardware. Here's what I've come up with:
- Case: Silverstone LC19
- Fanless PSU.
- Casefans can be removed
- Comes with PCI-e and PCI risercards
- Integrated cardreader and slimline optical slot
- Available in black and silver
- Accommodates standard ATX I/O shield
- Room for a 3.5" storage device (SSD?)
- Vents right above the CPU
- Fits only small motherboard sizes
- Only 120 watt PSU
- No infrared receiver, no remote control
120W might be a little low. I have the P5N7A-VM motherboard listed below in my HTPC and it draws ~80W (as computed from the measured current through an ammeter from the wall socket). I have a Core2Duo, 2 case fans, HDD, and a PCI TV tuner card in mine though.
- Motherboard: Asus P5N7A-VM
- Powerful on-board graphics (nVidia 9300)
- Supports 16 GB of RAM
- eSATA port
- Optical audio output
- HDMI, DVI and VGA video output
- Gigabit ethernet
- Solid caps
- nVidia on-board graphics (requiring proprietary driver)
- On-board graphics use system memory
- Crappy realtek audio codec
As i mentioned, i use this motherboard in my HTPC. Works nice, but i'm afraid the heat dissipation from the nvidia chipset is a bit much for a fanless solution. If you are still considering this motherboard and want some numbers, i can turn off the fans and measure the case temperature to give you a ballpark figure.
Other problems i've had with this motherboard: - HDMI doesn't seem to work if the TV is not powered on when the computer is booted. I haven't had time to debug this, so i'm just using a DVI-HDMI cable which doesn't have this problem. - I could never figure out how to get audio working through the HDMI cable. It worked fine in Windows, but under Linux the digital audio only worked through the optical output, regardless of BIOS settings. - The audio is victim of the latest changes in the 2.6.29 kernel (see FS #14246 )
- DVB-C receiver: ?
I have zero experience with DVB-C receivers for computers. I've come across the "DVBWorldDTV Cable" (http://www.worlddvb.com/product/htm/pcic.htm) which seems to provide what I'm looking for. Anyone know how good this hardware actually is and how well it's supported by linux?
I have an old hauppauge PVR-350 card which works well, unfortunately hauppauge doesn't seem to have DVB-C products.
I don't have much experience with European DVB receivers, but one word of warning: make sure the card you decide on fits in your case of choice. For example, some cases only accept half-height cards.
- Processor: Intel Celeron?
No idea how much processing power would be required for a decent HTPC. Preferably as low powered as possible, as the CPU will have to be passively cooled.
This depends what you want it to be capable of doing. If you just want TV viewing, recording, and playback, a low-power celeron is all you need. I'm pretty sure an Intel Atom is all you need, assuming the graphics chipset is adequate. If you want to re-encode the media (e.g. in the H.264 format), that takes a little more power. As a point of reference, I used to run an HD media PC on an Athlon 1100.
- Storage: ?
For storing the operating system I was thinking of those IDE compact flash cards. Downside is that they are very slow. An SSD can be considered but I want to leave the option open to use the 3.5" bay for a hard drive for people that don't have the luxury of a NAS or don't want to leave a NAS running all times.
Arch boots fine from a CF card through an IDE-CF adapter, but as you mentioned, they are slow.
Moving along. The most annoying aspect: software. Obviously we want all our software to be open source. A shortlist of open source media center software:
I have used MythTV and XBMC for a little while now. I hadn't heard of Elisa until i read your email. Here is my take on the three: MythTV - highly configurable. Probably more options than you could ever want. Need to use plugins for video playback (non-recorded) and music. XBMC - My opinion is that it is easier to use than MythTV, however, it does not have TV tuner/PVR support, and i've had some playback issues with the built-in codecs it uses on files that mplayer/MythTV didn't. Elisa - since i have only tried this for a little while, my concerns here might not be valid. Out-of-box, the user interface seemed to be the best of the three. However, the controls were awkward (compared to MythTV), but they might be customizable. Also, i had trouble adding media directories because my media is under /mnt/media but it would only allow access to my home directory. It also could not play Quicktime media out of box.