[arch-general] The ultimate Home Theater / media center computer

Thiago Varela thiagodrv at archlinux.com.br
Sun May 3 18:38:26 EDT 2009

For the software, I strongly recommend LinuxMCE <linuxmce.com>
Take a look at the video they have there, showing the software features, which
takes impressively 20+ minutes! <wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/Video>

With the rest, I unfortunately can't help you much, but good luck!

Best Regards,
Thiago Varela

On Sun, 03 May 2009 21:33:14 +0200
RedShift <redshift at pandora.be> wrote:

> Hi list
> Somehow I got it into my head that I want a home theater PC. I'm growing
> tired of having to watch television and movies on my computer's 17" LCD
> screen. At the shop I used to work at, once in a while we'd build a media
> center computer, but the concept never really took off here (Belgium). There
> are many reasons for that, such as:
> * Television is major suckage here (thanks to That Big Company and
> Government-Not-Governing). The entire country is split into very small
> regions where broadcast frequencies differ,  there's no unified TV guide
> system, not all regions can receive all channels. Digital television is even
> worse: That Big Company forces you to buy one of their proprietary decoders.
> The only way to receive digital television without restrictions is DVB-T with
> a very limited number of channels (basically nothing).
> * At that time, the hardware sucked (noisy, too big, not stylish enough to
> put it along your other hi-fi components, not powerful enough, limited
> digital outputs, etc...). The software wasn't much better (too complicated,
> took a long time to start, etc...).
> Anyway, my goal is to build the *ULTIMATE* HTPC. As such, strong demands must
> be met:
> The hardware:
> * It should be stylish, a timeless look which fits with your other hi-fi
> components.
> * It must be entirely silent. Zero moving components. No exceptions.
> * Unrestricted fully digital outputs.
> * Must be able to play at least 720p MKV's using x264 encoded video.
> * Easy remote control. No remote controls with more buttons than there are
> stars in the sky and certainly no "dual function" buttons (those functions in
> a different color which you need to flick a switch or are context dependent).
> * Able to receive DVB-C.
> The software:
> * There is no room for "Digital Rights Management" fascism. All content must
> play flawless and in the highest quality possible. In some cases this will
> mean circumventing protections. That'll probably make the device illegal in
> some countries, but I don't care.
> * Easy user interface (also see hardware remote control point).
> * Can connect to NAS or other storage devices such as USB sticks.
> In total:
> * Must be a complete replacement for your DVD player and other media devices.
> The goal here is keeping the number of remote controls down. Ideally you
> should only have two: one for controlling your HTPC and one for your hi-fi
> set.
> * It is geared towards modern television, that means stuff like HDTV and no
> legacy connector stuff (like composite).
> With those goals set, I started looking for hardware. Here's what I've come
> up with:
> * Case: Silverstone LC19
> http://www.silverstonetek.com/products/p_spec.php?pno=lc19&area=usa
> + 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
> + Slim
> - Fits only small motherboard sizes
> - Only 120 watt PSU
> - No infrared receiver, no remote control
> * Motherboard: Asus P5N7A-VM
> http://www.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=8YiUFvK51IergAqY&templete=2
> + 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
> * 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.
> * Remote control: ?
> I want to have something simple here. Maybe a small USB infrared receiver and
> a simple remote control with buttons up, down, left, right, enter? Anyone
> know if such hardware exists?
> * 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.
> * Processor cooling: ?
> I was thinking of a big block with small fins which you see a lot in 1U
> rackservers. Copper would be the logical choice but from what I've read,
> aluminum allows for better heat transfer to the environment. So a copper base
> with alu fins would be ideal.
> * 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.
> 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:
> * MythTV (http://www.mythtv.org/)
> * XBMC (http://xbmc.org/)
> * Elisa (http://elisa.fluendo.com/)
> The point I really want to focus on is ease of use. Take this as a benchmark:
> you only have to explain your parents once how it works.
> Any suggestions, comments, thoughts, etc... are appreciated.
> Thanks,
> Best regards,
> Glenn

More information about the arch-general mailing list