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reub2000
Premium
join:2001-12-28
Evanston, IL

Considering making a media center pc with linux

I'm considering making a media center pc, with gnu/linux. I'd probably use gentoo since that's what I like the most, and it's easy to keep it up to date. Any distro's or programs specifiacly made to do what I want to do. I'd prefer linux over something like a tivo, because with linux, it wouldn't be under someone elses control at all.

Here's some of the things I would like it to do. Would it be possible to do all of this with linux? What type of hardware would I need? (CPU type and speed, amount of ram, etc.)

*Play video and DVDs on my hdtv, and scale them to 1080i
*Record tv via multiple tv tuner cards
*Setup video recordings via an http inferface on another computer on the lan
*Burn the TV shows to either a vcd or dvd
*Watch TV and use it as a computer at the same time
*Connect to my 802.11g network, which is guarded by WPA-PSK
*Share any recored video using samba
*Play audio and video on other computers on the network using samba

Here is what my home theater is like:
TV: Toshiba 46H84 (46" Widescreen, 1080i or 540p)
Reciver: Yamaha HTR-5740
Speakers: Athena Micra 6 (5.1)


stateq2
control the code
Premium
join:2003-03-27
Jackson, MS

Re: Considering making a media center pc with linu

using this?
»www.mythtv.org/


computx
nullus cogito ergo google.
Premium
join:2000-09-02
Kirksville, MO
reply to reub2000
Mythtv will do almost all of what you want. It is network aware and doesn't need samba to work. There is a wintv client for windows for use as a frontend only but it is not as handy as the linux client. Everything else you mentioned I have done with mythtv except the hdtv scaling. I don't have an hdtv
Gentoo is a great distro for running mythtv on as the install is just an emerge away. Doing it on other distros can be quite a challenge.
Make sure you have mysql in your use flags. If you start out without it then you will have to add it and reinstall qt. Not a big deal though.

0.17 is out but I am still using 0.16 as it is so stable and I haven't seen a need to update yet.
--
To err is human...to really foul up requires the root password.


reub2000
Premium
join:2001-12-28
Evanston, IL
reply to stateq2
said by stateq2:

using this?
»www.mythtv.org/
Looks like it does a lot of what I want. Though I don't see much about scalling DVDs.

I know linux's wireless support is flacky. Would I have many problems if I could find a wifi card well supported by linux?


computx
nullus cogito ergo google.
Premium
join:2000-09-02
Kirksville, MO
reply to reub2000
There is a seperate program called nuvexport that converts from myths nuv format to mpeg for dvd's.
As for wireless support I recently needed to get rid of the ethernet cable going to my mythtv box. It is a shuttle minipc so I didn't have a room for a pci wifi adapter. I bought this item and it works like a charm. no drivers for linux needed at all. »www.linksys.com/products/product···prid=603
--
To err is human...to really foul up requires the root password.


reub2000
Premium
join:2001-12-28
Evanston, IL

1 edit
quote:
There is a seperate program called nuvexport that converts from myths nuv format to mpeg for dvd's.
Is the nuv format using lossy compression? Would the video have to go through 2 lossy compressions?

quote:
As for wireless support I recently needed to get rid of the ethernet cable going to my mythtv box. It is a shuttle minipc so I didn't have a room for a pci wifi adapter. I bought this item and it works like a charm. no drivers for linux needed at all.
Kind of expensive little device. Would be cheaper just to use a 802.11g card.

quote:
Mythtv will do almost all of what you want. It is network aware and doesn't need samba to work.
So what protocol would it use to share stuff and use stuff on other computers?


computx
nullus cogito ergo google.
Premium
join:2000-09-02
Kirksville, MO
said by reub2000:

Is the nuv format using lossy compression? Would the video have to go through 2 lossy compressions?....
Not sure if I am the best person to explain this. I do believe it is covered in the docs. nuv stands for nupple video and is a container for your choice of rtjpeg or mpeg. Either way, I believe it is a lossy compression. You have the choice of how big your files will be. I have it set so that 1 hour of programming consumes about 1 gigabyte. For tv viewing I do not see any noticable loss of quality. If you use an hauppage wintv-pvr250 or 350 then it does the encoding for you into mpeg4. Of course as I stated I don't have an hdtv. As you probably know dvd's are not in hdtv quality anyway.

Kind of expensive little device. Would be cheaper just to use a 802.11g card....
It's around $100 possibly cheaper by now. Another option would be an atheros chipset adapter which seems to have good support in linux. 802.11b is not fast enough to send the data so the card must be 802.11g. That goes narrow your options down.

So what protocol would it use to share stuff and use stuff on other computers?
Mythtv is a client server type of program. You need at least one backend. That does the scheduling, recording etc.and is left running all of the time. secondly you have a frontend. It can reside on the same pc or another pc on the network.
The frontend pulls the video from the backend for display.
You can have multiple backends each with multiple tuner cards if so desired. I have a shuttle box in the living room with a backend and frontend. I also have frontends installed On linux boxen throughout the house where you can watch recordings or live tv and schedule recordings etc. Also on the box with the backend I have an apache webserver running with mythweb installed which allows me to schedule programs etc. I can even do this from the internet so if I forget to schedule something If I have net access wherever I am I can still set it to record. It is pretty nice, I can even watch tv from my linux laptop on the patio . Not sure if you use windows but the windows client looks nothing like the linux client and can only be used to watch recorded programs not a live stream.
--
To err is human...to really foul up requires the root password.


reub2000
Premium
join:2001-12-28
Evanston, IL
said by computx:

said by reub2000:

Is the nuv format using lossy compression? Would the video have to go through 2 lossy compressions?....
Not sure if I am the best person to explain this. I do believe it is covered in the docs. nuv stands for nupple video and is a container for your choice of rtjpeg or mpeg. Either way, I believe it is a lossy compression. You have the choice of how big your files will be. I have it set so that 1 hour of programming consumes about 1 gigabyte. For tv viewing I do not see any noticable loss of quality. If you use an hauppage wintv-pvr250 or 350 then it does the encoding for you into mpeg4. Of course as I stated I don't have an hdtv. As you probably know dvd's are not in hdtv quality anyway.
That's why I said I wanted one that could scale DVDs.
Kind of expensive little device. Would be cheaper just to use a 802.11g card....
It's around $100 possibly cheaper by now. Another option would be an atheros chipset adapter which seems to have good support in linux. 802.11b is not fast enough to send the data so the card must be 802.11g. That goes narrow your options down.
The bridge you pointed me too only supports WEP, not WPA. This doesn't make me very comfortable using WEP instead of WPA-PSK. But transfering a TV show regularly over a 5Mbp/s link sounds painful.


justin
..needs sleep
Australian
join:1999-05-28
kudos:15
Reviews:
·iiNet
do yourself a favor and run 1gig-e don't bother with wifi. Not because linux drivers are flaky, they are not, they work great, but because unless you plan to make the media center your big disk, you need all the bandwidth you can get.

as for scaling, what is wrong with the scaler built into your tv or 5.1 receiver? I picked up a second hand denon receiver the other day and it has component video inputs, output, and auto-scaling.

running "multiple tv tuner" cards is not possible with small form factor PCs. So your media center PC will look big and ugly.


Happyrat6
Google Is Your Best Friend
Premium
join:2002-07-01
Disneyland
reply to reub2000
While MythTV is a good link some alternatives to consider are

»www.mediainlinux.org/

Which is a Knoppix based Live CD that contains all the tools and apps needed for a multimedia PC

or

»www.vwbinc.com/products.html

These guys have a complete, linux based turnkey solution available in a nice set top box that an apparently handle any multimedia needs you throw at it.
--
Subtlety is wasted on the dense... »www.fuzzyrat.com


computx
nullus cogito ergo google.
Premium
join:2000-09-02
Kirksville, MO
reply to justin
said by justin:

running "multiple tv tuner" cards is not possible with small form factor PCs. So your media center PC will look big and ugly.
But it is possible to run a backend on another machine and have multiple tuners in that box.
As for the wifi, 1 gigabyte / hour is less than 300kb/s. There is some overhead but I have no problems playing video over my 802.11g network. Gig-e seems like way overkill to me. Of course it would be nice but so is not having to run ethernet to your living room.

--
To err is human...to really foul up requires the root password.


justin
..needs sleep
Australian
join:1999-05-28
kudos:15
Reviews:
·iiNet
thats true but i was thinking if you want to burn dvds and resample stuff using the media center cpu where probably all the tools are, but if your file server is somewhere else...

plus playing an uncompressed dvd stored on disk is a bit rate of 9mbit/sec. If the file is on a file server, not the media center... well.. hmm...

if you're just using the wifi for remote control and mp3 playing then sure.


Eatmeingreek
Gentard

join:2001-06-29
San Francisco, CA
reply to reub2000
said by reub2000:

Is the nuv format using lossy compression?
Yes:

said by Nuppelvideo README:

2) future plans:
-------------

less importance:
----------------
...
add a lossless/compressing codec codec

--
"PowerPoint is a distraction. People use it when they don't know what to say."


QuaffAPint
A Big Thanks To The Troops

join:2001-01-10
Downingtown, PA
reply to reub2000

Re: Considering making a media center pc with linux

One quick note - the Windows filter does actually support streaming IIRC...

»dsmyth.sourceforge.net/

...Not that anyone would actually want to run Windows...;)

...I use Gentoo and MythTV CVS on a SD TV and it has consistently scored high in the WAF arena, especially compared to some Windows solutions I tried prior to that. The amusing thing is how the reverse engineered linux driver for the Hauppauge PVR250 works better than the official Windows version...:D

--
Gentoo - It'll put hair on your chest and a beer in your hand - and that's just the ladies...


computx
nullus cogito ergo google.
Premium
join:2000-09-02
Kirksville, MO

Re: Considering making a media center pc with linu

said by QuaffAPint:

One quick note - the Windows filter does actually support streaming IIRC...
That could well be, I havent tried the windows client since version 0.15 of myth was in use.
--
To err is human...to really foul up requires the root password.


reub2000
Premium
join:2001-12-28
Evanston, IL
reply to justin
quote:
do yourself a favor and run 1gig-e don't bother with wifi. Not because linux drivers are flaky, they are not, they work great, but because unless you plan to make the media center your big disk, you need all the bandwidth you can get.
If I do this, I would definitely give it a 200GB+ hard drive.

quote:
as for scaling, what is wrong with the scaler built into your tv or 5.1 receiver? I picked up a second hand denon receiver the other day and it has component video inputs, output, and auto-scaling.
I just heard that doing that type of thing on the DVD player is better than doing so on the TV. As it is, with my super old Sony DVD player, things look a little grainy.

vic102482
Premium
join:2002-04-30
Upper Marlboro, MD
reply to reub2000

Re: Considering making a media center pc with linux

Just remember to get a hardware encoder card, software cards will result in lost/dropped frames, you want one with the MPEGII encoder onboard the card itself. Happauge makes one of the best cards out there (no macromedia detection unlike the all in wonder card) so you can even capture from DVD to HDD (not sure why youd want to thugh:p).
--
I tie a rope around my penis and jump from a tree, don't you wanna grow up to be just like me!!!!

vic102482
Premium
join:2002-04-30
Upper Marlboro, MD
reply to computx

Re: Considering making a media center pc with linu

said by computx:

said by justin:

running "multiple tv tuner" cards is not possible with small form factor PCs. So your media center PC will look big and ugly.
But it is possible to run a backend on another machine and have multiple tuners in that box.
As for the wifi, 1 gigabyte / hour is less than 300kb/s. There is some overhead but I have no problems playing video over my 802.11g network. Gig-e seems like way overkill to me. Of course it would be nice but so is not having to run ethernet to your living room.

Transferring a file over wifi takes 3-5 times longer than standard 10/100. For video, you would kill yourself, UNLESS you are streaming, but transferring DVDs and such over wifi is asking for a reduced hairline.:p
--
I tie a rope around my penis and jump from a tree, don't you wanna grow up to be just like me!!!!


markp_2000
Heathen
Premium
join:2004-01-21
West Linn, OR
reply to reub2000

Re: Considering making a media center pc with linux

Go with the most you can afford.

IF you want to try myth - I use KnoppMyth »mysettopbox.tv

They have a great support forum and a wide following.

I am currently trying to run a gigabit lan line to my mythbox to my server. I'm using wifi right now and I wish I could move stuff a little faster.


reub2000
Premium
join:2001-12-28
Evanston, IL
reply to vic102482

Re: Considering making a media center pc with linu

said by vic102482:

Just remember to get a hardware encoder card, software cards will result in lost/dropped frames, you want one with the MPEGII encoder onboard the card itself. Happauge makes one of the best cards out there (no macromedia detection unlike the all in wonder card) so you can even capture from DVD to HDD (not sure why youd want to thugh:p).
But their so expensive. I think I'm going to give it 2 leadtech winfast tv experts. I don't think the Athlon XP 2600+ will really choke when recording the video, especialy if I give it easy stuff like MPEG1.

quote:
IF you want to try myth - I use KnoppMyth »mysettopbox.tv
I've already decided on using Gentoo. I definitly don't want to limit myself to what's included on a live cd. For example, After all, it's a computer, not a set top box. Thanks for the suggestion anyways.

BTW, my TV has an HDMI input. I found this video card, which has a DVI-D input. I want to connect it using an HDMI to DVI-D cable. Since the output is meant for LCD panels, would I have any problems with it?


markp_2000
Heathen
Premium
join:2004-01-21
West Linn, OR
reply to reub2000

Re: Considering making a media center pc with linux

Don't under estimate the KnoppMyth. I used it as a start point because of the ease of install. It is not a closed system like you suggest.

The backend setup is great (which is the mundane part if you ask me) and allows you to focus on the frontend. Really, the tweaking that needs to be done is for the quality of the recordings.

I have a ATI TV Wonder VE Card and run a Sempron 2500+ and I have no issues with any dropped frames and an adequate recording quality.

I have done it both ways -- gentoo and knoppmyth. I just thought I would share

V/R
Mark


reub2000
Premium
join:2001-12-28
Evanston, IL

Re: Considering making a media center pc with linu

said by markp_2000:

Don't under estimate the KnoppMyth. I used it as a start point because of the ease of install. It is not a closed system like you suggest.

The backend setup is great (which is the mundane part if you ask me) and allows you to focus on the frontend. Really, the tweaking that needs to be done is for the quality of the recordings.

I have a ATI TV Wonder VE Card and run a Sempron 2500+ and I have no issues with any dropped frames and an adequate recording quality.

I have done it both ways -- gentoo and knoppmyth. I just thought I would share

V/R
Mark
Lemme guess, installing software from one of the 3 branches of Debian using BTW, what, and how hard is the backend setup?

How powerfull of a CPU do I need? If I have 2 host dependent tv tuner cards,(leadtech winfast tv 2000xp expert) and an Athlon XP 2600+, will I be fine. What if I'm recording one thing at MPEG2 720x480 @ 3Mbp/s (perfect for DVD), and playing back something else that I'm timeshifting, would I run into any skipped frames?