Richard Jones' Log: Home Theater PC update

Tue, 12 Apr 2005

I've had some good success with the HTPC. I've got Digital TV coming in, DVDs playing and MythTV setup is in progress (the TV channel setup is a little tedious, but I'm getting there). My brother came over last Saturday and helped route the network cable. Still to do:

  1. Remote control. I received some instructions for geting the remote control working this morning, so I'll have a crack at that tonight.
  2. I'm using suboptimal video drivers (vesa) at the moment, so it runs at 75% CPU playing DVDs. It works though, so I'm happy waiting for fixes to the Unichrome driver. VIA have just open-sourced a large chunk of their video driver software, which is a great move. Unfortunately, it's mostly been for their EPIA-based boards, and not the K8M800-based board I have. I can be patient though.
  3. The AC3 audio is being processed by ALSA (and possibly mplayer) which I need to change so it's just passed through to my amp through the S/PDIF line.

I'm very happy with the hardware, as mentioned before. When it's down with the rest of the A/V gear, it's very quiet (can't hear it when sitting across the room on the couch). The DVD drive (or player?) is smart enough to not run "full speed ahead" when playing DVDs, so that drive isn't as noisy as it could be. Some of the driver issues have been a little annoying, but I knew what I was getting into. The one change I'll have to make soon is to disconnect or dim the hard-drive indicator light, as it's quite bright and unnecessary :)

I'll have a full writeup when I'm done. So far my notes just indicate where I deviated from the Myth(TV)ology HOWTO (and I'll feed my notes back to the author of that document too).

It's so refreshing not having the DVD player pop up "operation not permitted by disc" messages when you want to skip through the crap before movies :)

Comment by Sean Reifschneider on Wed, 13 Apr 2005

You shoul check out geexbox. It's a 7MB ISO image that you can easily install to the hard drive. It's a minimal Linux distro that boots up and plays DVDs and other media files. I used it on my EPIA media player box for playing DVDs, it includes the hardware drivers for doing in-chip decoding, so the box can keep up with playing DVDs no problem. The CPU in this box (800MHz) isn't speedy enough to keep up with it normally.

If nothing else, it's neat to boot and try out. You can boot from the CD and it will eject and then you can put in a DVD. I installed it on the hard drive and then haven't really used it much. Mostly I boot into FC3 for playing video, I'm not primarily playing DVDs on it, though. I use the regular DVD player for that.


Comment by Richard on Thu, 14 Apr 2005

Yeah, I was going to look into that at some point - it seemed quite neat.

Doesn't look like it supports my TV card tho

Comment by Chris Withers on Tue, 19 Apr 2005

If you ever need to switch cases, check out the Zalman TNN500AF. Rediculously expensive it may be but for absolutely no noise (well, apart from the hard disk and the DVD, but you can get very quiet ones of those nowadays) it's a must. I'm loving the one in my studio.

You'd probably get more value out of the bundled iMON remote control than I am and it sounds like you'd like the fact that all the lights are behind a nice closing door :-)

Comment by James on Tue, 26 Apr 2005

Glad your HTPC is doing it's thing. I bought an very similar setup to you after having been previously impressed with the shuttle boxes at work.

I would have packed it in long ago had I not come across your page and know the kit to be (sort of) compatible with myth.

But if anyone has stubled across this with as little linux know-how and is thinking of mything it up be prepared for a very steep learning curve!