An HTPC story . . . . . . Linux style.

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An HTPC story . . . . . . Linux style.

Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2007 9:15 am

Whoever said building one of these - and not use an MS OS - was easy should be flogged!!!!

From a hardware point-of-view: the selection should be very carefully selected and researched out the wazoo.

Now don't get me wrong . . this has been a great learning experience . . .and I probably wouldn't have been as satisfied had I done the easy thing and just bought one.

Anyways . . .this great idea of mine started when I bought an LCD T.V. I figured "this is just a BIG monitor . .what's a monitor without a computer connected to it . . " so I started looking at cases that I thought my wife would approve. I ended up purchasing the nMedia 180B since its small and the end result is fairly light.

the Sempron is GREAT. no issues there. The mobo is GREAT . . the DVD-ROM and other parts are GREAT.

The MS MCE keyboard & remote with receiver . . . . . . *&^%.

I was going to use CentOS as an OS for my build, but it then hit me "Hey . . CentOS is a server platform . . you idiot". So I got Fedora 7 and this post is the end result of that. No . . .Linux is not for the feint of heart or those easily frustrated. I jumped the Fedora ship after a week of trying and got onto the Ubuntu 7.10 boat.

I think Ubuntu is a few revisions away from really taking Windows head-on on the desktop. Rapid installation. Rapid updates. A little different way of setting up some things . . like the wireless connection . . but still easy enough to deal with. They :evil: REALLY :evil: need to fix that stupid &^%$ called Totem. VLC is my savior for now since it works. I shall try Xine very soon.

So all in all the HTPC is doing its purpose admirably. Connects to the net flawlessly and plays movies.

Now to the crap:
- I get no sound through the T.v. . only through headphones
- That damn MCE KB&mouse wouldn't even get me past the POST screen, and I have my BIOS set to recognize USB keyboard and USB mouse . . unless the IR receiver is noted as something else? :-? Maybe I should have just bought the Logitech DiNovo Edge and be done with it. . .but at $184 plus 14% tax . . . . .

I still have to TRY setup mythtv, but I won't get my hopes up. It would be nice to get it working though.

This is the longest post I have ever done on TR . . . interesting.
. . . this is the digital projection of your mental self. . . .

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lex-ington
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Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2007 9:52 am

Can you provide the list of parts you purchased? I only see the case listed...
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Re: An HTPC story . . . . . . Linux style.

Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2007 9:56 am

lex-ington wrote:Now to the crap:
- I get no sound through the T.v. . only through headphones
I'm curious where you would expect sound to be going that it isn't.
...
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Re: An HTPC story . . . . . . Linux style.

Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2007 10:14 am

mattsteg wrote:
lex-ington wrote:Now to the crap:
- I get no sound through the T.v. . only through headphones
I'm curious where you would expect sound to be going that it isn't.


Perhaps through the T.V. speakers?
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Re: An HTPC story . . . . . . Linux style.

Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2007 10:20 am

flybywire wrote:
mattsteg wrote:
lex-ington wrote:Now to the crap:
- I get no sound through the T.v. . only through headphones
I'm curious where you would expect sound to be going that it isn't.


Perhaps through the T.V. speakers?
But how? What does "headphones vs. TV speakers" have to do with a computer? They're both output devices that need to be connected and play sound that is input to them.
...
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Re: An HTPC story . . . . . . Linux style.

Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2007 10:22 am

mattsteg wrote:
lex-ington wrote:Now to the crap:
- I get no sound through the T.v. . only through headphones
I'm curious where you would expect sound to be going that it isn't.


The T.V. has a PC sound input that I have gotten sound from before by hooking up other systems to it . . . . straight connection from the green output port from the board to the green input port on the T.V.
. . . this is the digital projection of your mental self. . . .

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Re: An HTPC story . . . . . . Linux style.

Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2007 10:27 am

lex-ington wrote:
mattsteg wrote:
lex-ington wrote:Now to the crap:
- I get no sound through the T.v. . only through headphones
I'm curious where you would expect sound to be going that it isn't.


The T.V. has a PC sound input that I have gotten sound from before by hooking up other systems to it . . . . straight connection from the green output port from the board to the green input port on the T.V.
If sound's working with your headphones, then it not working with the TV has nothing to do with linux and everything to do with the TV. If it has a separate headphone port that is enabled while normal output is not than phrasing it as "no sound through the T.v. . only through headphones" isn't really accurate or descriptive. It's all very confusing to see a complaint about TV capability in a "Linux" thread or to see a problem with your sound device phrased as one with your output device.
...
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Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2007 10:36 am

StefanVonS wrote:Can you provide the list of parts you purchased? I only see the case listed...


Sure:

Case - nMedia 180B w/ power supply.
Motherboard - Gigabyte M2-690G-S2H (ATI 600SB and 690 NB)
Processor - AMD Sempron 3200
Memory - Kingston DDR2-667 (2x1GB sticks)
HDD - WD 160GB SATAII
Video - On-Board using DVI-to-HDMI
DVD - LiteOn SATA-DVD
W-NIC - Belkin F5D7000 ver. 5100
TV-Tuner - Leadtek Win Expert 2000
KB&mouse - Logitech S510 (for now) / bought the MS MCE IR remote and KB (but can't seem to get it to work)
OS - Ubuntu 7.10
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Re: An HTPC story . . . . . . Linux style.

Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2007 10:58 am

mattsteg wrote:
lex-ington wrote:
mattsteg wrote:
lex-ington wrote:Now to the crap:
- I get no sound through the T.v. . only through headphones
I'm curious where you would expect sound to be going that it isn't.


The T.V. has a PC sound input that I have gotten sound from before by hooking up other systems to it . . . . straight connection from the green output port from the board to the green input port on the T.V.
If sound's working with your headphones, then it not working with the TV has nothing to do with linux and everything to do with the TV. If it has a separate headphone port that is enabled while normal output is not than phrasing it as "no sound through the T.v. . only through headphones" isn't really accurate or descriptive. It's all very confusing to see a complaint about TV capability in a "Linux" thread or to see a problem with your sound device phrased as one with your output device.


I am probably not explaining myself right.

There is a PC audio input jack on the back of the T.V. by the VGA port. The last machine I had hooked up to the T.V., I used the same DVI-to-HDMI cable I am using now, and ran the audio from the computer through that same port. The sound worked fine, but I was using WIndows XP then. I know the sound works now as I used my headphones to watch a movie when I was testing it - but I was using a separate monitor when building the machine.

Now that I have moved the machine where it supposed to be and hooked it all up to the T.V. - I get no sound what-so-ever, and I know I didn't change anything. That is the problem I would like to fix now.
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Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2007 11:51 am

You might have to play with the TV inputs to get it to play sound from the audio ports associated with the VGA input while displaying video from the HDMI input. Our 42" Westy at work has this quirk that once we figured it out, it worked great.
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Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2007 12:09 pm

I also tried setting up a MythTV box and had no end of troubles. First I tried Knoppmyth (http://mysettopbox.tv/knoppmyth.html), a distro that sets up MythTV automagically, up and running in about 20 minutes. The MythTV part worked ok, but trying to use it as a Linux box (or trying to make changes to conf files) was a pain. Not only that, the image quality sucked compared to live TV and no amount of effort on my part made it better.

I then tried a Fedora-based set up following this great guide:
http://wilsonet.com/mythtv/

This seemed to work great. MythTV and a fully functioning Fedora box. Problem again was the image quality was noticeably worse than watching live TV. Weeks of fiddling with everything from drivers to codecs to bitrates, etc...did not lead to any improvement so I dumped MythTV and tried GB-PVR, which is a free Windows based DVR program. The image quality with GB-PVR is identical to live TV and setup is a breeze (I was up and watching/recording TV in minutes). If you don't have Windows MCE (but do have XP or Win2k), I'd suggest going this route.
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Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2007 1:30 pm

nishto75 wrote:I dumped MythTV and tried GB-PVR, which is a free Windows based DVR program. The image quality with GB-PVR is identical to live TV and setup is a breeze (I was up and watching/recording TV in minutes). If you don't have Windows MCE (but do have XP or Win2k), I'd suggest going this route.
Media Portal is supposed to be good as well.
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Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2007 1:39 pm

Very tempting . . . I might just give mediaportal a try. gatta do some research now.
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Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2007 4:56 pm

For PVR duties I personally use SageTV. You can get SageTV for Linux but it's not directly supported by their technical staff. I'm not entirely sure why. I use it on Windows XP. I use a Hauppauge MediaMVP on my TV instead of hooking up a full computer. The MVP doesn't do HD though. SageTV is supposed to roll out an HD media extender next month. I'm rather excited about that because playing HD on my TV right now requires Sage to do realtime transcoding of the video in order to make it compatible for the MVP.

That being said. IMHO, unless you are wanting to browse the internet on your TV a media extender is a better solution than having a computer hooked directly to it. You get much cleaner looking video that way because the extender is a native TV video device. Whereas a computer must rescale the image itself.
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Postposted on Mon Oct 29, 2007 6:30 pm

I just thought I should update you guys on my project . . . .as it may be useful to someone.

I switched OSes to MS Windows XP Pro since I had an extra copy. The system is currently working like a dream. VLC displays and runs like it should (Crystal Clear & Silky Smooth), internet access is a breeze and the sound was an issue at first, but the windows updater pulled in the extra ATi HDMI support that's needed to make HDMI a selection in the sound section in the control panel. . . I don't know if that's an option yet with Ubuntu, but as soon as I find out, I'll post it.

This does not mean that I won't give LInux another try as a desktop/HTPC OS, but I need to know before hand the next time that everything I plan on using is supported . . . . and easy to set up.
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Postposted on Mon Oct 29, 2007 10:26 pm

http://www.mythbuntu.org/

^Might be useful.
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Postposted on Mon Oct 29, 2007 10:58 pm

Taddeusz wrote:That being said. IMHO, unless you are wanting to browse the internet on your TV a media extender is a better solution than having a computer hooked directly to it. You get much cleaner looking video that way because the extender is a native TV video device. Whereas a computer must rescale the image itself.
I'm having trouble understanding what you're saying here. "Native TV video device"?
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Postposted on Tue Oct 30, 2007 12:11 am

UberGerbil wrote:
Taddeusz wrote:That being said. IMHO, unless you are wanting to browse the internet on your TV a media extender is a better solution than having a computer hooked directly to it. You get much cleaner looking video that way because the extender is a native TV video device. Whereas a computer must rescale the image itself.
I'm having trouble understanding what you're saying here. "Native TV video device"?


In the case of an SDTV a media extender, such as the Hauppauge MediaMVP, is made to run on a TV. All video is rendered to the TV using it's native NTSC (or PAL) resolution.

A computer on the other hand must rescale it's own video to match that of the TV. Usually 800x600 or 1024x768 to approximately 720x480 in the case of NTSC. To compound all this if you record SD video it's going to get de-interlaced and scaled to match the computers resolution. The "scan lines" on the displayed video aren't going to naturally line up with the scan lines on the TV.

None of what the computer does happens on a SD media extender. It renders all SD video to the screen as would any other non-computer NTSC (or PAL) device. The output is much sharper than you'd get from a computer and only because of compression artifacts is nearly as good as the original.

HD on the other hand is different. But I personally would still like to have a media extender over a directly connected computer. Things like overscan should be handled properly by the HDTV if an extender is used.
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Postposted on Tue Oct 30, 2007 12:28 am

Oh. Well, I'm living in a world where everything already is digital and operates 1-to-1 with the pixels on my monitor (TV). Inputs are ATSC and DVD, output is DVI / HDMI. But I don't record anything, and I'm pretty much uninterested in analog anything at this point.
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Postposted on Tue Oct 30, 2007 3:09 am

I setup MythTV on Gentoo Linux about a year ago; went with an Aopen XC Cube EZ482 running a AMD 4600x2 and a Hauppauge! WinTV-PVR-350 capture card. The big problem for me living in Ireland is the station guide which is required if you want to record anything conveniently. I got Vista on a new laptop awhile ago and used it's TV capture stuff, hate to say it, it really good as it has all the Irish channels.

The following links have some good info into Myth TV:
http://www.mythpvr.com/mythtv/
http://linux.slashdot.org/article.pl?si ... 29/2244233
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Postposted on Wed Nov 28, 2007 9:18 pm

So how are you doing the "remote-control" interface? I am not sure if VLC supports large button GUIs?

Have you given MediaPortal a try?
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Postposted on Wed Nov 28, 2007 10:21 pm

Flying Fox wrote:So how are you doing the "remote-control" interface? I am not sure if VLC supports large button GUIs?

Have you given MediaPortal a try?


I have MediaPortal Installed. Unfortunately my TV-card doesn't work with it, so I'm in the process of saving up to buy a better one. . . one that works in Canada, works with my digital cable box, and pushes the sound through the adapter on the mobo.

The HIP program made setting up the MCE remote quite easy. Works great with MediaPortal. VLC does not play well with the remote, nor does it play well with certain DVD's. Spiderman 3 WILL NOT run on the machine at all. Worked well in the PS2 though.

HDMI is crystal clear with no sound problems what-so-ever.

I would REALLY like to give Ubuntu another shot though. It is much more responsive than XP and I find that the HTPC reports lower internal Temps than using XP. I am thinking the HDD management is better in Ubuntu.

I really like MediaPortal - especially since it comes with Sudoku.

The MS MCE keyboard is a waste of money. None of my 3 machines can get past the post screen when I try it. I have the option to recognize a USB keyboard AND a Legacy device, but to no avail. I got your PM too late to jump on the Logitech Edge deal, but I am keeping my eye on that, the MS Wireless 7000 and the MS Wireless 8000 combos.

At least the MCE remote signal passes through the Ent. unit doors . . the cable remote can't do that.

I am thinking of picking up the Sapphire or MSI card with the Theatrix 550/650 chipset. Anyone have any usage tips with cards like this?

If all does not go well this time around - I'll just get a copy of Vista Premium and be done with it.
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