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Core / Hybrid

Motherboard: Supermicro X6DVL-EG2

CPU: 2 x Xeon 3.0Ghz (EM64T "nocona" dual core)


Video: ATI Rage XL w/ 8MB (onboard)

Network: 2 x Intel 82451 GigE controllers onboard

System Storage: 1x160GB SATA drive contains root and swap partitions Media Storage: 4x1000GB SATA drives mounted as RAID-5 contains /home. RAID-5 managed by LMCE

RAID: Highpoint RocketRAID 1640, used for SATA only

Power: 450W

Links: Supermicro X6DVL-EG2[1], Intel EM64T [2]

My core is overpowered. Other than the substantial disk upgrade, needed to accommodate my media library, most of this box was recycled from another project. I’m glad to have it back in production, and its fun to see my ripping / transcoding go so fast.

I built the system initially using the DVD and have set it up as a hybrid. While its video and sound capabilities are minimal, the onscreen orbiter is handy when I’m trying things out from the console.

Upgrade plans for this part of my system include RAID-1 for the system disk, a digium card for my phoneline, and a pair of HDTV tuners.

There is one outstanding issue regarding the setup: when LMCE finished building the RAID-5 volume, the capacity was listed as 2.8TB rather than the 3TB that I would expect for a RAID-5 volume comprised of four 1000GB drives. Building the volume took an entire night, so I didn’t try again. It works fine, but I’m missing 200GB. Could someone please explain?

Media Stations

Model: Dell Optiplex GX270

CPU: Intel P4 2.6Ghz


Video: nVidia Model P117: GeForce4 MX440, 64MB, 8x AGP

Sound: Analog Devices AC97 onboard

Network: Intel GigE controller onboard

Disk: diskless , netboot from core

Power: 210W

Infrared: USB-UIRT

URL: Dell Optiplex GX270 [3]

I have three of these, in the Family Room, Basement, and Master Bedroom.

These machines make fantastic media directors, for many reasons. Firstly, in terms of the core capabilities: the CPU is ample, it has PXE-able GiGE onboard, comes with a DVD drive, and has 8 USB ports. The form factor also fits well with my other AV gear; the moulded black plastic case cleans up very nicely with a squirt of Armor-All. Finally it is quiet and consumes only 210 Watts.

I started out buying one from a local PC junk dealer who was offering them in a no-disk, no-mem configuration. After an initial success, I went back for two more. Since, I’ve seen many on ebay, often in lots. I expect that a pile may have come off of lease and are hitting the market all at once.

A minor limitation of the system is need for a low- profile AGP video card; apparently this was not a common form-factor, though several cards of the GeForce FX 5 and 6 series are available on newegg.

I ended up using the nVidia Model P117 card. It is based on the MX440 chipset but, against the wisdom on the Wiki, runs UI2 perfectly with alpha blending. These cards were apparently OEMed by nVidia though they weren’t sold in retail channels. Instead they were an option to Optiplex systems of the same vintage as my MDs. Getting the card to work however, required following the Wiki instructions on upgrading the nVidia drivers. As with the Optiplex systems, tons of these cards are available from junk dealers on ebay.

Getting my USB-UIRT to work required following SethJ’s instructions for version 0710.

My one outstanding issue on the MDs is the need to individually apply patches by logging into each one. Is there a way that the boot-images can be modified centrally?

Orbiters and Remotes

I bought one of the Fiire remotes and it worked fine. I'm using Microsoft remotes on my other MDs.

I have a collection of old iPaqs that I'll likely use as orbiters when I can find a way to get them on wifi. One is running Familiar Linux. Has anyone looked into a port of the orbiter for that platform?

Future Work

My priorities for the system in terms of major functionality are:

1) Live TV - is there an HDTV card from a major OEM that works with LMCE? The only clear advice from the wiki is on the PC-HDTV cards. What about USB tuners?

2) Lighting - leaning toward Insteon

3) Phone - Want to keep my analog phone. Will play with a digium card at some point. Any advice would be appreciated.

4) Pinnacle Showcenter 1000 - I have a pair of these. Making them work as lightweight MDs seems feasable. Their native UI is served via HTTP on port 8000 from a proprietary media server. It seems feasable that LMCE could do the same with UI1. Has anyone tried this?