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April 5 2010

Development on 0810 continues as normal... what you read on the forum was a April 1 joke thread** --Totallymaxed 00:29, 9 April 2010 (CEST)

I just saw that 8.10 did not make it and that there are plans to roll back to 7.10. A little disappointing, but I know how this works. The most surprising thing to me was to hear the consideration of Oracle XE for a database. Regardless of these developments, I continued to setup my home with things I like, and I am just finished my storage solution. After some looking around and deliberation I settled for FreeNAS on the following:

ASUS P5QL/EPU LGA 775 Intel P43 ATX Intel Motherboard HIS H700H64-1TOPN Radeon 7000 64MB 64-bit DDR PCI Video Card Intel Celeron 430 Conroe-L 1.8GHz LGA 775 35W Single-Core Processor G.SKILL 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Rosewill R5604-TBK 0.8mm Screw-less ATX Mid Tower (Dual 120mm Fans) Rosewill RP550-2 550W ATX12V v2.01 Power Supply 4 x SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" 4 x OKGEAR 18" SATA II cable with metal latch,UV BLUE Model GC18AUBM 1 x Trascend 8MB Flash Card as boot drive (FreeNAS 0.7.1, rev 5065) 1 x WD 250GB Caviar Blue (Mac backup and original "play" drive)

One things to note was that building the RAID5 array took 3 hours, and formatting it took 20 minutes. I then moved some video over (mv from another drive in the NAS box) to the array and got 55GB over in 20 minutes.

I also decided to wait on the Mac Mini thing and just got a Samsung 40" LCD. Based on reviews I think I will be able to get to my FreeNAS media using DLNA (or UPnP). If this works, it might be enough for now. I still want to try Linux MCE to control lighting and alarm and manage surveillance video. I don't mind the wait.

March 19 2010

Long needed update. I tried the 8.10 beta when it came out and installation (Kubuntu first, etc.) at the time was very easy. I don't really care if I have a DVD image or not since I rather go through an installation that gives me the best results. However, I had big problems with the codecs this time. Unlike 7.10 I simply could not get them. Since watching movies was my first motivation to try this, I decided to wait until 8.10 came out. I thought perhaps these things would be ironed out, so I am still waiting (still in beta). I don't mind waiting though, however I have been playing around with other things. I am still running FreeNAS and have come to like it. I am finally upgrading hardware and getting more drives to have more storage. I have been using XBMC to access music and movies from the FreeNAS server, which has been successful from a miniUbuntu install I used to create a dedicated XBMC HTPC, but I also use it to serve a Windows XP laptop and a Snow Leopard MacBook Pro. I like the fact that I can have the same interface in all different flavors of OS in the house. In fact, I am considering a Mac mini instead of the linux HTPC (blame Netflix an silverlight). Once 8.10 and I try my success with media again, I will explore with media directors more, which is an idea I really like (netbooting images from the core...). Then I can play around with lighting and security...patiently waiting.  :)

May 23 2009

I got 15 runs out of 20. I skipped going through the sub floor to my bedroom for two runs because I am not going to use those for now. The other three however, are more of a problem because they are the ones I wanted to have behind my entertainment center in the basement (this was the only wall that beat me). So for now, I am running a cable on the floor from a nearby study where I have two drops. I was a little upset, but oh well. Overall I can only say that doing this was difficult and it took many hours. I am done for now, other that "wrap up" items. At the end I have my cable modem in the laundry room, with a 24-port patch panel and one router. I have another router upstairs with wireless, and I will have a third router hanging off my hybrid-core in the basement. I also setup FreeNAS, but I used version 0.7 (beta) so I could use the network card in my atom-based mobo. I will place my music there, and eventually move it to a larger box with more storage to store movies too. For now I will simply put some movies in a second hard drive in the hybrid-core box. Once I can acquire the other box and storage I will be uploading all my movies (I did try to experiment with ripping only the main feature - without menus, etc. - but is a pain, so I will pay for the storage and not deal with this). The one thing though is that I decided that instead of setting up 7.10 as before (which I got working with CDs and DVDs) I am going to try 8.10 alpha 2 and test it. I am in no hurry and since I plan to store my music an movies in the FreeNAS eventually, updating my core is matter of re-pointing the core to my storage devices.

April 8 2009

Laying my CAT6 cable proved to be harder than I anticipated. I got my first 4 runs out of 20 I want. I don't really need all of them for LinuxMCE, but I figured let's get it done this time. I won't have to worry about it later. Once I am done with this "networking" challenge, I will continue setting up things. Since I got the hybrid/core working and tested DVDs and CDs I think the next step will be to incorporate a NAS and ensure and use an MD. I cannot wait

Feb 11 2009

Internal network, not so easy for me. I am trying to get the mobo NIC working and have not been successful. I tried the steps that described how to get it working (r8168), and could not do it. First I tried to follow the steps exactly as stated and (now obviously) did not get the patch stuff working. I read about patch and diff, and eventually figured out how to do it (slightly different than the listed diff...I did not use the full path and copied the diff file to the drivers/net directory). On the other hand I realized I could (at least in this case) just comment out the line (what the patch actually does). It was a good learning exercise for me, but then I started doing things that I did not understand, so after following directions I could not get things working. There was something funny about the steps in that it seems to me there is a typo confusing the r8168 and r8169. Otherwise I am not sure why I was asked to compile r8168 and copy the .ko file to the kernel to then leave the r8169 there. I saw later in the wiki page that the r6169 was "moved" to .not so I tried that too. I also tried downloading the r8168 provided and performing the steps from grub recovery mode. No luck. At some point I was looking with ifconfig and I realized I had eth0:0 (virtual I learned later), so I found I could update a record in the pluto_main MySQL database to point the DHCP to eth1 instead of the virtual eth0:0. Of course this did not help because the eth1 is not there!  :) Again, I am a newbie at linux stuff. Now I think I need to reach for help in the forums. I cannot find anything else to help myself, other than getting another PCI Intel card like the one I got (originally for my 2nd NIC).

Feb 08 2009

A first taste of success! I got "something" working. I was able to setup the hybrid core, rip a movie and watch it, albeit without a remote control or audio output to my HDMI connection (used digital out to a receiver). I don't have any A/V equipment with ethernet or RS232C connectivity so for now the setup is crude. I had to try several times and had different issues (some unique to my setup: e.g. two hard drives where I had installed Ubuntu 8.10 in one of them first). Kudos to those who posted ideas and information in the wiki and forums. without that I (newbie) would have been lost. When you start reading the posts you get a feeling for who knows their stuff and familiar handles start to come up often giving the right solutions. Many thanks!


Already owned

  • Samsung 50" DLP 720p (5 yrs old)
  • Sony Receiver (4 yrs old)
  • Linksys Wireless N Router (1 yr old)
  • Brother Wireless/Wired Printer (6 mon old)

Purchased (Newegg)

  • Rosewill ATX/uATX case
  • Rosewill 550 PSU
  • ASUS P5N7A-VM LGA 775 NVIDIA GeForce 9300/nForce 730i HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
  • OCZ Reaper HPC Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
  • Intel Pentium E5200 Wolfdale 2.5GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core
  • Intel PWLA8391GT 10/ 100/ 1000Mbps PCI PRO/1000
  • LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA
  • OKGEAR 18" SATA II Cable
  • Western Digital Caviar RE WD2500YD 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s
  • eDATA DEC-200B Vista Certified Infrared Remote Control W/ Receiver & Blaster (have not tried to get working yet)


Two things had me stumped for a while: 1) After the install I kept getting an error where the filesystem was not mounted, and 2) hanging black screen trying to start X.

The filesystem issues was first the related to the fact that I had installed Ubuntu 8.10 in my first drive, then went to the BIOS and changes the order of the drives and tried to installed LinuxMCE from the DVD. Even though I disabled the Ubuntu disk, LinuxMCE was getting confused with the UUID. I tried to tinker with the UUID's and eventually ended up making sure that my HD setup as 1st in the BIOS was connected to the SATA1 connection in the mobo (previously I had it in SATA4). Two additional things I did that helped were to change SATA mode to AHCI mode in the BIOS and use "all_generic"ide" in the boot grub configuration (using F6 to edit when botting, then making the change permanent in the menu.lst file after the install).

After fixing my "drive" issues, I had then to fix my video issues, which I knew could happen given the board that I purchased. I found the instructions of how to update the nVidia driver and used the nVidia to recompile the kernel and configure X. It worked well, though I had to figure out how to mount my USB drive to access the nVidia driver I had downloaded (learned about dmesg)...I said I was a newbie. ;)

At this point the biggest thing that caught me was that the setup screen was coming up in the VGA output (so I kept toggling betweeen my HDMI connection and VGA monitor manually). Then I read about how to switch using keys (1-5, etc.) and that helped a ton. Here I got the A/V Wizard on my HDMI TV and I went through it. At this point I did not have an audio optical cable (as I was not planning to use my receiver at first). Instead of figuring out the audio via the HDMI (which appeared not to work out of the box) I bought a cable and changed the BIOS to output the audio to the SPIDF (instead of the HDMI).

At first I tried to rip a DVD and got an error about DVDCSS not installed, so I tried a "linux friendly" DVD I had and it ripped OK. Turns out that I needed to install the DVDCSS and Win32 codecs. When I went to the Setup/Media Player/Add Software, I saw them there as already installed, but went through reinstalling all of them. That took care of it. Now I was able to rip to "normal" movies, and one music CD. I played both the CD (and later) a movie while ripping another movie. I wanted to see how the hybrid handled this since it is all running from one HD, etc. All good. Two things I noticed that seemed "buggy": 1) The CD playlist displays different names almost every time I enter it (some names change order, and appear more than once). If I hit play all, they all play, but it seems the display of the songs in the CD is wrong; 2) The playback for movies flickers ocassionally, and it seem to happen on shots where the camera pans around. I guess it is the rendering, or related, but I have no idea. I am willing to put up with this for being able to pick any movie I want to watch without dealing with the actual DVD (same for music).

Noteworthy is that I used the Intel PCI NIC as my primary card to connect to the internet (knowing about the Realtek limitation with the mobo and LinuxMCE, which I will fix later). Since I do not have an internal network setup yet this is not an issue.

Feb 06 2009

I got my parts (detail specs pending), but it is something like this: Rosewill case (the one with the power button enclosed on top so kids don't mess with it easily), Rosewill 550PSU, Asus P5N7A-VM mobo, 4GB DDR2, LG DVD R/W, Intel Dual Core 2.5GHz, two WD 250GB HDs, IR Remote. I already had a 720 50" TV, HDMI cable, and Logitech wireless keyboard/mouse. I first wanted to install something else to test things, so I ran Ubuntu's live CD (HDs got here one day later than the other parts and I could not wait). The In installed FC10, but did not feel like fixing the nvidia drivers to get x working, so installed Ubuntu 8.10 instead. I figured I will leave one working drive while I play with LinuxMCE so my hardware gets used ocassionally. So, I booted from the LinuxMCE DVD and got the splash screen and I selected "Install..." and then after a few seconds I got to this prompt. I am a linux newbie and not familiar with many distros so when I saw that busybox stuff I thought: "what's this". After reading a little, got rid of "quiet" from the choices using F6 and got to see what was happening. I could not read everything since it scrolled fast and the last screen had a few messages about USB devices, but nothing that looked like an error. Based on the instructions for the DVD installation I figured that if the next step is to select the hard drive, then that's where the problem is. I saw somewhere that using "all_generic_ide" helped so I tried and indeed it went further, but now I am waiting with the line "Running local boot scripts (/etc/rc.local)". I hit enter and it went to the select a hard drive menu. I thought that I saw an error message that scrolled quickly so I decided to reinstall to see. This time the install detected my previous install and I just said to do it all over again, however I did not wait long to hit enter when it was stopped in the "Running local boot scripts (/etc/rc.local)". Last night I had a failed message (after it finished copying the DVD to drive?), perhaps because the DVD could not be ejected? (case closed). Today I left the case open and will see what happens.

Jan 26 2009

Investigated the CAT6 thing. I have never installed wire through wall, floors, etc., so I am reading up on it. Looks like I'll be able to do it, but there are few parts of the house that will be challenging. I will setup the router in the basement and run cables from the basement into the walls of the floor above. To reach a family room on the other side I will have to route cable up to the attic first, then down to the room. It's too cold to be doing that so for now I will continue with a basic installation in the basement. So I decided to buy parts to create a core, but I eventually can split into core and media director. I looked at HTPC cases and ITX cases and did not find any that I really liked at a good price, though I did like the looks of that Dell hybrid thing. For now I bought a regular case and PSU. I will try to revive some old hardware I have not used in a couple of year where I ran red hat before. But I already have a wish list ready, with basic parts to finish the build. Nothing fancy: case/psu for $121, and mobo/cpu/mem/dvd/hd/nic for $409 (including shipping). After I setup this hybrid system, I should get an idea for linuxMCE and how it works. I have some basics components already that I will leverage: linkstation nas, linksys wireless router, and brother printer. My plan is to build in stages, but if does not work, perhaps I will just try to setup mythtv. I have been reading stuff and I have to admit that I am almost compelled to do some coding, which has not happened seriously in 5 years.

Jan 17 2009

I am interested in learning more about LinuxMCE and create a setup at home. The thought of home automation is extremely interesting to me and I would like to manage media as well. Currently I am navigating the site and attempting to understand my choices in terms of required infrastructure.

Due to budget concerns I can estimate it will take me several months to get setup. My first step will be to improve my house with a CAT6 based network. It seems like a good idea for me to use a gigabit network for my internal network connected to the core. Now I am looking to see what materials I need what will it take to elegantly present drops in different parts of the house.