User talk:Tonybryan

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DRAFT - Acer Aspire Revo R3610 with single WIFI NIC


This core/hybrid is intended purely for media playback from DVD ISOs and FLACs stored on my NAS drive.

My wife and I decided it was better to spend our money on some technology to solve our DVD storage problem then keep buying pretty cabinets for CDs and DVDs! After a review of the MCE solutions out there we initially settled on a NAS, plus Windows MCE and MyMovies database from Binnerup. This worked very nicely, with a few hacks in there involving CloneDVD and AnyDVD from SlySoft. Nice GUI, easy to use, and not too much work to maintain cover art etc. But we couldn't get FLAC playback over Windows going, and when looking ahead to a multi-room solution this was just not going to scale.

LinuxMCE offers us the future scalability that we want, without shelling out for a proprietary installed solution. Equally, I know that being a Linux solution this is just not going to play out of the box. But I'm willing to put the work in.

Choice of Hardware


My initial goals are as follows:

  • Be able to play DVD ISOs and FLAC music from a NAS drive, so easily my wife can do it
  • Start with the lounge TV only - this is where we do most of our watching/listening
  • Spend as little money as possible while trying out the solution
  • Gain experience configuring a simple LinuxMCE set up before getting ambitious.
  • Must not interefer with internet streaming for Netflix etc on the XBOX360 from our 50Mbps service (we abandoned Cable TV altogether)
  • Must not be power hungry - very lightweight energy footprint please!

Core/Hybrid Selection

I opted to run with an Acer Aspire REVO 3610 for the following reasons:

  • Its cheap, but has HDMI/SPDIF out, WIFI & Ethernet, good RAM expansion, and a decent processor for being ATOM.
  • Very low power consumption, great considering it will spend most of the day doing nothing.
  • Virtually silent apart from the odd HDD click
  • Visually unobtrusive with the VESA mounting behind the TV, perfect for our goal of just running media on the TV
  • These seem to make popular MDs, so once I'm ready to expand and get a bigger core machine, I can still use the hardware.

Other Equipment

  • NAS - A low power, very quiet QNAP TS-409 Pro with 4 x WD Caviar Green 1TB WD10EARS hard drives in RAID5 for 2.7TB of usable storage. Boy does that fill up fast!

Side note on NAS selection: Having seen what I thought was a huge amount of storage fill very quickly, I'd advise anyone buying a NAS to shell out for a 6-bay solution in RAID6, but not feel compelled to buy all 6 disks at once. Also, read up on BAARF and check the Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) for your drives before setting up. I made an informed decision for a 4-bay RAID5, but plan to move to a 5 or 6-bay RAID6 soon.

  • Netgear WNDR4000 Wireless N Router - some people hate Netgear, but I've always found it works perfectly out of the box and never needs maintenance.

Network Setup

I have opted for a single NIC solution for the following reasons. Networking is not my forte, so anyone wishing to correct my assertions please do:

  • I'm not sure how well the Revo will handle network traffic if it becomes the primary gateway for all internet connections. I want devices like my XBOX or a PC downloading large files to be able to do so without passing through an ATOM-based PC.
  • I'm still not convinced its really necessary to have 2 NICs. Okay, if you have a MASSIVE set up, I could see the point of segregating into different networks, but for the average user? Probably not necessary.

My original implementation from mid-2010 used the onboard ethernet connected to a port on the wireless router. This worked well when the internet, NAS, TV and router all occupied the same 4 sqft of space. I'm now in a rental home having moved from the UK to the US, with the router in the kitchen some 30ft from the core, AND I now have a 2-year old who likes to pull on loose cables, so I need to get this working on WIFI.

Configuring WIFI

There are plenty of blogs and wikis about how to get your wifi card working, but I've always found with Linux its a bit touch and go. Here's what worked for me with the Revo.

Unfortunately I can't remember exactly what I did a year ago to initially install the WIFI driver, but here's an extract from my /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist file:

blacklist ath_pci
# blacklist ath_hal
# blacklist ath5k

Configuring for WPA2-PSK with AES encryption

Assuming that your wifi card is not yet configured, open a terminal and use the wpa_passphrase utility to create a wpa_supplicant.conf file:

sudo wpa_passphrase <your SSID> "<your passphrase>"

If you can redirect the output to a /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf file then great, but that didn't work for me so I used vi and just copied in the output of the wpa_passphrase command. Once you created the basic wpa_supplicant.conf file you need to supplement it with a few more lines. Here's my final config:

       psk=<HEX representation of my passphrase>

You can then manually bring up your wifi interace as a daemon by using wpa_supplicant:

sudo wpa_supplicant -Dwext -i wlan0 -c/etc/wpa_supplicant.conf -B

Finally, you'll need to grab an IP address from the DHCP using dhclient:

sudo dhclient wlan0

The output should show that an IP address from the home network has been assigned.

Configuring wifi to start on boot

The above steps will get WIFI working from the KDE desktop. But no we need the wlan0 interface to fire up at boot so LinuxMCE can see it. Edit the /etc/network/interfaces file so that it looks as follows:

auto wlan0
wpa-driver wext
wpa-conf /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf
iface wlan0 inet dhcp

Now reboot LinuxMCE, go into the KDE desktop and see if the wifi connection has come up as planned.

Configuring for LinuxMCE

Need to go to Web Admin: Show devices tree/My Devices/CORE > Device data/Network Interfaces

But this removed the wpa_sdupplicant conf from /ertc/network/interfaces. Had to put that back in