Generic PC

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Preface

When you use LinuxMCE and you have more than one entertainment area in your home you have to setup separate Media Directors for each of them. The main function of Media Director (MD) is management of multimedia content: Live TV, DVD, photos and display it on the TV. MD has built-in onScreen Orbiter. You can control your home using it if you connect some monitor with touch-screen to it (but I'm not sure about possibility to show something on TV and display the Orbiter at the same time).

Hardware

Any generic PC can be used as MD. There is a couple recommendations. First of all it should support PXE to boot from the tftp server. It's needed because currently LinuxMCE allows to add diskless MDs only. Another issue is a video adapter. I tried to setup MD with S3 Trio 64+ but without luck. After booting of MD when X started the monitor turned off. After replacing the video adapter it started work correctly.

Basic Hardware Requirements: RAM size?, Processor? Well, the best option is to use HTPC as MD. IMHO, it'll be enough Celeron and 512Mb. The most important criteria are quiet and small emission of heat.

Setup MD

You should enable network boot in BIOS of PC which is going to be Media Director. After that every time you turn on your computer it will try to boot from network.

If this is the first time you have connected this PC to your network then LinuxMCE will auto detect it and you will see a network boot commence on the screen of the machine you are adding - after a short time you will see message in yellow text stating that this machine has been announced on the Core. Go to the Orbiter with the 'Add Media Director' screen displayed and you will see a screen asking if you would like to add your PC as a Media Director. If you choose "Add as Generic PC" (which currently is the only devices type choice) then LinuxMCE will start the process of adding your PC. The process of adding a PC to LinuxMCE takes at least 20 mins or more depending on the speed of your Core (and what other tasks it is performing at the time) and also your broadband speed.

The alternative manual process described below should not be required now and in fact can cause problems where the auto detection process, that is always looking for new hardware, gets confused by the manually added machine.

Well, let's see how-to setup a new MD. First we have to add a new MD in the LinuxMCE-admin site. Do to that go to Wizard --> Devices --> Media Directors. On the MD page press the button 'Add device'. In the new window chose 'Generic PC as MD' and press the button 'Add device'. After that you will see a message about preparation a data for new device. It can take 2-4 minutes. When setup procedure of the MD is finished you'll see a message on all active Orbiters that new device is configured and ready to use. The field 'IP Address' should contain IP address given by DHCP server. This IP will be assigned to PC when it starts to boot. Type MAC Address of your PC in the field 'MAC Address' (it'll be displayed when PC tries to boot from network). Now it's time to prepare ISO for new diskless MD. To do that just press the button 'Setup Diskless Media Directors' and wait till operation will finish (you'll see a log output to the web page):

http://static.flickr.com/52/135424562_c74f8b6674_m.jpg
(click to enlarge)

Quick reload the router and boot MD. In my case (I have 64bit Core/Hybrid and 32bit MD) it took about 2 hours. So, it's better to setup MD before going to bed :)

Troubleshooting

Problem: Diskless MD cannot find ISO. Solution: It's possible that DHCP gives IP which is different with IP from MD properties. Change IP manually (you can see real IP in the /var/log/pluto/PlutoDHCP.newlog), run setup diskless - press the button 'Setup Diskless', wait when setup finishes and quick reload router.

Problem: Display of MD goes down after boot. Solution: Something wrong with MD video adapter. As I mentioned above I had the same problem with S3 Trio 64+. When I replaced it MD on-screen Orbiter loaded successful.