LinuxMCE:Community Portal:Reference Design Proposal

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Update: The reference design is now live at Alx9r's Sample Setup.


I propose to provide a complete prescription to build a working out-of-the-box LinuxMCE system. I am calling this system a "Reference Design" as it is intended to serve as a known-working LinuxMCE setup from which others can copy, borrow, and adapt proven concepts for their own use in their systems.

I am in the process of building the actual Reference Design (which I will be using in my house).

I have started the prescription for that reference design already on my user page.

Once mature, I propose to move the prescription to the wiki on a handful of pages linked together by a new category "Basic Reference Design".


Please post any comments about this proposal in this forum topic.


I recently undertook to set up media centers throughout my home. After much research and contemplation, I decided on LinuxMCE.

As a LinuxMCE newbie, I was impressed by LinuxMCE's capabilities but was unconfident about which parts of the system would work and with which hardware. After much time researching LinuxMCE on the wiki, forums, and internet in general, a made two observations:

  1. LinuxMCE is different from most other applications because it is required to integrate with many non-standard external devices. Open Office, for example, requires a computer running Linux and any standard mouse, keyboard, and display to exercise 90% of its capabilities. LinuxMCE on the other hand needs all of those things plus a handful of non-standard items (at a minimum a TV and remote) to even be useful. That is, LinuxMCE relies on other components to be useful.
  2. Nowhere is there a complete description of an actual working useful LinuxMCE system. There are lists of hardware, details of compatibility problems and how to solve them, recommendations for motherboards, et cetera but nothing that a new user could look at or copy to create a working system.

For those of you who already have a working LinuxMCE system, these observations do not pose a problem. However, as a newbie this fact meant that I had to deduce how a typical system might be architected from disjointed information in the wiki and forums.

I propose an analogy from the world of semiconductor and electrical engineering.

Suppose a manufacturer like Cypress Semiconductor produces a fancy new chip, like, for example a USB to flash chip used in those USB thumb drives. Cypress would produce the chip itself, plus a reference design kit (RDK). In fact, Cypress actually did this for the CY3685. The RDK includes a circuit board with the chip on it, some flash, a USB port, and some power supply and other support chips. Everything that is needed to make a functioning thumb drive is included in the RDK. In fact, the circuit board actually functions as a working USB flash drive. The RDK also includes complete bill of materials, schematics, source code, and perhaps even circuit board artwork -- everything that is required to reproduce the circuit board from scratch.

Like LinuxMCE, the chip relies on other components to be useful. With the RDK to look to as a working setup, a designer can adapt or copy a known-working design that includes the other components that the chip relies on. The RDK design can be incorporated into his own design for his needs -- in this case most likely a mass produced thumb drive.

LinuxMCE is analogous to the chip and the circuit board in the RDK is analogous to the system in the Video. The part that is missing is the RDK for LinuxMCE. That is, a block diagram, bill-of-materials, instructions on how to set up the software and all of the components the system relies on -- all information that is required to build a working LinuxMCE from scratch.

I'm not proposing to provide kits including TVs, computers, remote controls, cables, et cetera. Rather, I am proposing to provide a complete prescription to build a working out-of-the-box LinuxMCE system.