Hardware

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Revision as of 00:34, 19 December 2007 by Matthew (Talk | contribs) (Sony VGP-XL1B jukeboxes)

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Connectivity possible with LinuxMCE

A basic LinuxMCE system can be set up with relatively modest PC and networking hardware. More advanced (though not necessarily expensive) systems can work with virtually any device that allows some form of input/output control capability. This might be through ethernet, infrared, RS232 or a home Automation control protocol such as X10.

LinuxMCE hardware terms

Here is a list of LinuxMCE-specific hardware terms.

  • Core - a PC which is the center of your system
  • Media Director - PC devices which are connected to your core and provide
  • Hybrid - a Core and Media Director combined.
  • Orbiter - a user interface to control the system, running on a Media Director or elsewhere, for instance on a lightweight portable device such as a web pad.

Minimum Requirements

CPU

A LinuxMCE core-only machine can be run on a slower CPU such as a P3 if media encoding/decoding is not done on the core but, running the database, web server, and other system services can put reasonable load on your CPU.

Motherboard

Any Linux-compatible motherboard (95% chance your's will work) will run smoothly, give or take a few features (SPDIF, etc.). See the mainboards category for more infornmation and experience with these.

RAM

For a bare minimum core, 256MB+ of RAM is needed. For machines encoding/decoding media and/or running desktop applications 512MB+ is needed for smooth function.

Hard Drive

Your machines' hard drive(s) should be at least 4GB (to install the OS) plus as much as you want for media storage, network-boot images, etc. And you can add as much storage as you want via NAS, other machines, and other storage devices.

DVD/CD-ROM

A DVD drive is required for installing with the Quick Install DVD. Without a DVD-ROM drive, the user is left to the CD install method, which requires a fresh install of Kubuntu 7.04, then a 2CD installation of LinuxMCE. LinuxMCE also supports the Sony VGP-XL1B(N) (N=1,2,3...) CD/DVD jukebox (drive + changer), as well as the compatible PowerFile models. Those jukeboxes in turn require a FireWire connector on the PC.

Recommended Specifications

CPU

Late model single-core or any dual or quad core processor is enough power to run a Core or Media Director.

RAM

1GB+ RAM should handle most setups. 4GB+ would require 64-bit OS which will be available in 0710.

DVD/CD-ROM

DVD-ROM drive is required for installing using the Quick Install DVD and a DVD+/-RW drive is recommend for backing up media, burning CDs, etc. Of the available supported CD/DVD jukeboxes, the Sony XL1BN (N=1,2,3...) seem to be the most popular in the community, but they are discontinued by Sony.

User Feedback

Please see the article on adding your own hardware to the Hardware Category and help out by contributing your experience with the hardware you have tried. Some more general considerations can be found below, feel free to expand on these with your personal experience as well (don't forget to sign your additions with four '~' characters).

CPU

  • A PIII/733MHz system can encode one video stream using the MPEG-4 codec using 480x480 capture resolution. This does not allow for live TV watching, but does allow for encoding video and then watching it later.
  • A developer states that his AMD1800+ system can almost encode two MPEG-4 video streams and watch one program simultaneously.
  • A PIII/800MHz system with 512MB RAM can encode one video stream using the RTjpeg codec with 480x480 capture resolution and play it back simultaneously, thereby allowing live TV watching.
  • A dual Celeron/450MHz is able to view a 480x480 MPEG-4/3300kbps file created on a different system with 30% CPU usage.
  • A P4 2.4GHz machine can encode two 3300Kbps 480x480 MPEG-4 files and simultaneously serve content to a remote frontend.

RAM

FireWire

You may use the Firewire output of the Motorola DCT6200 or the SA3250.

Video Capture Card

See the TV Cards Category for more information on, and experience with, these devices.

pcHDTV manufactures and supplies cards just for Linux and is now on its third generation of card, the HD-5500 available from http://www.pchdtv.com/

The Plextor ConvertX PVR devices are supported through Linux drivers available from http://www.plextor.com/english/support/LinuxSDK.htm. MythTV uses the Plextor to capture hardware encoded MPEG-4, so the host CPU requirements are low.

Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-USB2 (driver available at http://www.isely.net/pvrusb2/) emulates a PVR-x50 card. IP Recorder (RTSP, RTS, UDP)

MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and H.264 internet TS stream recording is supported using the IPTV recorder in MythTV. This recorder expects the channels to be supplied as a m3u playlist. If your DSL/Fiber provider supplies television service, but does not provide a m3u playlist for the channels, you can construct one for your own use. You do not need to download it from the same server as the streams themselves, and can also read it from a file if this is more convenient.

If your provider uses 5C encryption on a particular channel, you won't be able to get any content. DBoxII or other devices running Neutrino

You may use the Ethernet port of an DBoxII or a similar device to capture MPEG2. Your set top box has to be running the Neutrino GUI. USB Capture Devices.

Sound Card

The system needs a sound card or an on-board equivalent on the motherboard to play back and in most cases, to record sound. Any sound card that can be operated by the ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) kernel modules will work with MythTV. However, some cards and drivers will provide better quality or compatibility than others. In particular, many audio devices included on motherboards can be problematic.

The usual practice for capturing the audio associated with the video is to run a cable from an audio output on the video capture card to the Line input on a sound card. However, some video capture cards provide on-board audio capabilities that work with the kernel btaudio module instead, thereby eliminating the need for a cable. This is useful if you will be using multiple capture cards in a single chassis, since each capture card will not need its own sound card. Note that a separate sound card is still required for playback when using btaudio, and that often the audio recorded in this way will be mono only. See the btaudio section for more information.

See Also

The hardware category and it's sub categories.

External references