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HTPC, etc. OS?

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July 11, 2011 7:06:26 PM

Hello, all.

I have had some computer parts sitting on my shelf for a while and lately have been looking at different possibilities of what to do with them... Still not sure what I am wanting to do with them, if I even use them.

One of the ideas is to use it as a HTPC/NAS/comp for running dedicated game servers on.

Anyway, I would like some suggestions for a linux distro that would support these... (of course the game servers would completely depend on whether they are compatible with linux).

I think it would be neat to have it set up like a dedicated HTPC, then any other things I dream up for it to be used as would run in the background. I would basically like it to show up like a basic menu with options to view movies that I have saved on there by category, and also be able to play DVDs/bluray/whatever.

Any suggestions for a particular Linux Distro? (Sorta new to Linux... mainly a Windows user)

P.S. Are there any (semi-inexpensive) Bluetooth remote controls for computers? I've only managed to find them for PS3... I'm not entirely sure if they would be compatible, but could be a possibility?

More about : htpc

July 11, 2011 7:35:27 PM

ElectroGoofy said:
... (of course the game servers would completely depend on whether they are compatible with linux).

Actually, many Windows game servers will run just fine in a virtual Windows machine on Linux. They might even run under Wine.
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July 11, 2011 7:45:26 PM

ElectroGoofy said:
Hello, all.

I have had some computer parts sitting on my shelf for a while and lately have been looking at different possibilities of what to do with them... Still not sure what I am wanting to do with them, if I even use them.

One of the ideas is to use it as a HTPC/NAS/comp for running dedicated game servers on.

Anyway, I would like some suggestions for a linux distro that would support these... (of course the game servers would completely depend on whether they are compatible with linux).

I think it would be neat to have it set up like a dedicated HTPC, then any other things I dream up for it to be used as would run in the background. I would basically like it to show up like a basic menu with options to view movies that I have saved on there by category, and also be able to play DVDs/bluray/whatever.

Any suggestions for a particular Linux Distro? (Sorta new to Linux... mainly a Windows user)

P.S. Are there any (semi-inexpensive) Bluetooth remote controls for computers? I've only managed to find them for PS3... I'm not entirely sure if they would be compatible, but could be a possibility?


First things first, what kind of hardware are you talking about here? If it's some ancient hardware, then this certainly won't be a viable option.

Assuming you have some fairly recent hardware, let's begin. Basically any distro will support all of these things.

If you're streaming to a device, you can install something like MediaTomb. If you directly connect the HTPC to your TV, you can install something like XMBC.
As for a NAS, you can very simply throw in either a single drive and throw all your media on there, or throw in a couple/few drives and set them up in software RAID. This is supported in every Linux distro.
As for game servers, that depends on the game, but there should be plenty that will work.
You'll obviously need a BD-ROM drive in order to watch Blu-rays, but this will play DVDs as well.
As far as I know you would just need to install a [supported] Bluetooth dongle, then you should be able to connect any Bluetooth device.

I'd just suggest running something nice and simple with lots of community support, so probably something Debian based. This leaves you with Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, PCLinuxOS... there's plenty to choose from :) 
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July 11, 2011 8:16:11 PM

Ty for the response! :) 

PhilFrisbie said:
Actually, many Windows game servers will run just fine in a virtual Windows machine on Linux. They might even run under Wine.


Yea, didn't think of that... the game I mainly have in mind natively supports Linux :) 

Pyroflea said:
First things first, what kind of hardware are you talking about here? If it's some ancient hardware, then this certainly won't be a viable option.

Assuming you have some fairly recent hardware, let's begin. Basically any distro will support all of these things.

If you're streaming to a device, you can install something like MediaTomb. If you directly connect the HTPC to your TV, you can install something like XMBC.
As for a NAS, you can very simply throw in either a single drive and throw all your media on there, or throw in a couple/few drives and set them up in software RAID. This is supported in every Linux distro.
As for game servers, that depends on the game, but there should be plenty that will work.
You'll obviously need a BD-ROM drive in order to watch Blu-rays, but this will play DVDs as well.
As far as I know you would just need to install a [supported] Bluetooth dongle, then you should be able to connect any Bluetooth device.

I'd just suggest running something nice and simple with lots of community support, so probably something Debian based. This leaves you with Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, PCLinuxOS... there's plenty to choose from :) 


Yes, it is recent hardware... I went to the Windows/AMD Ready to Launch Tour and bought the DIY kit (at the time I was planning on making a comp, but then decided against it... the DIY Kit had Windows 7, AMD Athlon II x4, and a compatible mobo... it cost less than the OS alone, and already used OS on another comp, so didn't really lose money on the deal whether or not I use the hardware).

Anyway, initially I was thinking about hooking it directly to the TV, but now that you mention streaming, it would save space by it... what sort of advantages/disadvantages would there be of streaming? I'll check out the two programs you mentioned.

As for the NAS, what filesystem would you suggest? If I was running Linux on it, I wouldn't want it to be NTFS (not linux compatible last I knew... have they added compatibility?), and not FAT32 (like a 3-4 gig limit of file transfer size...).

Alright, so you think that even a remote control for the PS3 (it said "Compatible with PS3" in some places, so may not be exclusively for the PS3) would work on it? I haven't had much experience with bluetooth... just recently got a laptop with it, so haven't used anything other than a mouse with it.


Thanks again!
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July 11, 2011 9:45:28 PM

ElectroGoofy said:
Yes, it is recent hardware... I went to the Windows/AMD Ready to Launch Tour and bought the DIY kit (at the time I was planning on making a comp, but then decided against it... the DIY Kit had Windows 7, AMD Athlon II x4, and a compatible mobo... it cost less than the OS alone, and already used OS on another comp, so didn't really lose money on the deal whether or not I use the hardware).


Ahh, well in that case you should be fine! I'd make sure you have 4GB of RAM as well (more can never hurt either!).

ElectroGoofy said:
Anyway, initially I was thinking about hooking it directly to the TV, but now that you mention streaming, it would save space by it... what sort of advantages/disadvantages would there be of streaming? I'll check out the two programs you mentioned.


The advantage of this would be that you could leave your server on 24/7 and not have a computer whirring away in your living room! The disadvantage would be that you'd need a network that can handle this much traffic (a decent 100Mbit LAN will usually stream HD content just fine, but Gbit is cheap enough these days as well!). The other disadvantage is that you'd need a streaming device in your living room, but if you have a modern game console then you're good to go! You can also get cheap little units (less than $100) that will allow you do do this.

ElectroGoofy said:
As for the NAS, what filesystem would you suggest? If I was running Linux on it, I wouldn't want it to be NTFS (not linux compatible last I knew... have they added compatibility?), and not FAT32 (like a 3-4 gig limit of file transfer size...).


Just EXT3/4 should be fine. This is the default filesystem in Linux.

Just for the record, there's drivers that let Linux read/write NTFS drives now :) 

ElectroGoofy said:
Alright, so you think that even a remote control for the PS3 (it said "Compatible with PS3" in some places, so may not be exclusively for the PS3) would work on it? I haven't had much experience with bluetooth... just recently got a laptop with it, so haven't used anything other than a mouse with it.


I've never personally used Bluetooth with anything outside of my PS3, so I can't tell you for certain. If you can get a dongle that works in Linux, as far as I know any Bluetooth device should be able to connect without issues. The only thing you really have to worry about (again, as far as I know) is Linux support for the dongle. Just spend a bit of time on Google and you should be able to find your answer with relative ease :) 

Good luck!
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July 11, 2011 10:44:37 PM

Alright, tyvm for the info :D 

Pyroflea said:
Just EXT3/4 should be fine. This is the default filesystem in Linux.


Ah, I neglected to mention that the NAS would mainly be used by Windows comps... I would just like to have a filesystem that could be written to/read from by Linux. I could check out the drivers you mentioned for NTFS on Linux if all else fails. Ext3 and 4 are not compatible with Windows, correct?

Also, we have a Wii, so that might work... Need to check out the possibilities :) 
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July 11, 2011 10:45:47 PM

Install and configure Samba and your Windows computers will be able to access the shared directory/directories on your NAS over the network :) 
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