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HTPC Help

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January 1, 2010 7:53:11 PM

Im building an HTPC and need a little help with trying to decide on a few of the details.

The hardware I have down its just deciding on the best pick for software and OS. I want to use it for web browsing, hulu streaming, maybe some DVD and Video watching ect... I'm new to the HTPC area of computers so any suggestions on what OS and other software I might need.


Sorry if this is in the wrong area on the forum.

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January 1, 2010 10:35:15 PM

snipethewolf said:
Im building an HTPC and need a little help with trying to decide on a few of the details.

The hardware I have down its just deciding on the best pick for software and OS. I want to use it for web browsing, hulu streaming, maybe some DVD and Video watching ect... I'm new to the HTPC area of computers so any suggestions on what OS and other software I might need.


Sorry if this is in the wrong area on the forum.


There are lots of workable choices for OSes and software for those purposes. You have dozens of Web browers and media players to pick from. About the only constraint is that you want to watch Hulu videos, which means that you need an OS that is supported by Adobe Flash player. Flash player works on all versions of Windows from 98SE through Windows 7, Linux, MacOS, and Sun Solaris. That's a wide range of choices to pick from, so just go with what you are familiar with or go try out a bunch of various options to see what you like. If you want some suggestions, I'd suggest trying the following:

1. OSes: Windows 7, Ubuntu Linux
2. Media players: VLC or Mplayer (Linux/Solaris) for video, Amarok for audio
3. HTPC video recording/playback programs: Windows Media Center (Windows), MythTV (Linux, Solaris- Windows is a work in progress), some like SageTV too.
4. Web browsers: Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer, bunches of others- take your pick.

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January 1, 2010 10:50:20 PM

I guess I was not clear on my question. I know what options are out there for HTPC's, a simple google search finds more options then I can shake a fair size stick at.


The heart of my question is what has shown to be a better choice for HTPC's?

Windows 7 Home prem, using something like WMC, or MyHTPC?

Or something like Ubuntu running MyHTPC or LinuxMCE?


I'm going to be running a fairly stripped down PC due to the case it's going into so I need an OS that will give me the most bang for the buck when it comes to running video and not having to worry about having to turn off half the services and strip the OS to get it to run fast.


The mobo CPU is the Zotac IONITX-A-U Atom N330 Dual Core running at the normal clock of 1.6ghz and 4 gig's of ddr2 800.
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January 1, 2010 11:38:12 PM

snipethewolf said:
I guess I was not clear on my question. I know what options are out there for HTPC's, a simple google search finds more options then I can shake a fair size stick at.


The heart of my question is what has shown to be a better choice for HTPC's?

Windows 7 Home prem, using something like WMC, or MyHTPC?

Or something like Ubuntu running MyHTPC or LinuxMCE?


I'm going to be running a fairly stripped down PC due to the case it's going into so I need an OS that will give me the most bang for the buck when it comes to running video and not having to worry about having to turn off half the services and strip the OS to get it to run fast.


The mobo CPU is the Zotac IONITX-A-U Atom N330 Dual Core running at the normal clock of 1.6ghz and 4 gig's of ddr2 800.


I would say to choose based on what you are familiar with. Your Ion-based machine will be able to play video about as well on either Windows or Linux because of the PureVideo decoder built into the chipset will be doing the video decoding. You're not particularly strapped for RAM either as 4 GB is enough for Windows 7 and more than enough for a Linux HTPC setup. Yes, something like Xubuntu (Ubuntu with the XFCE window manager) will be a lot leaner than Windows, but your machine shouldn't be a problem with running Windows 7. The real benefit of Linux is that you can go tweak a lot more with the OS to disable a bunch of unneeded services and uninstall unneeded components or even recompile things for extra performance, but you don't want to do that.

Being familiar with the OS or being willing to learn and be familiar with it is reallythe most important part of running an HTPC. I run MythTV on top of Debian Lenny on an Athlon XP 3200+ with 1 GB of DDR-400 and an NVIDIA GF6200 graphics card. You will run into some issues no matter what setup you pick and you generally will do better with something you're familiar with versus something you're less familiar with. I consider myself reasonably skilled working with Linux and will gladly do things that most wouldn't, such as recompile a driver module and mess with text configuration files to fix something. Windows is less familar and it's the 3-R ("retry, restart, reinstall") rule for me with that OS rather than trying to delve into its guts.

So if I were you, I'd try to run something like Mythbuntu (a particularly easy-to-set-up Ubuntu + MythTV arrangement) first and see how well that goes. If you like it and it runs well, use it. If you run into problems you can't or don't want to fix, or you just don't like it, then go out and buy Windows 7.
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January 2, 2010 1:02:33 AM

Thanks, thats more of what I was looking for. I have run mythtv before as a DVR a while back so I think I will try the Linux route first since it does allow more flexibility and a wide range of toys to play with. Thanks!
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