Author Topic: New User (UK) - Help with BIG Shopping List please?  (Read 2491 times)

Wardy

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New User (UK) - Help with BIG Shopping List please?
« on: April 08, 2007, 01:35:24 pm »
I've recently been pointed in the direction of LinuxMCE and it appear to to exactly what I need.  I've done a test install on an old PC:-

Athlon 3200+
Asus A7N8X-E Deluxe R2 Mobo
Radeon 9500 Gfx Card
512MB Ram
120GB HDD

And I get the Gray Screen of Death on the display, I'm not worried about that as the IP interface is there so I can learn how it all works.

In my home I currently use:-
Zoneminder for my CCTV (Great, but I struggle to configure it)
X-10 Home Automation via a Windows PC
VOIP Phones
Data storage server (both for media and CCTV archive data)
Media Delivery via Windows HTPC
Media Delivery via Snazzio & Roku Media Players

What I do need a little help with is a shopping list to really get the most out of LinuxMCE.  I want to build a dedicated server (core?) machine and separate "Media Player" machines.  I want to enable all the best features on the media player (best graphics on menus etc) and need the server machine capable of delivering pretty much all the services LinuxMCE can provide.  I want to spend as little as I can to get machines that will fully offer the total LinuxMCE Experience.

So remembering I'm in the UK....

What hardware should I buy?:-



Core Machine "Server"
CPU & Memory
What CPU & Memory Requirements to run it all?  At least 2 TV Cards, Phone Server, Media Delivery to plenty of Players (Eventually about 6), X-10 Home Automation etc.

Graphics Card
I assume Graphics Card Performance isn't too important on the Core Server?

TV Cards
Which Digital Freeview or Satellite TV Cards?

X-10 Home Control Hardware
I currently use a CM12U Serial X-10 Interface, is there anything recommended for LinuxMCE?

IR-Wireless Remote Control
Is IR control of the Core Machine necessary?



Media Player Machines
CPU & Memory
What CPU & Memory Requirements to run the most CPU hungry video types under MCE?  I've heard that h.264/x264 is becoming the standard encoding for HiDef Broadcast TV here in Europe so I'd like the machines to cope with that.

Graphics Card
As these machines will be in the living areas I need to consider noise as well as performance.  Size will also be an issue so if the onboard GFX 6150b Graphics of some motherboards would be ideal if they can cope up to at least 1080i (though I already have a 1080p display in one room).  But I want the best performance LinuxMCE can offer me.

TV Cards
Are they necessary on the Media Player Machines?

IR-Wireless Remote Control
What would be the recommended IR or RF Remote control & Interface for these Media Players?  I've seen the Microsoft MCE remote an that seems very nice.  If possible I'd prefer to go for a Wireless of RF solution & not IR as sometimes the equipment isn't in ideal IR line of sight, but compatibility is more important.  I also have PDA type phones, but separate remote controls are important.



CCTV Cameras & Entry Control
I need more IP CCTV Cameras, any that are recommended for use with LinuxMCE?
Would Control of Entry Gates/Intercom be possible?


I just can't wait to get stuck in with all this, it's like someone has asked what I would want from a home network system and included everything in an integrated solution.  Any help on buying the right hardware for this experience gratefully received,

Many thanks,

Mark.

Wardy

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Re: New User (UK) - Help with BIG Shopping List please?
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2007, 09:54:42 pm »
Without equipment guidance I had a go and tried building an all-in-one Linux MCE box using the modest hardware I had lying around (Athlon 3200+, Radeon9500 512MB Ram) but it was clear this wasn't going to be sufficient, I couldn't even get the display to work correctly so....

Here's my intended revised setup for a Core server with a couple of LinuxMCE player PCs/



Player PC Specs
(Will boot from a modest SATA HDD (say 160-250gb)
If I've under specified in any area please comment.

Case
Antec Fusion Case (Incl 430W PSU)
http://www.antec.com/ec/productDetails.php?ProdID=08738

Motherboard
Asus M2NPV-VM
*On Board NVidea 6150B Graphics
*On Board "HiDef 5.1 Audio" with SPDif Out
*On Board Gig Lan
http://www.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=3&l2=101&l3=296&l4=0&model=1138&modelmenu=1

CPU
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200 AM2 2.2GHz (Chosen on Price Point)

Memory
2 x 1gb Corsair PC2-5300 DDR2 Ram

Remote Control
Microsoft Media Center PC Remote Control
http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/mouseandkeyboard/ProductDetails.aspx?pid=065




Core Server PC Specs
The core server PC specs are based around the fact I have most of these bit lying around already.  If this will be underpowered please comment now as there's little point building the Players if there's not an adequate core to drive it.  I WILL be using X-10, VOIP phones, gate entry and networked CCTV cameras I'd like to integrate into the core server setup.

Case & PSU
Standard Midi Tower with Standard 580W PSU

Motherboard
Asus A7N8X-Deluxe R2.0
http://www.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=3&l2=13&l3=56&l4=0&model=216&modelmenu=1

CPU
AMD Athlon 3200+

Memory
2 x 1gb DDR

Network Card
Netgear Gig Lan Card

Graphics Card
Radeon 9500

TV Tuner
Haupage WinTV-Nova-T-500 (Dual Digital TV Tuner)
http://www.hauppauge.co.uk/pages/products/data_novat500.html

Large IDE HDD, but external storage via Sambe Shares from Separate "UnRaid" Server (Non-Striping Raid with up to 13 + 1 Parity HDD capacity).

Will this lot give me a full LinuxMCE experience? Any comments or suggestion before I order the bits?

Many thanks,

Mark.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2007, 09:58:05 pm by Wardy »

wierdbeard65

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Re: New User (UK) - Help with BIG Shopping List please?
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2007, 07:19:48 am »
Hi,

I too am in the UK and am a little behind you with the purchasing of equipment (as well as understanding of some of the terminology around HD - WTF is 1080p etc stuff about???) so I'm watching your thread with interest.

Anyway, I have been kicking around both the LinuxMCE and the Pluto forums for a while, keeping an eye on what's happening and trying to learn as much as I can before I waste any time and / or money installing this in the wrong way.

Looking at your spec. and comparing with what I've read, I think you should bin the HDDs for the players (Media Directors). The idea is that these use PXE to network boot from the core. Not only will this save money, but it will also mean they run cooler and quiter. This also saves on a lot of setting up, since they become "plug and play".

For my directors in "non-main" areas (bedrooms, kitchen etc) where they are likely to be linked via a composite video lead to a small 14" portable or via VGA to a cheap(ish) LCD TV, I've been looking at the mini-ITX form factor. A lot of these have TV out on board, are designed to run quietly (many systems based on these use a laptop-style external PSU so have no fan) and are much smaller than a normal PC. I have yet to start the ball rolling deciding on exact spec. yet, though, as I don't have the finances in place yet to make a start!!!

Good luck with this and please keep posting progress. I'm particularly interested in UK-Specific issues. (I can't seem to find  DVB-S card, will the EPG work properly? (One of the myth systems allows you to have a "wish list" that will record certain films / shows if they EVER come on, dunno if it works in the UK though) etc etc.)

Paul
Paul
If you have the time to help, please see where I have got to at: http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/User:Wierdbeard65

Wardy

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Re: New User (UK) - Help with BIG Shopping List please?
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2007, 01:04:03 pm »
Hi,

I too am in the UK and am a little behind you with the purchasing of equipment (as well as understanding of some of the terminology around HD - WTF is 1080p etc stuff about???) so I'm watching your thread with interest.

You aren't behind me :)... I'm proposing to use this stuff.  The core PC spec is based around stuff I have lying around but I'm wanting to get on & buy the right kit for a least-hassle media-director machine (or two).

Quote
Anyway, I have been kicking around both the LinuxMCE and the Pluto forums for a while, keeping an eye on what's happening and trying to learn as much as I can before I waste any time and / or money installing this in the wrong way.

Me too, I've tried to build a hybrid on the Athlon3200+, but couldn't get it going an any useable way.  I got U1 menus, but they were corrupted, sort of duplicated icons but also had incredibly slow response time.

Quote
Looking at your spec. and comparing with what I've read, I think you should bin the HDDs for the players (Media Directors). The idea is that these use PXE to network boot from the core. Not only will this save money, but it will also mean they run cooler and quiter. This also saves on a lot of setting up, since they become "plug and play".
That sounds ideal to me!  Actually I could possibly try my current HTPC as a media director if I'm able to work out how to "PXE boot".  I'll search the forums on this.

Quote
For my directors in "non-main" areas (bedrooms, kitchen etc) where they are likely to be linked via a composite video lead to a small 14" portable or via VGA to a cheap(ish) LCD TV, I've been looking at the mini-ITX form factor. A lot of these have TV out on board, are designed to run quietly (many systems based on these use a laptop-style external PSU so have no fan) and are much smaller than a normal PC. I have yet to start the ball rolling deciding on exact spec. yet, though, as I don't have the finances in place yet to make a start!!!
If anyone comes up with a very quiet Mini-Itx solution that display the full U2 menus, can play 1080i/720p and x.264/h.264 media (I don't know much about this yet just what others have been saying) that can be used with USB-UIRT I'm there!

Quote
I'm particularly interested in UK-Specific issues. (I can't seem to find  DVB-S card, will the EPG work properly? (One of the myth systems allows you to have a "wish list" that will record certain films / shows if they EVER come on, dunno if it works in the UK though) etc etc.)

I had the Haupage WinTV-Nova-T-500 (Dual Digital TV Tuner) recommended to me as it apparantly has good linux support and 2 tuners on 1 card from 1 RF input.  I already have a Nebula DigiTV card in my Windows HTPC and the TV listing for that work just fine, I can't see why there won't be a solution to getting basic TV listings to record under LinuxMCE on the Haupage.  Perhaps someone with a TV card in the UK could comment?

I want my system to go MUCH further than TV though.  I eventually want to include control of Network & Local CCTV cameras, VOIP Telephones, Gate Entry, X-10 & Z-Wave Home-Automation control so I reckon I'll need a beffy core PC plater on.

For now the 2 big questions are:-

1/ "Can the Core PC listed above do a good job as a Core machine at these specs?"

2/ Can the OnBoard NVidia 6150B graphics on the proposed Media-Directors fully use the prettiest of the U2 menus (with transparencies etc.)


I'm thinking I'll wait for the 7.04 compatible installer to become available before another install attempt but still want to get buying some hardware (especially as my birthday is in a few weeks & some bits may make it onto my "List"  :)

Mark. 
« Last Edit: April 27, 2007, 01:13:59 pm by Wardy »

1audio

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Re: New User (UK) - Help with BIG Shopping List please?
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2007, 04:12:31 am »
The Asus board you mentioned with 1 GB is enough for a full power core and will support 720P fine. The 1080 support is flakey all an nVidia driver problem but 720p works great. You only need 1GB of ram for all the services (I know this for certain).

Wardy

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Re: New User (UK) - Help with BIG Shopping List please?
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2007, 06:37:03 pm »
The Asus board you mentioned with 1 GB is enough for a full power core and will support 720P fine. The 1080 support is flakey all an nVidia driver problem but 720p works great. You only need 1GB of ram for all the services (I know this for certain).

Will I need to be displaying 720p or 1080i on the Core machine? 

Or do you mean that the Asus A7N8X-E Deluxe R2.0 & Athlon 3200+ are fine for a "full power core" and separately that the 1080 support using the 6150B onboard gfx is flakey on the Asus M2NPV-VM?

I am correct that it's the Media Distributor PC that needs the powerful graphics processing aren't I?  Or is all the processing/decoding done on the core with the output send to the media director?  I want those ultimate U2 menus.

If I can ascertain whether my proposed  "Core" machine is powerful enough in every respect I will know what I have to spend on the Media Director PCs.  If I need to upgrade the core I may need to rething the Media Distributor PC.  I'm happy to choose a different mobo and separate gfx card if necessary, but if all can work fine (incl. those menus) with onboard GFX so much the better.

Thanks,

Mark.

1audio

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Re: New User (UK) - Help with BIG Shopping List please?
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2007, 07:19:28 pm »
The core/MD thing creates a lot of confusion. The core functions are DCErouter (the engine that tells everything what to do) and the secondary support stuff- Asterisk Mythbackend etc. The MD renders the media and displays the UI. The Asus M2NPV-VM can do both (Hybrid) just fine w/ 1 GB of ram (including UI2). With 500 MB you can use it as an MD and run UI2. 1080i and 1080p don't work yet because the nVidia driver doesn't work right with the system yet. New drivers etc. will change all of this for the display but not immediately.

I think the A7N8X will work as a core but I have not tried it.  However using a hybrid as your main system is the intended design so if it works for you you may not need a dedicated core.

Mike_Izisys

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Re: New User (UK) - Help with BIG Shopping List please?
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2007, 06:01:33 pm »
So just to clarify - you only need tv tuner cards in the core machine.  Not the Media extender machines.  Is there a limit?

Also I just took a look through Pluto.  What AV control devices are supported?  I see they talk about the gc100 from Global Cache.  Any others?

Finally - I have a wireless netgear router at home which the internet comes in on.  If I build a core with 2 network cards.  I can plug one of them straight into the router and the other one into a switch.  All the Media extenders then get wired into the switch for network boot.  Do I have to disable the DHCP in the netgear router even if non of the extenders are linked to this device?  The reason I ask is that we use some Windows based laptops for internet surfing and they get assigned by DHCP.

Thanks

Mike (London, UK)

1audio

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Re: New User (UK) - Help with BIG Shopping List please?
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2007, 10:01:55 pm »
1) there are several AV control devices you can use. The USBUIRT is probably the most cost effective. The MD associated with the system also has serial capability that can be used to control serial control devices like AV Receivers and displays that are equipped.

2) The TV tuner capability is inherited from MythTV so there is a wealth of info on the Myth WiKi etc. You don't need tuners in each box.

3) There are several scenarios for the network setup. Yours will work but won't give wireless access for control of the system or access to the content on your PC's. If you look through the forums here there are detailed instructions for the different options. And you can change them if it isn't working for your needs.