Rule #1 - Be Patient - Rule #2 - Don't ask when, if you don't contribute - Rule #3 - You have coding skills - LinuxMCE's small brother is available: http://www.agocontrol.com
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I think the total solution calls for a mixture of 'appliances' and 'packages'.
There is a bunch of functionaility on the machines (CORE and MDs) that is better suited to an appliance solution. This would be the core OS, firewalls, networking etc - then there is the software components that have some dependency on these bits but that dependency is well defined and is minimised where possible. This would be the linuxMCE services. This would be packaged software that turns any compatible appliance into either a linuxMCE CORE(Master) or linuxMCE Media Director(Slave).
If people want to configure the 'appliance part' themselves or install on existing hardware and OS combinations then they just install the software. As long is the minimum requirements are met then all should be fine.
Also, if people want to use the linuxMCE 'appliances' they should be able to just install that with a minimum of fuss as well. There might be different choices for OS and/or distributions that they are based on, but essentially it is an appliance - so it shouldn't matter.
The threat of breaking apart the appliance aspect of the system is that an overall consistent vision may very well be lost in the process as the entire system is cannibalised, and if that happens, I _am_ going back to Pluto.