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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Oh, and why do I need 2 NICs?
I tried testing and running the system with only one NIC and even though I was able to get it to work (installed with router providing DHCP, set static IPs, tweaked LMCE's network settings, etc.) it wasn't worth all the effort and gave me many sleepless nights.
At the very least (and if you run out of PCI slots) you should get something simple like the Linksys USB200M and use that for your connection to the Interweb. LMCE likes to have control of its subnet for better support of PNP and diskless Media Directors so I'd dedicate your GigE port for that.
So, even though it's possible, you should avoid it if you can and just buy a MB with 2 NICs.
That's basically the short version, yes. You must have a Core that has 2 NICs, and then the Core acts as a router between your existing home network and the new "internal" LMCE network.
All equipment that will interact with LMCE needs to be on the internal network - Media Directors, Home Automation equipment, Phones, media sources (PCs, NAS's, etc) using DHCP to get IP addresses from the Core. The recommendation would be simply to move everything you currently have to the internal network, and plug the Core's "external" NIC directly into your broadband router. They will all behave in exactly the same way, so its pretty much transparent.
If you are using Media Directors, then a Gig switch and NICs are recommended just to speed up the boot times, etc, but isn't essential. Then, as you say, put the Media Director's BIOS in to boot from LAN mode (its actually called PXE boot, but often BIOS's describe it as other things) and reboot the machine. It will then find the Core, and have a boot file delivered which will go through the process of creating a boot image of LMCE that sits on the Core's hard drive. After a while it will complete building this image and instruct the new Media Director to reboot. This time the Core will serve up the pre-build LMCE image to the Media Director to boot from... voila
Its an example of a typical "barebones" system (ie PC minus CPU, RAM, HDD) that is designed for Home Theatre PC use - basically it looks like a HiFi component. You can use it as either a Core, Hybrid or Media Director depending on what CPU, RAM and HDD you get for it.
A Core is the central "master" for an LMCE network that controls the network and can be headless (no screen) if you wish and placed out of the way in a cupboard or somewhere.
A Media Director is a "slave" to the Core, and is used to provide AV media to a display and audio system (hom theatre, stereo, amp, whatever) - you place as many of these as you like around the house, wherever you have AV equipment and would like to be able to access your LMCE media from.
A Hybrid is a Core with a Media Director on it as well - this way you can have a standalone LMCE system consisting of a single PC. Although many people use a Hybrid, plus Media Directors so that they do not "waste" a PC just for the Core as it can play media as well as the simple Media Directors.
Yes, you can build whatever you want, but be aware that if you do not choose recommended hardware (or at least known good chipsets) you will likely come across compatibility issues. Best to search the forums and wiki for advice on the best hardware - eg nVidia 6xxx and 7xxx chipsets are the best for video.
There are several motherboards and barebones systems coming out at the moment that are very cost effective, and people are looking into the compatibility of ones from Asus and MSI at the moment.
as per colinjones' reply, we have an extensive system where you can simply drop diskless PCs wherever there is a TV. What I recommend is the following setup:
* MSI Media Live
* USB UIRT for A/V control
* Xantech 286 double emitter to control TV and one other device such as an amplifier.
Use a tablet, PDA, Nokia 770 etc, as an Orbiter, that you can move from room to room to control the different devices, and you can have as many orbiters and remote controls as needed for the system.
The MSI media live just needs a CPU and some RAM. A hard drive is not required.
As per the system design, you can attach peripherals to any media director or the core, and it will replicate house-wide.
Even though we do support both UPNP clients, media storage, and players, we do not recommend them, because they do not expose functionality of the entire house.
Many people honestly have a difficult time understanding the sheer scope of the system, because quite frankly, nothing else has existed like it before, so it can take a bit of time to wrap it all around your head.
That's okay, that's why we're here.
Check out the wiki for your last set of questions...
Hope that helps a little.
Kubuntu 8.04 KDE4, yes can you help me load MCE?
Sorry you've wasted your time lmce runs on 7.10. You really need to READ the installation info. Go back to my original response and start over. The path you are on right now is completely wrong.