A long time user of XBMC, I decided it was time for a more powerful media center. I picket up a media pc case for free from a friend and started looking around at various media centers.
Good for you
I first tried mythtv on debian etch. The install went fine. I had to do some tweaking to get X and nvidia working together nicely, which went fine. I want a single interface that my girlfriend is capable of using for music and movies (like XBMC), but mythvideo and mythmusic weren't that great.
Sounds like you really just want a media portal (http://www.team-mediaportal.com
After some googling, I decided to give this LinuxMCE a try. I downloaded the DVD after verifying the md5sum, and I watched the demo video. I must say, what a scam. There is no way that is "just works" without knowing how to modify your xorg.conf and alsa setup, unlike what is preached on the home page. I had to kill the X server (ctrl+alt+backslash) and debug the issues causing X to run incorrectly and my TV to show "unsupported mode." It turns out that disabling the EDID is a bad thing in xorg.conf for my nvidia card.
I didn't have any of those problems on any of the five PCs I have tried so far.
Anyway, after that fiasco, the graphics kept disappearing while "Sarah" was talking during the initial setup. I ran the AV setup again this time at 640x480 which kept the graphics on the screen, but afterward, I see that for some reason it's running its own dhcp server in stead of getting an address from the one I'm already running.
The DHCP (as has allready been mentioned) is a key part for LMCE, and also the reason (in my opinion) why it isn't really suited for a single mediaportal installation (did I mention mediaportal above...)
There is no option in the UI to change that, and since I don't feel like fixing it manually, since that is just going to be one of many more problems I'm sure (from the way things have gone so far) I am going to have to fix, I'm just going to scrap it for now.
That's what the webadmin tool is for, you can't expect all the small details to be on the 10' interface on a system this complex?
Remember this is intended as a media-server/file-server/router/controller/firewall+++
And you usually don't set the options in your firewall on your TV either?
Again, that demo video is a joke. There's no way a Linux novice could get this working.
Not a joke, it worked for me when I followed the instructions, and I hadn't touched Linux before either.