Where do you plug in the Cartridges?
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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The one device that people have had success with IR learning has always been the USB UIRT. Not cheap, but well worth it, imho.
Anyway, the slow response of the KDE is noted. Can the Core be managed from a separate machine using the browser and/or a client (like PuTTy or some other remote desktop)?