I have commented a bit below:
a) The clients have 10/100 (maybe even just 10 Mbs) LAN cards
b) I don't have a network switch yet and I'm making do with an old 10/100 hub
Wow, the only thing worse than a 10/100 LAN is when the bandwidth is shared in a hub... Just like with wireless, which also explains why everybody should shy away from WiFi. You definitely need to upgrade here!
c) I suspect the clients are very thin
... in that I'm not 100% sure how LTSP does it's processing but I presume it is almost a case of the server running the application and only the graphics stuff being rendered by the client... sort of like remote X.... if so, my understanding of the Linux MCE Media Director is that it is a rather "thicker" client in that the media applications will run on the client as well as the graphic server, video and audio decoding etc with just the raw (usually compressed) data being passed from the server down the network.
Funny term "very" thin
You are absolutely right that LTSP is utilizing thin clients, and that LMCE is nothing like that, it is just diskless clients. One thing to remember though - thin clients need "fat" network bandwidth - fat clients could do with less (Although diskless clients boot and loads faster on fast networks). I am not sure how LTSP is handling video, but unless it is somehow tailored for this, you need a quite fast network to experience flawless video. Just due to the nature of the technology.
Whatever the case, your response has made me confident that when I put the Gig switch in and ensure all internal devices have Gig cards... things should be good.
Right again, but put importance of the Gigabit backbone structure - and the card in the Core should also be Gigabit. The individual nodes could be 100 Mbit, that is less critical - therefore you should not worry if a potential MD only has 100Mbit (but Nvidia GFX).
In terms of the two manners in which TV signal can be captured, that is most interesting. Certainly, as you say, the method of capturing the raw satellite signal and then decoding it in software is very appealing and elegant. And, as you point out, there is more potential there.... however, in my case I think I'll have to start with the alternative- capture the video output itself from the satellite decoder. The reasons are-
1) The provider is a pay provider with a "smart" card which would involve the card reader part that you refer to. Not impossible, as you say, but some extra effort and research required.
Yes, but probably worth the effort, espicially considering what you (and I) mention below:
2) I'm based in South Africa and I don't think there are many here who have gone this route before me so support and assistance from the community regarding the particulars of our local Sat-tv provider are going to be rather scarce... not to mention the fact that I'm sure their programming schedule is not available electronically.
To my understanding the systems used should be very well supported on the decoding part, meaning you can find support in Europe since the same system is also used by some European providers. I am not going to link (due to policy reasons) to info on how to move forward should you go this way - but I can be reached outside of the public foras...As to my understanding EPG via sat in South Africa (I assume MultiChoice South Africa (DSTV)?) is only sending "Now" and "Next" via EIT - but there should be xml grabbers for you. Consider looking here: http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/South_Africa_MUG
3) The local provider is not that fantastic ito options
so I don't often find there is a situation where I can find more than one channel at a time I want to watch!
Does that also include your tenant only desiring the same as you?
4) My current decoder does already have some fairly neat PVR and dual-view functionality built in which means that I'm already serving an alternative stream to my tenant (in a flatlet on the property) and I'm able to schedule and record already via the PVR. If I implented soln 2 that would basically replace this fuctionality but.... I'd have to give my tenant access to my MCE installation. I think that can happen further down the line. Perhaps when my current (old) PVR packs up and I'm forced to upgrade... I could potentially just use MCE instead of a new decoder?? Exciting future ahead.
Then I would warn you a bit. Not entirely sure which decoder you have, but if you are serving an individual selectable stream/channel to your tennant then you probably could grab this to Myth, but I foresee quite some tinkering to get LMCE to control both streams of the receiver. Which make and model is this? And how does your tenant switch channel??
You could end in a situation where you actually feel that performance (functionality) from your LMCE based system could feel inferior to your current setup, and you don't want that
On the other hand, if you keep your current sat box then LMCE would perhaps feel a bit "bolted on", and it should be the other way round, LMCE should become the core to which functionality is added..
Good luck with further investigations