I've also just began looking at this and being unfamilar with Linux and MCE's in general, I've got a few questions.
What I'm looking for is something like the Kaleidescape system that I can rip my dvd's to a controlling server then be able to access the movies at my tv using a remote control. I see that LMCE seems to have this functionality, however I'm unclear on the tv controlling devices. It seems that they're PC's, can they be controlled via an IR remote or do you have to have a mouse and keyboard?
Ultimately, I want a system that operates like a normal DVR so people like my parents and kids can watch movies in any room in the house with no computer knowledge.
I would suggest reading up on the system starting from the main page on the wiki:http://wiki.linuxmce.com/
But yes, the big difference in this system, as opposed to a smaller media center only system, or a commercial offering like Crestron or AMX (which are direct competitors), is that the remote control options available are staggering:
* Typical RC6 Windows MCE Remotes via IR
* Gyroscopic remotes such as the Gyration Mouse, Gyration Media, or the Fiire Chief (which is made specifically for LinuxMCE!)
as well as the original Orbiter design, which runs on a variety of commodity hardware, think of an orbiter as a graphical remote, all orbiters in a room stay in sync with each other, if you use a remote in a room, any other remotes in the room automatically update their displays appropriately:
* Nokia 770 and N800 tablets
* Any Windows PC (this also extends to touchscreen tablets such as the Tatung Webpad, or WebDT 366)
* Any Windows CE or Mobile PDA
* A Cisco 7970 IP phone using its embedded services browser
in addition, A Symbian Series 60v2 (such as a Nokia N70), or Windows Mobile Smartphone can be used as an orbiter with the addition of a bluetooth dongle. This gives you all the functionality above, plus the ability to do "Follow-Me" functionality. So when you leave a room, media, lighting preferences, climate controls, and/or security events, even in-progress telephone calls can follow you to another room.
as i said... staggering. This is a whole house solution, and I suggest spending serious time on the wiki to figure out if this is right for you.