Thanks again, Andrew, for you always valuable advice!
As massabuntu says the Dusky interface is the one we use (search the Forum for earlier threads where this is discussed) and yes it attaches to RF2 as I mentioned earlier. However I would 'walk slowly along' this path...if you have not even built your Core yet! Jumping in and trying to integrate a Sky box as you first step in learning LinuxMCE is probably not the best idea... take your time to learn the basics and then move onto more advanced stuff like external device control.
You'll still need an IR receiver on your Core/MD's so thats not wasted (and you might want to IR blast other devices too).
I'm having a dedicated core in a closet, so I don't think that's going to need a blaster. My wince wasn't actually at the blaster (which I will need on the MD's anyway for remote control input, right?) but at the dual emitter.
I'm a tad curious, though. You say to go slowly with the Sky integration. Without it, what use is my MCE system? I won't have any media input! (Yes, I can rip DVDs or download torrents, but my primary aim is to have a sort of networked Sky+ / Tivo type system). The project started seriously for two reasons:-
My living-room VHS/DVD player is bust and needs replacing anyway.
The family are all complaining that (at the moment) the only place they can watch TV is the living room (where the STB is). I don't have any terrestrial aerials and don't want to be running co-ax all around the house from the STB. The 4-year old had programs he "Must" watch which are often repeats anyway (How sick am I of Ben 10!) but this hogs the family TV and STB.
My plan is to get the first MD working in the living room, which solves issue 1. Then to add MDs in the bedrooms to deal with issue 2. Eventually, Home Automation and the other sexy stuff will probably follow, but that's down the road some way
I hope to then have the system automagically collect the various series for family members meaning that more and more we will be watching recordings, not live TV (especially Ben 10!)
I have ordered a PVR150 card which I'll use to grab the Sky signal on the MD. I'm aware of HD and other quality issues being reported, but at this stage the family will just be happy if they get something as good as an old analogue aerial signal in their rooms! I'm sure the PVR / MD / MCE combination will manage that.