We've been shipping Dianemo on Ubuntu 12.04LTS Desktop pretty much since Canonical released it and I can say without hesitation that I would recommend going with a 12.04LTS based installation. You can test your proposed hardware for 12.04LTS compatibility simply by testing if it boots from a Ubuntu 12.04LTS Desktop USB stick or LiveCD (Core & Media Directors). If they boot and you get a desktop and a network connection your pretty much good to go.
The hardware you choose for your Core will be largely dependent on how many rooms you will equip with MD's and how much media you will be streaming concurrently. The more MD's you have the more load you will place on your Core when everything boots (hopefully this is not something you will be doing everyday) and when you are streaming video to several rooms at once.
Another factor to consider, if you are going with traditional MD's, is where will they be located? Will they be located local to the TV's or will they be located in your central equipment rack? Any surround Amplifiers or other audio amplifers will either need to be located with the MD's centrally (with long speaker grade cable run to each room) or with the MD's locally in the rooms they serve. Either is ok...but in-room means you will need more well ventilated cupboard space in the room (but will have shorted speaker cables etc). In Dianemo we still support MD's but 95% of our installations now use upnp media players, SmartTV's or AppleTV's instead and we use small IP based controls to provide discrete control of devices in and around the house (something in the past we would have done via the ports on an MD). We're also, like LMCE, moving to a new style Orbiter which does not require UI regens ever - UI regens historically have always caused a lot of overhead on the Core's of larger installations in particular. Moving away from MD's and modern Orbiters all add up to requiring less powerful Core's that use far less energy than they did just a few years back.
Best of luck with your house & your installation.
All the best
Just saw this one, Andy. For some reason I'm not getting notifications on this thread. Hmmmm...
That is great info, and thank you very much. I'm narrowing my options down quite a bit and I think I've settled on something like this for my core:
System76 Eland Pedestal. It ships with Ubuntu 14.04.1 Server LTS, so I'm guessing it'll be AOK for this purpose.
Intel Xeon E3-1220V2 (3.10 GHz 8MB Cache - 4 cores)
16 GB DDR3 1333 MHz ECC
2x2 TB SATA III 7200 RPM in hardware RAID-1
Hot swap drive cage
CD-RW/DVD-RW Dual layer drive
The questions that stand out for this one are:
Graphics are integrate Intel HD. Is this enough for a core? I assume the core doesn't need much graphics support.
I very much like the hardware raid setup - is this compatible with LinuxMCE?
No audio included, but there are extra bays for expansion. I'll probably pick up an audio card or two, if they are needed.
As far as structure, I plan to have the core in a utility room in the basement. I'll have Cat5e access there as well as all the house speakers will terminate there. I assume I can either connect the speakers to audio cards in the core or to amplifiers controlled by the core. (Those amplifiers would be in the utility room also.) I'll have 2 rooms with 2 speakers each in the ceilings, and all those wires terminate in the utility room.
For the media directors, I anticipate 2 rooms, maybe 3, and those will have small footprint computers in place next to the TVs. I'm thinking something like this for the media directors: https://www.thinkpenguin.com/gnu-linux/penguin-pocket-wee-gnu-linux-desktop
They have Intel 1080p HD video and audio support.
That's my current plan for hardware. As always, any feedback is greatly appreciated.