Author Topic: Newbie question on system setup  (Read 908 times)

justinobwi

  • Making baby steps
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
Newbie question on system setup
« on: November 21, 2008, 02:33:19 am »

Hi all,

I am very interested in giving LinuxMCE a try and have a few question
(most of which have to some degree been talked about in the forums). I
would also kindly ask that you all take a look at my purposed setup.
Please note that I have never setup or used any kind of Media Center
solution before and have limited Linux experience, but I am not afraid
of the bash CLI.

Here are the specs for my purposed LMCE server (Hybrid, 1 NIC):

CPU: AMD Athlon 63 X2 5000 Black Edition
CPU Cooling: I am trying to find a passive cooler (less noise)
MB: BIOSTAR TForce TF8200 A2+ newbielink:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813138113 [nonactive]
Memory: 4 GB OCZ PC2 6400
Video: On Board GeForce 8200 (HDMI out to TV)
Sound: On Board Sound
Capture Card: Either PVR 150 or 500
HDD's: couple of SATA drives I have at the house
Optical Drive: Standard DVDR I have at the house
Remote: Standard windows MCE remote to start and maybe a Fiire Chief
later

This will be connect to my (US) Comcast cable provider via their
provided Scientific Atlantic HD DVR (sorry I don't remember the model
number). I have 2 questions here. I read in the forums that there are
known issues with HD contend due to Comcast encoding the signal and they
also don't use standard signaling for the channel mapping. I am not so
concerned about HD content, I just want to get all of my content. The
way I would like the system to work is to plug the DVR into the LMCE box
(via S-Video or IEEE or whatever) and be able to view all of the
channels that I pay for with Comcast, more than just 2-99 and be able to
record one show while watching another. I would like this to be done
through the LMCE interface TV guide and not the Comcast provided guide
on the DVR. Is this possible, and is this type of setup documented
fairly well so that someone with limited experience can set it up?

Here is my purposed network setup:

The reason I am going to ask about this is because of all of the LMCE as
DHCP/no DHCP, Router/no Router talk in the forums. From the outside to
the inside, there will be a cable mode providing connectivity to a DLink
wireless router that will serve DHCP to all of the PC's on my network
(bare with me). This will be only for PC's only (no offence to the devs,
but I don't want my banking information routed through a device that is
sniffing traffic out of the box) no PXE devices will be connected here.
Connected to one of the LAN ports on the wireless router will be DLink
wired router (LAN port on wireless router to the WAN port on the wired
router with the wireless router providing a static IP to the wired
router). Behind this wired router will be the LMCE and my NAS (DLink
DNS-323). The LMCE will be setup with one NIC in the standard
configuration (serving DHCP and routing traffic for UPNP support). All
devices that will connect to the LMCE, things like Media Directors, will
be physically connected to the LAN ports on the wired router. The wired
router will be set up with NAT so that the computers to the wireless
router will still be able to connect to the file shares on the NAS
(minimal script modification will be required here). I know that this
may seem a bit convoluted, but I really do want to separate the LMCE
server from the PC's in my house that users access. I can't see why this
setup would not work, can you?

The next concern that I have is access to Netflix Watch it Now service.
I have read that basically the only way that this will work is either to
buy a Roku Netflix player, or run a windows VM on the LMCE. Is this
true? Supposedly Netflix made the Roku code open source, could the LMCE
team use that code to make an update for LMCE, or is the DRM just too
much of a pain to work out?

Lastly (I swear) I have configured my NAS (Dlink DNS-323) with access controls, i.e. users and groups. Does LMCE have built in support for this? I would prefer not to have wide open file shares on my network.


Thank you all for your support

colinjones

  • Alumni
  • LinuxMCE God
  • *
  • Posts: 3003
    • View Profile
Re: Newbie question on system setup
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2008, 02:56:00 am »
I'll pick up a few points.

- In terms of hardware you should concentrate on the video, NIC and sound chipsets. Research the chip model numbers on the forums and wiki to determine other's experiences. nVidia is certainly the way to go for video.
- 4GB of RAM and nVidia 8200 are both way overkill even for a core. 2GB is oodles unless you are planning a very big setup indeed, and you can easily get away with 1GB for a core plus a couple of MDs, etc. But both 4GB and 8200 will work if you want to go that way - note you will likely have to install the latest nVidia drivers to get video with this chipset. Wiki -> Display Drivers for instructions
- Be aware of the keyboard number key shortcuts (1-9 & 0) for the AVWizard if using HDMI as it will default to VGA and you will get no display.
- You are making a serious mistake with your networking, but I'm not going to waste typing, you will find that out in due course and need to rebuild a clean system.
- LMCE does not do any "sniffing", no idea what made you think that. It is an IP router no different than any of the dozen or more others (including your broadband router) that your banking traffic passes through on its way to your bank. In any case, it isn't relevant because your banking traffic is SSL encrypted, and so for all intents and purposes is completely opaque to LMCE - there is no chance that any automated cracking system could penetrate that tunnel.
- Yes, LMCE supports CIFS/SMBFS network authentication for shares. It will often prompt you for the username and password. If it doesn't you can easily enter the details into the web admin console.

justinobwi

  • Making baby steps
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
Re: Newbie question on system setup
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2008, 05:30:51 am »
colinjones,

Thank you for your reply. Please let me start by saying that I am not trying to drudge up any bad blood, or especially not burn a bridge with someone that post actively in the forums when it comes the network setup. I know that it can be a touchy subject in these forums, I have spent a lot of time reading about this and I do see the benefit of the default setup for LMCE, but I am not sure if I want to use it entirely the way it was designed (my main reasons for this are a single point of failure, the system will not always be on, as for the traffic sniffing I just prefer to have things separated, if I had a layer 3 switch this would not be a problem for me). Ok, enough about that.

-For the hardware I completely agree with you about Nvidia. Linux support for it is so much better from the kernel to the porprietary drivers it is just better, and compiz is awsome   ;D and so much easier to set up with Nvidia cards. I will look into the chipsets, most likely they either supported out of the box or require a newer kernel which is something I am comfortable doing (I'm a desktop Gentoo user and have re-built kernels before although never on a kubuntu based box).

- The only reason that I am getting this much RAM is because some of the things that I intend to do with this box (Media Center to start) may not work, or work easily enough that I don't have to listen to my wife complain about it. This can be a deal breaker. If so I will end up configuring the box with Windows Vista MCE and she can scroll through as many menu's as she wants, but she won't get any of the home automation that I would like to eventually set up. As for the 8200, it is onboard and seems to be the chipset on most of the midrange MB' on newegg at least that don't run ATI (I shop there often).

 - I will definatly do some searching for the HDMI Keyboard shortcuts, thank you I would not have thought of that.

 - I am not sure why I would have to rebuild a clean system since the network just separates the PC's and the LMCE associated devices. As long as I have enough LAN ports in the LMCE network and I can properly configure the router to allow bidirectional traffic to those specific devices, it should work just fine. The only thing would be that the PC's off of the wireless router would not be able to access anything on the wired router without configuration. I admit that this setup is a convoluded way of setting up LMCE.

- Can the web admin console save the passwords and re-send them as needed, (I would think that the sessions would time out after a while, not sure though) I don't want to have a keyboard hooked up to the system it will be in my living room


Thank you for letting me pick your brain, and please excuse the security nut in me regarding the network setup.

seth

  • Guru
  • ****
  • Posts: 485
  • A day w/o LinuxMCE is like a day w/o sunshine!
    • View Profile
Re: Newbie question on system setup
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2008, 02:02:52 pm »
 :)
Just to address the Netflix Watch It Now Support. I have wiki'd the setup I use for my Roku Netflix Box. If you go with a pvr500, or 2 or 3 pvr150's you can hook the netflix player up to it, and use it throughout the house, Mine is also hooked directly to the main tv, so I can watch it direct, w/out streaming it to my system.

The wiki entry is here: http://wiki.linuxmce.com/index.php/Roku_Netflix_Player

I think you will find that it integrates well, w/out changing the on board system. But It would be great to be able to make it plug and play with LMCE, and I am sure after some time, it will be done. But for now, I use it just about every other day, at any MD in my house.

This is made possible by a USB-UIRT, which I think every LMCE installation should have at least one. The thing is amazing. It will be the best thing you ever bought for your system!

I also think that the network setup should be considered. It is done this way for a specific reason, and when I first tried LMCE (back at 7.04) I learned the hard way, that it should be modem to core, and then core to the house. Just my input in an attempt to help eliminate any hair loss on your part ;)

Regards, and Welcome Aboard,

Seth
".....Because Once you've LinuxMCE'd....."
System stats located at my user page:

http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/User:Seth

justinobwi

  • Making baby steps
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
Re: Newbie question on system setup
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2008, 07:34:18 pm »
I appreciate it seth. I think that I am just going to suck it up and run winblows MCE. After reading for two strait days I just don't see enough hardware support for modern hardware. A lot of systems that work perfectly are still running the same mother board that is in the video and I just don't have the time to spend configuring the system just to get the onboard hardware to work (it would be different if I could actually still buy the MB that is guarenteed to work). I am not bashing the devs, it just seems like their aren't enough of them to do all the work need to have regular releases with newer kernel versions to support the hardware on the market. The hardware issue was the deal breaker for me (manually configuring a lot of hardware modules can just be too much of a pain this is why people use distros like kubuntu instead of gentoo). I shouldn't have to buy a used MB on ebay to get a fully functioning system. I will continue to check back here periodically to see if there are any new versions. It might be benefital forthe devs to merge with another distro to get the kind of manpower the need to get everything done. Devs keep up the good fight this system has great potential.

tschak909

  • LinuxMCE God
  • ****
  • Posts: 5476
  • DOES work for LinuxMCE.
    • View Profile
Re: Newbie question on system setup
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2008, 08:37:20 pm »
Thank you for your sentiment, But why don't you just try it?

Due to the appliance nature of the system, our system is an overlay on top of Kubuntu, but it also means that we had to implement additional plug and play logic on top of what's already there... In addition to linux device support, we also need device templates made in the web admin for these things.

As I said, try your setup, and set up the network like we recommend, and see how far you get, we'll try to help.

-Thom

colinjones

  • Alumni
  • LinuxMCE God
  • *
  • Posts: 3003
    • View Profile
Re: Newbie question on system setup
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2008, 10:29:24 pm »
justinowbi

I think you are (dramatically!) overstating the hardware issue. People make a big deal about mobos.... they shouldn't. As I said in the first post concentrate on the video, NIC and sound chips. Practically any current mobo that works with linux (of which there are 1000's readily available worldwide) will work. Even the devs here (sorry Thom!) overstate the hardware restrictiveness.

Video - get nVidia because it is better supported, but that is hardly a restriction. If it is a higher end device, then install the new drivers. Seriously, if you look at the instructions in the wiki it is 4 commands (that includes downloading the drivers!) and then next, next, next... Takes less than 5 mins and the instructions are perfect, I have used them many times.

NIC - just double check it is a NIC that works with Linux well and you have nothing more to do

Sound - do a search on the forums and wiki for the chip model, you will find plenty that work

But importantly, you will find loads of NICs, sound chips and video hardware that are absolutely current, so the mobo almost becomes irrelevant. The only reason I agonised over my first mobo was because I wanted a very specific video chipset, with a particular number of PCIe slots, HDMI out and various other port options and so on. When looking for such specific stuff then it can be a pain cos you will find one mobo that has this that and the other but not the right number of blahs, and another that has the right number of blahs, but not this that or the other!

You need to remember that many mobos only have a life of 3-6months before the manufacturer supercedes them, so many people's user-setups in the wiki, by definition, are with "old" hardware. But that is merely observation bias, don't let that fool you into thinking that the only hardware that works is "old". Most of the time, when they were documented they were current!

That's why focusing on mobos is not the way to go, look at the chipsets and you will find plenty of mobos that will work just fine and that are currently available in the shops....

ps. be aware that 0810 is being worked on actively by the devs, like tschak909. And that will bring in all new/updated drivers from the newer versions of the kernel (2.6.27 instead of 2.6.22) which will expand the compatibility even further so that some newer NICs and the newer nVidia chipsets will be supported out of the box.