Author Topic: Multiple Displays  (Read 2050 times)

fryed_1

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Multiple Displays
« on: October 31, 2009, 03:54:21 pm »
So in searching I've found that LinuxMCE will not do multiple displays.

For my TV room/game room, here's the setup I plan on going with.

I have a phenom II x4 965 3.4ghz oc @ 4ghz, 8mb RAM with (2) ATI 4870's running 5 displays with ati's eyefinity under windows XP 64.  Basically it turns the entire setup into a 5720x2400 display I think.  But I can split it into multiple monitor setup so I can maximize a VM in each of the five displays without a border.  I'm using 1 52" LCD and 4 (2 on each side) 22" LCD's around it.

LinuxMCE should be able to run in VM's as diskless FE (or with virtual disks, doesn't matter) under 5 (using virtualbox, vmware, etc...) and just whatever monitor XP has assigned to it right?

Then I would just assign each monitor/virtual FE to the floorplan such as:  TV ROOM - Main, TV room - Top Right, etc... effectively running 5 FE in that room.  When I need to change channels, just switch the floorplan to the correct TV, change channels and it will swap on that TV right?

I'm still wondering on an effective way to swap VM to different displays in a pinch from the remote/orbiter and how to manage sound (I guess from the main large TV only.  Imagine sports Sunday with 4 NFL games and the race on... sound is focused on the main display and pretend the race is on the top-left monitor and a crash occurs.  Anyone have ideas on switching the channels?

My initial thought on that would be to assign a remote button that LMCE doesn't recognize but XP would.  When pressed, it would give an option for which VM would be the "main" VM and when chosen, swap with whatever it's replacing.  I suppose that could be done with some kind of macro setup in XP... but I haven't tried it yet.

The reason I don't just run linux is because there's no real easy options yet such as the eyefinity setup to run 5 displays and effectively manage them, using either one large display or multiple displays.  I suppose for one large display, I have a 6th LMCE VM that I boot with where windows allocates the entire display area (all 5 monitors) to the VM.  That would be the easiest solution for that because I won't be switching between 5 VM and 1 VM on a regular basis, but switching displays from subs to main would be something pretty regular on sports days.


Any ideas on easy automatic switching displays between FE like this though?


For the core, I'm running a phenom II x4 955 (3.2ghz) with 4gb ram, 2 hauppauge 2250's, 2 1600's, 2 pvr-150 (for analog and FM radio) and 2 usb hd-pvr's, nvidia 9800gt and about 6TB of drivespace.  That pretty much covers the whole house plus recording except when I'm running 5 simultaneous displays, but one spare digital is enough for those days.  Regardless though, should be more than enough to support the above setup.  Also also have 4 other front ends in the house (3br and kitchen) that work great right now.


Currently running 0710 throughout the house, but will be upgrading some of the hardware and setting up the tv room and rebuilding everything 0810 when I do this.

merkur2k

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Re: Multiple Displays
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2009, 04:56:37 pm »
I dont think you will ever see a feature like this in lmce unless you put it in yourself.
It is just so far beyond the scope of what a normal lmce user would do that you are going to have a hard time finding anyone else interested in it.

fryed_1

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Re: Multiple Displays
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2009, 12:21:32 am »
I dont think you will ever see a feature like this in lmce unless you put it in yourself.
It is just so far beyond the scope of what a normal lmce user would do that you are going to have a hard time finding anyone else interested in it.

Wasn't really looking for an addition of capabilities or anything, more just the feasibility of the project.

I've looked at windows mce versions, mythbuntu and other packages, but none really offer the ease of managing multiple MD from a single location [orbiter].  From the core's point of view, 5 VM should be no different than rooms.  I'm willing to tackle the project and I think the biggest issue would be drivers for the newest ATI card, but hopefully that will still be manageable, if not solved in the near future with some beta drivers.

I guess more of what I was looking for is if anyone knows of an easy PIP-style way to swap the data going to two different media directors.  Maybe something like the blue/red/green/black buttons on the bottom of my MCE remote could be used in some form of macro or something, to decide which of the four smaller screens has focus on the big screen (really just choosing the same channel for the smaller screen of choice and having the main MD screen match that one)

jimbodude

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Re: Multiple Displays
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2009, 03:35:30 am »
There is very little chance that you're going to get things running well in a VM environment... such setups are famously difficult for media applications, especially graphically intense ones...  Most VM environments simply do not support complex graphics.  If you do this, you will almost certainly be wasting your time.

That said, it is technically possible to run 5 media directors, giving each one a virtual "room".  I'd suggest each one be a separate machine, for the reasons mentioned above, and ATI's Linux drivers are a huge pain in my experience.  I'd suggest you spend the money on nVidia cards if you've already put that much money into it.

Moving media streams around is also possible in LinuxMCE, we call it "Follow Me", and it works pretty well.
http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/Follow_Me
http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/Have_my_media_follow_me
http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/Website:Follow_Me

Note that the Fiire Chief, mentioned on some of those pages, is not currently working on 0810.

I don't think the UI is going to be exactly what you're looking for, but I agree that there's nothing else in the open source or low-cost space that has functionality anywhere close to this.  Your setup sounds interesting, and I think LinuxMCE could provide you with a good starting point.  There's lots of flexibility in the way the system is designed - I think you could probably get this working, but it's going to take some serious effort, and a lot of self-directed experimentation and research.

fryed_1

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Re: Multiple Displays
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2009, 04:29:16 pm »
In all honesty, not a ton of money has been set aside really.

The FE I'm planning to use isn't that much different than a quality gaming machine.  I think I have about $1400 into it.

The TV (52") roughly $1700, but I don't really count that as a part of this project since I would have the TV anyways.  A $500 FE could do content for a 52" as easily as a $1200 FE would.

The 22", $149/ea Samsungs refurb off ebay.  I already had two for my home office and was going to get another pair of them.

The reason for wanting to virtualize the front ends was to avoid spending a ton of money over what I had planned :P  The reason for the ATI card was that it was the only one I could really find that, when doubled up, would easily support 5 monitors at very high resolutions in whatever configuration you want. 


I'll check more in to the Follow Me capability.  I suppose it could be possible to fake this into thinking things are in different rooms and swap displays that way.  Now that I look more closely at it, it looks like, if it can be manipulated this way, would be the way to go.

merkur2k

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Re: Multiple Displays
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2009, 06:50:27 pm »
what jimbo is saying is that the vm environment wont be able to take advantage of an yhardware acceleration that the system might have (not that the ATI card would have anything anyway) so the video decoding would fall to the cpu. and a 3ghz dual core cpu is barely enough for 1080i tv content. add the overhead of a vm and you can easily see how even one vm would be a tall task, let alone several. and this assumes of course that you can even get decent video performance from a vm, which is also unlikely since i dont think you will even get to have hardware scaling support.
I dont want you to think i am just talking you down, but this really would require a serious investment of hardware to do.

fryed_1

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Re: Multiple Displays
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2009, 05:48:09 pm »
I dont want you to think i am just talking you down, but this really would require a serious investment of hardware to do.

Gotcha.  Basically 5 smaller boxes would be better than one large box.  I guess price-wise it's not that much different.  With abundance of ebay parts new/refurb you can easily build an HD-capable FE for less than $500.

Would still make a remote problem... I guess maybe one of those programmable jobs like the harmony could be used to make macros to quickly switch the displays if wanted.  I can try it now with two of the FE I have and the core I suppose to see if it's feasible.

jimbodude

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Re: Multiple Displays
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2009, 06:05:19 pm »
I'm not sure why you would need a harmony...  LinuxMCE does all the control work for you - you're better off spending the money on a cool orbiter, like a DT tablet (see tkmedia's web site, or other posts).

LinuxMCE basically sees the harmony as a dumb IR remote.  The harmony is designed to encapsulate all the control logic, and simply fire off the appropriate IR signals based on what buttons you push and the state of the system (as it remembers it) - LinuxMCE already does this (and it does a better job at it, and is more configurable).

You'll quickly see that everything in LinuxMCE is handled by a very simple message passing system.  You find out what commands you need to do what you want, put them into a scenario, and put the scenario into a room.  Then it comes up on the orbiters in that room.  Push the button, and things happen.

The power of LinuxMCE is in the messaging system (search the wiki for DCE for more).  It enables LinuxMCE to integrate unrelated devices (sound system, video system, lighting system, media organization system, etc) under one roof, allow the state of each unrelated device to affect the state and performance of all other devices, and provide you (the user) with the power to control it all from a unified interface.

totallymaxed

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Re: Multiple Displays
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2009, 06:44:07 pm »
I dont want you to think i am just talking you down, but this really would require a serious investment of hardware to do.

Gotcha.  Basically 5 smaller boxes would be better than one large box.  I guess price-wise it's not that much different.  With abundance of ebay parts new/refurb you can easily build an HD-capable FE for less than $500.

Would still make a remote problem... I guess maybe one of those programmable jobs like the harmony could be used to make macros to quickly switch the displays if wanted.  I can try it now with two of the FE I have and the core I suppose to see if it's feasible.

Well you could buy an Acer Revo for about the US equivalent £140 UKP and you have your MD with its own processor/GPU and access to hardware acceleration etc ;-)

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|eric|

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Re: Multiple Displays
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2010, 05:23:33 am »
why go to all the trouble of setting many boxes 
X supports multi screen right out of the box
now if it is supported (i mean by that that the interface differenciate independent screens )
thats another story ...

Kubutu and other window manager are all capable of handling multi-screens
(many right out the box)

alx2k

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Re: Multiple Displays
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2010, 12:02:28 pm »
Correct me if I'm wrong, but although you can configure multiple screens on ubuntu, you would need to have several instances of LinuxMCE running, otherwise the only thing you would have is a cloned LinuxMCE view or LinuxMCE on one screen and a blank desktop on the other.

And even when I haven't help programming LinuxMCE and I have never read at it source, I bet you would need quite a lot of programming to have two independent instances of LinuxMCE running on the same PC.

Alejandro
« Last Edit: March 11, 2010, 12:06:05 pm by alx2k »

davidsmoot

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Re: Multiple Displays
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2010, 02:47:39 pm »
There is very little chance that you're going to get things running well in a VM environment... such setups are famously difficult for media applications, especially graphically intense ones...  Most VM environments simply do not support complex graphics.  If you do this, you will almost certainly be wasting your time.

I wholeheartedly concur with this.  I don't have a lot of LMCE experience but I have done some messing around with VM's as a way of running multiple development platforms inside one host.  The problem is if the virtual machine needs any kind of IO capability other than very basic stuff (keyboard, network, screen draw, USB mass storage), they usually don't support it or support it very poorly.  VM's are designed and optimized for running multiple server instances, not multiple multimedia stations.  It is a challenge to get bandwidth intensive IO running correctly on a "real" machine with access to the bare metal of the IO.  You are very unlikely to get the kind of throughput you desire inside a VM. 

If you just count the number of pixels you are trying to push, that is a monstrous IO load.  Just pushing that from one operating system is a non-trivial setup to have full motion video going.

That said, I'd love for you to prove me wrong because a virtual machine MD would be rather cool and it would open up some interesting usages.

jimbodude

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Re: Multiple Displays
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2010, 03:19:01 pm »
why go to all the trouble of setting many boxes 
X supports multi screen right out of the box
now if it is supported (i mean by that that the interface differenciate independent screens )
thats another story ...

Kubutu and other window manager are all capable of handling multi-screens
(many right out the box)


...This topic has been dead since November. I'm not sure why you are bringing it up in on of your first posts to the forum.  The bottom line is that there are more things in play here than getting a correct window manager configuration, so a multi-head setup is not currently possible with LinuxMCE Media Directors.  By the way, Kubuntu is not a window manager - it is a Linux distribution that uses KDE, which includes the KWin window manager.