Author Topic: New to LMCE--Help me do it right please!  (Read 1143 times)

matt4914

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New to LMCE--Help me do it right please!
« on: May 24, 2009, 06:28:51 pm »
    Hey guys!  okay, SO!  I'm an 18 year old who's going off to college next year, for starters--I want to build a Linux MCE box to use as a media center and as a file server for my dorm room.  I have a Macbook Pro and I'm sure my roommate will have some sort of laptop, either Windows or Mac, so ideally, I'd like the file server to be accessable by either.  After reading through these forums and the Wiki, I've figured out a hybrid will probably be the best option--Here's what I'd like the setup to be:

                             It's diagrammed so that the branches go above and below whatever components they connect to.


                                                                                     ---MBP/Laptop
                                                                                     ---Printer
                                                                                     ---Network security camera
Wired College Network-----(Cat5)----LMCE Box----(Cat5)----Network Switch
                                                     -----5.1 Surround Receiver
                                                                -----1080P HDTV
                                                                -----XBox
                                                     -----Insteon Control
                                                                -----Room lights, discoball (yeah, I have one...) etc.



    The rules of the college network are that no wireless boxes can be installed--that means I cant use wifi for anything, but bluetooth is an option for a remote control (I have an old Dell Axim I'd like to use as the universal remote) as is RF or IR.  Also I was wondering about a gyro remote and what the pros and cons of that are.
     I'm buying all of the components to this system new ranging from motherboard, processor, hard drive(s), a DVD drive, a case (I might build one out of wood?), the network switch, to the AV receiver and speaker system, insteon boxes, HDTV, etc.  Basically everything.  I'm looking to build the hybrid for between 250 and 500 dollars, get a sound system for about 350, and the TV for 200-300.  Total system cost should definitely stay under 1000 or so.  Also, all functionality doesnt need to be instantly avaliable--i.e. I might not get an insteon system right away or might add more network storage later on.  Ideally, I'd like it to be user-friendly enough that any relatively competent person can use it.
     Another aspect of the system I would like is that I'd like to use the LMCE box as a backup computer in case my laptop fails.  I'd like the desktop to be easily accessible if possible (I dont know how to do that).  It would also be nice if I could store my iTunes library on it, but I'm really not sure how to do that.  It will also serve as a backup unit for my computer with two older 40 gig drives I'd like to install in it.
    If you guys can give me any and all advice--What components to use, what additional software to use, how many cores my processor should have, how much RAM, what video card, etc. that would be AMAZING!  I have all summer to work on this project--next september is when I need it to be functional and running.   :o ??? ::)
If you can help me please do!

Thanks SO MUCH!
Matt



P.S.  As far as my experience goes--I have worked with windows machines for most of my life, inside and out, so I'm confident I can put together any components (I've built machines before).  I've been using a mac notebook for 2+ years so I know the mac environment quite well also.  When it comes to linux though, I'm really quite a newbie.

merkur2k

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Re: New to LinuxMCE--Help me do it right please!
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2009, 10:32:09 pm »
Looks like youve got a pretty good plan and understand the network requirements and such quite well for it. LinuxMCE makes all its drives (both local and network attached) available on the network as windows shares (using samba) so any os that understands windows networking will have no problems accessing the media.
You can get to a full KDE desktop using an option in the advanced menu, so youre set there for using it as a PC if needed.
As for specific hardware, I just built a new hybrid system for $250 not including drives.
http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx?WishListNumber=13458968
1080p capable, with a nice compact case. even has a handle on the front, might be handy for your situation :)
My receiver is an older sony that i got off ebay for $100 a couple years ago. its nothing special, but it is fairly high power, came with 5 surround speakers and a powered sub, and can decode DTS. Note that the motherboard I used will be much better suited to the upcoming 0810 version than the current 0710 version, but that should fit your timeline quite well.
You'll have a hard time getting all of this within your budget, but it should be close. really depends on what size tv you are going for. and i'm guessing most dorm sized TVs will look just as good with 720p and with 1080p so you could save some money there.
So far as i understand it with iTunes (i hate apple products, so ive never used this) you can just put your audio files in an appropriate audio dir on the core and point itunes at it for both to be able to use it.
you havent mentioned what you plan on using for video source(s), but I highly recommend an HDHomerun if you are going to be using antenna dtv broadcasts and maybe cable (depends on which cable provider).
For remote controls, its looking like the gyration remote will be a great choice for 0810.

colinjones

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Re: New to LinuxMCE--Help me do it right please!
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2009, 12:51:43 am »
Your network diagram isn't terribly clear, but in case this helps clarify it .... http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/Network_Setup

Techstyle

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Re: New to LinuxMCE--Help me do it right please!
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2009, 03:44:49 am »
with regard to backing up your files, I store all my work in a mapped network drive which is 'Dcerouter\public\data\documents' I have told windows to syncronize this drive so now I have a copy of the drive on my laptop and on my core.  everytime I get home I am connected to the network and the drive syncronizes.  This would solve your problem, I think

matt4914

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Re: New to LinuxMCE--Help me do it right please!
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2009, 04:31:52 am »
Awesome--It sounds like backup and iTunes shouldnt be much of a problem.  How does LMCE do its music library?  is there any organization format I need to use or not?  If not, I could let iTunes do all of the organization.  I would encourage you to give apple another chance (not to be a fanboy, but it's been good to me!).  Essentially, the diagram I tried to make is the "Fully automated home" except without MDs and any wireless access point (Because of my college's network agreement).  What sort of processor will be best for me?  Would a Phenom perform much better than an Athalon?  (I know almost nothing about AMD.)  Which will be better AMD or Intel?  I know asking that is playing with fire but they seem comparable in many ways--Ive always used intel and therefore am leaning towards it right now--thinking a Core2Duo or Core Quad.  Do you think an Intel Atom could handle the workload of LMCE or no?  I'm looking to get a 22-24 inch TV which should be in the price range.  If I'm using the TV as an additional display for my laptop wont the higher resolution of 1080P come in handy?  Since I dont get cable in my dorm room I was thinking I'd save there for now anyway...but maybe getting a DTV antenna would be a good idea?  Video sources will basically be the DVD drive and the HDD in the box since I wont have cable accessible to me (unless of course I snipe it from the common room...something I've been considering....)
Sorry I have so many questions!  :p  It's lots of money for me so I want to be sure I do it right haha.

colinjones

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Re: New to LinuxMCE--Help me do it right please!
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2009, 04:48:13 am »
Firstly, let LMCE do your media organisation. Create a Windows share on your internal network and it will detect it, or use the internal drive - in either case, tell LMCE that you want to use the LMCE folder structure. It will create data->Audio|Video|Pictures|etc folders. Then relocate your media into the approrpiate folders.... believe me, allowing LMCE to do this will make your media experience far better (and mean that all media files do not necessarily need to be tagged to be visible which would otherwise be the case) that way you can take your time tagging media. Then clear the iTunes library and point it at the same location and let it scan your media back into its database, that way both can use your media library seemlessly. If you opt to use the internal LMCE HDD, this will be shared out as if a normal Windows share so will be accessible anywhere on the Internal network. Best to put your Windows machines in the LINUXMCE workgroup, username and password for the share should either be your LMCE username, eg colin and password colin, or linuxmce/linuxmce

Your media metadata for mp3s stored in the embedded ID3 tags will be imported by LMCE, all other files need to be tagged within the Web Admin, or will be tagged based on Internet databases when you rip the original media.

You do not need a particularly high end CPU (any brand) unless you want to do HD video, and make sure that you install in i386 not AMD64 mode as this is more stable (i386 is just a name, it will work with any brand CPU) Intel Atoms are fine, as above... check out the Asus Eee Boxes, commonly used as MDs, probably a bit under spec'd for a Hybrid, but you can get away with it if you want. 2GB is oddles of RAM, you can get away with less if you want. Ensure that it is an nVidia GPU if possible, the Intel ones usually work but sometimes have a crash issue with the photo screen saver. nVidia chips in the 6200-7600 are very commonly used. 8xxx and 9xxxx series devices are overkill but in future we will have access to HD video hardware acceleration on those series so may be worth thinking about anyway. The Asus Revo just came out with an Atom and nVidia 9400m....

matt4914

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Re: New to LinuxMCE--Help me do it right please!
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2009, 04:05:36 pm »
Okay--first let me say thanks to all you guys!  this is great.

The library networking shouldnt be too hard!  Those instructions are great.

Since now and in the future I will be looking to have HD video capabilities, I'm looking for a board in the 8xxx or 9xxx range, though an integrated video chip would be ideal for me cost and trouble wise--plus it means if I ever want to upgrade I can without much trouble.  I know that will mean I need more system ram--I was thinking 4 gigs because its really not THAT much these days (you can pick up DDR2 for 40 or DDR3 for 60).  I know it would be a HUGE overkill for the system, but since I want this machine to last for 3-6 years (I know, its a long time, but as a media center I think it might happen if I build it really solidly now).  I dont mind spending more now to make it last a long time. 

How much do you know about mac networking in the LMCE world?  is it mostly plug and play?  will i need to join a network or anything?  also, will my college's intranet be passed through the LMCE hybrid to my macbook pro or to a windows machine? (For example--The college has a service for students to use the college's servers to store files on so that they can access them from many different locations.  Will I be able to access that internal college network from a computer inside the LMCE network?)
I will make sure its an nVidia CPU and I think I'll go for a mid-high range intel multi-core.  Should i go for the dual core or quad?  will I notice any difference?  As far as future lmce editions, will the extra cores make a difference?

thanks again!
matt

merkur2k

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Re: New to LinuxMCE--Help me do it right please!
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2009, 04:25:14 pm »
The Asus M3N78-EM board i linked in my newegg wishlist is about as perfect a board there is so far for 0810, making it a good single board solution. integrated 8300 nvidia graphics with an hdmi port. And there is absolutely no reason to go for more than 2 gig of system ram, even with integrated graphics. Even as "future proofing", linux doesnt tend to have the feature bloat that windows does so memory requirements arent expected to go up. The AMD 5600+ cpu in my list is also enough to do 1080p, but is still only 45 watt cpu so has low power usage and low heat output.
Theres really no need for quad core cpu right now, and i doubt that will change anytime soon. you'll get more milage from a dual core with a higher clock speed. I dont know much about Intel CPUs either, but am guessing a dual core around 3ghz should be similar to the AMD above.
I dont know much about mac networking, but a router in the middle of things (which is what LMCE is in this case) usually prevents most network shares from working or makes it more difficult. you may need to plan on having two network switches available. you'll just have to experiment with this and see how it goes. you should be able to connect to fileshares from the LMCE internal network, but you will have to specify the server information rather than being able to browse to them on the network.

colinjones

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Re: New to LinuxMCE--Help me do it right please!
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2009, 11:28:29 pm »
4GB is completely unnecessary, you will be struggling to use even 2G now or in the future..

As far as networking is concerned, as long as you set your Mac to DHCP, it will get what it needs from LMCE. I don't know how your college implements these services, but the Mac will have no restrictions on outbound connections to your college network, LMCE being a router is not relevant. Only inbound connections are restricted because LMCE is also a firewall, but that isn't relevant to typical file shares, web sites, etc. It really only effects things for inbound connections, such as bit torrenting, hosting web sites on your Mac, etc and that can easily be worked around by adding a rule to the LMCE firewall.

The only other piece that is important is name resolution. As long as your core can get an IP address and DNS servers from your college's DHCP servers then it will relay the DNS name resolution requests through successfully and you won't have an issue. If however the college relies on a NetBIOS name resolution service like WINS, the you will have a problem, but I would be seriously surprised if they were still using such a crappy old system!

matt4914

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Re: New to LinuxMCE--Help me do it right please!
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2009, 05:06:37 am »
Okay!  So after all of your awesome advice so far (And I'm sure I'll be asking for more the closer to the actual build I get) here are the two systems I am looking at.  One is a high-end system, the other is low-end.  If anyone has advice/feedback about how well these would perform/how big a difference I would see it would be great!  I'll be using two older 40 gig PATA drives for my LMCE swap/system drive and a super-important-file-backup disk and use the terabyte for media and file storage.  Each of them would also receive an older NIC and an older (PATA) DVD drive from an old dell we have.  The NIC is an intel model, the DVD drive a Sony from bestbuy.  Please let me know your thoughts!
(Sorry there are not any links in here--the titles are pretty good for descriptions though)

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Thanks!
Matt

colinjones

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Re: New to LinuxMCE--Help me do it right please!
« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2009, 06:23:08 am »
The only things I would say is check compatibility of the critical chipsets - GPU, sound and network - plus the mobo itself.

For the mobo - go to the manufacturers web site, and check for linux kernel 2.6.22-14 compatibility generally.

For the chips, you are a go on the nVidia, of course (with the driver update), determine which sound and NIC chips the mobo uses, then search for people confirming they have them working for LMCE on this site and the wiki. If not, all is not lost - Intel NICs are usually well supported, check with the manufacturer's web site for a linux driver compatible with the above kernel. For sound, check on the manufacturer's web site for an ALSA linux driver compatible with the same kernel above.

There is very little else that should be a problem...