First of all I must admit that I am complete newbie in all the home automation but I am very excited to build a system on LinuxMCE and help develop it since I have lots of years of programming experience.
I am only a little further in my progress of setting up a LinuxMCE system than you are so I can only offer a little bit of guidance. The biggest difference is that I'm not a developer.
1. I understand that there are three protocols Insteon, X10, and Z-Wave. What are the pros and cons of each protocols. Which ones are supported by LinuxMCE ?
I'm going with Z-Wave as that seems to be easy to setup.
2. What hardware do I need to run a server based on LinuxMCE (inlcuding camera streaming support).
Read the Wiki, browse the forums and if you are familiar enough with current hardware specs, you should be able to answer that question. I'm a few years behind on hardware specs and while I'm sure I could build my own, I still can't figure out how much power to get and which components will work best. I decided to punt and reach out to lmcecompatible.com to have them quote and build me a barebones hybrid. I'm hoping that will save me some frustration. I only just reached out to them so I can't yet report back on how successful I am.
3. Are touch screens are supported by LinuxMCE ?
Supported for what? I would assume that most are supported for the web orbiter (key word assume). Take a look in the hardware section on the Wiki.
4. From your experience what is are the expences I am going to face to equip a flat or a house ? Lighting, TV/Stereo control and maybe shades and garden appliances ?
I'm upgrading the wiring in my house from Cat5 to Cat6. That'll run me some $$$ but i expect that it'll serve me for years to come.
For Z-Wave expect $65 for the controller and $50 per switch.
TV/Stereo seems to be easier and less expensive if the devices have RS-232. If not then you would have to control the devices by IR Transmitter. I don't know what a IR transmitter only will cost you but USB-IRT is $50 a pop.
What equipment do you already have? I'm hoping to get started by just buying a bare bones hybrid which I'll add DVD, HDs, and tuners to. I could use an old router as a switch, but I will eventually upgrade to a gigabit switch
I'm also trying to do whole house audio using in-wall speakers in rooms without MDs. I'll likely have some issues trying to get that working the way that I envision. I just can't resist moving my amplifiers to a out of site location and buying well rated speakers for only $53 a pair (http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=108&cp_id=10837&cs_id=1083703&p_id=4101&seq=1&format=2
). Actually that was part of the selling point for my wife to allow me to take on this project.
Also, I've been told to take the setup one piece at a time and my expectations have been set that not everything will work as I envisioned it.
I've found that most here and in the IRC are more than willing to help so long as you do your homework/search first.