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Messages - Monkgs

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Users / Quality of TV tuners?
« on: August 26, 2008, 10:29:23 pm »
I remember way way way back in the day playing with an All in Wonder as a TV tuner. Unfortunately the quality of said device was brutal and was quickly placed on the shelf. Have TV tuners made much improvement lately? Should I go buy the PVR150 expecting decent results? My source will be the analogue output of my digital cable box. On my 50" LCD the standard def source looks pretty good, will this change (much) through the TV tuner?

Users / Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
« on: August 19, 2008, 10:32:14 am »
The ASUS P2-M2A690G is a nice unit, but it's very large. My current media director is the same size, offers audio over HDMI, and additionally supports UI2 /w alpha blending.

The issue isn't so much finding equipment to do everything, it's finding the right equipment in a small package. The MiniMac doesn't support UI2 /w alpha blending either, but on the same note, it's an inch and a half thinner, and its other dimensions are considerably smaller as well.

You can netboot a Mac Mini with etherboot or grub /w netboot support compiled in. Although the Mac Mini is not ideal either, it doesn't have a HDMI port and isn't capable of UI2 /w alpha blending.

Users / Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
« on: August 19, 2008, 08:43:06 am »
Thought I might also add... The MythTV guys have been using MacMini's for slim clients. They're 2" tall, are available with a 2.0GHz Core2 Duo, 2GB of RAM and Intel GMA 950 (supports UI2 /w masking). They're fairly cheap and can be found in the $700 range.

Outputs 1080p video, has DVI output, and optical audio output.

Sounds like a win to me.

Users / Re: RAID - Onboard H/W vs. add-on H/W vs. S/W
« on: August 18, 2008, 10:47:07 pm »
No problem at all. As it turns out I'll be setting up a very similar system this evening. I will keep you posted with any issues I run into.

Users / Re: RAID - Onboard H/W vs. add-on H/W vs. S/W
« on: August 18, 2008, 09:29:08 pm »
Thanks for your responses Zaerc and Demus.

What you have both said makes sense.  An LMCE controlled RAID 5 setup seems like the best solution, especially as I intend to include a good CPU.  My only concern is over getting the boot disk included in the array.  Do you have any experience of how easy/hard this is (especially if it has to be done by hand) and how effective the end result is?  I'm concerned that if this is non standard then it could cause problems later on when I do an upgrade.  I've got many years of UNIX experience, so don't mind some tinkering, but I don't want to risk some upgrade script wiping out my data...

Booting off of RAID is certainly possible. If you're familiar with Linux it'd be really straightforward. The hard part is making an initramfs image. This is a small image stored at the beginning of the drive, which the kernel loads first. In this image you include binary utilities that build and assembled the RAID array. There are actually many generic images floating around that will do this for you.

Since the quick install CDs and DVDs won't make the array for you, you'll have to do that part on your own. I'm not sure if the CDs will install to an existing FS either, so these are the foolproof steps I'd use:

1. Install LinuxMCE to 1 hard drive just like normal
2. After the installation is finished boot a Linux live CD like Knoppix
3. Backup the entire installation to a network drive (or RAM if you have that much).
4. Partition the drives. Create two partitions on each drive. The first partition will fill all the space of the drive, less 100mb. The second partition will be the last 100mb and serve as your swap partition. It is possible, however discouraged to set the superblock version to 0.93 and set the partition type to Linux autodetect (0xfd if memory serves). This will allow the kernel to automount the array during startup so you won't need the initrd image. I don't recommend this method, as you lose a lot of control over how you handle degraded boots.
5. Create the RAID arrays. Create the main RAID 5 array. And then create the swap array. If you want system reliability you can use RAID 5 for the swap as well. Personally for a media center I think speed would be more important, so I would RAID 0 all of the swap partitions. If one hard drive fails, the system will go down, however your main RAID 5 array will still be intact.
6. Format raid block devices, specify stripe size.
7. Restore data from backup. (tar -jxvf /mnt/someSambaShare/linuxmcebackup.tar.bz2 /mnt/md0)
8. Copy initramfs image to /boot directory. (Can be built using any number of scripts, or howtos.)
9. Modify menu.lst and specify initramfs location and new root
10. Install grub

I'm just winging this off the top of my head, but I see no reason why it wouldn't work.

Users / Re: RAID - Onboard H/W vs. add-on H/W vs. S/W
« on: August 18, 2008, 07:06:30 pm »
First, I'd like to use RAID 10 (RAID 1+0).  I've read many documents about how this is generally better than RAID 5, albeit less efficient for storage.  I'd be interested in any views about this with regard to LMCE explicitly.

Go with software RAID 5. It's expandable which is really important for a media system. The parity information is only calculated for writing, so you're only using more processing power than RAID 0+1 when you're recording things. But with the RAID 0+1 mode, you have more writing to do. The real world difference is minor.

Software RAID will provide very similar performance to entry level RAID cards. These cards are often "fake raid" units, which do not perform the necessary RAID calculations on the board, but instead offload this task on the processor. So you really end up with a form of software RAID anyway.

The higher end cards do the calculations on their own, but they're not cheap and for a media system not worth it IMHO.

Option 1) Use a RAID controller on the motherboard (I need to decide on the motherboard too).  This seems the least costly approach of the H/W RAID options.  But this leaves me wondering why.  Is a RAID controller on a motherboard not as good as an add-on card?  Also, I have read that LMCE may sometimes have problems using H/W RAID controllers.  This has left me confused, as I thought that a H/W RAID controller would present the array as a single disk to the OS.

The on-board raid units in theory are not limited to the bandwidth restrictions of the PCI bus. Typical PCI RAID cards are limited to a maximum throughput of 133MB/sec. The on-board units avoid this bottleneck by interfacing directly with the southbridge on the motherboard. Most desktop class RAID systems won't achieve 133MB/sec (unless that's changed recently, I don't follow these things too closely). PCI-E RAID cards have started popping up and they also would have more than enough bandwidth for a RAID system.

Option 2) Use an add-on RAID controller card.  These seem to vary greatly in price and are generally very expensive.  For home use, is a motherboard RAID controller just as good?  Do add-on cards have driver/software problems in LMCE?
This depends on the card. Some manufactures provide linux drivers or specifications, others don't. RAID devices are handled transparently by the kernel, so the support of a given device has nothing to do with LinuxMCE and simply depends on basic Linux support. A quick google search of the RAID chipset and linux will usually turn up the support status.

Option 3) Have the OS manage the RAID in software.  However, I have read varied reports on how good this is in LMCE.  Also, I want to include all my storage in the array, including the OS.  I know I can restore the OS from the install disks, but I don't want to risk losing my config, plus I don't have time to rebuild the system.  For my use, continued uptime is just as important as data redundancy for my media (otherwise I'd probably be happy with backups).  Can LMCE do this in software, or can only my media/data directories be included in the array?  Finally, can LMCE support RAID 10?  The wiki seems to indicate that I'd be stuck with using RAID 5.
Linux can do RAID 0+1. It involves creating two RAID 1 arrays, and then a RAID 0 array of the RAID 1 arrays. I'm not sure if LinuxMCE has scripts for booting off of the RAID partition, but I know its possible if you do it by hand.

Feature requests & roadmap / Re: xbox 360 support
« on: August 18, 2008, 06:39:25 pm »
Oh, an in regards to the Xbox 360 stuff. MythTV supports video playback on the Xbox 360 over UPnP. Not sure if this version made it into LinuxMCE though.

Feature requests & roadmap / Re: xbox 360 support
« on: August 18, 2008, 06:30:02 pm »
The PS3 is capable of decoding two H264 1080p streams simultaneously.

At $400 for a unit, you wouldn't be able to find a better price/performance mark.

Installation issues / Re: Fiire experience
« on: August 16, 2008, 09:59:19 am »
Blake is just a salesman?


According to my chats with Adrian. The full log is on page 2, the details about blake about 2/3'ds the way down the log.

Installation issues / Re: Two NIC problem
« on: August 15, 2008, 09:14:26 pm »
This could very likely be the case if you have been swapping ports. My cable provider only allows one leased IP at a time. Usually if I'm swapping routers I have to call them and get them to remove the DHCP lease.

Installation issues / Re: Fiire experience
« on: August 15, 2008, 04:34:41 pm »

As of this morning my package has finally shipped. So at least there is that good news.

With regards to your comments I have to agree completely. Fiire is part of this community, whether we like it or not. They have developed aspects of Linux MCE, and are featured in the popular 0704 video. A few weeks ago I had never heard of Linux MCE. Being an avid Linux supporter and developer (Linux kernel contributor of over 10 years) I have an innate trust for all free open source projects. Between various Wiki entries and the Linux 0704 video (which originally turned me on to Linux MCE) I had come to believe that Fiire was an active and positive part of the community.

Part of the fault was undoubtedly my own, as Zaerc pointed out, "some people keep sending them money." A quick search of the forums before my purchase and I would have never dealt with them. So that's my bad.

However that does not shift any blame away from Fiire. An online store at the very least must respond to e-mails in a timely fashion and provide proper order tracking. You must ship product in a timely fashion. You must support the products you sell. Fiire fails miserably at all these tasks.

Lets not forget the Fiire representative in this very thread who was claiming to be the GM. As I uncovered in my dealings with Fiire he was in fact only a salesman. This dishonesty is a clear example of the business practices Fiire employs. And what's worse is that they are operating under the guise of support from the LinuxMCE community. Unfortunately this means the bad service Fiire provides reflects as a black mark on the whole Linux MCE project.

As a community we clearly need to make it more obvious to new comers that they should expect better support from a Hong Kong knockoff outfit. Jon has already taken the initiative on this front, and I will continue it by extending the warnings to the video wiki and anywhere else Fiire is mentioned.

Help Wanted / Re: Fiire box & LinuxMCE codecs??
« on: August 15, 2008, 09:44:38 am »
Yes. Although don't buy a Fiire box. A quick search on the forums will lead you to the massive amount of trouble everyone has been having with them.

You can buy these directly from Gyration.

My question is, has anyone tried using one of the Gyration remotes with a Fiire Chief dongle?

Why would you buy it from them?  It's $99 there and in the $30's at CC.  Doesn't seem right to me.

Well, obviously if you can get it at CC then go there. Lots of people posted saying they can't get it because their local stores are out of stock or do not carry them.

Users / Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
« on: August 15, 2008, 04:23:00 am »
Has anyone considered the eeePCs as alternative? These machines run linux out of the box, and have no problem running compiz. So I imagine full UI2 support would be possible. Lots of users disable the fans on these and have no overheating issues inside of a plastic case. Heat would be even less of an issue if you were to fabricate a metal case.

I have a lot of experience modding these units (seen here: The motherboard can be easily removed from the base units and placed into a custom case with great ease. Their is a massive community for modding and upgrading these units ( as well as tons of existing documentation on the hardware and howtos on getting compiz and aiglx working.

The big advantages:
 - Small form factor, will fit in cases less than 1" tall.
 - Full support for all hardware in Linux (ships with Linux as an OS)
 - MASSIVE community with tons of howto's on upgrades both for software and hardware
 - Fanless operation possible
 - Built-in SSD hard drive
 - Video output support up beyond 1080p (not sure on widescreen support?)
 - Fanless power supply, runs off of normal DC rectifier
 - Built-in bluetooth
 - Built-in 802.11n
 - Intel Atom 1.6GHz processor (on 1000H models)
 - Widely available and cheap at $350-$550 depending on store and model

The downside:
 - Processor is slow on all models except 1000H
 - Only VGA output
 - No SPDIF output

The lack of a DVI out, and SPDIF out are quite problematic in the media setting. Lots of TVs don't have VGA inputs so obviously this isn't the magic bullet everyone is looking for. But it might do the trick for some other people.

You can buy these directly from Gyration.

My question is, has anyone tried using one of the Gyration remotes with a Fiire Chief dongle?

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