Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ubuntu HTPC - Day One

Earlier in the week I received delivery of my new tower that I ordered with which I'm working on constructing my Ubuntu HTPC.

The primary focus of this machine will be to use as a PVR and HTPC, though I'll also be using it for general IM/Email/Web browsing, as well as some Linux Gaming, Wine usage and video editing.

I'll be starting off with some basic hardware, and expanding as I need too, though hopefully I already have much of what I need. The system hardware as it stands now is:

* AMD Athlon X2 250 @ 3.0Ghz
* ASUS motherboard with USB 3.0 and HD Audio
* 2 GB DDR3 ram # 1333 mhz
* Nvidia GeForce 9400GT @ 1GB Ram (VGA, DVI, S-video/Component ouputs). This card was selected with S-video output since I don't own a HDTV, nor plan to by one in the future. My monitor is high definition, for which I'm using the DVI and still have the spare VGA for my laptop.
* Hauppage HVR-1600 tuner card
* 320 GB SATA drive @ 7200 rpm
* Multi-card reader
* 21.5 inch High Definition Fluid LCD @ 1920x1080 resolution
* Sony external USB 2.0 DVD RW drive.
* Logitech wireless keyboard/mouse, gamepad, webcam, etc.

I also purchased a 2TB USB 3.0 External drive for backup and storage. Ubuntu was selected for the operating system since I to use MythTV as my PVR software and due to the high customization potentials. I considered installing Ubuntu 10.10, but ultimately decided to stick with 10.04 LTS since I figured there would be more community support for it, and I don't necessarily want to need to upgrade in six months. I also want to significantly increase my Linux knowledge as much as possible. I decided against using Mythbuntu, but may decide to use the "one-click-switch" if I have trouble configuring MythTV as an external package.

Install of Ubuntu was exceptionally painless, it formatted and installed the OS rapidly. So far, everything has worked out of the box, including sound and the DVI-port at a high resolution, though I haven't tried installing some things yet such as the Webcam, and TV tuner card.

I have installed the Nvidia proprietary drivers easily with the Ubuntu Hardware Drivers menu, and now and am enjoying desktop effects and hardware acceleration. I've also watched some high definition Flash videos on YouTube on full screen with no issues. Email and IM are setup and working well so far, though I'm using AllTray to minimize Evolution to the system tray since it doesn't seem to have the function itself. Temperature and noise of the machine have been quite reasonable so far, though I'll be keeping an eye on it.

My main setup upcoming tasks are as followed:

* Configure the video out and audio outputs to my TV
* Setup the tuner card and MythTV
* Setup my webcam for use with Skype
* Copy personal data to my primary drive and sync with backup

I'll hopefully be updating my blog as I go along with tips and tricks as I discover them. Stay tuned!

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