MythTV frontend box

I’m finally getting around to building a MythTV box. Ideally I’d wait another three months or so, because by then nVidia will have XvMC support for the 7050 chipset, XboxMediaCenter for linux should be working, and the Antec NSK2400 case will be available in black. But right now I have time because I’m not working so I’m going to play.

I didn’t follow the conservative myth reference systems because I wanted lower power and I believe the 7050 chipset advantages will eventually be a big win (h264 decoding on chip, not present in 5xxx or 6xxx chipsets).

Parts are surprisingly cheap. I’m (for now) reusing an old microATX case, a PC-HDTV-5500 tuner card, and an 80GB drive, so those are “free”.

Here’s what I ordered:

  • Corsair 1GB DDR2-533 Memory @ $43.90
  • SAMSUNG 18X SATA DVD Burner Black DVD±RW Bulk @ $37.99

I don’t plan on using the remote, but it comes with a USB IR-receiver that LIRC likes out-of-the-box. I want to eventually get an Antec NSK2400 case in black, which looks good and has excellent cooling.

Some concerns/questions:

  • How to install MythTV? Easiest might be Knoppmyth. I’m familiar with Debian and trust it, so I’d prefer that if it’s not too hard. Ubuntu is also possible, but I trust it less than Debian. Do the Debian Myth packages track the myth releases closely? Suggestions?
  • Mobo ethernet card not supported until 2.6.22 kernel. How hard is it to change the kernel on KnoppMyth? I know how to do this on Debian or Ubuntu. I also have an ethernet PCI card sitting around that would work.
  • PATA/SATA: Mobo’s these days give PATA little attention. My old 80GB drive is PATA, so I hope linux is happy with it. I got a SATA dvd drive just in case. I suppose I could network boot this machine, like Pat is doing, and make it even quieter.
  • Most audio/video data will stay on my server, which has 1.2TB of disk in it already. I can probably have this box save recordings on that machine.
  • HD playback. This CPU should be able to do everything in software. New NVidia drivers should offload quite a bit to the hardware, eventually, perhaps as soon as a month or two.
  • Audio metadata. Greg and I were chatting about this. Apparently Dean is also unhappy with the state of the metadata (ID3, etc) world right now. Greg wants to say "play music without lyrics, I’m trying to work". Me, I just want to browse through all my full albums and not be distracted by every album I have one song from. Seems like there needs to be some documentation of use cases here — I bet there are quite a few but not a long tail.
  • I’m considering getting an Apple wireless keyboard from ebay for about $30. I have an extra bluetooth usb adapter I could use. Any other suggestions? Or perhaps I’ll be very happy with just using my Denon remote control after tweaking the LIRC setup.

Here are some helpful links I found: