DIY Linux HDTV – Pack a Lunch

May 11, 2005

Extremetech has yet another good do-it-yourself article, this time on building a Linux HTPC, part 4 of their “Microsoft-Free Home” series.

I was secretly pleased to see that they didn’t find this an easy task — trying to get MythTV or KnoppMyth running exceeded my pain threshold a few months ago.

They’re nice enough to warn you about this early on –

Before you embark on trying to build a Linux-based Home Theater PC (HTPC), you have to ask yourself a question: “How much time do I have to dedicate to bringing up a Linux-based HTPC?” If the answer is “not much,” then a Linux-based HTPC is probably not something you should build. Assembling the hardware is pretty easy, and the physical assembly process takes a half-hour to 45 minutes. Installing the OS can be a very straightforward affair as well. But installing extra drivers as well as installing and configuring a PVR media application (and its required packages) are not trivial tasks, and the road ahead is laced with hidden potholes.

Basically, it comes down to “what’s your time worth?” — the same hardware plus a couple of hundred dollars worth of software can have you running you running SageTV, BeyondTV or MCE on Windows XP in an hour or two.

On the other hand, if you’re a rabid anti-Microsoft type (personally, I don’t care about running Windows on my TVs, as long as it isn’t on my desktop) and have ninja-like Linux skills or time to kill, then this may be the project for you.