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-   -   Some HTPC Questions (http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/htpc-systems-software/30096-some-htpc-questions.html)

Arinoth March 20, 2010 02:05 PM

Some HTPC Questions
 
I am trying to plan ahead so the few days i have at home end of april i can utilize in the execution of my 'new' htpc while doing all the planning, designing and ordering before hand.

I'll spit out of the specs of the rig
ZOTAC IONITX-A-U Atom N330 1.6GHz Dual-Core Mini ITX Intel Motherboard Which is overclocked to 2Ghz (oddly runs cooler when manually clocked to this then left on default 1.6GHz)
2GB of 800MHz OCZ RAM
~30GB Hard Drive with Windows 7 installed on it

Questions:
1. Will linux run 'faster' then windows 7/xp when i run certain emulators (the poor atom seems not noticeably lag when running say N64 emulator)?
2. If i were to run XMBC, should i run it on linux or windows?
3. Can XBMC run emulator programs for systems like snes, n64, gameboy, etc?
4. How hard is it to 'share' hard drives on a network between linux and windows?
5. Should i use a 7200rpm hdd instead of a 5400rpm when i use it as a NAS ontop of a HTPC?
6. I know windows you can run remote desktop, is there something similar in Linux?

Synth March 20, 2010 08:07 PM

Have you already purchased your Zotac Ion board?

Honestly, I had replaced my AMD HTPC (5050e dualcore + ATI HD4350) with a Ion 330 system and recently I reverted back to the AMD system: sure, dvd, HD and bluray playback is doable and even better than decent, but in the end I just wasn't satisfied with the Ion platform.

And having laggy or choppy flash performance just became annoying.

If you DO have the Ion platform, give this Ion optmized distro of XBMC a look.

The Ion platform does make a great ubuntu server system though...!

biff March 20, 2010 09:15 PM

Interesting. I've heard nothing but glowing reports about the zotac ion 330 and their BD prowess. The wife wants a tiny computer for the bedroom for web and looking at pictures and I figured we'd also use it for music/movie playback as well and I was going to go this route since they're small and a build like that sounds like fun. Undecided if I'd use MCE or XBMC there but it sounds like I should rethink this. What specifically were the issues?

Perineum March 20, 2010 09:25 PM

If you use Windows 7 then "My Movies" from My Movies - Home would be a worthy thing to look at. It's an add on for Windows Media Center. It's similar to XBMC

The 5400 RPM drive shouldn't matter for playing movies.

Arinoth March 20, 2010 11:01 PM

I already own all the parts, the ram and cpu/mobo is whats sitting in my sega genesis rig and i was thinking of moving my 2 storage hard drives into the htpc emulator's new 'case' since it uses a hell of a lot less power then my rig at idle.

MAK March 20, 2010 11:44 PM

One concern: A basic ion system will work great if you have everything setup to run using video hardware acceleration. The moment you try to run a movie or clip that is not using hardware acceleration, your system may turn to mush (stuttering, stopping, etc..). That's the only concern I have. It sounds great if you have it perfectly setup, but you may feel the performance lacking.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Arinoth (Post 350650)
Questions:
2. If i were to run XMBC, should i run it on linux or windows?

Your choice. It really depends on how comfortable you are working with linux. Although some linux distros have improved tremendously over the past decade, eventually it still will require you to understand and get into the innards of linux and eventually run command prompt-based applications. Once you get comfortable with Linux, you will find it more flexible and easier to configure for your needs than windows. The advantage of windows is that is is mostly an 'install and forget' thing, and you don't really play around with the innards much.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Arinoth (Post 350650)
3. Can XBMC run emulator programs for systems like snes, n64, gameboy, etc?

From what I've heard, yes. In XBMC linux, a simple google took me to this XBMC Emulation station blog Off World Girl's Terrestrial Com Channel: XBMC Emulation Station


Quote:

Originally Posted by Arinoth (Post 350650)
4. How hard is it to 'share' hard drives on a network between linux and windows?

Very very easy. Read up on 'Samba', which allows you to setup shares in linux and connect to them from windows boxes, and allow linux to connect to shares on windows. There may be other solutions, this is the one I used for the last decade.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Arinoth (Post 350650)
5. Should i use a 7200rpm hdd instead of a 5400rpm when i use it as a NAS ontop of a HTPC?

Makes no difference in most of the things you are going to do with the system. For movies, both would be fine.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Arinoth (Post 350650)
6. I know windows you can run remote desktop, is there something similar in Linux?

This is where linux really shines. They had remote terminals and connections way before windows did (inherited from big UNIX systems). And there are a lot of choices.

Historically, you used a terminal software like SSH to open a window and enter commands at a command prompt. Today I'd use Real VNC or something similar to open a graphical window. The two choices for a graphical window (desktop) would be freenx and RealVNC, which work a little different. For an HTPC I'd use RealVNC.

See this link for a quick list of some of the options.
polishlinux.org Remote access in Linux

Arinoth March 20, 2010 11:48 PM

Samba really, i didn't like it that much (the version that shipped/was run by) in my old NAS (DNS-323). Just seemed to have some odd quirks that annoyed me or couldnt be fixed because it was something i couldn't upgrade.

I have a decent amount of linux knowledge, had to take 2 programming courses (commands and c programming) as well as the linux i learned to use when using the DNS-323.

Synth March 21, 2010 06:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by biff (Post 350863)
Interesting. I've heard nothing but glowing reports about the zotac ion 330 and their BD prowess. The wife wants a tiny computer for the bedroom for web and looking at pictures and I figured we'd also use it for music/movie playback as well and I was going to go this route since they're small and a build like that sounds like fun. Undecided if I'd use MCE or XBMC there but it sounds like I should rethink this. What specifically were the issues?

I was actually one of the guys giving glowing reviews on the Ion ITX platforms some time back... but I guess the magic wore off.

To put everything in context, let's start with the setup I was using as HTPC:

- Zotac Ion ITX-G-E
- 4gb Mushkin PC2-8500 (running underclocked at 800mhz)
- Kingston SSDNow! 64gb SSD as the OS drive, Caviar green for media
- Apex MI-008 itx case
- Windows 7 HP 64bit

The footprint was tiny and the machine inaudible. Navigating through Windows 7 was speedy enough, but not without some hiccups from time to time (lagginess).

Media playback: performance was great accross the board, until you started using flash (ie. Youtube). The Ion machines perform very poorly with Flash. Even a 25$ discrete video card (ie. HD3xxx, HD4xxx) is an improvement over the nVidia gpu on Ion boards.

Also, even if the Atom 330 technically has 4 cores (dual core + ht), it performed poorly at authoring DVDs with software such as convertxtodvd.

All in all, if you can stand some chopiness and don't care about Flash performance, the Ion platform makes for a great discreet HTPC (although limited).

If you want to keep your options open, you could go with an AMD system (dual or quad) that supports Cool n' quiet, or better yet EPU4-6 and have a machine that chugs a little more power, but can deliver horsepower when required. AMD have 45watt quad cores that are pretty sweet!

I personaly am very happy now that I have gone back to my AMD 5050e 45watt dual core with EPU-4...

And my Ion board makes for a killer Ubuntu server (running: web, php, mysql, ftp server and ssh server) without breaking a sweat.

My .02 :thumb:

Arinoth March 21, 2010 07:02 PM

I have not run into the issues that you stated Synth, and i was running windows 7 (64 bit) with 2GB of RAM at 800MHz, though i had all the drivers from nvidia, the ones that uses the gpu to accelerate any video played plus i dont know but i also suspect me having it run 400MHz faster (and arguable more stable and cooler) seemed to improve its performance on all fronts

Synth March 21, 2010 08:30 PM

Unfortunately, my Ion doesn't OC (well, not past 1,750mhz).

I did try those beta drivers for gpu acceleration, but even then some 720p stuff off Youtube is teh choppy :sad:

I'm definitely not trying to bash the Ion, but for the price, there are some pretty good alternatives out there... just saying!

Let me re-iterate though: it makes for a great server :ph34r:


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