Linux Media PC, a Month Later

It's hard to believe that it's been over a month since I built my Linux based home media PC. My entire CD collection (about 250 discs) has been digitized, and I'm ready to move the physical relics all into storage.

The system is working fine. There are, however, a number of remaining issues that keep me from completely endorsing the ASUS Pundit-R for home media applications. Garry Parker wrote about putting Myth TV on the Pundit-R, and he identified a number of weaknesses. He says:

After living with the Pundit for a while, the main problem with it is that it's too loud. It's quieter than most desktop PCs, but is still louder than I'd like for a living room. The alternative would be a passively cooled system such as an EPIA, but the extra power is probably worth it.

He also notes, "The SPDIF digital output is on the front panel. This is crap and a real design flaw." I agree. I encoded my CDs in a lossless format (FLAC) to preserve full fidelity. Yet, I'm playing them back through the computer's low-to-mid-fi analog system. I really want to play the bits digitally to preserve the fidelity, but if I do I need to leave the front panel open with a cable hanging out. That's crap.

The sound quality issue is a big deal. I ran an A-B test, to compare the sound of a full-fidelity FLAC file played on the computer (analog stereo connection) to the original CD played on a DVD player with S/PDIF (digital optical) audio connection to the amp. The difference is significant. The presence is completely sucked out of the version played on the computer.

My other complaint is that the system does not return from hibernation correctly. This may be a Ubuntu 5.10 issue, but regardless of the cause, it is an annoying one. The system would be a lot nicer to use if I could hibernate when not needed, and quickly resume when I want to play or access music. This means I either need to keep the computer running or go through a long boot-up when I want to use it.

Originally, I planned to do both audio and video media with this system. I haven't done any work on the video, and, frankly, I'm not working up much motivation to do so. We don't have cable and our TV reception sucks. About the only thing I watch is the Simpson's repeats on Fox. Counting time and materials, it would be cheaper to just buy the box set DVDs than it would be build video capability.

So, I'm mostly satisfied with the audio capability, and I don't anticipate working on video anytime soon. When I do, maybe I'll be ready to upgrade to a box that addresses some of the problems I found.

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re: Linux Media PC, a Month Later

I love discussions about Linux HTPC's. I have built a low cost Knoppmyth system and I really love it You can find out more about it here.

http://linuxblogger.dyndns.org/weblog/index.php?/archives/10-Personal-Video-Recorder-with-KnoppMyth.html

A note, I think the Pundit you have a lot of power for what you need. At 2.8Ghz you can probably do HD quality TV encoding.

re: Linux Media PC, a Month Later

Larrydag, I agree, and in fact, I built the system with the intent of doing MPEG video encoding. The biggest thing the CPU probably does now is run the KDE desktop.

The one exception is that when I transcoded all of the FLAC files to MP3 (for use with portable players and across the network). That took nearly two days of processing.