Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My Linux MCE system--The Beginning

Greetings! One of the purposes of this blog will be to document the development of my PC into a full-fledged "poor man's" Media Center or Home Theater PC. Right now, my setup is as follows:
Generic mid-tower case
Ultra X-Finity 600-watt power supply
Gateway "Midway 2 PE" (Intel d865-GRH) motherboard
Intel Pentium 4 2.3 Ghz. CPU
1 GB of DDR400 (Corsair) Value Select RAM (2 x 512 MB)
GeForce 5200 video card (Nvidia) (AGP)
1-120 GB ATA/133 hard drive
1-80 GB ATA/133 hard drive
Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 sound card
ATI TV Wonder Pro TV tuner card
LG GSA-4163B DVD/CD-ROM burner
Westell WireSpeed DSL modem, operating in Ethernet mode
ISP: BellSouth DSL Extreme 3.0 (the highest speed DSL my phone line will accommodate)
OS: Dual-boot system using either Windows XP Home Edition with SP2 or openSUSE Linux version 10.2

I am currently in the final stages of planning a major upgrade/conversion to this setup. For one thing, I plan to switch my hard drive setup to a single, 400 GB SATA-150 hard drive. This will not only increase my total storage capacity, but my overall system speed as well. This will be especially important in terms of video playback and recording, particularly with regard to DVD and VHS playback. I have several VHS tapes that I wish to transcribe to DVD, but right now, my hard drives are simply too slow to permit this. Upgrading to a SATA hard drive will, I hope, help to solve this problem.

I am also preparing to upgrade to an ASUS LightScribe 18x DVD burner. This will help me in terms of labeling any CDs or DVDs I produce. Also, hopefully, the ASUS unit will be less "picky" as to the brands of blank media it will work with successfully, especially blank DVDs.

Later on, I will be upgrading from 1 GB to 2 GB of DDR 400 RAM. That, however, will depend on financial constraints. Later on, I may also add another SATA hard drive, depending on my finances, and on how the system as a whole operates.

The most important change, however, will be the removal of open SUSE Linux from my system, and the installation Linux MCE 07.10, which is due to be released within the next few days. (As readers may know, Linux MCE is an add-on to the Kubuntu distribution of Linux. For technical reasons, the version numbers of Kubuntu and Linux MCE must be the same in order for the installation to succeed.) This, in turn, will require me to remove open SUSE from my hard drive altogether, which I have never had to do before with a dual-boot setup such as I have. I am naturally somewhat nervous about this, and am checking to find out how best to proceed. My primary concern, as you might expect, is to prevent my Windows XP partition from harm, as I have a number of files there which I do not wish to lose, and I do not currently have a backup procedure in place that I can afford. I may, in fact, simply install Windows XP Home and Linux MCE on my new hard drives once it arrives, then copy my existing Windows data files onto it, keeping my two old drives as a backup system. Kludgey, I know, but that may be the only way that will work, given my circumstances. I will wait until my new hard drive arrives before making a final decision; by that time, I should have enough expert advice to guide me safely.

In days to come, I will be exploring other interests on this blog, but for now, I will center primarily on developing what I call a "poor man's MCE PC". Stay tuned!

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