28 Jul

Smart Home Media Project – Xebian

It’s been a little too long since my last post–apologies.  Here’s what I’ve found out since then.

  1. The pre-built Xebian/Myth distro seems to have trouble finding my backend server.  Which is strange, as they are both on the same 100MB network segment.  It complains about no UPnP sources.
  2. Apparently no one can watch live TV on the XBMCMythTV script…I am giving up.  This will apparently be folded into the next major release of XBMC–the script developers are working directly with the XBMC team.
  3. The 1.3 release of PFSense will include support for OpenDNS via their DNS-O-Matic site.  This has nothing to do with XBMC…just thought it was cool.  All firewalls should be doing this!

My PFSense firewall might be dropping all the UPnP packets from the network segment–they are sorta like broadcast datagrams, so it would make sense that they would hit the segment gateway interface.  I found a switch to turn UPnP support on…we’ll see if that works.  And then I can see if Xebian will suffice for me.

If not, I will set the Xbox back to booting to XBMC and setup the shortcuts for the the MythTV script.  It works pretty well for watching recorded shows.  Actually, really well.  And…I guess just wait for the next version of XBMC to come out.  My biggest fear is that the XBMC project will die out as time goes on and that these features will never be successfully implemented.

If it seems like I neglected to cover the install of Xebian, well, mainly it’s so simple it doesn’t really warrant the space.  Download it, uncompress it, and ftp it up to the Xbox’s E: drive.  After I did that, I just switched back to the EvolutionX dashboard (by renaming the files via FTP).  Now, I can just use the EvoX dash to browse to the Xebian launcher.  Works fine for testing purposes.  If I get it all working and like it, I’ll swap out the EvoX loader with the one from Xebian permanently.

I think I need to build an actual HTPC next, but I’m torn.  Should I upgrade the backend server (mem, hdd, and additional tuners) first?  I’m leaning toward the HTPC even in spite of the expense.  Since hooking up more tuners would require the relocation of the cable box in the bedroom, I’ll need the HTPC to already be there.

In my research I’ve discovered that VMWare does not have an accelerated video driver for a Windows host OS.  So, I can’t install Vista on the HTPC and use the Mythbuntu frontend in a VM.  Even the peppiest boxes can’t seem to get the framerate high enough for streaming video.  (I’ll probably give it a shot, anyway, just to make sure.)

In other words, I’ll be dual booting the machine unless Wine gets much easier to configure in the near future.  Part of my goal is to be able to play old(ish) adventure games on this machine.  All of the Tex Murphys, Mysts, Journeyman Projects, GUI Zorks, etc.  This may be more effort than I want to expend on Wine.

Also, this HTPC machine will sorta serve as a testbed for our homeschooling PCs.  We are (probably) switching to a DVD-based curriculum to make things go smoother now that the baby is a factor.

See you, Space Cowboy.