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Media Software Television Linux

A Simple, Silent, TV-Based Linux Media Player 67

jamienk asks: "My life has gotten simple. I can easily get the TV shows and movies I want on to my computer, however I get sick of watching them on my computer, and it's a drag to burn SVCDs or DVDs. Instead, I now want a silent Linux box to sit on my TV with TV out. I want to control it with a remote to run Mplayer (or something that can handle lots of formats) and play video files that are on my wireless LAN. I don't need it to record TV shows, play or rip CDs or DVDs, or even to have a hard-disk really, if the software could fit in RAM or something. Does anyone have links, pointers, or suggestions for cheap, easy, DIY solutions?"
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A Simple, Silent, TV-Based Linux Media Player

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  • Because I tried and the first 50 responses I got were going the other direction. But a large number of the correct product showed up at -converter-shopping.htm []
  • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @06:41PM (#11172525) Journal
    I like this guy's attitude! He wants to build a device that plays audio and video files but deliberately excludes any capacity to acquire those files through fair use!
  • Go XBox (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Gadzinka ( 256729 ) <> on Thursday December 23, 2004 @06:47PM (#11172576) Journal
    Buy XBox, install modchip and use xbox media player (XBMP). It has ethernet, perfect video out, enough power to play mpeg2/mpeg4 with postprocessing and runs $100 used, with modchip, or $150 new without modchip.

    And it can also run Linux, if you really want to type your mplayer commandline, but I'd advice against it -- XBMP is really cute-iful ;)

    Similar machine in either ATX or ITX form would cost you at least twice more. With AV-gear type case, another 100% more.

    • Re:Go XBox (Score:3, Informative)

      So to expand on this...

      XBox Media Center [] installed on a modded [] xbox really is all you need. Plug it into your hub/router/whatever, and with a little bit of config you can get it to run directly off of a samba share from your desktop.

      Get the DVD package, and you have remote control access. The thing also plays DVDs (I haven't got XBMC doing DVDs yet, but running the xbox dash to watch it isn't bad) so that's most of your video bases covered.

      • XBMC will play DVDs (at least recent CVS builds will.) Just stick it in and go if you have it set to autoplay. There is no menu support however. I suspect what they are doing is looking at the DVD stucture and playing the largest title.
        • It's probably not too difficult to figure out what they are doing []. Although it might be.. I mean really, DLL's in a CVS repository []. Whats up with that.
        • Re:Go XBox (Score:3, Informative)

          Ahh, that explains it. I have it set to no autoplay. I'll need to try that when I get home then :P

          However, if I want to do anything with menus, like the misc featurettes from the LOTR "appendices" discs, I do need to boot to xboxdash - though IIRC they were doing a fund drive a few weeks back to see how much people *really* wanted full dvd support, and if it was enough to pay a developer to take some time to do full-time work implementing it for XBMC (and thusly, also mplayer)

          • The new XBMC DVD player is under development, most of the basic features work (menus!), but it not yet mature enough to be committed to the cvs.
    • Right on.

      I've got about the same goal as the submitter: All of my music exists on the computer, but I still have to find, load, and refile CDs in the living room to play any of it on the cool stereo and chill out on the couch with music.

      Since that sucked, I decided to fix it. I built a reasonable machine with a composite NTSC output from stuff I had laying around. Tried Frevo, MythTV, and a few other things. They were all varying levels of terrible at playing music.

      MythTV was a complete bitch to comp
      • Re:Go XBox (Score:3, Informative)

        by nathanh ( 1214 )

        What chip would Slashdot suggest that I put in the thing? I'm leaning toward the v2 SmartXX, just now, mostly because XBMC supports an LCD module with it. Is there any compelling reason to choose any one over any of the others?

        No chip, unless you've really got your heart set on the LCD. Install a softmod. Very easy to install. Non-intrusive. Won't void the warranty. Works fine on all versions of Xbox. Search for UDE, UDE2 and UXE. There are many tutorials on the web, if you look hard enough.

        You will

    • Seconded. (Score:3, Informative)

      by rasteri ( 634956 )
      I ran a network cable through to my living room, plugged an xbox into it, installed xbmc and now I can watch videos stored on my server (which has a large hard drive and runs linux). I just ripped most of my DVDs to Divx, which gives more than acceptible quality, and I have a lot of mp3s on there as well. It plays all of it. I am utterly amazed at how far the XBMC project has come along - give it a try, you will not be disappointed.
    • Particularly if you're a European, but do so anyway. Even ignoring the price of the rest of the hardware you'll need, I've not seen a PC TV-Out-capable card for less money than an entire XBox that looks as good.

      Most graphics cards will only output S-Video at best; Europeans wanting to connect in RGB Scart are looking at £100+ VGA to Scart transcoders, or other specialist hardware.

      Plus there is an optical digital out on both the RGB Scart cable for Europeans, or the Component output for NTSC users.

      • Being able to play Halo when you're not watching films is just a bonus, really.

        Nah, being able to play all the MAME, NES, SNES, C64 etc emulators on TV is a real bonus -- I'm 32 and my contact with games ended around late Amiga ;)

      • While being terrible in 3D performance, the Connect3D Radeon 9200se 128MB has RCA-out support. I highly recommend it for such an application. And it's only like 25USD.
  • by Beatbyte ( 163694 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @06:50PM (#11172599) Homepage

    Linux HTPC HOW-TO roductio n.html

    If you're actually staying silent you'll want this platform instead of standard ATX

    TiVo-esque GPL software
  • to, it's a bit difficult to specify a solution.

    If you are capturing to a Windows, or Mac, using Haupauge! software, you might want to look at the Haupauge! set top box to play from your recordings.

    If you are using MythTV on a Linux box, you may want to set up an XBox MythTV front end. Or build a box based on a ViaC3 600 chip with a mpeg decoder.

    If you are using some other setup to record your media, you are pretty much on your own for figuring out how to put together a front end for it. XBox, or possibly
    • Without knowing what 'computer' you are capturing to, it's a bit difficult to specify a solution.

      He's not.

      That was the whole point of his post: He's not interested in capturing, just playback.

      If you are using some other setup to record your media, you are pretty much on your own for figuring out how to put together a front end for it.

      Hence all of the other, useful, responses.

      Reading for comprehension - it'll do wonders for you...

      • Hence all of the other, useful, responses.

        Hmm, like yours.

        Ok, the hardware has been identified, use an xbox, or mini-itx based system, possibly with a fanless m6000 or m10000 via processor.

        Provide whatever network hardware is necessary, up to and including a wireless usb adapter if you can get one of those to work.

        Since you want this to be as quiet as possible, build it using either boot from lan, or boot from flash.

        You will need some way of selecting the media file that you are going to play. If you
  • Hauppauge MediaMPV (Score:4, Informative)

    by passthecrackpipe ( 598773 ) * <passthecrackpipe@hotmail . c om> on Thursday December 23, 2004 @07:05PM (#11172699)
    Got one the other day. PowerPC platform, runs linux out of the box. Lots of interesting projects going on around it. Very hackable. Dirt cheap. Love it.
    • Re:MythTV (Score:3, Informative)

      by ChaseTec ( 447725 )
      Parent post is right even if they aren't all that informative. I have a Gentoo system with a Geforce MX with tv out in my entertainment system and I ran MythTV on it for a couple of months without a tv tuner card. MythTV does more then just record and playback tv, such as play dvds and divx/xvid movies. It actually uses MPlayer or Xine(I prefer Xine) to handle playing but everything is basically presented in a girlfriend friendly enterface. As far as a remote goes I just have a wireless keyboard and mouse.
  • XBox (Score:3, Informative)

    by ikekrull ( 59661 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @12:33AM (#11174427) Homepage
    I use an XBox with a USB wireless LAN adapter for this purpose.

    It runs Freevo, and while not completely silent, could be made so with a bigger CPU heatsink and a silent PSU- the noise it does make simply isn't intrustive enough for me to bother, however

    I use Xebian, so no mods were required for the hardware (I did need to rend MechAssault to get Linux on the hard drive), and I can play XBox games if I want to.

    Movies and MP3s are played off a samba share on another linux PC, and it mostly works pretty well.

    There are a couple of caveats though-

    Limux's approach to swapping memory is pretty awful for this type of application. After a long period of idle time, attempting to play a movie results in about a minute of vigorous disk-thrashing before anything actually happens on-screen.

    The XPad driver/XBox controller seems to behave erratically - often requiring an unplug-replug cycle upon bootup to be recognised. Currently i dont have the XBox remote, but it can be used in place of the controller.

    Disks sometimes get 'stuck' in the drive and won't eject - no matter whether the software 'eject' command is used or the hardware eject button.

    Depending on how much time you have, all these issues could likely be fixed, but if i was you, i'd just buy a wifi set top box like this one:

    The XBox is quite flexible, and it has been a fun toy to have, and does extra things like rip DVDs and act as a 'standard' Linux PC - but as far as a 'plug n play' solution, i doubt you will get what you want with any PC-based solution, at least without spending a lot of time tweaking - there are just too many things to go wrong, from boot time to peripherals to media error handling etc.
    • Limux's approach to swapping memory is pretty awful for this type of application. After a long period of idle time, attempting to play a movie results in about a minute of vigorous disk-thrashing before anything actually happens on-screen.

      Disclaimer: Being totally unfamiliar with Xebian, everything I spew now might be totally incorrect.

      Under the 2.6 linux kernels you can control the swap behaviour by changing the value in /proc/sys/swappiness. if you do "echo 100 > /proc/sys/swappiness", it will swap
      • Currently, my XBox runs a 2.4 kernel, but that is useful and intersting info. Thanks

      • i think you meant: /proc/sys/vm/swappiness

        thanks for the handy hint. I've always hated 2.4's disk caching, swap happy, slow-in-the-morning, vm.
  • Look at for some ideas. More specifically, check out the via epia series motherboards, they are very small, low wattage (therefore no need for a big fan), and have video out that can work with linux (again look through the forums on for details).
    Personally, I would set up one of these with an 802.11g card and network boot.
  • Try the Meadia MVP (Score:1, Informative)

    by rmiller021 ( 620732 ) *
    I have looked into this cool linux product from Hauppauge and it looks promising.

    Here are some links to get you started. MediaMVP_LinuxHOWTO [] [] []
  • I have built my own media station using MythTV. I have a server in another room and the station boots from the server using PXE. It's silent and has huge amount of storage available without having a local hard disk. The only annoyance with the setup is slow ethernet (I'm using 100Mbit wired ethernet at the moment) but gigabit ethernet is cheap these days and I'm planning to upgrade my home network to use that.
    • Could you boot MythTV off a CD / DVD for a nice diskless system? You would need two CD /DVD drives, since I don't think you can eject a CD after you boot from it.
      • Probably, but cds aren't exactly fast or quiet. Give booting off of a PCMCIA car a shot.

        • The way USB / SD / memory cards are going, that is probably the best option.

          I just priced 1 GB SD cards around $100.

          Ideally you could put your DVD images on the backend Myth machine and have a totally silent front end Myth box.
  • Or is that MoviX^2 []?

    Perhaps also run it on this ASUS [] motherboard and casing combo.

    Should be a snap.

  • MythTV on Linux on a Water Cooled XBox
  • by aderusha ( 32235 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @08:41AM (#11175855) Homepage
    The XBox isn't completely silent, but you can control the fan speed through software. Much of the noise is mediated if you replace the default 8GB HDD with a larger 5400rpm (slow and quiet) drive. Modding a newer unit (version 1.6) requires the installation of a modchip or using a softmod. Softmods don't require any soldering, but are prone to occasional failure as MS updates the XBox software. Your best bet is to troll your local pawn shops and video game stores for a used xbox. If you can get a 1.0 or a 1.1 version XBox you can mod it complete with a disable switch without having to buy a chip. Anyway, the point of all this is to run XBMC, which will play damn near any media format you can through at it, including newer container formats like OGM and Matroska. It can stream over the network using SMB/CIFS or one of a handful of XBMC-specific streaming protocols (stream servers available for linux, mac, and windows.) XBMC can also display local weather, stream web radio from shoutcast stations, rip cds, play dvds, display rss feeds, and with the python script engine it can even play movie trailers or even give you showtimes for movie theaters in your area.

    Here's some handy links:
    • Home of all xbox knowledge: XBox Scene []
    • Being a cheapass, I use cheap modchips. You can get an Aladdin XT for $11 from RobotPig []. They're in the UK but they ship quickly worldwide. Good shop and cheap! The $60 modchips come with loads of neat but ultimately entirely useless features.
    • If you're scared of a soldering iron, here's a solderless solution for all versions of the xbox: The Spiderchip []. I've never used one of these things and I've never purchased anything from this shop so take this as a suggestion and not a recommendation.
    • Here's [] a great introduction to softmods. Again, despite what all the softmoddie guys say a chip will always be a better solution.
    • If you buy a new XBox, you'll be getting a 1.6 version and your modding options are somewhat limited. You're voiding the warranty anyway so you might as well pick up a used box. Here's [] how to tell which version XBox you're getting. Print it out and take it to the shop with you.
    • All versions of the XBox except the 1.6 can be TSOP flashed, which is just write enabling the onboard BIOS flashrom and flashing a mod bios to it. Cheap, relatively easy, and every bit as good as a chip. The only drawback to a TSOP flash is that you can't easily disable it unless you have a 1.0 or 1.1 XBox. Here [] is a pretty complete guide to TSOP flashing.
    • Here [] is the homepage for XBMC. They're hosted on sourceforge, so you can checkout the CVS [] and compile your own copy if you have VS.NET 2003 and a copy of the latest XDK.

    Check out the forums on XBox-Scene [] and for XBox Media Center [] (XBMC) for useful tips rom the thousands of XBox enthuiasts out there. Good luck!
    • If you buy a new XBox, you'll be getting a 1.6 version and your modding options are somewhat limited.
      Actually, some stores still have old stock. I bought a bundle at Costco about a month ago and it was version 1.3. It was dusty.
  • on the tv-out.

    or just mod a xbox.
  • try geexbox:

    i've no experience with it yet, but heard good things about it so it is on my todo list.
  • by phorm ( 591458 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @01:53PM (#11177185) Journal
    I've setup a linux box on an Epia-M10000 with Xine, Mplayer, Realplayer (although Mplayer suffices for this), appropriate codecs etc etc.

    Then I picked up a little app called "autorun" which you can use to poll your CD-ROM and run scripts when a disk is inserted/removed. Built a script that checks for the content on disk and loads as appropriate:

    VCD: Xine
    DVD: Xine
    Mp3/Ogg: XMMS
    RealMedia: Realplayer
    Quicktime/AVI/etc: MPlayer

    Apps load with fullscreen set and play through. The only major issue is DVD's with menus in Xine. They don't like my touchscreen, but I'll probably either make it play through to the first play track or figure out how to make it like my touch.

    Oh, and the M10000 has linux drivers and TV out, as well as DVD and basic 3d accel.
  • meaning, I'd like to run a long-ish cable from the xbox to a tv monitor. doing this digitally is the best since long cable runs degrade analog signals.

    in the windows world (sigh) you can run a firewire controller and a converter box on the far end, that handles the video (composite or svideo) both in and out. I use a canopus box but there are many such 'media bridges' that go from firewire to video.

    so I wonder - can you do this with the xbox? it seems everyone is recommending the modded xbox. fine - I
  • Although it isn't a linux box, a phillips dvp642 seems like it will do what you want. You would still have to burn cd's, but they don't have to be in vcd or dvd format. It reads the filesystem on the discs and you can choose what you want to play.

    It plays pretty much anything I throw at it. Dvix, xvid, mp3's and they can be on cd or dvd. I burn some stuff I want to watch or listen to onto RW's, watch it, and enjoy. It comes with a remote. For $70 it might be worth a shot. If it meets everything you
  • If so, you can create a web interface and use your PDA as a very fancy remote.
  • 0) Have a box with GOOD tv out (ATI cards).
    1) Get an IRMan IR receiver if your computer does not already have one.
    2) Get Girder
    3) Download windows media player girder hooks
    4) Using ANY remote, beam the codes you want in for each function (play, stop, etc)
    5) VideoLAN/VLC player plays ALL formats with built in codecs. Although it does not have girder hooks, you can stop with spacebar, and it is easy to set girder up to send a space bar with a specific IR code. (So I can pause/unpause, which is all

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