Well, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to building a Home Theater PC, or HTPC. A friend of mine mentioned his, and I haven’t been able to get the thought out of my head. (-:

He’s the initial thoughts. Subject to change drastically.


A barebones Shuttle computer. Similar to this one on newegg with built on video, HDMI connector and 7 channel dolby. Add in 2 GB of RAM, a quad core AMD processor, a 1.5 Terabyte drive, dual converter TV card with remote, a BlueRay drive, finished off with a wireless keyboard and mouse. That’s the hardware. It’s a bit overkill for a basic HTPC, but I also want to be able to save, convert, and stream music and movies to the other systems in the house. Including our Ipods. Total cost will be about $700 or so.

Limitations are hard disk space. The Shuttle only has 2 internal Sata connections. So, I’m limited to 1.5TB of space. If  this gets short I’ll need to look at some eSATA drives. But, it’s doable and 1.5 TB should be plenty for now.


Linux as the Main OS, probably Ubuntu. I just like Ubuntu, it’s easy to work with and it should have the horsepower to do as I want.

Sun VirtualBox as my Virtual Machine manager.

A Virtual Machine with Windows Vista Media Center as the GUI and main scheduler, etc. I need this to run AnyDVD. That and it’s a cleaner interface. One of the primary restrictions on the HTPC is that it MUST be easy to use. Or this project is a failure.

AnyDVD will be used for the initial decryption and saving of the DVD’s and BlueRay disks. I understand this is one of the better decryptors for saving my extensive library of DVD’s. That and it just works with BlueRay decryption.

VLC with scripting to convert my videos to different formats. Will probably script this to do the encryption into several formats in the middle of the night.

I’ll set up samba shares so that the windows machines can access the music and movies on the fly.


Need to research a nice way to stream the movies and music to the other machines. Maybe mythTV on the Linux side? Or something similar.

Primary Goal: Machine needs to be quiet and easy to use.

Secondary Goal: Lot’s of storage and ability to convert and serve many different formats.

Tertiary Goal: Have FUN doing it and teach the girls.

Well, that’s it. I have a month or so before my tax return, or the audit, comes in. So I have time to do the research and figure this out a lot more before I start spending money.  I’m thinking this could be a really fun project. I’ve spent so many years working on computers that they’ve gotten to be work and not fun. Which is a bloody shame. I want to use this project for fun and enjoyment. I want to hack and play and have a good time. It’s time for Nerd Factor 12!