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Topic # 150950 8-Aug-2014 17:23
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Title explains it all, really. I'm wanting to replace my $70 a month Sky package with an HTPC. I do have a few requirements, though:

 

  • Must be able to record Freeview|HD digital television
  • Must be able to play videos from Netflix
  • Preferably Linux based
  • Must be able to output (preferably stream (USB dongle?), though I could use an HDMI cable) to non-smart televisions
As it stands now, I am missing a few bits. That includes a DVB-{T,S} pci(e) tuner card, RAM, a wireless networking card, a means to get the content from a HTPC to a non-smart television and, of course, software. The RAM and wireless networking card can be crossed off as I know what I need/want to get, but the other pieces is where I would like some guidance.


First: a DVB-{T,S} tuner card. I really have no clue about them. I also don't know whether I will need a DVB-T or a DVB-S, as it is unknown to me what Sky will do with our satellite dish. All I know is that finding a tuner that meets the native Linux requirement will be hard.

Streaming the content to non-smart televisions is a want. The television in the bedroom is an old-model Panasonic 32" plasma dumb-tv, so DLNA is out of the question. There is only two televisions in this household, so maybe drilling and running an HDMI cable through a wall is the better option here.

And lastly: software. Guidance? It needs to support Netflix, preferably OSS on Linux and Freeview|HD recording. The management side of things would be done via web frontend, or if that isn't an option, good old VNC with some sort of visual frontend. As long as it's user-friendly (read: a non-techy person can choose a program to watch), then it should be fine. Does XBMC/Kodi do all this?


And before I forget, here's a list of things I already have and can use in this build:
CPU: Intel i7 950
Motherboard: Asus P6X58D-E
RAM: The motherboard supports up to 4GB DIMMs, though I am struggling to find decent, cheap triple channel kits
HDD: Random bits n bobs. I have a first gen Intel SSD available for use somewhere
Graphics: Either a Gigabyte GTX 580 or an EVGA Classified GTX 570
Network: Asus PCE-AC68. I already own one, but the Linux driver support is mediocre at best (at least on Gentoo, may be different for Debian based distros that already have a driver build)
Case: SilverStone? My motherboard is ATX, so it needs to support that at least.
Other: I will probably move my main storage to this PC. This includes a LSI 9270 8i.

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762 posts

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  Reply # 1105043 8-Aug-2014 17:38
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Some questions:

Can you get terrestrial freeview HD? Satellite freeview is only SD. Everyone on this forum would point you in the direction of DVBT.

Does it HAVE to be a wireless connection? Wired is far superior.





HTPC: Antec NSK2480B case, AMD A4-5300 CPU, Asus F2A85-M LE mobo, WD Caviar Green 64Mb 2TB HDD, HD Homerun, Win7 Home Premium, RAM 1600Mhz 4Gb.
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  Reply # 1105048 8-Aug-2014 17:45
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Oh, I didn't know that satellite is SD only. We have both the dish and a standard UHF aerial, so that narrows down the DVB-{T,S} thing.

The internet connection will most definitely be wireless. The output to the television in the bedroom doesn't have to be, though I would have liked to avoid drilling through the wall. I am leaning towards the HDMI-cable-through-the-wall thing, as it would mean a) less money, b) easier to set up and c) less interference.

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Trusted

  Reply # 1105174 8-Aug-2014 22:13
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Also Linux and Netflix don't play together. I'm not sure if they still don't. No silver light.




Previously known as psycik

NextPVR/OpenHAB: 
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  Reply # 1105212 9-Aug-2014 00:34
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I believe that situation has changed, davidcole. When I was reading up on XBMC and the Netflix for XBMC, I discovered that it uses something called Pipelight. It still requires Wine to run, but is as native as one would likely get.

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  Reply # 1105213 9-Aug-2014 00:50
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If you are wanting live sport, I believe that you are SOL smile



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  Reply # 1105215 9-Aug-2014 00:53
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I understand that. We don't have Sky Sport anyway, so there isn't going to a big loss there. I'll still get my fishing shows on Sunday :)

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1105237 9-Aug-2014 06:11
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There are some very good resources here: http://wiki.team-mediaportal.com/4_HTPC/HTPC_Hardware/Video_Cards_(GPUs) that will guide you on whether your hardware will be up to the job.
This is worth a look too: http://mymediaexperience.com/first-htpc-tips/

B
e aware that there are many neat ways of streaming content from your htpc around your house e.g Plex, remote potato), or even to wherever you are via the internet. If you might want to use these in future, they use a lot of processing power to process the video, so might affect your choice of processor.

Congratulations on ditching Sky, we have saved $$$ and are watching much better stuff now. It's the right time to do it now that the option of Lightbox is around the corner too.




HTPC: Antec NSK2480B case, AMD A4-5300 CPU, Asus F2A85-M LE mobo, WD Caviar Green 64Mb 2TB HDD, HD Homerun, Win7 Home Premium, RAM 1600Mhz 4Gb.
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  Reply # 1105306 9-Aug-2014 10:56
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Think carefully about what you want to achieve before you take the plunge.

If what you specify in your original post is really all you want to be able to do, you will be able to achieve what you want with two relatively inexpensive units rather than a HTPC, providing you have two free inputs on the TV.

A bog-standard PVR (like one of the Panny DVD recorders or Dish TV units) will let you easily record Freeview|HD digital television. An inexpensive media player with a Netflix app (a WDTV or Android unit etc ) will deal simply with playing videos from Netflix and streaming media files from a USB dongle. Yes, it's two units and remotes instead of one. However, it would be a lot cheaper than building a HTPC, would involve a lot less faffing around, and would "just work" in terms of EPG, and you could be confident they would work seamlessly via remote controls etc.

Also has the advantage of being trivially upgradeable, by replacing one cheap unit, rather than a fundamental rebuild if requirements change, and won't require the ongoing tweaking that a HTPC may (updating drivers and software, dealing with incompatibilities etc). They may also more easily used by other non-technical people that you may have in a household.

I'm not against HTPCs, and am actually considering one myself. However, IMO they are only worth doing if your list of requirements is wider than those that you specified in your post. If you want to do things like more than two tuners, remote long-in across network, capturing in HD over HDMI, using bleeding-edge codecs, and running Comskip etc then they are definitely the way to go. Plus it could be quite fun if you enjoy tinkering with that sort of setup.

But is all you want to do is simply to record freeview, view Netflix, and play files of a USB stick then a full HTPC build seems like overkill.

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1105324 9-Aug-2014 11:53
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JohnFlower: I believe that situation has changed, davidcole. When I was reading up on XBMC and the Netflix for XBMC, I discovered that it uses something called Pipelight. It still requires Wine to run, but is as native as one would likely get.


Pipelight can still be difficult to get working with Netflix on linux . . . but it can be done.

OSMC (the successor to Raspbmc) that will be released in the next couple of months will support netflix natively and run on multiple platforms (release platforms still to be announced)



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  Reply # 1105620 9-Aug-2014 21:09
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turb: There are some very good resources here: http://wiki.team-mediaportal.com/4_HTPC/HTPC_Hardware/Video_Cards_(GPUs) that will guide you on whether your hardware will be up to the job.
This is worth a look too: http://mymediaexperience.com/first-htpc-tips/

Be aware that there are many neat ways of streaming content from your htpc around your house e.g Plex, remote potato), or even to wherever you are via the internet. If you might want to use these in future, they use a lot of processing power to process the video, so might affect your choice of processor.

Congratulations on ditching Sky, we have saved $$$ and are watching much better stuff now. It's the right time to do it now that the option of Lightbox is around the corner too.
If my hardware doesn't do the job, then there is something wrong!
I had a look through the links. The first one was pretty generic stuff that most techies should already know. The second one was informative, but besides re-iterating the fact that Linux + Netflix is all but unsupported, nothing new was said.


JimmyH: Think carefully about what you want to achieve before you take the plunge.

If what you specify in your original post is really all you want to be able to do, you will be able to achieve what you want with two relatively inexpensive units rather than a HTPC, providing you have two free inputs on the TV.

A bog-standard PVR (like one of the Panny DVD recorders or Dish TV units) will let you easily record Freeview|HD digital television. An inexpensive media player with a Netflix app (a WDTV or Android unit etc ) will deal simply with playing videos from Netflix and streaming media files from a USB dongle. Yes, it's two units and remotes instead of one. However, it would be a lot cheaper than building a HTPC, would involve a lot less faffing around, and would "just work" in terms of EPG, and you could be confident they would work seamlessly via remote controls etc.

Also has the advantage of being trivially upgradeable, by replacing one cheap unit, rather than a fundamental rebuild if requirements change, and won't require the ongoing tweaking that a HTPC may (updating drivers and software, dealing with incompatibilities etc). They may also more easily used by other non-technical people that you may have in a household.

I'm not against HTPCs, and am actually considering one myself. However, IMO they are only worth doing if your list of requirements is wider than those that you specified in your post. If you want to do things like more than two tuners, remote long-in across network, capturing in HD over HDMI, using bleeding-edge codecs, and running Comskip etc then they are definitely the way to go. Plus it could be quite fun if you enjoy tinkering with that sort of setup.

But is all you want to do is simply to record freeview, view Netflix, and play files of a USB stick then a full HTPC build seems like overkill.
I already have the parts from previous builds. It wont be expensive, but there will be some dollar involved to get the things mentioned in the OP.

There are a couple of reasons I need to go the HTPC route:

 

  • The device playing Netflix must support OpenVPN. Although I can possibly VPN my whole network router side, that is a silly idea.
  • The operating system would preferably be Linux. As I stated somewhere in the HTPC specs (dumb place, I know), I want to move my main storage to this to-be computer. Guess what I will do then :)
Maybe I should make Linux a must for my requirements. But other than that, the current list is all I want for now. Usage in the near future will most likely include VMs and game servers.

If there is a single device (yes, I find having two devices silly when I can have but one and achieve better results) that meets the Netflix and Freeview|HD recording requirements, I will consider that over an HTPC. But let's be honest with ourselves, such a device goes against what the television industry would want viewers to have and is unlikely to exist.


farcus: Pipelight can still be difficult to get working with Netflix on linux . . . but it can be done.

OSMC (the successor to Raspbmc) that will be released in the next couple of months will support netflix natively and run on multiple platforms (release platforms still to be announced)
I am a Gentoo user (as opposed to a person who uses Gentoo, if you know what I mean :) ), so I am well versed on a lot of Linux things. You don't need to worry about that side of things!

The Raspberry Pi is too underpowered for my needs, hence the GTX 580/570 and i7 950 in the current build specs.



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  Reply # 1109557 16-Aug-2014 17:08
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Bought a case and RAM.


After watching some YouTube videos, I chose the Lian-Li PC-C60B over the Silverstone Grandia GD08B. The GD08B just doesn't offer the space the PC-C60B does, even though it supports E-ATX boards. Sure the PC-C60B is more expensive, but Lian-Li products are amazing, and I reckon it was worth the extra $30.

I'm a little annoyed at the RAM I bought. The motherboard it was supposed to go into (an old Asus Rampage iii Extreme) is either broken or lacks support. I checked the QVL like you should and bought two kits of G.SKILL 2x4GB RipjawsX.
The Ripjaws have the exact same specs as one of the two kits listed in the QVL. The only difference being the RAM I bought was dual, as that is all that is available these days. That shouldn't have mattered though.
I'll end up testing it in the P6X58D-E eventually.


Anyways, still looking for a Linux compatible DVB-T tuner card. I have done a bit of research into them and found this page (http://linuxtv.org/wiki/index.php/DVB-T_PCIe_Cards). It is far from a complete list, but at least it's a start. I originally wanted to get a BlackGold card, but that idea fell through as soon as I saw their awesome Linux support... I'm now on the lookout for TBST products, but their DVB-T line has been discontinued and are only offering DVB-S cards. Which ever way I go, it is looking likely that I will have to import from overseas. This wont be too bad now considering Newegg ships to New Zealand :)


Edit: I keep forgetting I cant post links yet >_>

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  Reply # 1109593 16-Aug-2014 18:28
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Please consider the HDHomerun tuner. It works with Linux (according to google). If you haven't got a full wired network you can just plug it into the back of the PC with a network cable. It'll mean that you are future-proofed.




HTPC: Antec NSK2480B case, AMD A4-5300 CPU, Asus F2A85-M LE mobo, WD Caviar Green 64Mb 2TB HDD, HD Homerun, Win7 Home Premium, RAM 1600Mhz 4Gb.
iPad air 2


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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1109645 16-Aug-2014 20:23
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A bit late to this thread - but in no particular order:

1) You can do everything you want & it's not too difficult at all (accepting that we are on geekzone after all).

2) Want you want to do is pretty much exactly what I do: Arch linux base distro, MythTV backend serves live TV and videos via HDMI to my main TV (via my receiver) and to any other connected laptops/pads etc. You can use XBMC/Kodi as the frontend easily if you wish instead of MythTV's own frontend. There are no stupid encoding restrictions on videos you record. No restrictions on add skipping etc.

3) The DVB-T card I use is a Hauppauge 2210, but a 2200 works just fine too. They're hard to find these days though, for some reason. You could try a USB tuner (or two if you want ability to record/watch more than one mux at a time: http://linuxtv.org/wiki/index.php/DVB-T_USB_Devices). The HD Homerun tuner is highly regarded and supported if you can't find / don't want to go for a PCI or USB solution. Yeah - ebay or newegg are your friends given the lack of local PCI-e product.

4) Netflix runs just fine using Pipelight & wine-compholio. You need to use firefox or a NPAPI-compatible browser (Chrome/Chromium dropped NPAPI in favour of PPAPI) and a user-agent switcher to make your *nix browser appear as a windows or mac one. Easy instructions for all of this are here: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Pipelight

5
) Netflix doesn't run in 5.1 surround sound on any PC platform ,except IE11/Win 8.1 (so far). It's to do with DRM restrictions and developing HTML5 capabilities: http://liliputing.com/2014/06/netflix-continues-the-move-from-silverlight-to-html5-on-some-platforms.html. Although, hot of the press - use Chrome to play netflix in linux without Pipelight/Silverlight: http://entertainment.slashdot.org/story/14/08/09/1854206/netflix-now-works-on-linux-with-html5-drm-video-support-in-chrome.

6) Plenty of live sport on the web, incl. ABs games....just need to hunt around a bit - and it's not exactly HD.

7) Mythweb is a great web-based frontend manager. Bit of fiddle to get working, but you can then schedule/record/watch your programs from any internet connected PC.

8) Get a router that allows you to run dd-wrt or tomato, then you can really have some fun getting connected and serving to your LAN and the WAN. Run the openVPN on your router & avoid being snooped on whenever you're out and about on the internet by routing everything through your VPN. Nothing "silly" about this at all (unless I missunderstand your intent). Run your geo-unblocking and adblocking at the router level like the c00l kids.



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  Reply # 1109728 16-Aug-2014 23:21
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turb: Please consider the HDHomerun tuner. It works with Linux (according to google). If you haven't got a full wired network you can just plug it into the back of the PC with a network cable. It'll mean that you are future-proofed.
I'm looking for a PCI(e) solution. I doubt there are any new PCI cards, so that leaves just PCIe.


sultanoswing: A bit late to this thread - but in no particular order:

1) You can do everything you want & it's not too difficult at all (accepting that we are on geekzone after all).

2) Want you want to do is pretty much exactly what I do: Arch linux base distro, MythTV backend serves live TV and videos via HDMI to my main TV (via my receiver) and to any other connected laptops/pads etc. You can use XBMC/Kodi as the frontend easily if you wish instead of MythTV's own frontend. There are no stupid encoding restrictions on videos you record. No restrictions on add skipping etc.

3) The DVB-T card I use is a Hauppauge 2210, but a 2200 works just fine too. They're hard to find these days though, for some reason. You could try a USB tuner (or two if you want ability to record/watch more than one mux at a time: http://linuxtv.org/wiki/index.php/DVB-T_USB_Devices). The HD Homerun tuner is highly regarded and supported if you can't find / don't want to go for a PCI or USB solution. Yeah - ebay or newegg are your friends given the lack of local PCI-e product.

4) Netflix runs just fine using Pipelight & wine-compholio. You need to use firefox or a NPAPI-compatible browser (Chrome/Chromium dropped NPAPI in favour of PPAPI) and a user-agent switcher to make your *nix browser appear as a windows or mac one. Easy instructions for all of this are here: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Pipelight

5) Netflix doesn't run in 5.1 surround sound on any PC platform ,except IE11/Win 8.1 (so far). It's to do with DRM restrictions and developing HTML5 capabilities: http://liliputing.com/2014/06/netflix-continues-the-move-from-silverlight-to-html5-on-some-platforms.html. Although, hot of the press - use Chrome to play netflix in linux without Pipelight/Silverlight: http://entertainment.slashdot.org/story/14/08/09/1854206/netflix-now-works-on-linux-with-html5-drm-video-support-in-chrome.

6) Plenty of live sport on the web, incl. ABs games....just need to hunt around a bit - and it's not exactly HD.

7) Mythweb is a great web-based frontend manager. Bit of fiddle to get working, but you can then schedule/record/watch your programs from any internet connected PC.

8) Get a router that allows you to run dd-wrt or tomato, then you can really have some fun getting connected and serving to your LAN and the WAN. Run the openVPN on your router & avoid being snooped on whenever you're out and about on the internet by routing everything through your VPN. Nothing "silly" about this at all (unless I missunderstand your intent). Run your geo-unblocking and adblocking at the router level like the c00l kids.
1. I believe it's possible, though there are a few dumb aspects of the whole thing that I would liked to have avoided.

2. My software choice may change. The main thing is watching and recording television, anything else is a bonus. Though if the software supports mpv (which XBMC doesn't?) then that would be a plus.
I have been debating which OS to use. I love the flexibility of Gentoo and dislike that most modern DEs use systemd, but I have been considering Arch or OpenSUSE.

3. Hauppauge is the only readily available option I can find. The 2250 is on Newegg for a nice price. I was hoping to find something that was aimed at the Linux market with manufacturer driver support, but that is looking unlikely.

4. The optimum solution now is to use a browser that supports Netflix natively (http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=MTc1ODY). The XBMC addon hasn't been updated yet, but I hope it happens soon.

5. I'm not too concerned about the sound.
The Silverlight-less playback is great, but I would like something that integrates into the software.

6. I've seen the sport streams. The sound is horrible, but it should be fine to watch a game with mates.

7. 

8. I have a Linksys WRT1900AC. This does not run [official] OpenWrt and any plans to do so have been screwed over by Linksys (http://wiki.openwrt.org/toh/linksys/wrt1900ac). The alternatives are less attractive to me, but I guess they are options.
Silly may have been the wrong word; It's pointless for me to VPN my whole network. All my not so legal content is downloaded via sftp or https, and any torrent that isn't on my offshore boxen are tracked privately and utilising traffic encryption. Besides that, I have a 100/50 unlimited connection which almost halved when connecting via my OpenVPN instance.

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1109732 16-Aug-2014 23:42
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Yes, that native HTML5 playback is pretty new, and hopefully the start of better things (cf Silverlight).

The sound for me was a bit of a shame - but again, perhaps with native HTML5 we'll get 5.1 from Netflix under *nix.

I don't find the sound problematic on live sports streams, so much as the low bit rate picture...but can't complain for the price!

Too bad about the WRT1900ac. Many people are pretty bitter about how that turned out. Belkin promised so much, then delivered absolutely zilch. And to add insult to injury, the native firmware is crap. with an openVPN server running, you don't route all of your traffic through it, but it does allow you to connect back to your home LAN from anywhere in an industrially secure way, and effectively browse (your files & PCs etc.) and surf as if from home. Very handy if surfing from hotels, public wifi hotspots, if security is important to you in such circumstances.


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