Introduction
Determining your needs
Basic Hardware
Audio
Video
Video Card Configuration
LIRC
Input Devices
TV/HDTV Tuner Cards
Installing Linux
HTPC Software
HTPC Tips and Tricks
Conclusion

Linux HTPC How-to

Introduction

So you've heard of these things called HTPC's but you don't want a monopolistic companies operating system to be the centerpiece of this hobby? Well lets get started on how to build your own Linux HTPC.

What is a HTPC?

A Home Theater PC is basically a computer that contains the functionality of all the equipment that you would want in a home theater. It's your CD Player, DVD Player, TV Tuner, Photo Gallery, Weather, Ogg & MP3 collection, game console, e-mail client, web browser, and more. nd more

Why use a HTPC?

Have you ever priced out how much it would cost to get all of the Audio Video (AV) equipment needed for a home theater? Then what happens when technology changes? It's not cheap to stay current if you have four or more devices that cost an average of of $300 each and need to be replaced ever 4 years. Computer hardware costs much less than AV equipment for the same functionality because you don't need everything needed contained in each AV equipment box. (A DVD drive for a computer costs $40 for the highest quality that you need, as where you can spend $700 or more for a top of the line home theater DVD player). A HTPC also gives you the ability to do many things that you can't do with any AV equipment that you can buy. You can check e-mail, use instant messengers, setup custom stock tickers, get weather information, play computer games, and anything else you use a computer for. And you get all this functionality for free. Also a HTPC is tomorrow's "Cool" gadget. It's a fun hobby.

Is a HTPC the best option for a home theater?

No, not if you're budget is unlimited. But for those of us that can't spent $50,000+ to do this, a HTPC gives us more control and more quality than systems that cost over $20,000. If you are a videophile or an audiophile and considering a HTPC, it is possible to get very good quality without spending very much. At this time however, the choices of computer hardware that will make the most elite philes happy is limited. But if anyone has good information on HTPC's for the most elite philes, let me know so I can include that information. At the time of making this how-to, this information is non-existent.

Is a HTPC hard to make?

They can be. If you know little about computer hardware, where to find good prices, or if you are not very familiar with the software or the OS, a HTPC may not be worth the time to do it yourself to save money -- But hopefully this howto will reduce the numbers of people who fit that group.

As for my qualifications on writing this how-to, I have spent over 150 hours researching, designing, building, testing, and redesigning my HTPC. I however know much more than anyone should need to know in order to build one. Building a HTPC should only require a few hours learning about them and a Saturday afternoon putting it together. Until now that was not possible so this is where the how-to comes in. This how-to covers what you need to know and summarizes why I recommend what I do. I will cover everything you need, fast and in one location. 150 hours of research has been reduced to what you need to know. No more research besides this how-to. (But if you do have to look elsewhere, tell me so I can put it here and everyone else can benefit from your research and experience.

Why did I make this howto?

I am a very big video and audio enthusiast. I have also only used Linux in my home since 1994. After about 50 hours of research and beginning to build my HTPC, I realized that if Linux is going to become a common HTPC platform soon and that there needs to be a how-to that explains how to make one without requiring the amount of time I have spent. Linux and Open Source is about helping others. Knowledge is something I believe should be shared freely and so I am sharing mine in hopes that it helps others.

Disclaimer

You're going to have to use this how-to at your own risk. Everything presented could be entirely false and may only cause damage. If anything is misrepresented it was purely by accident or by my lack of any technical knowledge. I am not responsible for any damage caused as a result of this how-to. For example, If after following my advice, you sit back in your easy chair to watch HDTV, and you slide backwards slightly, bumping the table behind you, which knocks a radio into the pool right outside your computer room, killing the people in the pool, causing a massive short, which blacks out the entire city, but not after causing the power plant supplying your area with power, which just happens to be on a well known fault line, to explode, causing a massive earthquake, which sends California into the ocean.... IT'S NOT MY FAULT!!! (This disclaimer was stolen and modified from xcdroast, who got it from someone else, so credits go to that unknown person)"

What Now?

Grab your shovel and get ready to be buried. Your going to learn how to make your own HTPC.