[ubuntu-uk] Ubuntu Media Center

Rob Beard rob at esdelle.co.uk
Wed Oct 7 09:17:48 BST 2009

Peter Adam Kelly wrote:
> Hey All,
> I want to build a media center type Ubuntu system to hookup to my amp
> and speakers HD tv and Sky HD box through a TV card as one of the uses
> will be as a PVR it might be Mini-ITX or might have low profile cards
> I just want it in a nice case that fits in the TV cabinet I want it to
> have a wireless keyboard with touch pad and possibly a remote control
> as well I would just like a bit of advice with choosing the most
> suitable compatible components for use with Ubuntu.
> If anyone has any hints, tips, advice, links I would be very greatfull.
Ahh it's kind of like pandora's box.

Well for starters you might want to look at MythBuntu which is a version 
of Ubuntu with MythTV included.  From what I've used of it, it was 
easyish to setup.

As far as hardware goes, well from what I've read on the MythTV mailing 
list, you'd be well worth looking at an Atom motherboard with the NVidia 
ION chipset which has acceleration for playback of HD media files which 
will help.

Cheapest I've come across so far is this at just over £100: 

It might be worth bearing in mind though, going for a Mini ITX system 
you could possibly be limiting yourself to expansion.  You can get some 
cases that will take PCI riser boards but then this would add to the 

If you wanted to consider MicroATX instead you could fit more in there 
(okay the case would be bigger, but you'd have more room for extra hard 
drives and more expandability) and you could probably get a low power 
Intel or AMD chip.

For TV capture, well you'd have to bear in mind that you'd only be able 
to capture standard definition output from your Sky HD box however for 
this you could use a standard analogue TV tuner card which would capture 
video and the CPU would do the compression.  If you really wanted HD 
capture then you could go for something like this:


However the Sky box would have to output HD video over the component 
video connections (not sure if it does or not).

There are also MPEG2 encoding TV capture cards out there, can't remember 
the exact model but Hauppage do one, I believe it's an MCE150 which 
captures analogue TV and encodes it to MPEG using the IVTV driver.

As regards to remote controls, a quick search came up with this for 
about £6: http://www.ebuyer.com/product/129977

Thinking about it too, as you already have Sky, if you have any free 
connections on your LNB on the dish, you could look at running another 
cable down to the TV and then putting in a DVB-S2 satellite card which 
would then give you the capability of capturing free to air channels 
such as what is on Freesat including HD stuff, you'd be worth checking 
out the Linux-DVB site though to confirm which DVB-S2 cards work (it has 
to be S2 as this is what supports the HD standards and before long all 
the HD channels will go over to that).

Anyway hope this helps.  You may also find it useful to join the MythTV 
mailing list too as there is a wealth of information there.


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