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How to Use a Linux-Powered PC in Your Home Theater

If you use Linux instead of Windows, you can still integrate your PC with your home theater to create an HTPC. Try Linux software such as MythTV and LinuxMCE.

Here are some details on the MythTV and LinuxMCE media center software packages (available only for the Linux operating system):

  • MythTV: If you’re a do-it-yourselfer (as many Linux enthusiasts are), check out MythTV to see whether MythTV will work on your particular Linux distribution and hardware.

    Like most Linux software, MythTV comes with a great price — it’s free! And also like many Linux programs, it’s updated constantly. While the basic MythTV software is designed solely for DVR TV control functionality, the open-source nature of MythTV means that other folks can develop additional functionality for the product — and they have, creating plug-ins to do other HTPC/media center functions such as photo viewing, music playback, and management.

  • LinuxMCE: An alternative to MythTV comes in the form of LinuxMCE, an add-on to the popular Ubuntu Linux build (Ubuntu is often considered the most “regular person friendly” variant of Linux, with a pretty graphical user interface that feels like home to PC and Mac users).

    LinuxMCE runs on a PC, but the cool thing is that it can run on more than one PC in your home. You can install LinuxMCE on one central PC (called the core) and then run remote instances of it on other PCs throughout the home. So you could have a core in your home office and other PCs throughout the home that connect to the core over your home network and turn into media centers whenever needed.

    LinuxMCE provides the standard audio/video/PVR functionality you’d expect of any home theater PC but expands beyond that to include features such as home automation and control, and home server functionality — it can even act as a phone system.

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