[mythtv-users] Little Hardware Deciding Help?

Thomas Vecchione seablaede at gmail.com
Sun Jun 4 21:26:50 UTC 2006

I am currently looking at building a myth server / wireless access point
for my house. As such this caught my eye....

Asus M2N32-SLI Deluxe Wireless Edition NVIDIA Socket AM2 ATX Motherboard
/ Audio / PCI Express / Gigabit LAN / Wirelss 802.11b/g / S/PDIF / USB
2.0 & Firewire / Serial ATA / RAID

Now here are the things I am worried about on it... One the wireless
working obviously, but also the ethernet capabilities on it.

I cant find much info on the wireless out there and was wondering if
anyone knew the status of it on linux, seems to be a USB dongle
essentially with a large antenna, or rather built into the large antenna.

Also what I cant find much on is the wired networking, which is
unfortunatly a marvell solution, which I believe I heard was not well
supported in linux. What I cna find about marvell chipsets is that the
forcedeth driver should be able to provide at least 10/100 speeds on is
and that there is another driver out there that was not part of the
linux kernel at least until 2.6.10 that might be able to provide the
full gigabit ethernet support. So obviously I was looking to confirm at
least the basic connectivity and see if anyone had more info on the
status of support for marvel chipsets in linux.

Here is my overall goal...

To have a HTPC that also acts as the gateway to my home network. As such
it will need to have a wireless access card with AP mode that is fully
supported in linux, or at least as close to that as we ever get.

The HTPC side of things will be running MythTV backend and frontend, as
well as possibly supporting remote connections from other computers,
probably a laptop for one and another desktop or two, though the total
number of connections will be limited, maybe 2 at once for most of
it(Including the local connection would be a max of 3 at once).

The goal for this machine is to get it to run as quiet as possible,
while still remaining cool enough to not come close to endangering any
componets, as such right now for the case for it I am looking at this...

Zalman HD160 Home Theatre PC Enclosures

With a matching Zalman power supply as reccomended on that page...

ATX Zalman 460W PSU (ZM460-APS )

Also of note is the video card which has to support MPEG2 Hardware
decoding in linux, which means an nvidia card(Not that I am
complaining). My choice depends on some other factors though so here
they are...

Also at the same time as this I am looking at what to do with my wife's
desktop. We are unsure that she can move away from a dependency on
windows at the moment, despite wanting to, for software reasons. Leaving
those aside for right now, it leaves me with a couple of options.

I was originally looking at running Myth on a Mac Mini, but I dont think
that is quite up to it at the moment with the status of linux on it, for
everything i need, so I am leaning away from that(But feel free to
convince me otherwise) As this would be a fairly dedicated box, and my
own personal belief is Linux is strongest on dedicated project boxes and
the like, I have little hesitation about sticking with a more
traditional x86 machine, and I have a preference for AMD processors.

Her machine at the moment is I believe(It is in a different state while
I am working on a gig for a couple of months) a socket A machine so
replacing componets on it is understandably difficult. I know it has an
AGP slot, but I dont remember if it supported the full 8x, or even 4x. I
does have an Nvidia TI series card, I believe the 4400 in it at the moment.

As neither of us are that fond of Windows, I was looking at getting her
the Mac Mini, especially as there is a FE of Myth compiled for the Intel
Macs we could put on it and use it as a FE machine as we watch movies in
our bedroom on it. This way I could set it up through boot camp to dual
boot with windows as a Just In Case measure(And to play Hero's Journey
when that hits which we are both excited about, not heavy gamers, just
excited about that one;) or even use parallels to boot windows(Though
probably not for the game) so that that option is still availiable if it
is needed. Otherwise should would be switching to the Mac OS which is
definitly a step up IMO from windows and she is happy using it thus
far(She is using my iMac out here ATM)

As such if I did that I would have her current machine's parts to pull
from, however her current machine case is a cheap and large tin thing,
and the machine itself is loud, so I am not sure how much I should
actually look at reusing it. Her graphics card definitly has a fan, and
her CPU fan is kinda loud as well. It has a decent PS(Replaced that one
the moment I suspected the other one having problems with an Antec)
however I dont believe the PS in it will transfer very well to the
zalman case as I believe the fan in it is actually offset a little so
the PS surface is no longer flat, thus preventing mounting the fan
towards the exhaust area of the Zalman case, though I would love to use
it if I could, I believe I got her a TruePower series if anyone has more
familiarity with it, I wish I had it out here but unfortunatly I dont so
I have to do a lot from memory.

Her CPU is a 2Gig Athlon I believe, 32Bit, with 512 Megs of ram in the
machine. to flush out her specs.

Ok so nice long winded thing there I obviously would love to save as
much money as I can with reusing parts, but at the moment I wonder if I
can. Her video card for example would be great if it was fanless.

At any rate I bring all that up because I am not sure if her machine in
general is capapble of running a decent setup as I mentioned above for a
Myth/WAP server. If it is I can always swap over her MB/CPU/Memory up
the memory a little(Adding another 512 is no problem) and use that for
the innards, especially if the MB above doesnt work out very well. That
would mean replacing the Video Card with a fanless, which brings me to
the three options I have at the moment for Video Cards that i have found...


Now the AGP card obviously depends on her computer being able to use it,
for the moment though I suppose I will assume it does(And hope I am
right), also would be an option if I swapped innards, leaving me with an
extra fanned video card to do something with, though I am not sure what.

The HD card would be if I build the box for growth, as I dont currently
have a TV capable of HD, nor do I have plans of getting one.

The Mid card would be if I build the box for what I am capable of, and
maybe slightly higher for a slight amount of growth, though not true HD
I dont believe out of that one(Please correct me if I am wrong)

Both of the second cards would require a new MB, hopefully the one I
listed above works out for this.

So what I am looking for is opinions in as far as how compatible that
MB/Wireless above is, or if it is not, other suggestions that would
support a dual-core processor, and Wireless Access Point Mode(Obviously
that would be a seperate Card) Or opinions on whether I should bother,
and just reuse my wife's innards, if that will be capable of supporting
a decent Myth Back and Front End, as well as act as a WAP Gateway for
the house, obviously that would severely limit upgrade options and down
the road if/when I might actually look at picking up a HD set I wouldnt
be able to do HD out of that box I dont believe(Correct me if I am wrong

The last thing I am worried about, with the above box, apparently they
designed the cooling for a fanned Video Card, which might require me
getting a PCI slot fan to blow air on the video card. Currently I am
looking at a diablotek 80mm For this, but I cant find much info on noise
levels off of it, though the case does have a nice cold air vent right
by where I could put that fan(Unfortunatly I cant mount a fan on that
vent, the MB looks like it will get in the way). This leads me to wonder
whether this will actually help with noise levels out all vs just using
a fanned Video Card. It just seems to me that there wouldnt be enough
air circulation around the video card otherwise, though I am looking at
using funnels and the like to help if I did the above and it was quiet

And oh yea, lower power draws in idle are always nice;)

Thanks for the time..


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