[mythtv-users] Laptop Diskless Front End

Steve MythTV at celeris-software.com
Tue Apr 17 16:32:57 UTC 2007

On 4/17/07, Brian Wood <beww at beww.org> wrote:
> On Apr 17, 2007, at 6:42 AM, Steve wrote:
> > Hi All,
> >
> > I am a completely new to MythTV and have yet to perform my first
> > install so please excuse my ignorance.
> >
> > I would like to setup up a diskless MythTV front end on one of my 2
> > spare laptops. While I have a box running FC6 that I currently use as
> > a fileserver, I do not have any TV cards, so I would like todo a
> > staggered install of a MythTV system if this is possible.
> >
> > Phase 1: Existing stored media playback and DVD playback Only
> >
> > Phase 2: Once I purchase 2 TV cards, use full MythTV recording and
> > playback capabilities via backend server.
> >
> > I have 2 laptops that can be used as diskless front ends, booting from
> > either USB key, CD or PXE connected to TV via built in svideo and
> > sound card.
> >
> > I did not come across any setups for playback only in browsing any of
> > the MythTV documentation of mailing list archives.. is this even
> > possible? If so what hardware/software/OS considerations are there?
> >
> > Or is this plan to re-use my old laptops just going to introduce me to
> > a world of hurt, regardless of phase 1 or 3, and I should just cough
> > up the cash for dedicated front end hardware?
> >
> My first question would be do the laptops have the CPU power and/or
> video hardware to make decent frontends.
> You haven't mentioned if you are looking to do HD. Very few "old
> laptops" are capable of good HD playback, and if you are thinking of
> using an 802.11b link to them it would get even more problematical.
> But if you are thinking of an SD-only system you could most likely
> make the laptops work. As was mentioned you could just boot them as
> frontends from a Knoppmyth or Mythdora disk, or create a minimal F/E
> system yourself. Most old laptops have small hard drives, but they'd
> be more than large enough to hold an OS and F/E.
> Many people use playback only frontends, using everything from Mac
> Minis to XBox units. The Hauppauge Media MVP makes a nice SD frontend
> for under $100US (in the USA). Totally silent, low power drain and it
> comes with a working remote. This is just an example, I'm not pushing
> particular hardware.
> The devil is always in the details: getting a remote working might
> require a serial port, which if you don't have might mean a USB
> converter. Cooling is always an issue for laptops running for long
> periods.
> You could certainly make it work (for SD), but in the end it might be
> cheaper to go with something like an MVP. It all depends on whether
> you want a working frontend quickly or a "hobby".
> Brian Wood
> beww at beww.org

Thanks for the feedback Peter and Steff and Brian, I like the idea of
trying  KnoppMyth to start with.

CPU power was also my concern, the laptop that I would like to use to
start is an old Dell Inspiron 7500, 600MHz P3 with a whopping 192Mb

I was hoping to use wireless for connectivity but is this is
problematic as you suggest Brian I will skip this to start and hard
wire the network. (Exactly the kind of tip I was looking for thanks!)

Both laptops have had their HD's fail and I have never replaced then,
I may have a semi-functional 3.5" HD lying around somewhere I can use
if necessary although I like the idea of not using one as if its sure
to be prone to failure not being new..

Thanks for the suggestion of the Hauppauge Media MVP, are you
suggesting that this be used as a MythTV Front end or just to be used
'As is' ?

I Plan to eventually invest in a HD plasma display and to possibly
build my own HTPV, thus I want to experiment with MythTV and get a
feel for what it can do with my current hardware (i.e. old laptops ->
non HD TV) before investing in any new Hardware and deciding on how to
architect my home system(s).

Also putting otherwise useless laptops to some use would make me a happy chappy!


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