[mythtv-users] Questions about XBox front end

Russ W. Knize rknize at yahoo.com
Wed May 16 14:12:10 UTC 2007

Jake Vickers wrote:
> William Munson wrote:
>> Jake Vickers wrote:
>>> Does anyone out there have an XBox for a front end? I'm looking for
>>> something quieter than the ML8000 I have in my bedroom now (okay, so
>>> the wife is) and read that MythTV ran on XBoxes and that they were
>> The xbox will run SD tv only. Its slow as a snail at navigating the
>> menus and in my case was annoying enough to retire the xbox. They are
>> not very quiet either. The whining of the fan is loud enough in a
>> bedroom to be a problem. My suggestion, keep looking.
> That rules that out then. I've already changed the fans in my ML8000 to
> quieter ones but it's still too noisy.
> The laptop idea doesn't sound too bad though..... Thanks!

I have 3 frontends.  Here's my six cents:

The original is an Xbox with a modchip that I put together years ago
(MythTV 0.7, IIRC).  Back then it was more than adequate.  The menus were
a bit sluggish, but MPEG2/4 SD playback was fine.  As Myth has grown, the
Xbox has gotten more and more slow.  I think it has a lot more to do with
RAM than CPU.  They only have 64MB of RAM, though a 128MB mod is possible
on older units.  The UI got annoying enough that I built an EPIA-based
machine for the living room and put the Xbox in the bedroom.  I replaced
the stock fan with a quiet Panaflo fan at that time.  The remaining noise
is mainly the HD, but we have a humidifier in our bedroom so you can't
hear the XBox at all anyway.  Menu navigation is still slow and starting
playback now takes forever with 0.20.  I recently upgraded the Xebian
1.1.4 install to a true Debian Etch installation with a 2.6 kernel and
all.  The reason was that backporting Myth to such an old distro (Xebian
is dead) was becoming a pain.  Boot time is noticeably reduced (contrary
to what I expected), but Myth's performance is mostly unchanged.  I take
it as a sign that Myth has become bloated.  I was able to speed things up
some be removing several FE plugins.

On the subject of EPIA boards, my 2nd FE is an MII-10000 and it works well
for SD and DVD playback.  It's rather old by todays standards, as it uses
a C3 Eden processor and requires a CPU fan.  The MB itself puts out a lot
of heat when it's busy, so my Mini-ITX case requires some active cooling. 
It also can't control fan speeds, which is annoying.  I was attracted to
it by it's many expansion slot options, somethign that VIA has yet to
duplicate on its newer boards.  Newer EPIA boards that use the C7 will
give you more processing power with less heat, per CPU clock.  So going
fanless is no problem.  The EX series will make an excellent FE platform
once the drivers for the CX700M2 mature.  EN/CN/LN also use the C7 and are
probably cheaper that the EX.

My 3rd FE is down in the recroom where the HD TV is.  It's just a Mini-ATX
socket 939 board in an attractive case.  It runs very cool, very quiet,
and is very powerful.  It's just physically large.  Being just a normal
64-bit PC, no funny-business is needed to set it up and get it going.

Hope that helps.


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