Archive for April, 2006

Getting DVD Playback to work

The trouble with most Linux distro is that they don't come with right decoder. I suspect that this may be some sort of legal issue. In any case, DVD playback do not work out of the box.

Bubbaslash from htpcnews suggested the following site:

I followed the directions and downloaded all of the packages and run pkgtool. It quickly install all of the packages. Playback works now, but the video is jerky. I suspect I need the correct video card driver.

April 20, 2006 at 12:29 pm Leave a comment

Fixing the sound issue

Unfortunately, Slackware did not detected the Soundblaster card. KDE started up with an error message that the sound server did not start properly. I tried the following:

  1. Start a terminal window.
  2. su to root.
  3. Type alsaconf and follow the prompts.

The alsaconf program found the sound card and prompt you if you want to install the driver for it. Alternately, one can also do the following:

  1. In the terminal window, run lspci. This displays a list of cards.
  2. Do a modprobe -l, if you're lucky, you'll see a module corresponding to your card.
  3. Do a modprobe <drivername>.

The drivers are installed temperary. You must add the necessary files to your config files (which vary from distro to distro) to make it permanent.

April 20, 2006 at 12:18 pm Leave a comment

Partitioning: Primary vs Logical

One common question asked by Linux users during partitioning is: Should I use primary or logical partitions. The answer is that in most cases it really does not matter.

The structure of the boot record limits the maximum number of primary partition on a disk to 4. You may replace one of the 4 primary partition with 1 or more logical partitions. Only one primary partition can be designated active (also call bootable).

Linux does not care whether you use logical or primary partitions, only that you place /boot on a active primary partition (because you can't make a logical partition active). If you have dual boot, the windows must be placed on an active partition.

April 20, 2006 at 12:07 pm 6 comments

Slackware 10.2 Install

Slackware 10.2 is pretty primitive compared to the other distro I have seen. The installer actually boots to a command line. After reading the instructions on screen, I tried using fdisk but find it different than the Windows fdisk. It was easier to use the alternate program cfdisk.

During install, there is an option to write to mbr, so it will clear previous mbr installs if your hard disk has a previous distro. The default windows manager appears to be KDE. I did not install the KDE International package. I figure that the only international app I'll use is probably Firefox and that is not a KDE application. Install was fairly uneventful.

Unlike other distros, slackware 10.2 appears to boot up to a command line. You have to startx to start the windows manager.

April 20, 2006 at 11:54 am Leave a comment

Storage Settings

The motherboard supports Ultra DMA 1-4 and PIO 1-4.

The hard disk by default is set to the best setting, which are:

Hard disk
Multi-Count = 16
I/O Support = 32-bit
umasking = on
UDMA mode 4
PIO mode 4

I/O Support = 32-bit
umasking = on
UDMA mode 2
PIO Mode 4

Use hdparm /dev/hda and hdparm /dev/dvd to get the configuration info

hdparm -Tt /dev/hda return a speed of 46.36 mps

hdparm -Tt /dev/dvd return a speed of 3.47 mps

April 20, 2006 at 3:43 am Leave a comment

Hardware Configuration

The intial HTPC has the following configuration

ASUS K7V-RM rev 1.01 Motherboard
Athlon 700 Mhz (Slot A)
1.5 Gb PC100 RAM
40 Gb Western Digital Hard disk
DVD-rw drive
Soundblaster Live Card
3C509 Ethernet card
SGII USB 2.0 card

April 20, 2006 at 3:38 am Leave a comment

Building a simple HTPC

I am starting a new project on building a HTPC using a old computer that I already own. I actually don’t watch a lot of television, but my fiancee does. I am hoping to learn something new building a HTPC from scratch instead of buying a TIVO.

The HTPC will have the following requirements

  • Output standard television video and audio
  • Accepts DVD, and CD media.
  • Play DVD, VCD, and CD.
  • Record television programs.
  • Archive VCR tapes
  • Display the weather.
  • Play video files: AVI, Mpeg, and WMV.
  • Play audio files: mp3, rm, and asf.
  • Have some provision for backup
  • Remote controlled

I am going to use the software MythTV.

  • MythTV can be installed on a really low powered machine.
  • The architecture allow a split between the front and the back end. Ultimately, I like to be able to setup a “home” server that will be use to store tax return, audio, video, and telephone services, etc.
  • MythTV is a fairly mature product.
  • MythTV is free.

The downside is that setting up MythTV is probably not trivial. Despite the gains Linux has made over the years, setting up a system using Windows is probably still easier.

April 19, 2006 at 3:05 pm 1 comment


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