I am a seasoned MythTV user and have experimented with XBox and other frontends.
I have extensive experience with the XBox as a frontend, but would not recommend that the XBox is used for Myth, as the latest versions of Myth have become too big to be responsive given the small memory of the XBox (64Mb).
Here is what I did/found:
- Install Xebian 1.4
- Install MythTV (using the guides on this wiki)
- MythTV was quite slow, and I could hear the hard disk thrashing, indicating memory was tight...
- Upgraded to 128Mb - I bought a dead motherboard, unsoldered the RAM, and resoldered it to another motherboard.
- This worked well, and gave a significant performance improvement - I ran it for a week, before:
- While trying to make the XBox quieter, I messed up cooling - it overheated, and died. Unable to ressurect. Not 100% sure if it was a problem with my memory install or overheating...
- Got fed up with the XBox, and moved my main server into the TV room, so now the frontend and backend are on the same machine
So! I am now running a standard PC as a frontend. My voyage of discovery with this machine was not straightforward either:
- I installed an ATI Rage 128 All in Wonder, hoping to use its TV Out functionality. It worked in text mode, but Xorg wouldn't work, no matter how hard I tried. I ended up breaking Xorg on the Fedora Core 4 install, so installed Fedora Core 5 in its place.
- Considered building a VGA to TV converter, but was concerned with the risks (possibly breaking my TV if I supplied it with incorrect sync settings, etc.)
- Bought an NVidia GeForce 4000 card with TV out, installed the drivers (yum install ...)
- Set up the TV out parameters in Xorg.conf
- It worked!
Overall, from my experiences, I can give the following set of advantages/disadvantages of the Xbox and standard frontends:
Advantages of the Xbox:
- It's small
- The DVD remote works
- It's got TV out as standard
- It's got digital sound as standard (with the advanced AV cable)
Disadvantages of the Xbox:
- Its memory is too small
- Its processor is not very fast compared with modern PCs (733Mhz)
- The DVD remote has limited functions for a PVR
Advantages of a standard machine:
- It's much easier to upgrade the RAM, and much more RAM can be added
- Remote supplied with the TV tuner is better than the XBox remote (more functions)
Disadvantages of standard machine:
- Getting TV out is harder than XBox
- Digital sound is not standard
The specifications of my frontend/server are:
- Compaq Dual 733Mhz PIII with 640Mb RAM (eBay special)
- 30Gb system drive, 160Gb data drive
- 2 ethernet cards - one for external broadband modem, the other for the LAN
- 2 TV tuners - Hauppauge Nova-T USB, and Hauppauge Nova-T PCI. Remote control is attached to the PCI card.
- NVidia GeForce 4000, with TV out
- Onboard sound (to be replaced shortly)
- Fedora Core 5