This is my first post to the forum, but is the reason I joined. I've been a UN*X guru since college (specifically, SunOS Solaris or UN*X System V on SparcStations) and worked with it both as a user and administrator for many years. Eventually, I had to learn HP/UX and IRIX. So, Linux (pretty much) fit me like a glove. I, traditionally, have been using the Red Hat/Fedora distros of Linux but they're getting "fatter" and "fatter" as more hardware becomes supported. Actually, the latest kernel for fc6 does not like either my video chipset (intel 810?) or monitor (Dell 24" FP widescreen LCD) or both.

That being said, I'm looking for a barebones setup (the cheapest hardware I can get away with) for an "on-the-fly" HD video decoder to HDMI or DVI (doesn't matter which at this point, eventually I'd like it to be just HDMI w/audio and video) from WMV (if possible), MPEG-2/4, Ogg (whatever their HD a/v format is) or whatever. I'd also like "on-the-fly" smart upsampling of SD compressed video. Most likely, it will be from a local drive (internal or external or both) but I'd eventually like to integrate an IEEE 802.11n when the standard is "firmed up" and stream from my other drives and computers.

I'd also like to be able to record (without drop-outs) HD video via an IEEE 1394 (DTVLink) from my cable box.

Does Linux currently have support for this (in general, not necessarily fc6)? What distro should I use or should I create my own (start with the kernel from and go from there)? What kind of hardware am I looking at? Single-core? 64-bit (or does it matter)? Dual-core? Quad-core? What core speed (min)? How much RAM? The HD is not really an issue right now. I can get 1TB fairly cheap if I use a RAID 0 controller for it. Or, I've seen single 1TB drives that are pretty much the same price (just lose the speed advantage of RAID 0). I'd keep the OS on another, more reliable, HD or maybe even a bootable CD or DVD.

There is one MOBO out there (that I've seen) that has HDMI on-board, digital audio output (don't remember if it's digital coax or optical or both), IEEE 1394 ports, USB 2.0 ports, etc that seems perfect. It's an AM2 socket board. But, I don't know how much of it is supported by Linux (the board is made by Giga-byte, BTW, which I detest due to past issues).

One final question. Does Linux (any flavor/distro) have Blu-Ray and/or HD-DVD drive support? I think YDL does (at least for PS3). What about write support? Not that I could afford a BD-R or HD-DVD-R drive right now anyway. But, I'm just curious.