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hi all.. I've been thinking of turning my old computer into a media center for a while now (it was running Ubuntu Server 9.10). I recently bought a new 23inch ...
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  1. #1
    Just Joined! onclouds's Avatar
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    Question low-specs Media Center.. what distro to use?


    hi all..

    I've been thinking of turning my old computer into a media center for a while now (it was running Ubuntu Server 9.10).
    I recently bought a new 23inch screen so.. out with the server, in with the media center! (currently Xubuntu but running on LXDE as it's a lot lighter)

    My problem: The computer barely manages to play 720p videos on XBMC (on youtube or totem/vlc it's just impossible with breaks, lag and constant freezes).. I used the debug function of XBMC and guess what.. a 720p movie takes my cpu to a constant 100% usage!! =X

    So here's my question.. what distro or 'buntu flavor would you advise me to use?? I thought about a minimal install but don't want to try it just yet..

    System specs:
    Code:
    System information report, generated by Sysinfo: 6/9/2010 7:23:54 PM
    
    SYSTEM INFORMATION
    	Running Ubuntu Linux, the Ubuntu 10.04 (lucid) release.
    	GNOME: 2.30.0 (Ubuntu 2010-03-31)
    	Kernel version: 2.6.32-22-generic (#36-Ubuntu SMP Thu Jun 3 22:02:19 UTC 2010)
    	GCC: no gcc detected
    	Xorg: unknown (23 April 2010  05:11:50PM)
    	Hostname: onclouds
    	Uptime: 0 days 0 h 57 min
    
    CPU INFORMATION
    	AuthenticAMD, AMD Athlon(TM) XP 1900+
    	Number of CPUs: 1
    	CPU clock currently at 1988.085 MHz with 256 KB cache
    	Numbering: family(6) model(10) stepping(0)
    	Bogomips: 3976.17
    	Flags: fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 mmx fxsr sse syscall mp mmxext 3dnowext 3dnow up
    
    MEMORY INFORMATION
    	Total memory: 1002 MB
    	Total swap: 1944 MB
    
    STORAGE INFORMATION
    	SCSI device -  scsi0
    		Vendor:  ATA      
    		Model:  WDC WD1600AAJB-0 
    	SCSI device -  scsi0
    		Vendor:  LG       
    		Model:  DVD-ROM DRD8160B 
    	SCSI device -  scsi1
    		Vendor:  ATA      
    		Model:  SAMSUNG SP1604N  
    
    HARDWARE INFORMATION
    MOTHERBOARD
    	Host bridge
    		VIA Technologies, Inc. VT8377 [KT400/KT600 AGP] Host Bridge
    		Subsystem: ASUSTeK Computer Inc. Device 807f
    	PCI bridge(s)
    		VIA Technologies, Inc. VT8235 PCI Bridge
    	USB controller(s)
    		VIA Technologies, Inc. VT82xxxxx UHCI USB 1.1 Controller (rev 80)
    		VIA Technologies, Inc. VT82xxxxx UHCI USB 1.1 Controller (rev 80)
    		VIA Technologies, Inc. VT82xxxxx UHCI USB 1.1 Controller (rev 80)
    		VIA Technologies, Inc. USB 2.0 (rev 82) (prog-if 20)
    	ISA bridge
    		VIA Technologies, Inc. VT8235 ISA Bridge
    		Subsystem: ASUSTeK Computer Inc. Device 808c
    	IDE interface
    		VIA Technologies, Inc. VT82C586A/B/VT82C686/A/B/VT823x/A/C PIPC Bus Master IDE (rev 06) (prog-if 8a [Master SecP PriP])
    		Subsystem: ASUSTeK Computer Inc. Device 808c
    
    GRAPHIC CARD
    	VGA controller
    		ATI Technologies Inc R420 JI [Radeon X800PRO]
    
    SOUND CARD
    	Multimedia controller
    		VIA Technologies, Inc. VT8233/A/8235/8237 AC97 Audio Controller (rev 50)
    		Subsystem: ASUSTeK Computer Inc. Device 8095
    
    NETWORK
    	Ethernet controller
    		Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL-8139/8139C/8139C+ (rev 10)
    		Subsystem: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL-8139/8139C/8139C+

    thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    What you need is to have your video card do the video processing. In Linux, this means using a nVidia video card. nVidia has excellent Linux drivers, ATI doesn't.

    If your PC has a AGP slot, then good cards are no longer available. But you can get nVidia PCI cards that work pretty good. With the newer nVidia chipsets (GeForce 9 series) you can use VDPAU for video playback. I have this one, it revived an old P4 machine.

    Newegg.com - JATON VIDEO-498PCI-DLP GeForce 9500 GT 1GB 128-bit DDR2 PCI Low Profile Ready Video Card

    Here are some others:

    Newegg.com - Computer Hardware,Video Cards & Video Devices,Desktop Graphics / Video Cards,PCI,NVIDIA,GeForce 9 series
    Please do not send Private Messages to me with requests for help. I will not reply.

  3. #3
    Just Joined! onclouds's Avatar
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    well.. thanks for the quick reply but you misunderstood my problem..

    I don't want to get new hardware.. my question is whether there is something that can be done with these specs to boost the performance of this computer.. be it tweaking some settings or using another distro..

    anyone else care to give some input?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by onclouds View Post
    well.. thanks for the quick reply but you misunderstood my problem..

    I don't want to get new hardware.. my question is whether there is something that can be done with these specs to boost the performance of this computer.. be it tweaking some settings or using another distro..
    Then your answer is: NO

    The only way to improve the performance is to not have the CPU do the video processing. This is done by having the GPU do it, and ATI hardware is incapable of doing that in Linux.
    Please do not send Private Messages to me with requests for help. I will not reply.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by waterhead View Post
    Then your answer is: NO

    The only way to improve the performance is to not have the CPU do the video processing. This is done by having the GPU do it, and ATI hardware is incapable of doing that in Linux.
    again.. thanks for the quick reply! =)

    so you mean I might get better performance from a GeForce4 mx440 64MB then with a Radeon x800 256MB ?!?? 'Cause I have one of those lying around.. is it worth a shot?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by onclouds View Post
    so you mean I might get better performance from a GeForce4 mx440 64MB then with a Radeon x800 256MB ?!?? 'Cause I have one of those lying around.. is it worth a shot?
    I'm not sure if that card will give you what you need. You need one that supports some sort of hardware acceleration. But it won't cost anything to try it. Just make sure you install the proprietary nVidia driver. If using Ubuntu, it is available from the Ubuntu repositories.
    Last edited by waterhead; 06-11-2010 at 01:03 AM.
    Please do not send Private Messages to me with requests for help. I will not reply.

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