part II on the el cheapo HTPC

Someone asked me what an HTPC was.

  • Home Theater PC

I would say it is something of a Holy Grail among the Home Theater crowd. If you have a nice HT setup, this might be something you could spend a ton of money on and hours of fiddling and fine tuning. It’s a mix between something that is powerful enough to output HD-type of content yet is whisper-quiet and gets spousal-approval. This can be tough to do and get all three of the major requirements. Some have used quite successfully an Apple Mac-Mini, for example.

But when you got little or no money to spend on it…

In my previous posts, I was telling you about the cheapo HTPC I was going to help my brother-in-law build. And I also wrote that the PC he gave me to work with as way too old to be useful. And in other post, I mentioned I had an old Dell 450 Mhz that I was planning to turn off.

I did turn it off the other night. It was running FreeBSD 5.4. I wanted to upgrade it to 6.X but could never get it to boot of the CDROM. After tinkering with it, I determined that the secondary IDE port on the motherboard was bad. So I cannibalized the old PC my bro-in-law gave me for the CDROM and last thing I did was leave it while it was installing Ubuntu. Later, I’ll continue installing linux on it.

So I started with that old Dell. As I mentioned above about the bad IDE interface, I put the CDROM as a slave on the primary IDE controller and the hard drive as the primary. I seem to remember something about why this isn’t a good idea and I keep on. Sure, the installation goes really slow. So slow that I decide to let it run overnight. This morning, I check in and it is still doing something. I don’t know what but the mouse is sluggish and the CD is spinning like mad. I can only assume it has something to do with both devices being on the same IDE channel.

I remove the CD and reboot and FreeBSD comes up like nothing had happened. What a headache. Actually, it really is just a minor annoyance since once it does install, I probably won’t need the CDROM again since everything is downloaded or shared via SMB. I’ll probably start the installation again tonight and let it run for who knows how long…

My dad sent me a webcam so we can share vids of the family. I’d rather play with that tonight. I got it working under my Mac pretty easily:

And I just installed the Logitech software from the website for my WinXP desktop.