Saturday, 8 September 2007

LinuxMCE - What The Hell Is That All About?

I've been a long time user of SageTV and on the whole it works fine. Yes it crashes every so often - and usually in the middele of a recording but it normally reboots itself and picks up where it left off - with the loss of a few minutes of viewing but I can live with that. Basically SageTV is limited to TV, Music and Pictures - not that I ever view pictures - whatever floats your boat. You can use the client software from remote stations and even view over the internet - again, whatever floats your boat. Bottom line SageTV does media and, it has to be said does it reasonably well - or as well as any machine running Windows can. I run various other software on the same pc for remote control - namely HomeSeer and the X-10 controller units. What I really really want - yes, I tell you want I really really want - something that unifies the whole lot, Media, Automation, Email, Web Browsing ....

Now I recently found out about the LinuxMCE project and it sounds brilliant. Integrating all of the above but does it work? In my case no. I'm pretty good on the old computer and run a host of Linux and Windows machines. I run my own Asterix PBX with voip service, remote login facilities, secure vpn ... Could I set up LinuxMCE? Could I F#@k. It's got millions of configuration options but there is almost no documentation. With so many options and settings I had no chance of getting anything to work as I wanted it to - or in fact - at all. I told it about my TV card, the Hauppauge 500 Dual Tuner and it took those settings. How do you set the channels? I could see where. From the Orbiter - no not the space shuttle - the orbiter is the fancy name for the interface - selecting TV just brings up a 'not available' followed by blank screen which then required an X-Windows restart.

Setting up the CM11/12A for X-10 control proved no more fruitfull. Yes I set up the interface. Yes I set up a light - don't know if I did that part correctly but I managed to tell the setup that the light was controlled by the CM11/12A but where do you put the house code? I tried filling 'A3' in every concieable text field to no avail. I've read on the web that people have X-10 working but I couldn't work it out - maybe I'm just crap - or maybe, just maybe, we need some documentation.

Anyway, I really can't be arsed to waste anymore time faffing around with LinuxMCE. On the face of it it sounds quality but - like many things linux - it's way way way too complicated to get even the basic things working - ie TV. If I could get that going I could afford to spend the time fiddling to the rest working but I can't live without 'Neighbours' so it's back to SageTV - for the moment anyway.

I shall never the less be monitoring LinuxMCE closely because I really hope it comes good. As I said before it looks amazing - but sadly I'm just not clever enough to get it working. Maybe in a year or two they'll have got it sorted and the install will be as plug and play as Ubuntu - my Linux distro of choice - now that's a nice piece of software - and gives you Linux the way it should be - plug and play.

So here's to a plug and play LinuxMCE in a year or two. Tootle pip.

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