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hobbes_fan 2007-07-17 09:15

Anybody use other Linux distros other than Ubuntu?
Well I'm a little bit frustrated with ubuntu, there's a bug which is still unresolved concerning the gnome screensaver/and mplayer in fullscreen mode. Not good for htpc purposes.

I went with Ubuntu because the documentation was better but with the issues I'm having it just not viable for HTPC use.

Right now I'm considering


I'm also keen on myth tv functionality
Any thoughts?

WanderingKnight 2007-07-17 09:21


Well I'm a little bit frustrated with ubuntu, there's a bug which is still unresolved concerning the gnome screensaver/and mplayer in fullscreen mode. Not good for htpc purposes.
It's not a matter of Ubuntu, it's a matter of GNOME. If you use KDE, you don't get the same problem.

The way I solved it is to set the screensaver for 25 minutes (more than any anime episode). If I need to watch something longer than that, I just disable it.

hobbes_fan 2007-07-17 09:23

I'll give it a shot, although the USB eject is failing as well and I have to resort to a launcher

Syaoran 2007-07-17 09:40

I use xscreensaver :3

Concerning other distro's
I'm used Gentoo several years, but after 2 HDs died that were running gentoo, I dropped it. People keep saying Gentoo doesn't kill a hard disk, but I'm sceptical.
Other distro I used are Suse 6.4, 9.0 and OpenSuse 10.0. Red Hat 8 and Debian Sarge.

WanderingKnight 2007-07-17 09:43


I use xscreensaver :3
Is it possible to install xscreesaver on top and uninstall gnome-screensaver? Doing so would solve the bother.

OTOH, isn't Gentoo too much of an overkill? Especially if the target PC is a media-viewing one.

hobbes_fan 2007-07-17 09:50


Originally Posted by WanderingKnight (Post 1046434)
Is it possible to install xscreesaver on top and uninstall gnome-screensaver? Doing so would solve the bother.

OTOH, isn't Gentoo too much of an overkill? Especially if the target PC is a media-viewing one.

I've already removed gnome screensaver. still no good. I'll give the xfce and kde desktops a run. I'm hoping xfce will do the trick. It seems more lightweight, I don't need fancy stuff, just an environment that will let me view movies.

Well I know gentoo is probably overkill, but the thing is it seems to have a lot of support, almost on par with ubuntu. I don't find that with freespire or mepis, which concerns me, particularly as I'm still coming to grips with using the terminal. Support and documentation is what's crucial to me. there's only so much you can get from books whch are dated within 6 months of release.

WanderingKnight 2007-07-17 09:54


I've already removed gnome screensaver. still no good.
Did you try installing the xscreensaver and ticking the option under Preferences--->Misc--->Disable XScreenSaver (in mplayer)?

If you like living on the edge, there's always Fedora Core. SeijiSensei can help you in this, as I have no experience with it.

grey_moon 2007-07-17 10:22

I'm currently using Ubuntu on my lappie to get used to what everyone is raving about (and get used to the deb packaging system). Using Gnome as it is the default with Ubuntu

OpenSuSE on my home server as that's what I'm most used to. I'm using KDE or Beryl when I want to show off.

OES Linux at work, as that's what integrates into the main directory the best. Graphical interface?? No chance, but I was finally forced by the other admins to install a default KDE so that if a person wanted to they can launch X.

To be honest I think my choice of graphical interface is KDE, but I'm pretty flexible and I tend to zone out annoyances when I use a computer. I don't even disable the single click default in KDE which can give me some issues when I hop computers.

In regards to your issue, instead of dropping Ubuntu how about loading another interface?

Jinto 2007-07-17 10:42


Gentoo is well documented kinda. But often the documentation is not of much use to you. There exist problem solutions for x different builds of Gentoo. I mean it is hard to keep track with the development in the codebase at documentation level. Thus you will often run into problems that are hardly documented or overtechy documented. Of course the help base in the common Gentoo forums is very knowledgable about things... but sometimes also elitist... so you better have a problem based on a real bug rather than a problem based on poor understanding ;).
Since Gentoo is a distribution similar to any other distribution one will have tools that make building a custom utilities/GUI/software package easier (emerge). When everything installs fine, you will have an easy time. But usually it doesn't (especially if you choose to use non barebone configurations) ... then you will be faced with major delays because you have to read up what causes the trouble, how to prevent it from happening or what are possible alternatives.
More than in any other distro you will be faced with the problem... application xyz needs abc as prerequisite which is not possible because uvw, rst and mnp use dfg and dfg cannot be installed with abc.
Then you will have two options... disregard what the meta data base behind emerge says about compatibility of software and install it manually from tarballs (or similar sources) or simply do not use the application.

So if you plan to build a HTPC (which is very far from being a barebone Gentoo) based on Gentoo then you might calculate alot problem solving time in... much more than in Ubuntu I assume.

SeijiSensei 2007-07-17 11:15

Yes, I like Fedora (no longer "Fedora Core"), but I've been building RedHat-flavored machines since the mid-90's. It's not really "living on the edge," though. I run Fedora Core 6 with KDE and proprietary NVidia, and it's a very pleasant, stable desktop to use every day. You can change nearly every aspect of its appearance (I don't bother with stuff like that, myself), and you can always install Beryl for more eye candy. Both Firefox and Thunderbird, designed for GNOME, work flawlessly in KDE.

I've always found the RedHat installer (anaconda) to be one of the best programs RH ever wrote. Installation is simple except for the inevitable issues of disk partitioning. Accepting the defaults usually works quite well. It will detect your Windows partition and add it to the boot menu if you want. Other than that unavoidable issue, installation is a breeze. I've never had it fail to detect all the hardware on any reasonably mainstream machine either.

Fedora continues to distribute updates for FC6; got a bunch just today via the yum process that runs each night. Managing packages using RPMs used to be a pain in the neck because of broken or missing dependencies; yum resolves all the dependencies and downloads any other needed files. Apt-get seemed to work equivalently the little bit I've used Ubuntu. (RPM is the method of managing packages invented by RedHat. Debian and its derivatives like Ubuntu use the .deb format. There's lots of arguments about which is "better," but in practice they seem pretty equivalent to me. I noticed that Ubuntu has a program called "alien" that repackages RPMs as .debs. I don't know if there's one that works in the other direction, but knowing the open source world, there probably is.)

I use the command line regularly, so I'm not intimidated by typing "yum install packagename*" rather than using a GUI. If you want a graphical package manager, there's pirut ("Add/Remove Programs"), Kyum or smart. You'll also want to add two other software "repositories," rpmforge (home of the wondrous Dag Wieers who single-handedly distributed RPMs of hundreds of packages for RH systems), and Livna ("non-free" items like codecs, DeCSS, etc.). In both cases you just install the configurations with rpm. Clicking on this this link with Firefox brings up a dialog box on my system that offers to run the Software Installer. After the repository configurations are installed, you'll see a lot more programs in the software installer, and some of them like mplayer and xine will be now coming from Livna. Running "yum install mplayer* xine* mencoder" from the command line will show you all the codec packages and whatnot associated with these players. Oh, and VLC is in Livna as well. (Despite Dag's exhortations to the contrary, I've never had a problem combining rpmforge and Livna. YMMV.)

Since we're comparing distros, I don't need to talk about Windows support. Wine is Wine, regardless of the bottler. I do like the prepackaged version of Internet Explorer called IEs4Linux. It typically installs a unique Wine configuration in your home directory, then installs one or more versions of Internet Explorer and some ancillary programs like Flash Player 9. Let's you easily install and run Internet Explorer if you really must. This isn't limited to Fedora, of course.

Admin access is handled in the traditional way on Fedora. The root account is active and has a password. You enter the root password for administrative actions when prompted. Ubuntu uses sudo and requests your own password for administration. Fedora users need to know a second password to administer their machines.

I know that "everyone" seems to think Ubuntu is the current desktop distribution of choice, but Fedora has worked fine for me. I've used nearly every version from 1 through 6; I'll probably upgrade to 7 someday, but right now, I'm happy with what's in front of me.

One caveat. I did make the mistake on installing Fedora on a server. This has proven annoying to support, but it was my own fault for using a distribution with a relatively short support lifetime. On servers nowadays I install the free respin of RedHat Enterprise Linux called CentOS.

hobbes_fan 2007-07-17 11:36

It's not that Ubuntu is a PITA, it's just I'm asking t to do something fairly simple, it jus needs to "sit and be a good boy" but as soon as I fix one issue another pops up one after the other. Nothing major, but lots of mild annoyances. But considering I've done a lot of legwork/research/money into making the hardware as Ubuntu friendly as possible, it's a little bit exasperating.

I really want to stick with a linux distro on this PC in particular. It's just a HTPC, I can't justify spending $1300 Aus on 3 licenses of vista when 1 pc is for torrenting/fileserver and one is for playback. that costs more than the 3 pc's combined. And industry standard for servers is pretty much Linux anyway so it's worthwhile to learn IMO, but its disheartening when the PC with the simplest task and linux friendly hardware is giving me so many issues. I just want it to play files. (HTPC is the testbed before migration to the laptop and to the fileserver)Ubuntu has the best documentation I've seen for the 5 distros I've looked at. I just don't understand what's going on to cause me so much grief. All steps have been followed to the letter. All hardware is configured correctly, I'm not a complete moron and consider myself mildly technically savvy, I've 1/2 a dozen books here to help as resource tools, read countless articles and websites yet everyone else seems to be getting their systems up and running no problems except me.

God knows what will happen if I try to install it on my "high end" PC with ATI gfx m-audio recording and mastering equipment and pro tools and a wireless network card. Murphy's law will probably bite me on the ass and it will go through without a hitch.

I'm at the point where I'm thinking ok, that's what feisty fawn is take it or leave it. It's free but I should just live with the bugs just to preserve my sanity. But it shouldn't be that way? Right? Maybe this will be ironed out next release.

Oh yeah I am red/green colourblind but my colour differentation is a bit crappy with other colours as well, that why I refuse to use VLC, the subs tend to be so crappy that they're pretty much impossible to see for me

grey_moon 2007-07-17 12:05

Don't know if this will help, but with Totem player full screen playback stops the screen saver kicking in. If it is full screen paused the SS still works and if its not full screen playing it will activate too.

WanderingKnight 2007-07-17 12:09

I don't really understand what annoyance do you see in the screensaver. As told, you could do one of these: either you disable it, or you install XScreensaver which, as far as I'm concerned, mplayer stops from kicking in. If all of this fails, there's always KDE. You can install KDE over vanilla Ubuntu without having to resort to a full format if you want, too.

SeijiSensei 2007-07-17 12:17


Originally Posted by hobbes_fan (Post 1046573)
HTPC is the testbed before migration to the laptop and to the fileserver

The easiest migration would be the fileserver. Install CentOS; it's what you want on a box that'll sit in the corner. Run nfs and samba, and maybe Apache httpd, and you're done. You can build a software RAID array during installation if you have multiple data disks and want redundancy or RAID 0 performance. If you run an IMAP server and DNS ("named"), you can add email services as well. Oh, and run a ClamAV scan on the data every now and then just to make sure there are no viruses hiding there. Webmin is a very nice web-based front-end to Linux system and server management. It's in some of the repositories, or you can get a copy from the home site.

I don't know exactly what an "HTPC" is. Are you planning to run MythTV and record shows? Play videos? I can play anything I find on AnimeSuki, though my older Celeron processor can't support H.264 in higher resolutions. I use Kaffeine (xine engine + KDE front end) or sometimes mplayer, both from Livna. If you're setting up a dedicated PVR-style unit, you might want to look at the KnoppMyth live CD. PCI wifi cards like those from Linksys often present a standard ethernet interface to the operating system; I've found they install pretty easily compared to motherboard wifi.

Did you use Automatix to install non-free software in Ubuntu? It's a Livna equivalent for that distro. I didn't have any video problems when I installed the usual suite of players from Automatix. I had less success using the versions of such programs in the official non-free Ubuntu repository.

hobbes_fan 2007-07-18 02:47

Ok spent a solid 4 hours doing a complete reinstall, updating and applying everything. Everything works good now even mythtv, xorg.conf picks up my preferred resolution and remembers it, spdif output is available. it was painful but hey it works, no bugs. Writes to ntfs disks the works (except for not ejecting usb drives, but there's a workaround anyway). Happy now.

Mental note: don't try and fix stuff at 3am after a 12 hour shift.

Slice of Life 2007-07-18 03:31

Open Suse 10.2 on my main computer, Suse 9.3 on my laptop. Debian Sarge at work and on my dedi. Suse does fine for private use. Ubunbtu scared me away up to now with its lack of a proper root account (what kind of philosphy is that?) The Debian guys are paranoid about the skills of other developers which makes Debian probably super-secure but at the price of ancient versions.

grey_moon 2007-07-18 05:41

@hobbs_fan - ahahha i did the same thing last night, for some reason I woke up and decided to install kde on my ubuntu. Just finished stripping it all out and restoring it back to normal :p

hobbes_fan 2007-07-18 06:49

Just one of those things I guess. Something must of gone wrong first time around. Now to backup everything before giving centos a run. I'll leave that for my next day off.

GundamZZ 2007-07-21 22:37

Besides ubuntu, I use Fedora, Knoppix and some variant Live CD.

I am thinking about buying Yellow Dog Linux and PS3, so I can get away from my room(esepcially XP boxes).[hardware][solutions]=1

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