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#1 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Windows Media Center, Linux, Haupauge, and hell...

Posted 03 March 2011 - 02:30 PM

OK, get ready for what might be a weird one... and it's actually broken into several parts so you understand where this is all coming from.

#My rigs

I own several computers, and almost all of them run linux.

Ubuntu Linux machines:
server - a central serer I use for hosting up all kinds of services around my house
family computer - a general purpose machine in the den for anyone to use
laptop - portable linux
office - dual boots linux

Mac OSX:
gf's laptop - my girlfriend's laptop is Mac OSX... I've been trying to get her to put linux on it. I hate maintaining her computer on my network.

Windows 7:
office - it's the other half of the dual boot. It dual boots for 3 reasons: games, .Net development for work (when mono isn't suitable), and recording TV w/ WinMediaCenter.

2 XBOX 360's for accessing WMC

#DVR'n is awesome

I love that I can use my computer as a DVR. I've been doing this for nearly a decade now and I don't plan on stopping. Actually DVR'n is what got me into linux in the first place, I went there for the MythTV... but I've always disliked MythTV. Ughhhh, that thing is annoying.

When WinXP MediaCenter Edition came out I scooped that shit up real fast and was excited with it. It quickly became my favourite DVR software and I stuck with it through Vista and now on Windows 7.

I've since though started using linux more and more and my central server is linux. I've been pushing all sorts of my jobs off to the server and letting it take care of it. I've been wanting to push my DVR onto the server as well so that I can free that task up from my office computer. My office computer is on ALL the time for recording purposes around the house, but so is my server, and this annoys me. I'd like to be free to turn off my office computer.

But I'm strapped to Windows due to Windows Media Center. Over the years I've dug into WMC so much that I can't get out.

1) xbox 360 integrates so nicely w/ WMC!
2) I like the user experience of WMC
3) WMC is compatible w/ cablecard capture devices, which I'm now investing in

The latter is probably the biggest deal to me. My cable company next month is turning off analogue cable all together. I must invest in set top boxes now, something I've never used because I just used NTSC tuners offered from the likes of Haupauge. But the thing is I don't like the integration methods w/ these set top boxes, they force me to use the IR blaster techniques and it really has hurt my viewing experience.

Cablecards to the rescue!

I've always known about Cablecards, and I've heard whispers of Cablecard devices that could be integrated into your computer. They were always very expensive, and I didn't even have digital cable (I'm cheap, I only use the cable supplied by my HOA and is included in my usual HOA dues). But about a year ago when I received notice of the change to only digital, and that my HOA was going to continue paying for it, it became viable. So I started investigating the devices and 2 devices on the horizon grabbed my eyes.

The Ceton infinitv 4 cablecard digital tuner: http://www.cetoncorp.com/products.php
The SiliconDust HDHomeRun Prime: http://www.silicondu...dhomerun/prime/

The ceton has 4 tuners, where as the HDHomeRun has 3. But the HDHomeRun sits on the network instead of being tied to a given computer... more on this later.

Both of these are in my price range for number of tuners. So I'm going to invest in them as their availability increases... but I'm not running out right now to get them. Actually neither are really all that available right now so I really can't do shit for the time being. But I'm patient... and I'm trying to just construct a method to hold me over in the time being and hopefully get my DVR onto the server.

#VMWare Server

Wait, the HDHomeRun Prime sits on the network!? That means I'm not tied to hardware and I can virtualize windows! HDHomeRun isn't quickly grabbing my attention as my prime choice for cablecard recording device. That and the HDHomeRun QAM has awesome reviews where as the Ceton card is their first foray out the door... I've seen bad capture cards in the past and I don't want to get the Ceton just to find out its garbage.

You might say that the HDHomeRun may swamp my network down though... and I considered that. I have NIC's up the wazoo laying around, I could just stick one in a computer and put the HDHomeRun onto its own network separate from the regular one. And actually my server is already set up with this! I could even bridge the internet connection into it from my server giving access to the guides and the sort. I can bridge all this into a virtual machine runing my old copy of windows vista (left over after upgrading to windows 7 and is still valid).

Sounds like it just might work.

#Tide me over

This just leaves me waiting for the HDHomeRun to come out and be available. In the mean time though I have 2 capture cards, one with a dual tuner built into it. Furthermore the dual tuner is not supported in 64-bit Windows... but it is supported in 64-bit linux.

I've actually had it installed in my server ever since I upgraded to Win7, leaving me with only 1 tuner in my WMC machine (this has been another annoyance for me). I've used the tuners over on the server to due minor recording work. But wait... the HDHomeRun streams across the network... lightbulb.

Is there a way to wrap my capture card in linux and stream out the signals to a client on a windows machine who then lets WMC see it as a capture device (abstractly this is kind of how HDHomeRun serves it up to WMC)?

I know I can stream the capture cards live tv... I've done it with the likes of VLC in the past.

But I want to take it just a step further, and wonder if anyone has heard of any software out there that already accomplishes this. I know its possible, it's just a matter of engineering the software to do it.

Or maybe if anyone has any ideas of other way to serve up this dual capture card to a virtual machine running on my server?

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