Long Time No See

Working on the 15th of August in Athens… SUCKS

After stating the obvious… Two months since my last post, no PC or laptop to call my own for now. The old Macbook is not a viable option for my needs (pitiful). I have some plans for my Aleph network though. Also for the layout of the blog.

Hopefully I’ll start posting regularly from now on.

To all, have a great rest of summer!

Enter the Void

I finally finished it! The Media Center / Gaming PC hooked to our 47″ TV – named Void – is now up and running.

The Hardware : An Intel I3 4170 CPU, with the On-Board GPU ( Intel HD4400 ), 6Gb of RAM and 2 Western Digital HDDs, 1tb and 2 tb each one. I removed my NAS and used it’s 2tb drive due to streaming issues on my network ( HD bottlenecks on a 10/100 LAN ).

The Software : Antergos Linux with GNOME desktop, it was decided on a previous post way back…

Installation was once more a breeze. GNOME Shell is suited for big screens, haven’t gotten to tweaking it though – I’m pretty happy with the current look, powered by Numix. My partitioning scheme is as follows :

Boot 512Mb
System ( / ) 250Gb
Home ( /home ) 745Gb
Videos ( ~/videos ) 2Tb
Swap 3Gb

At the installation procedure, I added support for the AUR, Bluetooth, SMB (though it is not needed now) and I preinstalled Firefox – over Chromium – and the Gaming Features of Antergos, Steam and PlayOnLinux platforms.

I removed GNOME Notes (bijiben), pidgin, cmake, GNOME-Music, Orca reader and Pamac and only installed Kodi Media Center, plus 2 new GNOME extensions, TopIcons and Arch Updates Indicator for a better, consistent experience.

With 2 days usage, which is far from being conclucive the system behaves excellent, way faster than Windows 10 and with less quirks (I am looking at you Screen resolution and Ethernet Connection), plus GNOME feels more suitable than Windows for a Media Center use.

The first part of #projectAleph is finished.

A G+ poll

3 days ago, I posted the following on the Linux Community page of G+ :

I'm building a Gaming/Media PC for my living room, on a 47" TV and I'm torn between using Unity or GNOME Shell for Steam and Wine Gaming, Kodi for Multimedia use. Which DE do you believe is more suitable for use on such a big screen, even though they are pretty close on how they look and feel.
If there are any other suggestions, please comment below.

Voting was overwhelming, with 597 voters, who went in favour for GNOME with a landslide win 70% over 30% for Unity. There were also some very interesting opinions, as the one from Marc Thomas :

I've spent quite a bit of time this past year building exactly what you are talking about, and I tried both Unity and Gnome. Gnome definitely lended itself better for several reasons. The most notable was that Unity would experience weird UI glitches after running continuously with apps in full screen mode for several days, requiring me to restart the machine.

Also, Ubuntu had a lot of random issues with making things like Steam, Kodi, Netflix, Amazon video, etc work properly. I decided to go with Antergos, (Arch based) because their AUR solved virtually all of these problems with minimal effort. Also, nearly all my other machines run either Arch or Antergos, so I was already familiar with how amazing the AUR was.

I am also primarily using a Kodi and Steam (Big Picture Mode) setup, and it is working wonderfully! Plex also works reasonably well, and I use it mostly to connect to other people's libraries, (and share mine with them).

Here's a link to some guides I've been slowly putting together. It's far from complete but it has some really helpful information especially for getting started, and most of the various tools and technologies I am using are listed there, even though their guides are not yet written.

http://mthx.org/projects/media/

Let me know if you have any questions or run into any issues. I've probably encounted most of the issues that you will likely face, so I probably already have the answer written down in my notes.

Another great idea, from user Egee was to try SteamOS. There was also some preference towards Mate and XFCE (which are not candidates for me).

So, GNOME is the undeniable winner, and will be my Desktop Environment of choice when I will be able to set up my Living Room PC.

What remains is to decide on the underlying OS – Ubuntu, Antergos or SteamOS (which uses GNOME as the alternate to Steam Big Picture).

#projectAleph

#projectAleph is the name I have given on my venture trying to set up a usable and functional home network, plus it is a Twitter hashtag for my 140 characters ranting on the matter. This post counts as the beginning of my documentation for my trials and errors on software and hardware configurations.

Current hardware :

  • My laptop : A Lenovo U510 upgraded with 8Gb of RAM and an 128Gb SSD. It has an I5 CPU processor with an integrated Intel HD 4000 GPU, great for Linux implementation. It’s my only production / multimedia / gaming (if any) machine and currently has no Operating System.

  • Eutuxia’s MacBook : A 13 inch 2007  Mac with 1,5Gb of RAM and a Core Duo (i think) processor. Currently has Elementary OS Luna installed as Operating System, which gives it the ability to run the current Firefox and play all kinds of multimedia files thanks to VLC.

  • A 47 inch LG Smart TV with Android OS (the butchered version of TV manufacturers).

  • Two Raspberry Pis, one of which is used (with poor results) as Media Player running OpenELEC, the Kodi based Operating System. The other is stuffed in a drawer right now.

  • A 2Tb NAS Server by D-Link with custom Debian Based Operating System for Remote Torrents (Transmission application).

  • Various other hardware parts, which I believe can be summed up to create an Intel Atom headless PC, probably a server or some other use.

On the software side of things, I’m an Open Source enthusiast, I want to exclusively use Open Source software, which some times proves rather difficult completing certain tasks. It is only natural that I’m looking onto Linux distributions for most of my hardware. The only machine which baffles me on what kind of Operating System to use, is one I don’t currently own, a Media Player/Gaming PC hooked on my TV. Sadly Windows is the easiest and safest way to go, mainly because of the gaming part, even though Linux + Steam + Wine can be tempting and will be an option for installation.

The most difficult part now, is choosing a distribution. I have used Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Debian (the Testing branch), Antergos (Arch) Linux and all of them have pros and cons. I’m not such an experienced Linux user for all my distrohopping and have yet to decide what I want to really do with my PC(s). But that is material for another post.