The goal of PCandMoney.com is to inform consumers of how they can save money by adopting free and open source software and using a home theater PC for entertainment.
Free and open source software provides consumers with a great free alternative to expensive propreitary software. A home theater pc provides consumers with great entertainment from movies, music and online media, while at the same time replacing the many expensive and large parts of a home theater system.
Combining a free and open source software with a home theater pc will potentially save consumers hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
PCandMoney.com also provides a web store selling computer accessories for a Media PC and Home Theater systems. Here you will find accessories like HDMI cables, component cables, CAT5 cables, SATA cables, and USB cables and much more.
What is a Home Theater PC (HTPC)?
What is free and open source software (FOSS)?
How can a HTPC equipped with FOSS save me money?
A Home Theater PC is a all-in-one computer built to take the place of various Home Theater equipment such as a DVD/Blu-Ray player, Tivo, A/V Receiver and even your game console. By combing a Home Theater PC with the GNU/Linux operating system, a open source Linux Home Theater PC is created.
Free and open source software is source code of free software that anyone can modify. You may be familiar with open source software if you heard of or used software like Firefox, VLC, or the Windows alternative Linux. FOSS eliminates the need to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on proprietary software.
A Home Theater PC equipped with free and open source software will eliminate the need to buy expensive proprietary software, get rid of subscription TV services like cable and satelite, cut down on the amount of home theater equipment in your home theater setup and reduce power usage .
The functions of a HTPC
Create Video/Music JukeBox
Play DVD/Blu-Ray Movies
Archive DVD/Blu-Ray Movies(Ripping)
Play classic games through emulation(PS1, PS2, sega, N64)
Watch Streaming Video(Hulu)
Receive ATSC(Digital) and DVB-S(Satellite) signals
Record Live TV
Quick list of FOSS
GNU/LINUX - Free Operating System
Multiple Desktop Managers - Gnome, KDE and XFCE
Open Office - Alternative to Microsoft word
MythTV - Frontend to watch/record TV, Play Movies and Music
Kaffeine - Media player for Audio/Video and Digital TV
K3B - Free and Great Disc authoring software
Benefits of a Open Source HTPC
Less Home Theater equipment
Less power consumption with a nettop HTPC
No need to buy software
Eliminate the need for cable and satellite services
Online Shopping for better deals
Build it your self and save a lot of money
Parts needed for a open source HTPC
A Home Theater PC can be built from scratch or an existing PC can be modified to perform as an HTPC. Whether you build your own HTPC or modify your existing PC it will have to contain certain components and hardware. All hardware will not work with linux, so thorough research will need to be done on each component before buying. The hardware needed for a HTPC is as follows: Motherboard, CPU, RAM, HDD, ODD, GPU, PSU, Case, tv tuner, speakers and display. The GPU, tv tuner and ODD (especially blu-ray) should be researched to make sure their compatible with linux. A more in-depth explanation of the components and hardware needed can be found here.
How much will a HTPC cost?
The price of a HTPC depends on your needs, taste and size of the room where the HTPC will reside in. A nice case, GPU for gaming, blu-ray drive, good speakers and high-def display will drive up the cost. A simple HTPC can be built for less than $300. This HTPC would consist of the basic PC componenets, the only difference is that you would connect it directly to your HDTV, it may have a PC remote and it may use a HTPC frontend. You can find some ways to save money on building a PC here and here
What Linux distribution should I use?
There are many linux distribuitons to choose from. The distribution you choose would depend on how much work you are willing to put in setting up linux to your specific needs. For those who like to customize there entire HTPC set-up and linux environment a traditional distro like Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora or Arch linux would be best. For people who want a more convienent linux set-up, distros like Mythbuntu, MythDora, KnoppMyth and LinuxMCE would be more suitable. Distrowatch.com provides a large list linux distributions that will suit different needs.
Here are a few links of linux distros for a open source HTPC.
I don't own a blu-ray drive and really don't have any plans of buying one until the combo drives drop below $50. With that said, Blu-ray on linux is possible, but not ideal for typical use with a HTPC. Blu-ray is no easy task for Windows users, so you can imagine how it can be nightmare for linux users. The problem with blu-ray and open source stems from DRM like AACS and BD+ put in place by sony. The good news is that some blu-ray may work on linux, but it will not be simple to accomplish and most likely require the blu-ray disc to be ripped to a hard drive. Bluray disc hold between 25-50GB of data!
Here are a few links to help accomplish blu-ray on a open source HTPC.