perjantai 9. tammikuuta 2009

Plans for the future

Everything has been working very nicely in my current HTPC installation since it's installation early 2008. Because of that, I think it is time to upgrade, the proverb "Don't fix it if it ain't broken" does not seem to ring any bells for me. I guess there has been too little tinkering lately.

New hardware?
Anyway, I am not planning any major hardware upgrades, I've been thinking of getting myself one of those small Logitech DiNovo Minis. But besides that I am mainly thinking about software upgrades, and plenty of them. I am still thinking of the best way to do the complete re-installation. I will be keeping the old installation as a backup, because from the past experience I know there will be some problems and delays before I get to same state of HTPC-nirvana I am with my current installation.

It remains to be seen if I figure out a way to do this without buying new harddrives, but it might be the safest bet to get two new (and bigger) drives from shop. It would also enable me to change my old Seagate disks to Seagate special DB35 or SV35 class of harddrives, which are designed to be run on HTPC, NAS or other 'embedded' systems. I have those already in my NAS and they seem to do what they promise, ie. low noise, low wattage and low temp, also because aforementioned things they should be more reliable.

New software!
On software side I have some grand plans.
First of all I want to install the latest Gentoo 2008 and the latest Linux Kernel. I want to also create RAID1 that I previously had, but also create separate LVM setup that houses recordings, this LVM shows itself as a single filesystem for VDR which can be quite difficult at times when using multiple filesystems for saving the recordings. Also LVM enables me to easily extend the space by adding new drives to LVM and thus expanding the space available for my recordings.

"Witness the power of this fully armed and ...
eh I mean "full upgraded" and operational HTPC.

With the new Gentoo and kernel I want to test out new ways of making the boot process even faster. Somethings called baselayout-2 and openrc should speed up it quite significantly. Who knows maybe the new kernel has better support for my motherboads ACPI and I can also enter Suspend2RAM and actually resume from it.

New kernel means that I have to once again change my kernel config, which gives my a good opportunity to take some features into use that I have previously disabled. I want to have AutoFS available to allow me easily mount Samba and NFS shares from my network, even if the shares are not available at boot time. I also will need to enable NFS support, NTFS support and FAT support in my kernel, to enable mounting of network shares and USB connected drives.

I also will probably update to latest Nvidia driver which enables hardware based video decoding, this is done with NVIDIA VDPAU support that was added in the latest stable driver 180.22. This also leads me to upgrading my Mplayer and Xine to enable support for the VDPAU. When compiling new Mplayer I need to keep in mind that I should enable mencoder make flag, that way I can use mencoder to automatically encode my DVB recordings via scripts.

Two of my main HTPC softwares are also in for a major upgrade, this is if I can wait until the 1.1.0 final of the MMS will finally by released. VDR has also received a major upgrade from my old 1.4.7 version as the 1.6 branch has gone stable. Especially the new VDR I fully expect to give me lots of headache, I run quite many plugins in 1.4.7 and I am not completely sure of their compatibility. 1.6 version of the VDR also enables me to use UTF8 finally, which should help me with filenaming problems. With these two upgrades I will also need to change my lirc setup and enhance the functionality even further.

Finally I plan to improve the fault tolerance of the system by duplicating the system partitions in that way, that if the first system fails for some reason, it will use the backup system automatically. I have done this with good results with my parents VDR setup, where the main disk is showing signs of ageing.