Wednesday, September 20, 2006

My Media Centre Setup

I got a digital camera a few years ago. The family has taken loads of photos with it and I have been downloading photos and saving the photos on my computer. I have also been making DVD backups of the photos all the time.

The problem I have found is that digital photos are difficult to share with family. I know what you are saying. What about emailing your pics or uploading pics to a site like Flickr. That is all well and good but if you live in the same house as your family or you live in the same street and most of your family doesn't have broadband then I don't think it is practical. I wanted to share my photos and music so people who came over could see the photos and listen to my music down stairs.

I was also concious of the fact that I didn't have any backups of my music and video.

Keeping all this in mind I decided to create a media centre in the living room.

(I also had a spare computer lying about which help the decision to set up a media centre ;-)

I decided to try out Linux as the operating system because I wanted to try it out and I heard Myth TV was a very good media centre application. I used Ubuntu 6.06 as the Linux distribution.

One of the main requirement of the media centre was that it need to be downstairs so I had to use a wireless network card in the media centre pc.

I had a spare D-Link DWL-G650+ wireless card (ACX111 chipset) which I wanted to use. I setup the PC on a wired network just to install Ubuntu and get all the updates. Then I tried to configure the wireless card.

Ubuntu didn't detect it by default so I looked for information about how to get the wireless card installed. I found out the Ubuntu 6.06 had the wrong version of the drivers so didn't detect the card properly. I found the open source ACX 111 driver on sourceforge and tried them out, they didn't work. I tried ndisWrapper with the windows drivers from the D-Link CD that I got with the drivers, they didn't work.

I had been trying to sort the media centre for about two weeks on and off so I was getting abit peeved off with the situation. I read somewhere that Ubuntu 5 (breazy) had the correct version of the drivers that I required. So I decided to scrap my Ubuntu 6.06 installation and install Ubuntu 5 instead. I put the media centre close to the wireless router and began the installation. I was glad to see that Ubuntu detected the wireless card while installing, it asked for the ssid and the wep key.

It looked like I was finally ready to continue with the project.

Unfortunately the wireless signal where the Media Centre was to be kept, was non existent. (Even though a Windows machine works ok in the same area). This is probably because the D Link product uses a proprietary driver that the Generic Linux driver doesn't fully replicate. This mean that the whole project was stalled.

Finally with a heavy heart I had to turn to my Windows XP CD and install it on the Media Centre.

I don't blame Linux for not supporting my wireless card. The simple fact is that D Link is a company that openly uses open source code in it's products but it doesn't give anything back to the community by opening up it's driver specification so that the Linux community can make drivers for D Links products.

It's all about the money!!!

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