I think the upcoming Inspiron Zino HD could make a great MythTV back/frontend.
Coming with Ubuntu, up to 8GB RAM and a 1TB internal drive, the units have AMD processors with AMD graphics. My problem would be the graphics driver – I’ve no idea if the free drivers will support it, but in my experience AMD’s proprietary driver on 64bit machines is absolute rubbish.
Nevertheless, it looks like a cool little box:
In every case, the Inspiron Zino HD includes wireless networking (802.11b/g or 802.11a/b/g/n), four USB 2.0 connectors (two front, two rear), audio I/O (microphone, line, and headphones), a four-in-one memory card reader, and gigabit Ethernet. The device’s rear panel (below) also includes a VGA output in addition to the HDMI port, plus two eSATA connectors for external hard disk drives, says Dell.
Of course, they’re not going to sell it with Linux in Australia, right? *Sigh*
My good mate Tthu wanted to make himself a mythtv box. He bought an old Dell online and after a trip to the computer fair to get a 500GB SATA hard drive, low profile PCIe video card and a PCI digital TV tuner card, had everything he needed.
So, at my place we started the install. First thing I noticed was that the video cad had a passive heatsink that took up the space for the only PCI slot in the machine. I gave Tthu the option of waiting and trying to find a more suitable card, or hacking up the box to make it fit. Here began the first of our modifications..
After removing the heatsink from the GPU, we broke off the part that stuck out over the capacitors and proceeded to bend the other fins over. Isopropyl alchohol and some arctic silver later and it was back together again. Perfect.
Then we noticed that the case no longer shut because the hard drive bracket came ever so slightly down onto the back end of the card. I whittled away a little of the PCB, but it wasn’t quite enough. Due to the bracket design, we had to break off a part of the metal. This then allowed us to hack at the bracket itself and with Jason’s trusty multi-tool filed away a perfect gap for the card to slide into (with my trusty Dyson grabbing the filings, of course). Only problem was that the plastic slide rail for the hard drive couldn’t slide in anymore.. so we cut that in half. Done!
End result? Machine works perfectly with the video card running at about 80 degrees, which is well within spec. How long it all lasts for remains to be seen! Only problem now is that the TV aerial can’t get any signal in the basement.. Jason, where’s that multi-tool?