Saturday, January 12, 2008

HBO's The Wire, Ubuntu DVD Playback, and the best low cost Linux PC for Kids

So the older PIII/Celeron-class boxes I've built for my son are too slow for bzflag so that I'm considering building/getting him a new PC. I'm not wild about it, but he's been using my highest end box at home (an Optiplex GX-620 Pentium D). A Mac Mini would be perfect, but they are just too damn expensive. The price difference between a comparably equipped Dell-n-Optiplex Desktop is probably $300-400. Not worth it.

I've priced out the following at $462: OptiPlex 330 Desktop Intel® Pentium® Dual Core Processor E2160 (1.80GHz, 1M, 800MHz FS, 1GB, 250GB SATA, 3 Year Warranty, Intel X3100, with DVD-ROM.

This is obviously overkill and I could probably skimp and cut $75-100, but since he actually won't be using it that much (although it will be in his room) I can use another VMWare server Box.

So it needs wireless, but since I've had marginal luck with with USB/PCI 802.11 cards under Linux, I'm leaning towards getting a Linksys bridge just so I don't have to mess with it.

He also needs to be able to play music and he's comfortable with the GNOME music tools.

The last considerations was DVD playback. I remember compiling xine, dvdcss and friends from source 5-6 years ago on my T-22 at Cisco but I haven't played a DVD on Linux since then.

Well Linux has come a long way since then and it was a snap on Gutsy was a simple as adding the mediubuntu repository and installing totem-xine. Oh and the other great thing about medibuntu is the dvdrip works great. Kids are hard on DVD's (meaning food and scratches) it only makes sense to rip them so they can watch them over and over.

Oh and you must watch The Wire (which is is supposedly Barack Obama's favorite show) and I do like Omar, as well.

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