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Media centers, the Linux way

Media centers, the Linux way

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
Enterprising media center enthusiasts often skip Microsoft's Media Center Edition of Windows in favor of a number of DVR software front ends. But another group of DIY system builders takes this to the next level, ditching the familiar Windows interface altogether for the open-source climes of Linux.

CyberLink's PowerCinema is one of the new software options for Linux-minded entertainment-PC builders. The company pitches the Linux version of its software as an "easy means of converting the Linux PC into a feature-rich TV entertainment center." In more practical terms that means it supports TV tuner cards and provides an EPG (Electronic Program Guide) for setting up recordings. Right now it's available to OEM system builders only, but hopefully that will change soon.

Another Linux option is SageTV. The company recently decided to make the Linux version of its DVR software available to everyone, not just OEMs. Check out our CES 2006 coverage for more details.

If you're looking for a step-by-step guide to putting it all together, Linux.com posted an article earlier this month called, appropriately enough, "Building a Linux home media center."