Operating System help

Smallclone

Well-known Member
Hello (novice here),

I have only ever used windows. But I am looking into replacing a media streamer with a mini pc. This mini pc does not come with an operating system though.

I would need to install one and then use it to play videos of all types (.avi .mkv .m4u .xvid etc) and also use it for streaming spotify and a web browser.

Can I do this via something like Ubuntu, which I understand is free? Or shoudl I just pay an extra £50 and get Windows 8 installed on the mini pc?

Many Thanks
 

next010

Distinguished Member
Do you mean Arm devices advertised as mini PC's (like Android dongles) or just regular x86 based PC's ?

For x86 you can just install Ubuntu or Linux Mint which is easier as it leans more towards Windows and install XBMC which is pretty easily done from the built in software manager (sort of like an app store) or via a command prompt.

For Arm devices it's more complicated, typically they only run Android but you can get by with a usb wireless mouse on it, XBMC is still beta software on these and new hardware is always just around the corner.
 

excollier

Active Member
Get a Raspberry Pi, and put xbmc on an sd card, it will stream video and music, much cheaper, and can be used for web browsing etc. too by running a Debian based linux OS.
http://www.raspberrypi.org/
 

Smallclone

Well-known Member
Hmmm. Does raspberry pi play all video files types? Do they seemelssly stream 1080p files from nas drive over wifi?

Will it cope with 5.1 sound and DTS?
 

next010

Distinguished Member
The R-Pi is an Arm device with a very weak CPU, it might not be a great choice for web browsing. Hardware video decoding is provided for H.264 and MPEG4 video & it will do 5.1 audio, licenses must be purchased for MPEG2, VC-1 (WMV) decoding from the R-Pi foundation. The easy to setup XBMC distros for R-Pi make it an appliance style box not a computer OS so a lot of work would be involved.



Back to x86 PC's there is a linux version of Spotify that can be installed on Ubuntu (linux mint is based off Ubuntu).

The Lenovo Q190 should be fine, I'd go with Linux Mint first and see how things are handled, then if not happy try Ubuntu.

If the worst comes to the worst you can always fall back to Windows.


Something along the lines of the R-Pi but marginally better (not as good as x86 PC) & a lot easier to setup would be the Pivos XIOS DS. This is an Arm based box that runs Android 4.0, the box is really just a platform for XBMC and unlike other Android devices it is officially licensed for Dobly/DTS 5.1 audio and has XBMC developers working for Pivos.

It has access to the Android Google Play store so you could possible use the Android Spotify app and you have the Chrome web browser plus XBMC for media playback duties, XBMC for Android is the most stable on the XIOS as they where who originally developed the Android port.

However it is no speed demon, it will be noticeably slower than PC, you will need to purchase a USB wireless mouse to control Android and you will also need a micro SDcard too as that's where XBMC saves all it's data (a big capacity one too if using media library coverart) so the costs might make it almost as much as the Lenovo but it is tiny, fanless and low power 5w in usage and 0.1w in standby.
 
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excollier

Active Member
Well, the Raspberry Pi outputs via HDMI. If you read up on their forum, you will get the answers very quickly, and potentially save a packet.
The video codecs cost all of £2.40 or so, web browsing is a little slow, but as a media centre, a great cut price choice.
They are not hard work at all, I came with utterly no experience other than Windows, and had it set up in a day.
The operating system is ported from the latest Debian release, and does most things a normal pc will do.
Choices to make. Mine cost £75 all in with keyboard, mouse, hdmi lead and a sd card to put the OS on, which can be set up as a dual boot with xbmc and Debian Wheezy, even triple or quad boot if you fancy different OS choices, and now also RasPlex is a new media centre available.
 
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Smallclone

Well-known Member
Thanks for that. I may get a raspb pi at some point but I just cannot see it replacing all the functionality of a high end media player. Especially with all the codecs etc. I also need something with a suitable remote.

The pivos looks nice, but once you buy the remote, that's £155. I may as well buy a mini pc for anextra £30 or £40.
 

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