Dare I Linux?

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ubertrout

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I've had a Windows-based HTPC for a decade now, powered by a Core i3-2100t (lots more on my build here: Core i3-2100T In a Small Case). I just replaced the ancient 40GB SSD and 2 TB HDD with a 120GB SSD that I got from Staples for $6 (thanks, Slickdeals!) and have a NAS with plenty of storage connected via Gigabit.

I never upgraded the OS from Windows 7 and it's becoming a little wonky but it's not unusable. In theory the hardware is a little underpowered for 2021, but would it make sense to upgrade to Linux? I'm seeing a lot about LibreELEC, but should I get another build for what I have? I also do theoretically want to be able to play discs with the drive, even though I'll admit I haven't actually done so in a long time (there's a Sony X800 in the same rack).
 

furui_suterioo

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My laptop is over 10 years old and I've had windows 10 on a partition since it came out. It was problematic at the beginning but has improved over the years to where I no longer use 7. Eventually I just got rid of 7 and clean installed windows 10 on a 1tb ssd so now the laptop is faster than ever. Maybe could try installing 10 on a partition to see if it works any better for you.
 

HomerJAU

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I'm seeing a lot about LibreELEC, but should I get another build for what I have?
LibreElec is a minimal Linux distribution with just enough kernel to run Kodi media player app (it also includes Kodi). This works really well if all you intend to do is run Kodi (play Media) but if you want to run other programs you may have issues.

I have two Intel NUCs (both i3 NUC8) with LibreElec (Kodi) and use both to play MCH files from my NAS, occasional movies from my NAS and a couple of HD streaming apps (Sports). Perfect. Kodi can play files from disc but I’ve never tried. All my discs are converted to FLAC, M4A (Atmos) or MKV (HD and 4K video).

@steelydave uses a full Linux build and may like to comment?
 

ubertrout

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LibreElec is a minimal Linux distribution with just enough kernel to run Kodi media player app (it also includes Kodi). This works really well if all you intend to do is run Kodi (play Media) but if you want to run other programs you may have issues.

I have two Intel NUCs (both i3 NUC8) with LibreElec (Kodi) and use both to play MCH files from my NAS, occasional movies from my NAS and a couple of HD streaming apps (Sports). Perfect. Kodi can play files from disc but I’ve never tried. All my discs are converted to FLAC, M4A (Atmos) or MKV (HD and 4K video).

@steelydave uses a full Linux build and may like to comment?
I do sometimes like to use other programs on the box - so maybe not the best move.
 

ubertrout

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My laptop is over 10 years old and I've had windows 10 on a partition since it came out. It was problematic at the beginning but has improved over the years to where I no longer use 7. Eventually I just got rid of 7 and clean installed windows 10 on a 1tb ssd so now the laptop is faster than ever. Maybe could try installing 10 on a partition to see if it works any better for you.
I don't really want to pay for 10 at this point...
 

Mr. Afternoon

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Convinced me. Upgrading to Windows 10 now. Was a bit of an adventure as the boot loader was corrupted in Windows 7 (I don't think I did the SSD migration properly) so I had to track down a Windows 7 ISO and repair it, but I'm off to the races. Thanks!
Enjoy!
 

ubertrout

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I'm upgraded to Windows 10 and will keep that. Thanks for the advice that the upgrade is still available. The graphics chipset on the PC (HD2000) can't do above 1080p, but I might be satisfied with that given that I can get 4k from other sources including the TV's own apps, the Chromecast, and x800. It sounds beautiful...

Listened to the Fanfare for the Common Man from the NY Phil's American celebration box off my NAS via Foobar as the first track (CD source). Sounded amazing.
 

humprof

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I'm upgraded to Windows 10 and will keep that. Thanks for the advice that the upgrade is still available. The graphics chipset on the PC (HD2000) can't do above 1080p, but I might be satisfied with that given that I can get 4k from other sources including the TV's own apps, the Chromecast, and x800. It sounds beautiful...

Listened to the Fanfare for the Common Man from the NY Phil's American celebration box off my NAS via Foobar as the first track (CD source). Sounded amazing.
I donno if you're set up for Atmos, @ubertrout, but remember, too, that with Windows 10 you can stream Atmos natively over HDMI to your AVR. (Depending upon the file format--mp4, m4a, or mka--you can use Windows Movies & TV, Kodi, or VLC, though not foobar, which only grabs the TrueHD core but not the Atmos metadata. Kodi and VLC require some not-always-intuitive tweaking of settings, though.)

And of course, Windows 11 is right around the corner...
 

jimfisheye

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I keep mouthing off about switching to Linux. And then go right back to using OSX...

It's coming though. OSX looks to be kind of done for.
I see talk about Windows 11 on some audio forums I waste time on and apparently all the worst features of the post-Jobs Apple and then some are coming your way! All kinds of calling home. They have some version of the security chip that prevents service/repairs/mods. (Probably hack-able though whereas Apple's isn't.) Apparently disabling updates doesn't though. That's the one people are buzzing about that goes beyond Apple. But there's always Little Snitch (network monitor)!

If your current machine was doing the job but something slowed down?!
Hardware doesn't slow down. Drives can fail but they can be easily replaced and SSDs are cheap now. You always have the option to do a clean install of your OS.

If you didn't make a safety copy backup clone of your original OS/apps install that you could simply overwrite with... well, you probably will next time. :)

My point is you don't have to buy new hardware because of some software.
 

ubertrout

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I donno if you're set up for Atmos, @ubertrout, but remember, too, that with Windows 10 you can stream Atmos natively over HDMI to your AVR. (Depending upon the file format--mp4, m4a, or mka--you can use Windows Movies & TV, Kodi, or VLC, though not foobar, which only grabs the TrueHD core but not the Atmos metadata. Kodi and VLC require some not-always-intuitive tweaking of settings, though.)

And of course, Windows 11 is right around the corner...
My setup is 7.1. I have a few Atmos discs but I don't feel compelled, especially since a lot of Atmos is 4,5, or 7.1 in drag.

I have been wondering about Kodi. I really like how easy it is to configure foobar for DSD and WASAPI, but I assume everything does that now.
 

Mr. Afternoon

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My setup is 7.1. I have a few Atmos discs but I don't feel compelled, especially since a lot of Atmos is 4,5, or 7.1 in drag.

I have been wondering about Kodi. I really like how easy it is to configure foobar for DSD and WASAPI, but I assume everything does that now.
Well, Kodi does WASAPI exclusive, which is nice, but AFAIK it doesn't do DSD passthrough.
 

ubertrout

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I keep mouthing off about switching to Linux. And then go right back to using OSX...

It's coming though. OSX looks to be kind of done for.
I see talk about Windows 11 on some audio forums I waste time on and apparently all the worst features of the post-Jobs Apple and then some are coming your way! All kinds of calling home. They have some version of the security chip that prevents service/repairs/mods. (Probably hack-able though whereas Apple's isn't.) Apparently disabling updates doesn't though. That's the one people are buzzing about that goes beyond Apple. But there's always Little Snitch (network monitor)!

If your current machine was doing the job but something slowed down?!
Hardware doesn't slow down. Drives can fail but they can be easily replaced and SSDs are cheap now. You always have the option to do a clean install of your OS.

If you didn't make a safety copy backup clone of your original OS/apps install that you could simply overwrite with... well, you probably will next time. :)

My point is you don't have to buy new hardware because of some software.
The Core i3-2100t is a 10-year old chip and the HD2000 graphics set can only do 1080p. The hardware is working fine though and with the NAS there's less demand on the system than ever. I'm not going to upgrade it further except perhaps to add a graphics card for 4k.

But yes, same about keep saying I'll switch and don't. Doubt I'll switch now.
 

humprof

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I have a few Atmos discs but I don't feel compelled, especially since a lot of Atmos is 4,5, or 7.1 in drag.
I hear you. Especially in the "classical" realm. There's a handful of 2L and Sono Luminus titles that make full use of the heights--but honestly, the 5.1/7.1 mixes of those same titles are just as compelling.

Anyway: congrats on your new, improved setup.
 

ubertrout

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I hear you. Especially in the "classical" realm. There's a handful of 2L and Sono Luminus titles that make full use of the heights--but honestly, the 5.1/7.1 mixes of those same titles are just as compelling.

Anyway: congrats on your new, improved setup.
Thanks! Not much actually new there, but the upgrade to Windows 10 does give it a bit of a new polish.
 

steelydave

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LibreElec is a minimal Linux distribution with just enough kernel to run Kodi media player app (it also includes Kodi). This works really well if all you intend to do is run Kodi (play Media) but if you want to run other programs you may have issues.

I have two Intel NUCs (both i3 NUC8) with LibreElec (Kodi) and use both to play MCH files from my NAS, occasional movies from my NAS and a couple of HD streaming apps (Sports). Perfect. Kodi can play files from disc but I’ve never tried. All my discs are converted to FLAC, M4A (Atmos) or MKV (HD and 4K video).

@steelydave uses a full Linux build and may like to comment?
I did start out with Linux Mint on my NUC (7i5BNH) and it was alright at first, but I eventually (somewhat begrudgingly) switched to Win 10.

I really liked the idea of Linux from a theoretical standpoint (mostly the fact that it was free) but what I ran into was the double-edged sword that comes with free software, and that is that it's less-well supported.

I don't know if this applies to all NUCs (or just mine and earlier) but it turns out that the sound drivers for Linux don't support bit-perfect output - you can, through some configuration file tinkering, manually set the output sample rate (ie you can change it to 192kHz for example) and everything will be either upsampled or downsampled to match that. That worked fine for me for a while, but the perfectionist in me started to want bit-perfect output just on principle, and then when the object-based surround formats came along and required it, that was really the tipping point. I got balls-deep into Linux support forums trying to find out if updated sound drivers would ever be issued, and the only responses I could find were basically along the lines of "developers prioritize Windows drivers because that's where the money is, so maybe one day, but don't hold your breath."

There was also some issue with a couple of the UK TV streaming sites I use not working because the Linux version of Java doesn't have some recent security updates, and that really got the needle on my "fed up-o-meter" into the red. I bought this NUC to watch tv and movies and listen to music, not spend countless hours in support forums and obscure driver download sites trying to find workarounds for simple things. I like to think I'm a pretty intelligent and resourceful guy, but there's a point for me where I just want the thing to accomplish the function it's intended for. If you're the kind of computer user that's the equivalent of a guy who likes to have his car in pieces in his garage rather than out on the road driving, then maybe Linux is for you, but as it stands right now, it's not for me.

I think it may have been said upthread, but I got Win10 and it "just works". Bit-perfect output works, Atmos and DTS X bitstreaming works, HDR works, the streaming sites with the linux java issue work. I really wish I didn't have to spend the money, but I guess this is one of those situations where you get what you pay for.
 

DuncanS

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Beware of which NUC you do have or get, I bought a NUC8i7BEH in 2019 (around £1000), and it will only communicate with a piece of kit if it sees it is HDCP 2.2 compatible, so it won't downgrade its output as others do/may do, thus my 2013 AV amp with HDCP 1.3 gets no audio! If I connect the NUC via my Oppo the Oppo does the conversion and I can get audio - but it is a bit daft to use the Oppo for that. A £100 Odroid N2 running CoreElec & Kodi works fine!
 
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