The Ultimate Multimedia Center(s)

The Ultimate Multimedia Center actually slides in under a million dollars.
Just a Matter of Software

TiVo changed my life. I never watched much TV at all in my adult years, but I was very loyal to the shows I watched. TiVo allowed me to watch what I wanted, when I wanted. A couple of problems though—it was available only in the US, and although it was running Linux, it had big “do not open this box” labels on it. Of course, intrepid Linux hackers ignored this warning, and soon TiVos had much larger storage capacities and remote setup and so on.

Clay calls the software MythTV “TiVo on steroids”, and although Linux Journal does not condone drug usage of any type, I have to agree.

The core software of this system is Ubuntu. Clay chose Ubuntu because it gave good basic support to the multimedia, and because he likes their slogan, “I am what I am because of who we all are”. I have to admit that I like that slogan too.

Clay installs all of the core Ubuntu to make it easily available to the end user to tailor. So, you could run your Web server off your multimedia center. You also could use your multimedia center to handle your e-mail. Your choice.

On the other hand, you could use it just to record the TV shows that you want to watch and then play them back again using the MythTV software that Clay integrates. Or, use MPlayer to play your DVDs and other audio/video files in a huge number of formats. Or use XMMS to play back music, create playlists or create visual aids to go with your music.

And, of course, the remote is supported by MythTV, MPlayer and XMMS.

Clay also mentions that although all of the day-to-day audio/video functions can be controlled by this remote, you may want to get a wireless keyboard and mouse to operate the system better.

For complete specs, ordering information, copies of the software, and other things associated with this project, please go to for the Linux Beach MultiMedia 500 and for the Linux Beach Multimedia Center 1000.

And, for your own sake, get off the couch every once in a while—maybe to get a soda from the fridge.

TiVo is a trademark of TiVo, Inc. Linux is a trademark of Linus Torvalds.

Jon “maddog” Hall is the Executive Director of Linux International (, a nonprofit association of end users who wish to support and promote the Linux operating system. During his career in commercial computing, which started in 1969, Mr Hall has been a programmer, systems designer, systems administrator, product manager, technical marketing manager and educator. He has worked for such companies as Western Electric Corporation, Aetna Life and Casualty, Bell Laboratories, Digital Equipment Corporation, VA Linux Systems and SGI. He is now an independent consultant in Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Business and Technical issues.

Clay Claiborne ( is CEO of Linux hardware integrator Cosmos Engineering Company. He has worked in the computer industry off and on for 30 years. He has been a Linux enthusiast since 1995. In 1996, he developed the concept of selling Linux pre-installed on a hard drive and produced Linux On A Disk. He founded Linux Users, Los Angeles, and was its president for eight years. He currently resides in Venice, California.