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Orpples — or omitting LinuxMCE from a MythTV distro roundup

A story of mine at linux.com entitled “Three MythTV Linux distros compared” is receiving lots of hits this afternoon via Digg.  It’s a head-to-head comparison of MythBuntu, KnoppMyth, and MythDora.  All three are Linux distros designed to install and serve as a dedicated MythTV DVR system.

Yet in the real article, the Digg discussion, and via this blog’s comment form, a number of people are independently saying that I should have included LinuxMCE among the contestants.  Several of them are assuming that LinuxMCE’s absence means that I’ve never heard of it, which is of course untrue and an altogether different set of misunderstandings.

But the truth is that I didn’t include LinuxMCE in the comparison because it’s not the same kind of product, and therefore it’s simply not relevant to the MythTV distro roundup. It includes a bunch of other packages for disparate activities like Asterisk phone service and “home automation.” Those tasks have nothing to do with running a DVR — which, as I stated in the intro paragraph, was the point.

Lumping it in with the MythTV distros would be comparing apples to oranges, which is both unfair to people with either preference and pretty much entirely pointless.

And I don’t mean “unfair” as in “LinuxMCE would obviously come out on top, because it does so much more.” Frankly I think LinuxMCE would have fared quite poorly at the task, since I don’t want to run Asterisk or home automation from my set-top box, and doing so would degrade system performance.  You can install any vanilla Linux distro these days and include MythTV, Asterisk, a bunch of X10 utilities, and metric boatloads of other server stuff, too.  That system would take LinuxMCE to school on the feature front.

But so what? If you want a dedicated MythTV system, there are people catering to that exact need: MythBuntu, KnoppMyth, and MythDora.  More power to you if you have different requirements and LinuxMCE suits your needs.  But it is distinctive enough that when it gets stable, it should be reviewed on its own merits, not as part of a roundup of like tools.

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