In 2005, I bought some hardware to build a media center–a motherboard with an AMD 2.2ghz CPU, 1gb of ram, a 300 gb drive, and an NVidia 5200 card with TV-out (because I had a regular TV then).
I installed my favorite distro, SuSE Linux. The installation was fine, but I had 2 problems:
After a minimal hassle, I got everything working except for MythTV. The projected release date for a new kernel from SuSE was several months out, so I decided to try a new distro while I waited. The MythTV website recommmended Gentoo. A friend of mine had good luck with it, so I gave it a try. It took several days to get everything setup, but Gentoo is the most 'live' of all the distros. I got the kernel source that I needed and was able to get my TV turners working. It took a bit longer to get my nVidia card to send NTSC signals to my TV-out port, thanks to the X11 config. But in the end, everything worked.!
Over time, my love of Gentoo changed. As my family grew accustomed to watching MythTV during prime evening hours, it left me with less and less time to compile, tweak, and tinker with the system. And Gentoo is the kind of distro that really benefits from that kind of attention. So I started looking around and found Ubuntu. I did a quick comparison of the two distros:
|Optimized for specific hardware||yes||no|
|Access to latest codebase||yes||no|
|Format of software||source||binaries|
|Focus of admin tools||developer||end user|
|Ease of system setup||low||high|
|MythTV-focused distribution||not really||yes,available|
|Time required to configure software||med/high||low/medium|
So given my family's habits, I decided to switch to Ubuntu. Its a good trade-off: I'd lose some hardware optimizations, but I'd gain the ability to get my administration and upgrades done faster. So I downloaded the CD, burned it, and had the entire system up and running in 2-3 hours. I was impressed. All my hardware was automatically recognized–the PVR-500, the nVidia card, the onboard sound card, etc.. And small things that hadn't worked before started working, like Udev, powernowd and smartmontools. Since then I've been through countless software updates and distribution upgrades, all with no issues.