While MS Windows Home Server running in my HP EX475 is a cool thing (albeit my grumpiness for that AMD Sempron chip), long before this I'd already been playing around with LinuxMCE.
PS> And before that I'd also been playing around with Windows XP Media Center 2005 and got the Media Center Extender for the original Xbox -- no cigar there though. The OS license is now done for and Microsoft refuses to honor my soft-modded Xbox even if I was paying for Xbox Live for 2-years. I said goodbye to that righteous setup, its now just a standalone game station with the rest of its console brethren in the living room.
The base machine I was using for my initial test was from spare parts from the office, basically an Intel P4 clone and an 80GB IDE HDD with built-in sound card. Its video card was built-in and not really fit to run as the core/hybrid system -- yet given that LinuxMCE is taking advantage of Kubuntu 7.04 (or if you like then install Ubuntu and just convert it from the default to KDE) it ran well enough. Installation was pretty straightforward similar to the video (sans the Fiire producs which I only sort of drool about).
Some quick things about LinuxMCE:
1. its the spin-off from the Pluto Home project; the project actually links back to the LinuxMCE for those DIY people like me
2. Pluto Home and thus LinuxMCE is being OEM'ed (or licensed or whatever), the point is that apparently Monster Cable based their Monster Home product on it
3. it has more built-in functionality than whatever WindowsMCE has yet to offer, up to home security and automation
4. it supports orbiters of almost all walks and sizes right down to your Symbian 60 phone
5. it is FREE, FREE, FREE, get it, FREE
Some digression. All my media is pending to be streamed from the MSS (and I mean pending given that the most promising thing I've gotten to do on it is probably have a server to host websites at home and some pictures which isn't much given the bandwidth limitations that Comcast has for serving files, gee the puny UM150 from Verizon gives me almost the same speed -- thus I may have to resort to using PhotoSync+Flickr or linking my Picassa/PhotoBucket/Kodak instead). I've installed the SageTV add-in and made a quick test which was pretty slow rendering on my MacBook Pro -- attributing this to the EX475's lowend AMD Sempron and 512MB memory. TVersity actually does a better job at streaming my media, but its not a full MCE that I've yet to see stream stuff like TV Guide.
Last night I thought about an alternative form factor similar to the MSS and started my eBay search. That net me a Shuttle XPC Legend with 2-GB memory, Intel GMA950 display, and a P4 3-GHz chip for starters (in fairness it would cost just a wee bit less at $500 with a 1-TB HDD purchase, add the approximate cost of the WHS OS license and its a cost match). I'm planning to combine this with the Hauppauge WinTV-HVR 950 and see what happens.
I've also started to be a bit more active in the wiki and put up my first contribution to it this morning, pending updates when the rig gets put together some time next week.