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SageTV Linux Discussion related to the SageTV Media Center for Linux. Questions, issues, problems, suggestions, etc. relating to the SageTV Linux should be posted here.

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  #1  
Old 07-28-2008, 08:00 AM
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tmiranda tmiranda is offline
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Linux or WHS?

My Sage server is getting a little long in the tooth and I've begun to think about replacing it. I am probably going to ditch Windows XP in favor of either Linux or WHS. I'm leaning towards linux but I'd be interested in a little sanity check on the following thoughts:

- Tuner support: I have an nVidia Dual TV, a Hauppauge 150 and a HDHomeRUn which I would like to continue to use. From what I see these are all supported by both platforms so no problems there. What about the newer tuner cards, is the support comparable? I am specifically thinkin about the newer QAM cards since that seems to be the future.

- Ext3 support: My recordings are spread out over many PATA and SATA drives (see sig), most of which are formatted as ext3. If I use linux I am thinking I can mount the drives as is and not have to reformat. Any issues I should be aware of? Can I use the wiz.bin from my XP install and have Sage recognize all fo the recordings on the ext3 drives? I am assuming WHS has no support for ext3 formatted drives so I will have to reformat.

- Cost: WHS is $149, but I can reuse my Sage license. Linux is free but I have to buy another Sage license for $80.00. So I save $70.00 by using linux. I have several placeshifter licenses and I believe they will work on under WHS or linux. Did I miss anything?

- Sage support: It seems Sage releases the linux versions of betas after the Windows versions. Typically these delays are not too long. True?

- Advanced drive support: WHS has some nice "drive pooling" and RAID features but I can probably do the same thing using LVMS under linux.

- Reliability: Both platforms are stable.

- Ease of setup and maintenance: Both platforms are relatively easy to install and maintain. I have linux experience (but not gentoo) so I am assuming my learning curve under linux will be lower than under WHS. How difficult is WHS setup?

Any other thought and comments?

Thanks,

Tom
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  #2  
Old 07-28-2008, 01:56 PM
sic0048 sic0048 is offline
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Well I don't think I would buy WHS strickly as a Sage Platform. You buy WHS for the backup and file protection that if offers for your network. It also happens to run Sage, but I don't think that should be the #1 reason to buy it IMHO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tmiranda View Post
- Advanced drive support: WHS has some nice "drive pooling" and RAID features but I can probably do the same thing using LVMS under linux.
As a note, they also recommend that you keep a scratch disk for all your Sage recordings. It apparently does not work well when you try to record directly to the pooled drives. You can have WHS backup the scratch disk to the pooled drives and that works, but you'll need a separate drive for the original Sage recordings.
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  #3  
Old 07-28-2008, 04:27 PM
Grasshopper Grasshopper is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tmiranda View Post
My Sage server is getting a little long in the tooth and I've begun to think about replacing it. I am probably going to ditch Windows XP in favor of either Linux or WHS. I'm leaning towards linux but I'd be interested in a little sanity check on the following thoughts:

- Tuner support: I have an nVidia Dual TV, a Hauppauge 150 and a HDHomeRUn which I would like to continue to use. From what I see these are all supported by both platforms so no problems there. What about the newer tuner cards, is the support comparable? I am specifically thinkin about the newer QAM cards since that seems to be the future.

- Ext3 support: My recordings are spread out over many PATA and SATA drives (see sig), most of which are formatted as ext3. If I use linux I am thinking I can mount the drives as is and not have to reformat. Any issues I should be aware of? Can I use the wiz.bin from my XP install and have Sage recognize all fo the recordings on the ext3 drives? I am assuming WHS has no support for ext3 formatted drives so I will have to reformat.

- Cost: WHS is $149, but I can reuse my Sage license. Linux is free but I have to buy another Sage license for $80.00. So I save $70.00 by using linux. I have several placeshifter licenses and I believe they will work on under WHS or linux. Did I miss anything?

- Sage support: It seems Sage releases the linux versions of betas after the Windows versions. Typically these delays are not too long. True?

- Advanced drive support: WHS has some nice "drive pooling" and RAID features but I can probably do the same thing using LVMS under linux.

- Reliability: Both platforms are stable.

- Ease of setup and maintenance: Both platforms are relatively easy to install and maintain. I have linux experience (but not gentoo) so I am assuming my learning curve under linux will be lower than under WHS. How difficult is WHS setup?

Any other thought and comments?

Thanks,

Tom
Hi Tom,

I use WHS. On top of Sage, the automated backup features are very nice and very easy to configure. If the other PC's in your LAN are running Windows, don't discount this feature of WHS. I'm sure there's a way to do it in Linux, too, but WHS is easy to set up and totally automated -- the server wakes up my sleeping PC's each night, backs them up, and they go back to sleep.

There's a 120 day free trial for WHS. Try it, if you prefer Linux you haven't lost too much.

Don
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  #4  
Old 07-28-2008, 04:58 PM
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stuckless stuckless is offline
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Quote:
Cost: WHS is $149, but I can reuse my Sage license. Linux is free but I have to buy another Sage license for $80.00. So I save $70.00 by using linux. I have several placeshifter licenses and I believe they will work on under WHS or linux. Did I miss anything?
I May be wrong here, but I thought that WHS required a different license than regular windows (XP, 2000, etc)

If you go linux, then I would suggest that you go with Ubuntu. It's user friendly and Sage has packages for it. Installing Sage under Ubuntu is as easy as clicking on the package link from the web site.

I would caution linux on 2 fronts. First, you need to carefully research your hardware to ensure that Linux has out of box support for it. Second, sort of related to the first actually, Sage doesn't support all the same hardware on linux/windows/mac. For example, the HD-PVR is supported under Windows, but it's not supported on linux, yet, even though there is a beta driver available.

I personally like linux for the following reasons....
  • I can easily turn off services that I don't need. I can do this in windows, but in windows, I find that over time, they "magically" get turned back on even though I've disabled them in the Service Manager.
  • Stability... I rebooted my server once last year... It was because I upgraded from ubuntu 7.10 to 8.04.
  • Performance. Because I have very few services running (ssh, sage, samba), there are more cpu cycles and memory left over for Sage. I tend to give sage the full amount of system memory, since the server is only used a Sage server.
  • I can easily manage the system from anywhere, using a command line, over ssh.

For compatibility, I'd choose Windows, since it has better driver support. If you are a casual linux user, but a windows pro, then I'd stick with windows. You'll find it frustrating unlearning windows.
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  #5  
Old 07-28-2008, 05:10 PM
ntisdale ntisdale is offline
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Hi Tom,

I run sage on a Ubuntu linux server and it's pretty solid. I haven't tried WHS but some of the features are very tempting e.g. tightly integrated backup of client PCs - all my desktop PCs are windows. However, linux offers a very high degree of flexibility which I like but I tend to work slightly harder at getting something going on linux than windows.
- Tuner support: I have an nVidia Dual TV, a Hauppauge 150 and a HDHomeRUn which I would like to continue to use. From what I see these are all supported by both platforms so no problems there. What about the newer tuner cards, is the support comparable? I am specifically thinkin about the newer QAM cards since that seems to be the future.
Linux driver support can be hit and miss, on the whole it takes a while for a driver to become available when a new device is released and the speed at which it is supported can depend on a number of factors. My advice when building a system for linux is to search the internet for devices that are known to work well with linux, places like http://www.linuxtv.org/ will give you an idea what digital cards are supported in linux. Also get the card running on linux before you go buying a sage license - at least then if it doesn't work you can switch to WHS. Linux has a common interface for digital cards so as long as you can get a card running in linux then it should work fine in sage.
- Ext3 support: My recordings are spread out over many PATA and SATA drives (see sig), most of which are formatted as ext3. If I use linux I am thinking I can mount the drives as is and not have to reformat. Any issues I should be aware of? Can I use the wiz.bin from my XP install and have Sage recognize all fo the recordings on the ext3 drives? I am assuming WHS has no support for ext3 formatted drives so I will have to reformat.
As you say just mount the drives to directories in the filesystem. The wiz.bin can be copied across but you'll have to be careful with the recordings paths - search the sage forums as similar questions to this have come up in the past.
- Cost: WHS is $149, but I can reuse my Sage license. Linux is free but I have to buy another Sage license for $80.00. So I save $70.00 by using linux. I have several placeshifter licenses and I believe they will work on under WHS or linux. Did I miss anything?
Correct
- Sage support: It seems Sage releases the linux versions of betas after the Windows versions. Typically these delays are not too long. True?
The linux and windows versions on the whole are released simultaneously
- Advanced drive support: WHS has some nice "drive pooling" and RAID features but I can probably do the same thing using LVMS under linux.
You can replicate a lot of the behaviour of WHS drive management in linux but you'll have to work a bit harder than WHS to get it going. I would give linux a try beforehand to see if you can get it doing what you want.
- Reliability: Both platforms are stable.
Rock solid - I can't remember when I last rebooted my server and that was for a software upgrade.
- Ease of setup and maintenance: Both platforms are relatively easy to install and maintain. I have linux experience (but not gentoo) so I am assuming my learning curve under linux will be lower than under WHS. How difficult is WHS setup?
Can't comment on WHS but I'm guessing a fair bit easier than linux. I would avoid Gentoo, that's my personal preference - others may disagree, but I just can't be bothered to wait around for things to compile when I want to install something new. I use Ubuntu just out of sheer laziness - the package repositories are great - I was amazed how easy it was to setup (the last time I had touched linux was a decade ago) and when I did run into problems a bit of digging around on google usually revealed the answer.
Any other thought and comments?
I'm not really for or against any particular platform - just whatever does the job with the least amount of pain. I found linux very easy going and flexible enough to expand to new requirements e.g. webservers etc... I would however say if you go down the linux route buy the sage linux last, get everything running in linux how you want it. That way you can always change your mind without having wasted your money.

Neil
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  #6  
Old 07-28-2008, 05:52 PM
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tmiranda tmiranda is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sic0048 View Post
Well I don't think I would buy WHS strickly as a Sage Platform. You buy WHS for the backup and file protection that if offers for your network. It also happens to run Sage, but I don't think that should be the #1 reason to buy it IMHO.
The machine would be dedicated to Sage. The reason I am considering WHS is really a matter of elimination:

- Vista: No way. I bought a copy of Vista Home Premium for $99 and it was a total waste of money. I uninstalled it and have it sitting in the software library. The only positive thing that came out of using Vista was that it convinced me that Sage was a lot better than VMC. (To me all the hoopla about the wonderful VMC interface is poo-poo. My kids figured out Sage in 10 minutes and struggled with VMC.)

- XP: Dead end. I know MS will support it for a long time but since I'm building a new machine it seems foolish to use something you know is being phased out. I may reconsider XP because Sage has been very stable for me under XP home and by the time MS really does drop support for XP we will probably be on Sage version 12, I'll have a (standard) 9 foot flat panel HDTV (HD version 2 of course) and I'll be ready for another hardware upgrade.

- Mac: Not for me. Nice machines but they are expensive and I know next to nothing about administering them.

That leaves WHS and linux as the best options.

Quote:
Linux driver support can be hit and miss, on the whole it takes a while for a driver to become available when a new device is released and the speed at which it is supported can depend on a number of factors. My advice when building a system for linux is to search the internet for devices that are known to work well with linux, places like http://www.linuxtv.org/ will give you an idea what digital cards are supported in linux. Also get the card running on linux before you go buying a sage license - at least then if it doesn't work you can switch to WHS. Linux has a common interface for digital cards so as long as you can get a card running in linux then it should work fine in sage.
Good advice that I will take. Thanks.


Quote:
For compatibility, I'd choose Windows, since it has better driver support. If you are a casual linux user, but a windows pro, then I'd stick with windows. You'll find it frustrating unlearning windows.
Also good advice. I probably do not have to "unlearn Windows" since I have a lot of linux experience, but it is all at the kernel level. I used to write device drivers for hard disks so I consider anything above the kernel as "application software"
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  #7  
Old 07-29-2008, 12:13 PM
drewg drewg is offline
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Why not the best of both worlds: Run SageTV in a dedicated windows XP virtual machine, running underneath Vmware or VirtualBox on the Linux host?

The drawbacks are that you'd need to use network (HDHR) or USB tuners that VMWare can pass-through to the virtual machine, so you'd need to throw away your PCI tuners. The advantages are that you'd have a trustworthy OS handling your storage (and you'd be able to recycle your Ext3 disks), you'd be running SageTV on its best supported platform, and your server would be totally portable (no licensing worries when you upgrade your server hardware).

After my difficulties moving server hardware on Linux due to Sage licensing problems, I'm really starting to think running node-locked proprietary software like SageTV in a virtual machine is the right way to go if you care about smooth hardware upgrades.

Drew
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  #8  
Old 08-12-2008, 05:02 PM
alatar alatar is offline
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After having used both WHS and Linux in similar situations, my vote would be go with WHS just for ease of use. When setting up file storage under Linux, LVM works great when you add to it, but it falls flat on it's face when it comes time to remove a drive. Microsoft may not get everything right, but they've done a great job with WHS (with Power Pack 1).

Just so you don't think I'm a MS fanboy, I do run a couple of Linux systems at home, my router for one. No reasonably priced router comes close to the level of configuration I get from it.

Derek
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  #9  
Old 08-12-2008, 05:43 PM
bastafidli bastafidli is offline
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When I was deciding how to run Sage I was considering Linux and Windows 2003 Server, which I have been running for 3 years (both with sofware and hardware RAID). I ended up going with Linux and software RAID. I do not use LVM, just plain SW RAID and Linux allows me to do two things I couldn't do with Windows (haven't looked at WHS only at W2K3) and that is
1. have the system drive on RAID partition
2. expand the SW RAID on the fly (even convert RAID1 to RAID5)
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