I’ve been thinking about the idea of a small, low-power media pc for the living room for quite some time now. when I saw the eee box, I knew that I would like to try to build a system based on it.

My plans are now entering the final stages after a long and diffcult journey. Both delivery problems (the eee took about 3 months to be actually delivered) and an unusual amount of linux driver problems were the main causes of this.

The components I got in the end were:

  • Asus Eee Box B202
  • One “Terratec Cynergy DT USB XS Diversity”, a dual DVB-T tuner USB stick
  • an external DVD rewriter

I’m totally satisfied with the eee box. Sure, the manual was only available in languages I did not speak, the linux on it was something I hated instantly — but all that is meaningless because thanks to teh power of GNU/Linux and hardware with open source drivers, I can just install something I like. It’s a nice piece of hardware that now has Easy Peasy, a version of Ubuntu Linux for Eee PCs/Boxes.

Not everything was easy, something were barely possible. I mean, adding new USB device ids to a driver is something not many people manage to do. It was another tragic case of a hardware producer suddenly putting different hardware into a device with exactly the same name and no visual differences. I really walked into the nearby store with a hardware compatibility list. I found the “Terratec Cynergy DT USB XS Diversity” with was of course not the one that was supported out of the box in spite of identical name and looks. In addition to the problem of having to patch the drivers, I was also facing strange bugs and a misunderstaning of the available documentation.

The rest was really easy. Installing EasyPeasy was basically just inserting the CD into the external DVD drive and clicking through 7 questions or so; only complicated by my insisting on a self-sized partition table. no complications.

The installation of mythtv and lircd was no problem either once the mysterious remote control bugs were fixed by someone from the linux-dvb developers (and me finally getting that I was trying the wrong way to fix things).

All in all I’m really happy with my new media center. For me this showed something about hardware support for linux:

It doesn’t matter if the software you deliver on your hardware is utter crap, as long as there are free drivers that third parties can use to create better software.