Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
It's hard to pinpoint exactly when everyone and their mother got the urge for a home theater PC. It might very well have been when TiVo introduced TV recording and on-demand playback to a generation that is no longer impressed with the VCR, or maybe when Microsoft and OEMs started hawking PCs with Windows XP Media Center Edition to the mainstream. Whatever the exact event was, it seems to have come and passed. The question now posed to the savvy ExtremeTech reader is, "How can I get one of these home theater PCs without breaking the bank?"
If you take the time to look around, you'll find lots of software for both Windows and GNU/Linux that meet these specifications. To help you evaluate the best choice for your needs, we'll skim off the cream of the crop.
If you raise your hand during a local Linux User Group meeting and rattle off these criteria, odds are good that nearly everyone in the room will look annoyed and shout MythTV! MythTV, founded in 2002 and released under the GPL open source license, has long been the standby for Linux users building HTPCs. While development on MythTV does not seem to be as active as on some of its peers, its venerable and mature software with a lot of user-created add-ons probably cover any task you may have in mind.