Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
The Boxee Box, available since November 2010 with firmware recently upated to 1.1, is a winning compromise that makes a Linux-based HTPC easy enough for the least technical user.
Linux-based HTPC (home theater PC) systems have been proliferating, and with good reason. Linux is known for being stable over long periods of time. You wouldn't want to have to reboot your cable box as often as you do a Windows machine, would you?
There are tons of options, both in the software and hardware parts, for building your own from scratch. Boxee is just one. It started life as a fork of the open source XBMC software, which was created for first-gen Xbox consoles.