Linux media player settop box and IP router project

It's the time to retire my old linux router (10 years old P166 64Mb PC:-) The router/firewall connects broadband internet (cable modem) to my home network (3 Windows PCs and laptop). It runs WEB/FTP/SSH/Mail servers as well. Later I installed Asterisk PBX server on it to provide inhouse telephone service.

Second piece of hardware to retire - Apex AD-1500 DVD player. The player plays almost everything (DVD, Video CD, SVCD, CVD, Audio CD, MP3 CD) but can't play AVI/DivX and other media formats. I don't like to watch movies on the computer monitor. At home, movies are best watched on a TV.

So, the idea is simple, to combine both devices into single small size box suitable to be placed in the living room. The hardware requirements are:

It's not so easy to satisfy to all these requirements... Most of videocards with TV-out on the market are powerfull video accelerators which are consuming power like a refrigirator and their coolers sound like a jet:-) Small PC cases are sometimes too small to fit DVD drive or require a costly low-profile DVD drive. Some mini-cases have no built-in PSU, but I want the box to be all in one.

After a week of research I finally found what I need.


VIA M10000 mini-ITX MB with VIA Nehemiah 1Gz CPU. The CPU is powerfull enough to play all media formats, the graphics chipset has MPEG hardware decoder, the board has TV-out connectors (composite and S-video), analog and SPDIF audio outputs. The board also offers great connectivity choices: 2 RS-232 ports, 100Mb ethernet, 4 USB2.0 and 2 firewire ports!


Mini-ITX case with 120WA PSU built in. The hole right to USB connectors is the IR receiver window.

Additional hardware

The total cost of the hardware (with 256M DDR stick) is less than $400 including shipping.


Hmm... That's the most tricky part and is still under construction:-) The main idea is to build plug and play configuration and to avoid the use of X window system, I see no reason to run X on a DVD player:-) The box has neither keyboard nor mouse attached to it.

Update. Unichrome team made a great work developing driver and MPEG2 decoder support for X. So... I switched to X Window. I created a new gentoo ebuild for Xorg-6.8.0 based on unichrome-r27 and libviaXvMC-0.13.0.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or suggestions, Sergey Okhapkin.