Windows Vista, Linux and Mac OS X
I have two computers at home, a mini PC in a Shuttle case with a TV card for my entertainment and storage and my Macbook Pro which I use for everything else. I recently became frustrated with trying to get Windows Media Centre 2005 to work properly with guide data in Australia and the correct daylight savings times, so I decided to dual boot it with Linux to see how the current distributions were going, and to give MythTV a shot.
I had heard a lot about Ubuntu but never installed it so I downloaded this first. Installation was fairly painless and it mostly detected everything I had in the box. The main issue was the USB wifi stick that I have plugged into that machine (MA111v1). I ended up having to use the ndiswrapper and Windows drivers but I couldn't get it to work on boot without unplugging it and plugging it back in again.
MythTV was fairly easy to install and seems like quite a good alternative to MCE. Things I liked about it:
1. I loved the web access to the guide and being able to program which recordings I want from my Macbook Pro is very handy.
2. I liked all the configuration options available and the concept of cutting out the commercials. Unfortunately I couldn't get this to work (with Australian TV).
Things I didn't like:
1. I didn't like the interface, it feels typically Linux, without any of the smoothness and slickness of MCE.
To enhance the graphical side of Ubuntu I decided to give Compix a go. Installation wasn't too hard and the new graphics were certainly fun to begin with, but all those shaking menus and quivering windows started hurting my head after a while. I'm sure there are lots of configurations that would ease this effect, but after a few hours playing with it I decided it wasn't going to be as easy as ticking a couple of boxes. Which leads me to my main gripe about Linux in general. Its still for people who like to spend hours tinkering.
I'm a person who loves playing with hardware and software, but Linux still takes too much time getting it just right. In the end I decided that after a couple of test distributions (Ubuntu, OpenSuse) I would stick with Microsoft on this machine.