Howdy and welcome to Crystal Ball Sunday #12: Built-In Home Entertainment and Automation . Linux is the perfect medium for set top boxes (aka Set Top Units or Personal Video Recorders (PVR)) because of its customizability, optimization features, and no cost status. Whether you know them as Set Top Boxes, Set Top Units, or PVRs; you may know these generic names better by the brand name: TiVo. These Linux-based PVRs are not TiVo but they do what TiVo does and much more. With a PVR, you can watch, record, pause, and rewind live TV, watch movies, create your own home theater system, and so on.
The two best known projects for creating PVRs on Linux are MythTV and LinuxMCE.
MythTV is the classic PVR with features such as: Live TV Manipulation (Pause, FF, Rewind, Record) and advanced features such as: RSS Feeds, Emulator Front Ends for Classic Game Consoles, a Weather Module, DVD Ripper, Image Browser, and Program Information via xmltv.
LinuxMCE has most MythTV features plus it is a "whole-house" media system where each family member's media follows him, built-in Network Attached Storage (NAS) for centralized storage and backup of media, all device control, home automation, communications, and security features.
As home builders become more tech savvy, features such as built-in wired and wireless networks, communications, and entertainment will be included in the home design as standard. With packages like LinuxMCE, it's easy to see how this one stop solution could be incorporated into a new home's construction using modular installation for easy upgrade or enhancement, centralized management, and low-cost entry.
Existing home can be converted as well creating a whole new market for young entrepreneurs.
NOTE: Pay close attention to building codes and consult other professionals before embarking on a venture like this as it takes electrical and carpentry skills as well as computer tech knowledge.