Roughly translated… IBM Thinkpad Linux Media Centre – while not a product IBM ships (or is likely to ship), is something I’ve been thinking about for a while and just started toying with recently. I have an old Aiwa stereo at home that keeps asking me for retirement so this idea has been seeded by my need for something a little better. As the other eightbar bloggers know, I’m completely in love with Linux and the media player I use, in spite of much teasing about its capability and a longstanding comparison with iTunes.
Proof of concept time then… before shelling out a whole lotta wonga on HTPC cases, wireless keyboards, IR receivers, new speakers and all that other good stuff, I thought I would try hacking around with what I have. So far this consists of an IBM Thinkpad T41p and my current stereo remote control using the IRDA port of the laptop. To illustrate the point of how old the stereo is, take a look at the remote I’ve hooked up to the laptop:
Unlike many home-brew media projects, I’m not bothered about PVR as I have a commercial one of these I’m already happy with so I just want something I can hook up to the TV to play music and do some simple web browsing, e-mail and maybe a few office type applications. Thinkpads seem to fit the bill perfectly, especially for a proof of concept. There are, of course, a few other factors involved in the design of this idea, needless to say it has to have quite a good wife acceptance factor so must be good on the budget front and easy to use, has to have a remote control, must be connected to the internet, and of course it absolutely has to run Linux otherwise the world might implode.
Stage 1 seems to be complete now. Conveniently enough, I just happen to have a laptop running Linux already and pretty much configured the way I want. Add to this a bit of fiddling around to get the IRDA port working as an IR receiver for remote controls and a few simple config files and I have a daemon that is listening for IR signals from the port. After that, it was a fairly simple job to hook up a client to execute commands on my system when a button is pressed on the remote, and once I was that far I was laughing all the way to hooking it up to my media player.