View Full Version : Ideas for an old PC

March 10th, 2008, 03:16 AM
Hi, I've got an old PC laying around just waiting for new life to be breathed into it, and I'm looking for some ideas as to what to do with it.

I've got a TV card which I can put in it and I think I'll install Mythbuntu so I can have it humming away as a back end. I was also thinking about making a home server to make my files accessible from anywhere. Also maybe a firewall between the internet and my other PC's.

So yeah, those are a few, any more ideas would be great :)

Oh, and it's a reasonable spec - something like 1.8 Ghz with 512 mb of RAM.


March 10th, 2008, 03:32 AM
Uh, that could easily be a normal home use computer with those specs...
I have computers with 192MB of RAM and 400MHz processors that function fine for family and home use.

March 10th, 2008, 03:32 AM
When I read the thread title, I thought you were looking for alternative uses (other than as a functioning computer)... something like this:


Jay Jay
March 10th, 2008, 03:33 AM
With a spec like that It seems a bit of a waste of the potential to use it as just a firewall. :)

Since you've got a TV card how about commandeering it as an AV workstation to capture broadcasts and turn them into Avi's, MPEG2 etc?

March 10th, 2008, 03:59 AM
Turn it into a Snes, N64? Both! If you like any old school games you could just install a few emulators.

Chilli Bob
March 10th, 2008, 04:57 AM
Make a MAME cabinet.


March 10th, 2008, 05:13 AM
First, find some cheap VGA to TV box/card (box prefered). If you have some .avi (or whatever) movies from one computer, you could set up a network to stream the movie from computer A to computer-displayed-on-tv-B.

March 10th, 2008, 10:58 AM
Thanks for the suggestions guys!

I'll admit it is a pretty good spec machine just to go to waste but I've just built a new machine with a ridiculously higher spec :P

Yeah, about the capturing movies stuff, that was where i wanted MythTV to come in. I've never used it (and correct me if I'm wrong) but if I set it up as a back end connected to the TV aerial in the lounge I'll be able to record programs/stream the TV live over the network? Ideally I'd like to be able to watch TV in my room but the signal just isn't good enough with an aerial there.

Thanks for the emulator idea, Jim! I may well connect it up to my TV, grab an old controller and go mad. Oh and Chili Bob a MAME cabinet it a pretty big project! I'm a college student so I don't have alot of time on my hands at the moment - let alone money.

What I think I'll do is, install Ubuntu, strip it down (no office suite, etc), then install a MythTV backend, get it up and running on the network, set up a few emulators, then look into making it into a server so I can share my files anywhere.

Thanks guys! Any more suggestions are very welcome :)

March 10th, 2008, 08:08 PM
use mythbuntu instead of ubuntu might make your life easier.


Bungo Pony
March 10th, 2008, 08:55 PM
If you're going to use MythTV, Mythbuntu is probably your best bet. I couldn't get it to work in UbuntuStudio :(

Here's a few things I'm working on:

Jukebox PC: I keep this in my garage. It's an old P133 with 3 DVD Rom drives, USB2.0 and it's running DSL. I'm currently re-compiling the DVDs which will total over 2000 songs, and I've got some flash drives to fill up and plug in. In the future, I may connect it to my network and listen to music off other PCs in the house or stream from the internet. But I prefer choosing my own music :)

I've also got a server (PII) which has 8 bays for drives and I want to turn it into a CD duplicator. I'm currently collecting the burners from thrift stores and garbage PCs. Doing up the software will be the hard part.

I also have a laptop which I want as an all-DOS machine. I'm trying to get the USB to work so I can play music on it, but it's a bit of a goofy computer that's a bit tough to find support for. Unfortunately, I blew up my old 386 laptop which would have been a better machine to play with.

March 11th, 2008, 12:30 AM
Hmm, I tried mythbuntu for a bit. Can't say it went too well.

Got it installed, up and running fine, tried to set up the mythtv install but it wouldn't recognise my tuner card (WinTV Nova-T 500). Which is odd because it worked fine on a different computer. Anyway, tried to get that working for a bit but I'm really not a fan of XFCE, so I installed ubuntu-desktop. Then the setup application for MythTV just stopped working. It would just display the grey background picture for it and not come up with any options, even removing ubuntu-desktop didn't fix it.

That's where I am now. Might try a total wipe/reinstall, but if the card detection problem persists then I'll move onto other stuff.

This is more support forum material but just in case someone here can help: it detects the name of my tuner card when I select what type of card it is, but I can't seem to get the right option to get it to work and actually display something/scan for channels.

March 11th, 2008, 01:15 AM
Shameless self-promotion time. Sorry.


March 11th, 2008, 01:46 AM
Thanks very much for the links!

Other than the MythTV stuff going balls up the progress I've made is: Install a few emulators (zSNES, MAME and Mupen64), hook it up to my TV (which at the mo only runs in low-graphics mode...fixing that), and connect a controler to it.

Soon to be done (from K.Mandla's awesome suggestions): Automate my torrents! (I usually leave my main machine on just to do this), great how-to K.Mandla's got up on his site here (http://kmandla.wordpress.com/2007/05/02/howto-use-rtorrent-like-a-pro/). Then create an NFS network share so I can access all the media, and maybe make a central location for all my music accessible anywhere in the house via wireless.

I'm totally geeking out here.