H.264 Software Specifications
Operating System: You can go for Linux if you’re feeling adventurous or you already know how to use it. If not, use Windows 7 if you have access to it or use Windows XP. DO NOT USE VISTA – YOU’RE RUNNING A LOW-RAM SYSTEM!
Media Software: You have two options in this category, both equally as competent.
Boxee – This is the newest contender in town for Media PC domination. Boxee runs off the XBMC engine (more on that below) and is incredibly small. The interface is light, clean, and easy to use. It’s not highly customizable yet because it’s only in the alpha stage of release, but it does the job quite admirably. It’s free and open to the public currently on www.boxee.tv.
XBMC – This is the grizzled veteran of the media server game. Unlike Boxee, you don’t need a decent box to run XBMC with the ugly skin that it comes with originally. XBMC was originally made to run on the Xbox (you read that right, not the 360, the original Xbox), and so the specs are tremendously low. However, unlike Boxee, the opening interface isn’t very refined or pretty, and so, if you’re going to skin the system with something like AEON (a skin), you’ll need a beefier PC. XBMC is also available for free at www.xbmc.org.
After running 3 different media PCs, a rule of thumb seems to be that a PC will run either Boxee or XBMC tremendously well, but it cannot run both. For whatever reason, this is the rule that seems to work with most PCs, even looking at forums, you’ll hear the complaint quite often. Remember to set aside a good amount of time for making your server function properly and to learn the controls. Once your server and software is set-up, you’ll look on in awe as 1080p movies are streamed over your Wireless G network flawlessly to your media PC.