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Table of Contents

Overview

This guide will show a possible software setup for your HTPC. It assumes a dedicated Home Theater PC based on Windows XP, but most of these guidelines can also be used on a general-purpose PC and with Windows Vista / Windows 7.

Introduction

For a stable setup, it is strongly suggested that you start with a clean system. This means formatting at least your system partition (C(smile), not upgrading from a previous Windows install.

Before you begin, make sure that your system meets the Requirements (only look at the hardware requirements now, we will have a look at the required updates and hot fixes during this documentation. Do not install it before doing the previous steps!)

Hard disk setup

Setup with two hard disks

For optimal performance, it is suggested to use two separate hard disks. Since the read/write head on each hard disk can move independently, operations on your system disk will not influence reading and writing of, for example, video files on the data hard disk.

Hard disk 1:

  • C: [System] 10GB
    • Windows
    • Program Files
      • Antivirus
      • Firewall
      • Partition Manager
      • Disk Imaging Software
      • etc...
  • D: [Apps] (remaining space)
    • Team MediaPortal
      • MediaPortal
      • MediaPortal BACKUP
      • MediaPortal TV-Server (if used)
      • SVN-Snapshots
    • Games

Hard disk 2:

  •  E: [Media]
    • Videos
    • Pictures
    • Music

Setup with one hard disk

  • C: [System] 10GB
    • Windows
    • Program Files
      • Antivirus
      • Firewall
      • Partition Manager
      • Disk Imaging Software
      • etc...
  • D: [Apps] (remaining space)
    • Team MediaPortal
      • MediaPortal
      • MediaPortal BACKUP
      • MediaPortal TV-Server (if used)
      • SVN-Snapshots
    • Games
    • Videos
    • Pictures
    • Music

Windows Installation

  1. Install Windows. If you are re-installing, then at least format the system partition.
  2. Install the latest Service Pack for Windows
  3. Install drivers for mainboard, soundcard, gfx-card, etc. DO NOT INSTALL THE TV_CARD DRIVERS NOW
    The reason for this is that we want a clean windows installation for our first image and the drivers from some manufaturers are not "that good" and "that easy" to remove in case of an driverupdate. So it is not suggested to install these now.
  4. Sometimes it happens that the DirectX installation misses some files or copies corrupt files. If you do not want to give that a chance, simply download the latest DirectX Redistributable version for your Windows Version.
  5. Run Microsoft Update as many times, until there are no new updates left. Make sure that .NET 1.1 + Service Pack, .NET 2 and .NET 3 got installed.
  6. Install all updates and requirements from the Requirements page (They are listed under "Required Updates and Hotfixes").
  7. Deactivate the Windows screensaver.
  8. Activate hibernation.
  9. If you created multiple user accounts, and want that one user gets automatically logged on, you can use Microsofts TweakUI, or use one of the two methods described in the Microsoft Knowledgebase article.
  10. Do your personal configurations to Windows (Explorer view, etc.).
  11. Map network drives if available.
  12. Install and configure additional software on your system partition (C(smile).
    Do NOT install MediaPortal yet!!! Also do NOT install any codecs yet!!! (same reason as for the TV-Card drivers)
    • Antivirus
    • Firewall (If you are going to use TV-Server, you will need to open ports)
    • Archiving application for extracting MediaPortal and add-ons. It is recommended to use 7-Zip, because it supports ZIP-, RAR- and 7z-archives, is open-source and so freely available.
    • CD burning tool
    • Drive imaging (for example Acronis TrueImage
    • etc.
  13. Create an image of your configuration with your drive imaging software. Call it "windows_clean_installation_up-to-date". If possible, burn the image on a DVD.

Note: Do NOT install any so-called "optimizing" or "tuning" tools. Home theater software like MediaPortal is highly specialized software, and a program that may optimize a general-purpose PC, may slow down or even destabilize a home theater system. Registry "cleaners" and "optimizers" are also not needed, since you installed a fresh system. If you want to "optimize" Windows XP, you can do so by activating the classic GUI and deactivating all effects.

BDA / DVB hotfix

As outlined the MediaPortal Requirements , the  BDA/DVB hotfix is essential for viewing digital TV broadcasts using either analog or digital TV cards. It is already included in roll up 2 of Windows MCE 2005, but for Windows XP you have to install it manually. It includes an updated psisdecd file (psisdecd.dll) .  When installed correctly this enables multi TV card support using Windows XP (SP3).

All XP users should install this hotfix in any case. Often problems occur when you do not install the fix while using a single card, then later add an additional card.

Windows only officially provides the updated dll with MCE, so please consult the BDA/DVB hotfix forum thread for details and a link to the download.

MediaPortal Installation

  1. install the TV-Card drivers and reboot if you are asked to.
  2. install all required video-codecs. NEVER USE ANY CODEC PACKS!  See Codecs.
  3. Install MediaPortal now. You find the installation guide here, under Deploy Tool or you can directly go to the downloads page.
  4. Follow the Configuration section to configure MediaPortal.
  5. Now create a backup of your MediaPortal installation. Copy the MediaPortal folder and rename it to for example MediaPortalBackup. If anything goes wrong in the future (maybe during testing a CVS-Snapshot) you can easily restore MediaPortal with the files in your Backup folder.
  6. Create a new image of your C: partition and name it for example WinXP_MP_installed. If you use 2 hard disks, you should create an image of both C: and D:. If possible burn the image on a DVD.

How to restore your HTPC

If for any reason your Windows installation has become corrupted, or if even your hard disk dies, you can easily recover you HTPC setup. 

Just boot your computer from the Recovery DVD and restore the whole Windows installation in a matter of minutes. 
Sounds cool, or what? 

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