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My goal is to liberate myself from the bulky storage problems having a 1000+ dvd library entails, and also from the variety of cataloguing problems that also ensue.

I have found several open source project that are designed to categorize avi libraries so that you can take a video on demand approach with your collection. Similarly I have found several "home theatre" solutions.

None of these solutions seem to integrate the idea of backing up my DVD media collection and serving them on my own TV (for copyright reasons I am not looking to access this from multiple TVs or over the internet or anything like that).

I'm certain I can achieve the digital backup part of this problem, what I'm looking for a is a good HMI. An iPod cover view style interface would be the promised land with user tracking to suggest other programs in the library that the view might like.

Is anyone aware of a solution that might approximate my goals? A windows based solution would be preferred, but I can run a linux variant if that's the only option.

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There are simple hardware "media boxes" both with hard drive enclosures or with connection capability and connect to tv or hdmi. with them you can Cram (meaning re-encode) thousands of movies and series into say a 2T drive, and play them back simply minus a real computer. Saves hudreds of watts of power :-) Many of them will work with the DVD data put onto the hard drive or flash stick or whatever. Popcorn Hour, Metal gear, WD media and others. Abilities are not full computer, but it beats having a stack of dvds. –  Psycogeek Oct 25 '11 at 0:59
    
@Psycogeek The quality of the playback is important to me, so I do want to avoid compression where possible and leave myself lots of backup options. At present my data footprint might be around 15T with some RAID coverage so even 2T is not sufficient. The boxes I've looked at are fairly restricted in their online options as well, most do not boast wide open internet access. –  Stephen Oct 25 '11 at 1:32
    
yup they sure are not HTPCs –  Psycogeek Oct 25 '11 at 1:40

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Take a look at xbmc, it does exactly what you're looking for.

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XBMC is an award-winning free and open source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub for digital media. XBMC is available for Linux, OSX, and Windows. Created in 2003 by a group of like minded programmers, XBMC is a non-profit project run and developed by volunteers located around the world. More than 50 software developers have contributed to XBMC, and 100-plus translators have worked to expand its reach, making it available in more than 30 languages.

While XBMC functions very well as a standard media player application for your computer, it has been designed to be the perfect companion for your HTPC. Supporting an almost endless range of remote controls, and combined with its beautiful interface and powerful skinning engine, XBMC feels very natural to use from the couch and is the ideal solution for your home theater.

Currently XBMC can be used to play almost all popular audio and video formats around. It was designed for network playback, so you can stream your multimedia from anywhere in the house or directly from the internet using practically any protocol available. Use your media as-is: XBMC can play CDs and DVDs directly from the disk or image file, almost all popular archive formats from your hard drive, and even files inside ZIP and RAR archives. It will even scan all of your media and automatically create a personalized library complete with box covers, descriptions, and fanart. There are playlist and slideshow functions, a weather forecast feature and many audio visualizations. Once installed, your computer will become a fully functional multimedia jukebox.

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Looks great, I'll check it out. Thanks a lot! –  Stephen Oct 24 '11 at 17:13
    
To revisit this for future readers, I tried the Windows 8 Media Center and a program called MediaPortal, but didn't find either one nearly as useful or as polished as xbmc. –  Stephen Feb 7 '13 at 0:01

I know Windows Media Center could do this, but I don't know if its still around. Other options are Mythbuntu, which is for HTPC setups

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