HDMI and Linux - do they work well together? - Hardware

This is a discussion on HDMI and Linux - do they work well together? - Hardware ; For the past few years, I've been considering installing Linux as a dual boot to ease what is likely to be my eventual abandonment of the Windows platform. This is primarily because I see Microsoft implementing increasingly rigorous policies restricting ...

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Thread: HDMI and Linux - do they work well together?

  1. HDMI and Linux - do they work well together?

    For the past few years, I've been considering installing Linux as a dual
    boot to ease what is likely to be my eventual abandonment of the Windows
    platform.

    This is primarily because I see Microsoft implementing increasingly
    rigorous policies restricting fair use rights. Sure, they like to call it
    "Digital Rights Management", but what it really means is taking away all
    your rights to back up your own disks.

    I started using computers back in the day of the Commodore 64, when it was
    explicitly stated that we had the right to make a backup of any game or
    program we bought. These days, I have toddlers that like to chew on my
    DVD's, so I always back them up to the hard drive. Anyway, as you might
    imagine, I firmly believe that users should have the right to back up
    anything they buy, or even make a backup CD of music, and play the backup
    until it wears out or gets scratched up.

    It looks like this sort of thing will become increasingly difficult in the
    future with Windows.

    Two of my friends and myself are at the point where we want to upgrade our
    systems. In reality, this means starting from scratch, because we've
    already reused many of the components from a previous build. We'll need new
    power supplies to power the new dual core CPU's.

    The 3 of us use our PC's 90% of the time as media centers. We record
    loads of programs from TV tuner cards, plus back up DVD's. I typically use
    Nero Recode to compress video to the h.264 format - at about 200 Megabytes
    per hour. I typically play it back using VLC Media player.

    My past tries at Linux have found it to be rather user unfriendly. 5
    years ago, Red Hat Linux wouldn't even install properly. 3 years ago,
    Lindows (now Linspire - thanks Microsoft for your crappy lawsuits!)
    installed well and was easy to get started on, but didn't even come with a
    working media player. Installing programs was easy, but most of what was
    available was junk.

    Now I'm considering Ubuntu, just so we can try it out.

    I'd been looking at motherboards, and have pretty much settled on the AM2.
    I'm waiting until the Athlon 64 X2 5600+ drops in price a bit.

    I want the onboard Nvidia 6100 video or perhaps a similar ATI onboard
    solution.

    Then I noticed that some of the motherboards had HDMI, and wondered what
    the heck that meant. Further reading told me that these motherboards would
    be HDTV ready - so they could be plugged directly into an HDTV monitor.

    I'm not sure I really like the whole idea of HDMI. Isn't it a form of
    taking away consumer rights and making sure that certain content won't even
    play, or will play at a reduced quality if it isn't protected all the way
    from the player to the monitor?

    I usually use RCA jacks for all of my audio and video needs, and am not
    very trusting of HDMI, which is an expensive cable, and seems to be forced
    on everyone by hollywood.

    Could someone please tell me some more about HDMI, and whether it can be
    used as a form of DRM? I'm also interested in how HDMI relates to Linux,
    and whether I should actually buy a motherboard that has it onboard.

    Thanks!




  2. Re: HDMI and Linux - do they work well together?

    "OhioGuy" writes:

    > For the past few years, I've been considering installing Linux as a dual
    > boot to ease what is likely to be my eventual abandonment of the Windows
    > platform.


    > [...]


    > Then I noticed that some of the motherboards had HDMI, and wondered what
    > the heck that meant. Further reading told me that these motherboards would
    > be HDTV ready - so they could be plugged directly into an HDTV monitor.


    HDMI is essentially dual-link DVI bundled with digital audio.

    > I'm not sure I really like the whole idea of HDMI. Isn't it a form of
    > taking away consumer rights and making sure that certain content won't even
    > play, or will play at a reduced quality if it isn't protected all the way
    > from the player to the monitor?


    There's nothing wrong with HDMI, apart from the connector being
    slightly on the flimsy side.

    You are probably thinking of HDCP, which is an encryption protocol
    running on top of HDMI or DVI. It provides (or is supposed to
    provide) a secure link between a player and a monitor in order to
    prevent the signal being recorded. To establish an HDCP link you need
    some secret keys only available by signing an NDA and handing over a
    large quantity of cash (or work for a company that has done this).

    > I usually use RCA jacks for all of my audio and video needs, and am not
    > very trusting of HDMI, which is an expensive cable, and seems to be forced
    > on everyone by hollywood.


    HDMI is a huge step up from composite video. If you start using it,
    you'll refuse to ever watch a composite signal again. For audio the
    difference compared to good quality analogue cabling isn't overwhelming.

    > Could someone please tell me some more about HDMI, and whether it can be
    > used as a form of DRM? I'm also interested in how HDMI relates to Linux,
    > and whether I should actually buy a motherboard that has it onboard.


    There is no reason to pay extra for an HDMI output if you plan to run
    Linux. You can connect any DVI output to an HDMI input with a
    converter cable (costs the same as a regular DVI or HDMI cable).

    Since TVs tend to only have stereo speakers, and rather bad ones at
    that, you're better off connecting your sound output, analogue or
    S/PDIF, directly to your hifi system instead.

    An HDMI output is only useful for playing restricted content using
    proprietary players with HDCP support. From what I've heard, these
    "features" of Windows (Vista) are mostly causing trouble so far.
    Besides, it's only a matter of time before the encryption used in such
    files is cracked anyway.

    --
    Måns Rullgård
    mans@mansr.com

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