Which Operationg System to choose for your HTPC
WHICH OS? LINUX OR WINDOWS?
The big no-brainer argument to which OS to choose is that Linux is free, and for me that sold it! Here, we are big fans of Linux especially nowadays with the incredible community out there. Ubuntu, specially, has become so much more user-friendly than before.
Aside from Ubuntu you might also want to check 2 very interesting Linux distributions. OpenElec and Kodibuntu were mainly meant to be install with Kodi and a HTPC. They are completely optimized so they can boot as quick as possible and required as less configuration as possible. Complete out the box home theater.
Another big player is coming soon: SteamOS. It’s still in beta stage and not supported by all the graphic card from the time we are writing this article. Only nVidia graphic cards are supported. We have the feeling that it is going to be a blast in the HTPC scene. If you meet the system requirements, you could always give it a look.
Windows, Ubuntu, light-weigth linux distributions… Why not having some of these installed on your HTPC. You can always choose to have a a multi-boot environment. Well that is up to you, some will say twice the configuration time, twice the fun, others will say twice the pain… If you plan to install multiple O.S.: We highly suggest you to finish by installing Linux at the end: the multi-boot system is easier to setup and stronger than the windows one. The Ubuntu installer even has a Windows / Ubuntu installing step straight out of the box.
On the windows side, it is something we are use to since a long time. Windows is the big player for most of the desktop computers. You will probably be in your playground and there is good chances you wont have to worries about configuring your applications.
Also, a lot of applications and games are windows only (A lot of games, Netflix and so on…). You might want to look that before going into Linux. The one that could change somebodies mind is JRiver. Now, it is only available for Windows. We know some audiophile swear only by this software, but this can become a pretty advance subject. If you are not an expert in sound, don’t worry about this. Another big advantages is the drivers. They are basically all supported in Windows. That can save some big headaches, trust me ;). Meanwhile, keep in mind that Windows is memory intensive on hard drive and RAM. It also tend to use more CPU than most of Linux distributions. Unfortunately, since we are Linux fans, we won’t talk much about windows on this site.
Very stable, easy to install, easy to use. Might be overkill for an HTPC. Keep it mind this is a semi-light OS unlike super light-weight Kodibuntu. you have a lot graphical accessories that you won’t need. On the other side, the number of information you can find online is pretty impressive compare to other Linux distributions. Keep it mind that with Linux you will face the terminal soon or later. Standard Windows user are not usually used to that and it can seems scary at the beginning. There is nothing to worries here! Another big advantage, is the ease to set up networks and server applications. Also keep in mind that viruses in Linux are very rare, due to the permission structure. In the other hand drivers can be pain in particular situations. Although, nowadays it is more or less true since the community is very strong.
LIGHT-WEIGHT LINUX DISTRIBUTION:
There is 3 major Linux Distribution with the purpose of being installed for HTPC.
A very slick light-weight version of Ubuntu. It comes with SSH / Samba / Kodi out of the box. You might want to change the configuration for a little extra security, but overall, it will require a lot less time to configure. The boot time is like thunder and the interface looks sharp! Definitively worth the check! The installation is very minimalist and will require you to use the terminal instead of the graphical interface which may not suit to very Linux beginner. Overall: one of our #1 OS choice fo HTPC!!
Open Elect is another super slick Linux Distribution based on Rasberry Pi. It is a lot faster and lighter than Kodibuntu or even more Ubuntu. If the purpose of the HTPC is to strictly install Kodi on very light PC: we suggest this distribution. In the other hand if you want a more versatile O.S. and set up a more complex media server, we would suggest Kodibuntu or a light version of Ubuntu with Kodi installed. The Ubuntu based distributions has a lot more to offer on the side. On Debian based O.S., information is more easy to find and compatibility will make your life easier too. You might hit some walls if you try to install some applications like games or Kodi Add-ons. It’s is all a question of personal taste. Open Elec is one of the Kodi community most preferred.
Not tested yet. We will see what the future has to offer and it looks promising!
Feel free to share you thought about the subject!