Using an old PC as media center

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Using an old PC as media center

Postby Islander » 2020-12-24 21:10

I'm trying to use a computer from 2005 as a media center, connected directly to my TV.
Debian 10 installs and runs nicely, but playing compressed video files or YouTube is pretty slow (maybe 10 fps).

Is this just to be expected with hardware that old? Or are the drivers lacking?

The computer has a 775Twins-HDTV motherboard with Radeon Xpress integrated graphics.
Motherboard manual says it's ATI X300-based 2D/3D graphics.
lspci says it's RC410 [Radeon Xpress 200/1100]

I've installed the xserver-xorg-video-ati wrapper package, and firmware-amd-graphics.
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Re: Using an old PC as media center

Postby Head_on_a_Stick » 2020-12-24 22:19

What are you using to play the video files?

Use vainfo and vdpauinfo to check for hardware acceleration support and see https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Fi ... celeration for enabling it under firefox-esr (but only for a Wayland desktop).
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Re: Using an old PC as media center

Postby Islander » 2020-12-25 19:17

I'm using Parole media player.

vainfo says
Code: Select all
libva info: VA-API version 1.4.0
libva info: va_getDriverName() returns 0
libva info: Trying to open /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/dri/r300_drv_video.so
libva info: va_openDriver() returns -1
vaInitialize failed with error code -1 (unknown libva error),exit

... so I guess that means hardware acceleration is not active.

And vdpauinfo says:
Code: Select all
display: :0.0   screen: 0
API version: 1
Information string: G3DVL VDPAU Driver Shared Library version 1.0

Video surface:

name   width height types
-------------------------------------------
420     2048  2048  NV12 YV12
422     2048  2048 
444     2048  2048  Y8U8V8A8 V8U8Y8A8

Decoder capabilities:

name                        level macbs width height
----------------------------------------------------
MPEG1                           0 16384  2048  2048
MPEG2_SIMPLE                    3 16384  2048  2048
MPEG2_MAIN                      3 16384  2048  2048
H264_BASELINE                  --- not supported ---
H264_MAIN                      --- not supported ---
H264_HIGH                      --- not supported ---
VC1_SIMPLE                     --- not supported ---
VC1_MAIN                       --- not supported ---
VC1_ADVANCED                   --- not supported ---
MPEG4_PART2_SP                 --- not supported ---
MPEG4_PART2_ASP                --- not supported ---
DIVX4_QMOBILE                  --- not supported ---
DIVX4_MOBILE                   --- not supported ---
DIVX4_HOME_THEATER             --- not supported ---
DIVX4_HD_1080P                 --- not supported ---
DIVX5_QMOBILE                  --- not supported ---
DIVX5_MOBILE                   --- not supported ---
DIVX5_HOME_THEATER             --- not supported ---
DIVX5_HD_1080P                 --- not supported ---
H264_CONSTRAINED_BASELINE      --- not supported ---
H264_EXTENDED                  --- not supported ---
H264_PROGRESSIVE_HIGH          --- not supported ---
H264_CONSTRAINED_HIGH          --- not supported ---
H264_HIGH_444_PREDICTIVE       --- not supported ---
HEVC_MAIN                      --- not supported ---
HEVC_MAIN_10                   --- not supported ---
HEVC_MAIN_STILL                --- not supported ---
HEVC_MAIN_12                   --- not supported ---
HEVC_MAIN_444                  --- not supported ---

Output surface:

name              width height nat types
----------------------------------------------------
B8G8R8A8          2048  2048    y  NV12 YV12 Y8U8V8A8 V8U8Y8A8 A4I4 I4A4 A8I8 I8A8
R8G8B8A8          2048  2048    y  NV12 YV12 Y8U8V8A8 V8U8Y8A8 A4I4 I4A4 A8I8 I8A8

Bitmap surface:

name              width height
------------------------------
B8G8R8A8          2048  2048
R8G8B8A8          2048  2048
A8                2048  2048

Video mixer:

feature name                    sup
------------------------------------
DEINTERLACE_TEMPORAL             y
DEINTERLACE_TEMPORAL_SPATIAL     -
INVERSE_TELECINE                 -
NOISE_REDUCTION                  y
SHARPNESS                        y
LUMA_KEY                         y
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L1        y
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L2        -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L3        -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L4        -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L5        -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L6        -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L7        -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L8        -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L9        -

parameter name                  sup      min      max
-----------------------------------------------------
VIDEO_SURFACE_WIDTH              y        48     2048
VIDEO_SURFACE_HEIGHT             y        48     2048
CHROMA_TYPE                      y 
LAYERS                           y         0        4

attribute name                  sup      min      max
-----------------------------------------------------
BACKGROUND_COLOR                 y 
CSC_MATRIX                       y 
NOISE_REDUCTION_LEVEL            y      0.00     1.00
SHARPNESS_LEVEL                  y     -1.00     1.00
LUMA_KEY_MIN_LUMA                y 
LUMA_KEY_MAX_LUMA                y 
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Re: Using an old PC as media center

Postby Head_on_a_Stick » 2020-12-25 19:48

Try
Code: Select all
# apt install gstreamer1.0-vaapi va-driver-all libva2

That should provide everything you need for VA-API support in Parole. Whether your card actually supports that is another question entirely...
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Re: Using an old PC as media center

Postby Islander » 2020-12-25 21:21

I installed gstreamer1.0-vaapi, va-driver-all and libva2, but vainfo still gives the same output.
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Re: Using an old PC as media center

Postby Head_on_a_Stick » 2020-12-25 21:34

You could try the VDPAU wrapper: https://packages.debian.org/buster/vdpau-va-driver

I don't know if Parole can use VDPAU (and you only have very limited CODEC support anyway) so you could try VLC (which should use VDPAU automatically) or MPV (with --hwdec=vdpau) instead.
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Re: Using an old PC as media center

Postby debbieanne » 2020-12-26 15:16

I use a ten-year-old Dell Optiplex. These computers are widely used in companies and schools and by the time they are ten years old, they cost little. They are reliable as hell, all metal cases. Always buy two or three. I run MX Linux and use Firefox to watch streaming. VLC for downloaded files. Some services, from time to time (Criterion), complain in their DRM settings that they won't let you view their content. Likely because the HDMI signal to the TV is not encrypted.

Fifteen years old is just really old.
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