Looking for a suitable SBC for HTPC

Hello all!!

I am investigating options for an HTPC in our living room. I recently discovered OLinuXINO, which seems great, already, and I am evaluating it for function as an HTPC in our living room. It must be silent or near-silent.

Presently I’m looking at the Pioneer-FreedomBox-HSK on recommendation.

The bulk of the A/V multimedia data will be held on a NAS with enough compute power to transcode A/V in soft real time in CPU. Therefore I need to ensure the NAS is quiet too, but that’s another issue that I’ll address shortly, and I already have ideas.

Does anybody have any ideas about the Olimex Pioneer-FreedomBox-HSK as an HTPC? Or any other SBC?

I understand that – at one point back in time – Allwinner SOC’s have iGPU’s needed proprietary blobs to run. But since then libre or open source drivers have been developed. In fact, when I was looking for them by web searching, it seemed to me that they have recently been merged upstream in to the Linux Kernel and Mesa3D projects. Is this correct?

Am I wandering off into the reeds by using an Allwinner H3 SOC to get the video and audio working instead of focusing on my primary goal, that is, to build a near-silent HTPC?

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I am curious to see how this works out. I don’t know if anyone who has tried this. Best is to give it a shot.

I am also under the impression that in the recent kernels have the necessary drivers for audio/video decoding. You might have better luck with Debian testing which has a more recent kernel than Debian stable which has 4.19.

If all goes well, it appears that the Allwinner A20 SOC should be able to decode H264 high profile and VP8 codecs at Full HD resolution.

I don’t believe Freedombox supports playing video straight to a TV. It has MiniDNLA, but thats for serving files to a front end. If you have a networked smart tv then that might be enough.
You might be best of using Kodi on a Raspberry Pi. I have one and it works well. It supports HDMI-CEC so you can use your regular TV remote.