minimum hardware requirements

Asked by H Buus

I want to use Pipelight to play Netflix content and want to test on an older computer because it's not in daily use, but I'm wondering if it's too old. The computer is from 2005 and has these features:
32 bit AMD Sempron 3100+ CPU
8400 GS nvidia GPU
ECS RS482-M754 motherboard
Integrated ATI Radeon Xpress 200 (which I would be interested in testing as alternative to 8400 GS)
1st gen SATA I (150 MB/sec) controller
1.25 GB mem
250 GB sata drive

It has three OS's installed:
Windows XP
Ubuntu 12.04 (mythbuntu flavor)
Ubuntu 14.04 (mythbuntu flavor)

The machine works quite well as a MythTV frontend playing 1080i/720p MPEG2-TS content to a 702p HDTV using analog audio. Under Windows XP, I have to disable "Allow HD" when playing Netflix streaming video.

Would Pipelight under one of the mythbuntu OS's be able to do at least as well, and maybe even do Netflix-HD, or should I experiment with newer hardware?

If you think it's feasible to use this machine, which OS would be easier to set up, 12.04 or 14.04?

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Sebastian Lackner
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Sebastian Lackner (slackner) said :
#1

Hi,

its a bit difficult to specify the exact system-requirements for Pipelight. The most important values for smooth playback are CPU power, graphic card, and the amount of RAM available. Nevertheless on Linux its almost impossible to give a general statement about performance: That depends on the driver version, on the configuration, how big the overhead of all other running programs is, and so on. Even if it probably doesn't work smooth enough from the beginning there might be some ways to improve performance, by updating graphic card drivers, manually adjusting some configuration flags, ... (see: https://answers.launchpad.net/pipelight/+question/241739, some parts could probably be a bit outdated though).

Based on the fact that Wine (which is used to run Silverlight) often results in a bit slower execution than on Windows, and on Windows they already recommend a 1,6 Ghz processor (http://www.microsoft.com/getsilverlight/locale/en-us/html/installation-win-SL5.html), I cannot really guarantee that it will run that well. Nevertheless I would recommend to give it a try. The installation of Pipelight only takes a few minutes, and when you notice that performance is too bad, you just uninstall it again at any time (sudo apt-get remove pipelight-multi). I doubt that HD quality will work though, because Pipelight cannot use GPU decoding yet - and for software decoding, the CPU is probably a bit too limited.

It doesn't make a difference if you test it with 12.04 or 14.04: We're building our packages for both (and many more) versions, and there should be almost no difference. As I still encounter some bugs in 14.04 from time to time I personally would test with 12.04 first, but thats just my personal opinion (and other people would probably suggest the opposite).

Regards,
Sebastian

Revision history for this message
H Buus (faginbagin) said :
#2

Many Thanks for responding.

I did install on 12.04 and found that playing flash content (TV show on Hulu) stuttered badly enough to make it unwatchable (on WinXP the same content is just about watchable although there is slight stuttering).

Going to netflix.com gave me a blank page, even though bubblemark worked and even though I had set up Chrome's user agent switcher.

I'll review #241739 and spend some time seeing if I can make progress with netflix, but it is looking like this machine doesn't have what it takes. I'll report back if I can tweak things enough to make flash or silverlight usable on this machine, in case others are wondering about low end hardware. I've also got an atom/ion machine I could tinker with.

BTW, are there any user forums or email groups dedicated to pipelight? I will probably have more questions and I'm not sure this would be the best place to ask them.

Revision history for this message
Best Sebastian Lackner (slackner) said :
#3

Hi,

when Netflix doesn't show anything, this means that there is either
something wrong with your 32-bit graphic card drivers, or you're missing
one of the necessary libs like libXcomposite. Another possibility is
that you have manually disabled compositing in your Xserver config -
this is necessary for running the plugin in embed mode with hardware
acceleration (not necessary when embedding is disabled or when you
disable hardware acceleration).

I would suggest to take a look here, and run the system-check tool:
http://pipelight.net/cms/faqs/faq-most-common-problems.html

Please note that not all libraries are really required - the page above
provides information what is really necessary, and what not. If you're
unsure feel free to put your output on http://pastebin.com - just post
your link here and we'll take a look at it.

Other methods which probably could help: Close firefox, and then start
it with:

PIPELIGHT_GPUACCELERATION=0 firefox

or

PIPELIGHT_EMBED=0 firefox

Does one of these ideas help to solve the issue with Silverlight?

Concerning your question about forums / email groups: I'm not aware of
any forum / email group dedicated to Pipelight, but feel free to ask
your questions here on the answer tracker. If you need a faster
response, you could also join our IRC channel #pipelight on IRC
freenode, where we developers and also a bunch of users are idling, and
answering questions. ;)

Regards,
Sebastian

Am 11.06.2014 05:16, schrieb H Buus:
> Question #250064 on Pipelight changed:
> https://answers.launchpad.net/pipelight/+question/250064
>
> H Buus posted a new comment:
> Many Thanks for responding.
>
> I did install on 12.04 and found that playing flash content (TV show on
> Hulu) stuttered badly enough to make it unwatchable (on WinXP the same
> content is just about watchable although there is slight stuttering).
>
> Going to netflix.com gave me a blank page, even though bubblemark worked
> and even though I had set up Chrome's user agent switcher.
>
> I'll review #241739 and spend some time seeing if I can make progress
> with netflix, but it is looking like this machine doesn't have what it
> takes. I'll report back if I can tweak things enough to make flash or
> silverlight usable on this machine, in case others are wondering about
> low end hardware. I've also got an atom/ion machine I could tinker with.
>
> BTW, are there any user forums or email groups dedicated to pipelight? I
> will probably have more questions and I'm not sure this would be the
> best place to ask them.
>

Revision history for this message
H Buus (faginbagin) said :
#4

Summary:

Looks like the root cause of my problems with netflix/silverlight was compositing. It was disabled in the xorg.conf installed by mythbuntu. Once I undid that, netflix sort of worked in both chromium and firefox, but only sort of. It was better than watching hulu/flash content, but not good enough, and I don't feel it's worth more of my time on this hardware. I think my time would be better spent getting pipelight working on more powerful hardware. That was always my ultimate goal. My mythtv backend servers don't have Windows installed and, even if they did, I wouldn't want to reboot into Windows just to watch streaming video. They can't record TV if they aren't running Linux.

Gory details (in case others are interested):

FWIW, the Sempron 3100+ is a 1.8 Ghz processor, albeit 32bit and single core. It does OK playing netflix on WinXP as long as "Allow HD" is unchecked.

Regarding your first reply and the suggestion to check out question 241739:

* Is the GPU good enough to support GPU acceleration?

I think so. Stdout from firefox or chromium always spits out:
[PIPELIGHT:WIN:silverlight5.1] Your GPU is in the whitelist, hardware acceleration should work.

I upgraded the NVidia driver from 304.116 to 331.38 by installing nvidia-331-updates and uninstalling nvidia-304 and nvidia-current. It would require something like xorg-edgers to get a newer driver. Not sure it helped, but it didn't hurt.

* Are you using pulseaudio or alsa?

Pulseaudio is not (and was not) installed, typical of mythbuntu flavors. Sound is working using the default alsa device, AC97 analog stereo output, green connector on motherboard. I haven't done anything to configure sound.

* Does the streaming page you want to use allow to select the quality and/or bandwidth?

Hulu's flash player did not offer that choice. For netflix, I had to uncheck "Allow HD", just as I have to on WinXP.

* We also did some performance improvements for the next pipelight version, which will be released soon.

I assume that comment made in January, 2014 predated the release of 0.2.7.

Regarding your second reply:

One reason why I wanted to try out pipelight on this machine first, is because it already had a 32 bit OS installed, and I wouldn't have to worry about installing i386 packages on an x86_64 OS. Plus it's playing HD content using VDPAU decoding and rendering using MythTV and mplayer).

Compositing was disabled in xorg.conf. Once I commented that out and restarted lightdm, netflix began to work.

The only problem "pipelight-plugin --system-check" found was a missing libnetapi.so, which googling tells me isn't really a problem, right? Wine also wrote the following messages to stderr (not sure if they indicate a problem for pipelight):
wine: cannot find L"C:\\windows\\system32\\winemenubuilder.exe"
err:wineboot:ProcessRunKeys Error running cmd L"C:\\windows\\system32\\winemenubuilder.exe -a -r" (2)

Many Thanks for your help.

Revision history for this message
H Buus (faginbagin) said :
#5

Thanks Sebastian Lackner, that solved my question.