The HTPC still runs well. At 1998 speeds. It's got a 750 Mhz Pentium III processor. Hot stuff for 1998. It still plays DVDs fine. But it's beginning to choke on digital fansubs.
I first noticed this about two years ago, when fansubs of the Cutey Honey OAVs that robotazalea recommended stuttered badly and dropped frames. I fixed the worst of the problem by trimming the number of codecs Win98 was trying to run. But I found that when I tried to run digital versions of Lost at HDTV resolution, again I got video dropouts and stuttering audio. A check of processor usage showed that high res stuff simply pegged out the cpu. So I didn't run HDTV-resolution stuff. I watch almost no US TV anyway. (I buy or Netflix DVDs if a show has staying power.) And anime fansubs using XviD were still doing fine.
Until a couple of months ago, when the Simoun .mkv container subs started to crash the player. Any player. Not just stutter or drop frames, but crash in various places with an error message. Yes, I was using the CCCP package. Didn't help. And I couldn't play the Red Garden fansubs at all. The only team doing them was using either an .mkv container or an h.264 codec, both of which pegged the processor to the point that the show was an unwatchable mess.
My first thought was that the problem was with Win98. Maybe it was too bulky? Maybe the current Win32 codecs just didn't jibe well with it. After all, who cares about Win98 compatibility?
So I tried a couple of light linuces. Puppy Linux and Damn Small Linux, both supposed to run fast and lean on older hardware.
Yes, they're both fast. But Puppy makes me nervous, because you pretty much have to run as root (!?). (There's also the hyperactive Puppy user culture, which reminds me of the boosterism in Babbit.) DSL had issues with the HTPC's serial mouse. But the deal killer for both was that all h.264 fansubs, and even the Red Garden .mkv fansubs, still maxed out the processor, dropped frames and audio, and were unwatchable.
I'm now running Xubuntu on the HTPC. Xfce is supposed to be a lean, fast desktop, and it is. I can finally watch the Simoun .mkv subs without the player crashing. But an angel with a flaming sword still stands before the gates to anything h.264, and the Red Garden .mkv's.
More and more fansubs are appearing as h.264 and .mkv. And in higher resolutions. I'm afraid the writing is on the wall. Sadly, my main problem is not the 1998-era OS (although I'm just as happy to junk Win98), it's the 1998-era cpu. A 750 Mhz. Pentium III just can't keep up with today's codecs and containers. When Blu-Ray or HD-DVD drives become affordable in a couple years, I doubt it will be able to handle those, either.
So, rather to my regret, it's time for a new HTPC. I had meant to write my plans about what to build, but this post is getting long, and I'll put it off until tomorrow.
隠匿 == intoku == (noun) concealment
Left/surrounding radical is 'box/container' (originally a pictograph of a quiver). Inner radical is 'young' (若), which here acts phonetically to express 'put'. To put something into a container is to conceal it. Henshall suggests as a mnemonic: 'Young person concealed in box.'