old dell pc = new htpc, how to setup

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i have an old Dell, pentium machine w/ vista. i use vlc to play avi and mkv files. i also use it to watch Amazon prime & hulu. it works, but kinda slow on the boot up and lots of updates etc. it runs on wifi now as i don't have any wired ports nearby. may go to a powerline setup at some point, but it works now, struggles with the 1080p files. i don't have cable nor tuner card, i watch rarely watch tv, and when i do it is ota. files are stored on external drive via usb.

i'm considering installing linux with xbmc to make it run faster, leaner.

Question:
1. will linux allow the machine to run faster? faster boot?
2. i'm not familiar with plex nor xbmc. so i don't have a preference.
3. ubuntu or mint?

tia
m

Member Summary

started with openelec install. booted up quick and installed bluecop add on for streaming Amazon prime and hulu videos. a couple of the files, mkv and avi files i had stopped playing at same points. research online indicated that bad encoding of files with errors would do that. couldn't find any error correction setting in xbmc. while i really liked the quick boot up (20 seconds or so) i didn't like the finicky nature of xbmc with some of these files and difficult to browse Amazon and hulu.
so i installed mint linux distro. again, simple install, quick boot. had to play around to get the correct drivers to play nicely. but i swear, the picture quality coming out of vlc seemed more fuzzy.



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