I've been looking at different PVR (personal video recorder) solutions lately. Tivo is kinda cool, but they are expensive and you have to pay a monthly fee just to get program listings. So I began looking around within the open source community. There are two major packages, Freevo and MythTV. I ended up choosing MythTV because there is a complete package called KnoppMyth that has the Knoppix kernel and everything already compiled.
I bought a cheapo PIII/600 off of Ebay for $90 and picked up a Hauppauge PVR-250 card that has an onboard MPEG encoder, and a 160GB hard drive to store content. This means that I can record live TV with almost no hit to the CPU for about a month continuously. After some jockeying and cursing I've finally got everything working except for the closed captioning, but I can live without that. It's pretty cool because it does a lot more that a dedicated Tivo box. I can stream MP3 audio to it, show slideshows of images, emulate video games (including the really old stuff, like the Atari 2600), rip DVDs (if I had a DVD drive for it).
I'm going to hang the box on my WiFi network so I don't have to pull CAT-5 over to the TV. Because it's an older Compaq Deskpro, it doesn't have a fan on the CPU so it's very quiet. Also, the Hauppauge card comes with a remote control (that KnoppMyth recognizes right off the bat) so I don't need a mouse or keyboard. Because it's network attached, I also get weather and RSS news feeds right on the TV. Anyway, I'm pretty happy with it, and I just need to change out the video card and it will go out to live under the TV.
And the punchline is that no Microsoft components were used in it's construction. Windows XP Media Center Edition can bite my Linux butt.
(ed: added on 7/15/2004 -- here's some pics to show it off)