Do you want to create your own HTPC with some of your old hardware? Not willing to spend dozens of dollars on Windows? Then check out ExtremeTech as those guys explain you how you can create your own Linux home theater PC.
HTPCs are usually connected to TVs for video output and use IR remote controls for input. Most HTPC software goes above and beyond this call of duty by also integrating slick interfaces to programming listings, games and emulators, photo slideshows, and even web browsers.
An increasingly viable option for getting a HTPCs on the cheap, and in general, is to install Linux-based media center software on commodity hardware. The software is all free, the only hardware component that you might not already have lying around in your closet is a TV tuner, and you will probably be surprised at how easy and effective a solution it is.
If you take the time to look around, you'll find lots of software for both Windows and GNU/Linux that meet these specifications. To help you evaluate the best choice for your needs, we'll skim off the cream of the crop.