OT: h.264 encoding and streaming on Linux?

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This is probably off-topic for this list, but I wonder if anyone here
has done MPEG4 (H.264) encoding and streaming from a Linux system
using Fedora.
I am interested in encoding and streaming audio and video from an
analog source from a Linux server to a dozen workstations that will
"tune" into the stream using VLC.

The server will be a dual-core AMD Opteron 2216 with one gig of ram
running Fedora 11, which should be enough for this task, I guess.The
network is Gigabit ethernet which should also be enough.

The question is whether to use a software encoder or a hardware
encoder (any affordable ($250 or less) supported H.264 hardware
encoders with drivers for Linux?).

I don't need to do HD encoding, just DVD resolution (720x480 @ 30fps) is fine.

As I said if this is off-topic for this list, feel free to contact me
privately with pointers about where to ask...

Thanks,
FC

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