Below is a summary of the current best software to use with your htpc. I will go into details of setting up each software in separate blog posts.
To get the most of this blog you need to to run your htpc on Ubuntu. I tried many different operating systems, and I finally settled on Ubuntu. I find linux to be the best system to configure a htpc, and Ubuntu is one of the more popular flavours of linux, so there are a lot of resources available online. I recommend downloading the latest Ubuntu Desktop, currently 16.04.
Since this is your htpc, it is probably sitting in not the most comfortable location for you to work on so you will be doing a lot your configuration remotely using OpenSSH Server. A good overview of OpenSSH Server be found here. You should definitely disable password based authentication and enable public key authentication using this guide. Just make sure you enable public key authentication before you disable password based authentication or you will be locked out!
Plex Media Server is the best application to serve all your media to your tv, tablet, phone, etc. You need to sign up for a free account, have the Plex Media Server installed on your htpc. To view the media, you can use a browser or one of the Plex apps.
Installing the Plex Media Server is straightforward, download the plex-media-server.deb file and install it using:
sudo dpkg -i plexmediaserver_126.96.36.19933-03e4cfa35_amd64.deb
After it is installed you can view your media at https://plex.tv/web
NZBGet is the best usenet downloader as its the most powerful and fastest.
Sonarr is a PVR for Usenet and BitTorrent users. It can monitor multiple RSS feeds for new episodes of your favorite shows and will grab, sort and rename them. It can also be configured to automatically upgrade the quality of files already downloaded when a better quality format becomes available.
Android Phone Applications
Wake On Lan
Wake On Lan Android app is a great to quickly start your htpc from your phone.
Pushbullet is a free service that allows you to push notifications from your htpc server to your phone. For example you can integrate it with Sonarr so that you get notification whenever Sonarr processes a tv show.
Asuswrt-Merlin firmware is a custom firmware for asus routers that provides added functionality like OpenVPN and SSHD
AB-Solution is a ad block application you install on Asuswrt-Merlin firmware so that advertisements are blocked at the router level. Now any device on your network shows no ads. Combine this with OpenVPN and you can block ads even when you are away from home!