Myth TV: The Open Source PVR

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A talk I gave to our local Linux Users Group about MythTV, the free and open source PVR (personal video recorder, like TiVO) software.

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  • Myth TV: The Open Source PVR

    1. 1. MythTV: The Open-Source PVR Donald Burr <dburr@cclug.com>
    2. 2. What is MythTV? • Open Source PVR • DVR, TiVO, etc. • Easily extensible through plugins • Runs on Linux • Frontends available for other OSes
    3. 3. Backend? Frontend? • Client-server architecture • Backend: recorder/encoder • Frontend: viewer • Can be on same box or separate • Endless configuration options
    4. 4. What Do You Need? • Reasonably powerful PC • 800-2.8GHz CPU depending on video type • 60+ GB disk (the more the better!) • 1-2+ GB RAM - it’s cheap! • Video card (only needed on frontend) • Tuner or video capture card (only needed on backend)
    5. 5. Issues to Consider • What do you want to record? • SD or HD? • Cable, satellite, or OTA? • Is your signal encrypted? • Do you need a cable/satellite box? • Do you want simultaneous recording?
    6. 6. Issues to Consider • Where do you want to play it back on? • TV? Projector? Monitor? • What connections does it have? • How big is the display? • Might need graphics acceleration for HD - NVIDIA seems to be best supported
    7. 7. Issues to Consider • Do you want to be able to save recorded shows? • Analog capture (plug in a recorder) • Direct DVD burning (best option) • Media server or portable video players
    8. 8. Issues to Consider • How do you want to control your box? • Wired keyboard + mouse - ugly! • Wireless keyboard + mouse (RF, BT, IR) • Remote control • Some capture cards come with them • IR Blaster • Compatible with universal remote?
    9. 9. Issues to Consider • Where will this box be installed? • Size of space - ensure adequate air flow + cooling • Reliability/fault tolerance • RAID, Drobo, etc. • UPS • Don’t forget the cable box (if any)!
    10. 10. Issues to Consider • Getting data in and out • Needed for program guide, viewing over networked frontend • Wired? Wireless? • 802.11b/g may be OK for SD, but you really need 802.11n for HD • Any flavor of ethernet works fine • “Dumb box” mode - no fancy guide
    11. 11. My Spec • ASRock A780GMH Motherboard - $70 • AMD Athlon X2 4850e 2.5GHz Dual Core CPU - $56 • OCZ Blade Series 4GB (2x2GB) RAM - $64 • PowerColor HD2400PRO 512MB SCS Radeon HD 2400PRO - $30 • Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-1600 - $80
    12. 12. My spec • SAMSUNG Spinpoint F1 HD102UJ 1TB hard drive - $90 • Pioneer Black 20X DVD+RW drive - $25 • APEVIA Black SECC Steel / Aluminum X- MASTER-BK/500 ATX Media Center case - $70 • Grand total: just under $500
    13. 13. Installing MythTV • Available in most distributions’ repositories • Compile from source • If building from scratch (or for the least amount of pain), go with a purpose-built distro such as Mythbuntu
    14. 14. Things I Ran Into • Video output needed to be composite or SVideo (hooking up to an old TV) • Installed PCI Express video card w/SVideo • Required tweaking to xorg.conf • Google to the rescue! • Hint: keep a monitor + keyboard + mouse around “just in case”
    15. 15. Things I Ran Into • Comcast encrypts its channels (boo, hiss) • Could tune some analog channels, so it may be ok for you • Solution: use cable box + S-Video input on capture card (completely bypass tuner card’s tuner module) • Introduced another level of complexity
    16. 16. Things I Ran Into • Controlling the cable box • Use an IR Blaster • One built-in to Hauppauge card didn’t work • Serial IR blaster - cheap ($15) • Requires “real” serial port • PCI Express serial board for $40 solved it • There are USB ones but they are pricier
    17. 17. Things I Ran Into • No network connection = no guide data • “Dumb box” mode • Must program in wanted channels • Must set channel, start/end times for manual recording • Might want to put in USB wifi down the road • Guide data is not free ($20/year)
    18. 18. Why do it? • Flexibility • Reliability • Usability • Karma
    19. 19. Where to get more info • Mythtv.org • The MythTV Wiki • Links to other useful info • bookofborg.com/index.php/ DIY_Media_Center_PC • My build list • Includes thoughts, notes
    20. 20. Thanks! May the Source be with you!

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