Computers, Entertainment, Technology

I Finally have MythTV

After talking about for quite a bit, I finally have a computer setup running MythTV 🙂

I decided to go for MythDora. It has the advantage of being straight forward to use and still leaves me with a fully functional desktop computer (which KnoppMyth doesn’t really do. It did leave me one slight headache – I didn’t have a spare DVD drive (MythDora is 1.2GB) so I had to borrow the one from Windows desktop).

The hardware I have is pretty moderate (well, really low end for most applications – a Sempron 3200 and on board GeForce 6100 with a Hauppauge HVR 1300) but it runs as a combined backend/frontend without any problems, even when recording, transcoding and viewing TV (an “advantage” of living in a country where HDTV is still not an issue).

On the subject of transcoding, there was one stumbling point – specifically it just didn’t work at first (I got the illuminating error message “Failed with error code 0”). After posting the output to the MythTV-Users mailing list someone pointed out it was a MythDora packaging problem – libmp3lame hadn’t been installed.

The only thing that isn’t working now is the MCE IR blaster for controlling my Sky box (I’m just using Freeview though the DVB tuner on HVR 1300). lirc seems to be setup right since when I run irw and press buttons on my remotes (either the MCE remote that came with the HVR or the Sky remote) it detects them properly. Running irsend doesn’t do anything though (there’s not even an error). But at the moment I’m recording more than I can watch with just Freeview anyway…

Next time, less rambly 😛

Computers, Entertainment, Technology

A plethora of Myth distributions

Like Linux in general, there are few MythTV distributions you can get. Unlike Linux in general, most of them have specific purposes they work best for. The three popular ones I know of are:

MythDora is just Fedora with MythTV (and its dependencies). This is intended to leave you with a completely usable Linux installation that includes MythTV. It comes on DVD and is certainly the largest of the three.

KnoppMyth is either based on Knoppix or Debian (or really both) depending on how you look at it. Knoppix is a slimline distribution based on Debian and KnoppMyth was originally based on Knoppix. But I’m sure I read somewhere that the latest is version is just based on Debian but in the same way Knoppix is. Whatever the situation is, all you really need to know is that it is a minimal installation that leaves you with a fully functional MythTV installation but relatively little else.

MiniMyth is the smallest of the three and the most specialised. It only runs the frontend software and only the EPIA mini-ITX motherboards. Furthermore it is designed to run disklessly booting over a network – mainly as a silent set top box in your living room.

The only one I’ve actually tried is KnoppMyth which was easy enough to install. From what I’ve been reading they all seem easier than installing MythTV into an existing installation.

Computers, Entertainment, Technology

Some progress with MythTV

I finally (technically) installed KnoppMyth (a Debian based Linux distribution designed just to run MythTV) today. I say technically since I installed it somewhere where I couldn’t connect any sort of TV signal up to it. So, although it works fine, I haven’t actually managed to test any of the important features.

The only part of the installation that was a problem was that the hard drive KnoppMyth uses must be the master device on the primary IDE channel. I had it on the secondary and it was not happy…

Computers, Entertainment, Technology

Web Television

My interest in MythTV has also sparked my interest in TV over the Internet. Many companies offer it “secretly”, for example movies on demand from cable operators in the UK are actually streamed over the Internet and loads offer small chunks of it. But are there any companies actually transmitting top content “live” over the Internet (free or subscription)? If it’s transmitted live (i.e. everyone receives the same thing at the same time), bandwidth some of the possible bandwidth problems can be mitigated with things like IP multicasting. And if you do have something like MythTV recording it for you the problem of people not wanting to see things at the same time go away too.

Well to answer the question (there was one :P), yes. Unfortunately for the most part they aren’t the big channels, but there are quite a few for niche areas and some countries even make their government subsidised national station available.

The first site I found for this was wwITV. They list quite a few live channels and loads of sites that offer clips. But unfortunately many of them are out of date and just return 404s. An alternative for sources of web television is tVadio. They’re newer and don’t have as much (and seem far less international) but at least the stuff they list actually exists and is of a reasonable quality (well whether you like the actual transmitted content of the channels is up to you :P).

The sites listed though still only represent baby steps on the path towards true Internet television.

Computers, Entertainment, Technology

The future of television

I just found an interesting document released by the European Broadcasting Union (their most prominent activity is the Eurovision Song Contest) regarding the future of television, specifically relating to PVR systems.

Free-to-air Television and other PVR Challenges in Europe.

It’s quite long but definitely good. Suggests revolutionary ideas like broadcasters making EPG and programme meta-data publicly available and that they should embrace “new business models” relating to content viewed through a PVR since traditional advertising is far less effective.

At no point by the way does it endorse DRM or content protection and even speaks of “the offensive use of patents” in rather negative terms…

Computers, Entertainment, Technology

MythTV better than Media Center?

I’ve been reading about MythTV and considering it as a replacement for Windows Media Center. Overall it has more features, has better support for multiple computers and is completely free. Unfortunately it’s only available for Linux. Which also means you have to be picky with hardware because of the lack of drivers.

I’ll write more about it shortly…