Building a pvr using linux and mythtv may 19 2004 jeffrey perry jeffperry 2003@yahoo com
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Building a PVR Using Linux and MythTV May 19, 2004 Jeffrey Perry Boston Linux Users Group. Building a Linux PVR w/ MythTV . Introduction Planning Installation Demo Conclusions. What is a PVR?. PVR = Personal Video Recorder

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Building a pvr using linux and mythtv may 19 2004 jeffrey perry jeffperry 2003@yahoo com l.jpg

Building a PVR Using Linux and MythTV

May 19, 2004

Jeffrey Perry

Boston Linux Users Group

Building a linux pvr w mythtv l.jpg
Building a Linux PVR w/ MythTV

  • Introduction

  • Planning

  • Installation

  • Demo

  • Conclusions

What is a pvr l.jpg
What is a PVR?

PVR = Personal Video Recorder

A video recorder which records to the hard disk instead of a tape

Definition varies but most include:

  • Electronic Program guide, pause/ff/rw live and recorded shows

  • Other possible features ... remote viewing, web scheduling, music etc.

Motivation l.jpg

  • TiVo is cool, wouldn't you like one too?

    • How much does it really cost?

    • Ok, I want to burn DVDs too. How much now?

  • Interesting project

  • Practical - no VCR or DVD player already

Commercial pvrs l.jpg
Commercial PVRs

  • TiVo

  • ReplayTV

  • Others....

Tivo how much does it cost l.jpg
TiVo: How much does it cost?

  • 40 Hours - $149 *

  • 80 Hours - $249 *

  • 140 Hours - $349 *

    *= PLUS program listing service fee of

    $ 12.95/month or $299 lifetime

    PLUS $99 for Home Media Option

Tivo home media option l.jpg
TiVo: Home Media Option

  • Web scheduling

  • Digital photos

  • Digital music

  • Multi-room viewing

Replaytv how much does it cost l.jpg
ReplayTV How Much does it cost?

  • 40 Hours - $150*

  • 80 Hours - $300*

  • 160 Hours - $450*

  • 320 Hours - $800*

    *=PLUS program listing service fee of

    $ 12.95/month or $299 lifetime

Cost of dvd recorders l.jpg
Cost of DVD Recorders

Q: How much to buy a consumer device which can record TV shows to DVD?

A: Consumer DVD recorders range in price from $200- $500

Consider: PC DVD Writers

Sony 4x for $118( Jan 2004, rebate)

Sony 8x for $160 (now @

Enter mythtv features l.jpg
Enter MythTV: Features

  • Record TV shows, scheduled, instant record

  • Free Program guide - via, others

  • Pause/Fastforward/Rewind Live TV, recordings

  • Store & play music, DVD videos

  • Watch & record at same time

  • Check weather, news, and browse web

  • Play and burn DVDs

  • Skip commercials – auto detect and flag

  • Play SNES & other video games (Xmame)

Mythtvarchitecuture strengths l.jpg
MythTVArchitecuture Strengths

  • Distributed modular design

    • Frontend - the UI you interact with

    • Backend - Tracks schedule, records, streams playback

  • Highly Scalable

    • Multiple tuners

      • Add tuners to machines and share

    • Multiple back ends

      • A single master backend coordinates the rest

  • Open Source

  • Hardware tv tuner tradeoffs l.jpg
    Hardware: TV Tuner Tradeoffs

    • Hardware MPEG chip

      • Faster encode/decode without load on PC

      • Result: Can use slower CPU

    • Tuner only

      • Requires card support video4linux driver (or bttv driver)

      • Requires high speed CPU for encode/decode

      • See: PVR Hardware Guide

    Hardware hauppauge tuner cards l.jpg
    Hardware: Hauppauge Tuner Cards

    • WinTV PVR250 (~$100)

      • Hardware Encode

    • WinTV PVR350 ($200)

      • Hardware Encode

      • Hardware Decode

      • Radio Tuner

      • Comes with an IR remote

    Hardware display options l.jpg
    Hardware: Display Options

    • WinTV PVR350 has TV Out

      • Linux ivtv driver needed

        • Still under development

        • Still a bit unstable with occaisional hangs

    • Video card w/ TV Out support

      • This may be the better bet for stability right now.

      • Still need a tuner card (either simple or w/MPEG encode/decode in hardware)

    Hardware motherboard dvd hard drive l.jpg
    Hardware: Motherboard, DVD, Hard Drive

    • Beware of cheap VIA chipset motherboards. MythTV problems await! (Don't panic yet- some workarounds exist which MAY cure it)

    • DVD Writer (optional)

      • Used to install Linux, archive shows

    • Big Hard Drive

      • approx 1G/30 mins @ 480x480 MPEG2

      • better compression possible with lower res or tweaking

    Hardware device drivers for tv card video l.jpg
    Hardware: Device Drivers for TV Card &Video

    • TV Card

      • Hauppauge WinTV PVR250/350

        • ivtv version 0.1.10pre2 or newer stable version

        • PVR350 only - Patches to X windows (framebuffer coexistance with ivtv framebuffer interaction)

      • Other tuners

        • Video4Linux kernel module

    • Video card w/ TV Out

      • X windows driver for your card

    Hardware remote controls l.jpg
    Hardware: Remote Controls

    Remote control functionality: LIRC package

    • Supports IR and RF remotes including home made receivers

    My hardware setup l.jpg
    My Hardware Setup

    • Case: AMS gBox P4 Blue CF-968L ($230, sale)

    • CPU: 1.7Ghz celeron ($65)

    • Motherbrd: Socket478B Chyang Fun CFI-S968L

    • 256 meg RAM ($65)

    • Hauppauge WinTV PVR350 ($200)

    • Sony DVD +-RW writer 4X ($118,rebate)

    • Seagate 200 Gig (about 100 hours) HD ($100,rebate)

    • TOTAL Cost: $778

    Installation choosing a linux distribution l.jpg
    Installation: Choosing a Linux Distribution

    • Suse 8.1 too many additions & probs reported

    • KnoppMyth R4 is not the easy way out

    • Choose tried and true Redhat 9.0

      • ATRPMs has most of the rest of what you need

      • Apt-get for rpm is your friend

      • Still some kernel packages issues, requires forced loading of some rpms. Getting better.

      • Use Jarrod's guide - updated now for Fedora

    Installation choosing a filesystem l.jpg
    Installation: Choosing a Filesystem

    • File system choice

      • Ext3 (my choice, simple default for now)

      • XFS (some report better perfomance)

      • Generally good idea to increase inode size (default is 4k, 64 meg would be better)

    Installation overview l.jpg
    Installation Overview

    • Install Redhat

    • Install device driver for tuner (PVR2/350 reqs extract windows driver from cdrom)

    • create mythtv user

    • Install atrpms-kickstart

    • Get latest updates (Apt-get update)

    • Get mythtvsuite and dependencies (apt-get mythtv-suite) - 54 packages in all - not perfect

    • Mythtvsetup

    Installation overview cont l.jpg
    Installation Overview (Cont.)

    • Mythfilldatabase

    • Start mythbackend

    • Start mythfrontend, visit setup section and config

    • Configure each module - (see docs at

    • (some modules )Additional tweaks outside GUI (example: Installing a new Video for MythVideo)

    Installation tweaks l.jpg
    Installation tweaks

    • Turn off automount of Cds (mythmusic ripper)

    • Turn off esd or artsd

    • Remove ~mythtv/.kde/Autostart/Autorun.desktop

    • Chkconfig autofs off, apmd off, httpd on (mythweb)

    • Ln -s /dev/scd0 /dev/dvd (MythDVD)

    • Edit channels (~mythtv/<sourcename>/.xmltv & tweaks to associated DB tables)

    • Turn on DMA on HD (hdparm -d 1 /dev/hda)

    Demonstration mythtv l.jpg





    Games (not setup)

    Demonstration MythTV

    • MyhtvSetup

    • Mythfilldatabase

    • MythFrontend Setup

    • TV

    • Video

    • DVD

    • Music

    Conclusions mythtv rough spots l.jpg
    Conclusions: MythTv Rough spots

    • PVR250/350 record to MPEG2 directly so Commercial cutting must be done manually. Still not perfect. A/V sync is a challenge for MPEG2 w/o having to rencode whole file (takes hours)

    • Integration is not as seamless as it may seem (ex: Remote control of MythVideo requires edits to your lirc config file) [mplayer]

    • Installing videos not ripped from DVD is done outside the GUI by copying, then back to GUI to "scan" for new files

    Mythtv rough spots cont l.jpg
    MythTV Rough Spots (Cont.)

    • Mythfrontend UI

      • Selecting exit, then yes does not shutdown the machine

      • Icons for recorded state non obvious

    • - MythWeather (simple, easy to use, does it's job well :-)

      • A few small bugs

      • Zip code feature is not obvious.

    • MythTV - generally non existent end-user documentation.

    Conclusion mythtv strengths l.jpg
    Conclusion: MythTv Strengths

    • Recording scheduling flexibility & prioritization

    • Playback features including FF, Pause, Rewind

    • More features than TiVo

    • Excellent modules: MythTv, MythMusic, MythDVD, MythWeather and MythNews

    • Flexible distributed architecture

    • Clever design makes apps appear mostly seamless (xml config files control app integration & gui themes)

    Conclusion recommendations l.jpg
    Conclusion & Recommendations

    Building a reasonably priced full-featured Tivo alternative with more features including DVD writing is possible - the result is very usable and enjoyable but will take some effort

    • Recommendations

      • TV Out: Buy a video card with TV output

      • Tuner: PVR 250/350

      • Redhat 9.0 / Fedora & Jarrod's walkthrough

      • DVD Writer, Hard Drive (BIG)

    Resources start here l.jpg
    Resources - Start Here

    • MythTV

    • IVTV (Hauppauge PVR250/350 Driver)

    • PVR Hardware Guide

    • Jarrods Redhat 9.0 and Fedora Install Guide

    Resources mythtv l.jpg
    Resources - MythTV

    • Myth TV Main site (download, docs, etc)

    • MythTV Mailing list archives (links to lists at bottom)

    • MythTV forums

    • Windows front-end for MythTV

    • Jarrod's MythTV install walkthrough for Fedora, other info

    Resources lirc ivtv l.jpg
    Resources - LIRC & IVTV

    • LIRC Remote control

    • Ivy Wiki (ivtv community)

    • IVTV Sourceforge page

    • IVTV Development list archives

    Resources pvr hardware l.jpg
    Resources - PVR Hardware

    • PVR Hardware News

    • PVR Hardware Guide

    • PVR Hardware Install guides for MythTV, others

    Resources edit cut commercials l.jpg
    Resources - Edit/cut commercials

    • Avidemux

    • Note on running dvdauthor w/ avidemux

    • Gopchop

    • Cinelerra Video Editor

    • MythMkMovie (output not mpeg, requires transcoding)

    Resources dvd burning l.jpg
    Resources - DVD Burning

    • Dvd-rw-tools & growisofs

    • DVD Author

    • GUI front-end for dvdauthor

    • DVDStyler - GUI front-end for dvdauthor

    • DVD Slideshow

    • Linux Journal artile on DVD authoring

    • Linux Gazette DVD burning howto

    • Cdrecord (limitation on burn size w/o agreeing to license and getting free key)

    • Computer burned DVDs - info on compatibility w/ consumer DVD players

    Resources misc l.jpg
    Resources - Misc.

    • Libmpeg

    • Transcode

    • Commercial DVD burning package - GearPro for Linux

    • Linux video studio - GUI for editing