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16

May

MythTV and MythDora

Posted By Mat Diss Friday, May 16, 2008. 3 Comments

I have been using MythTV since version 0.17 a couple of years ago.   Back then the installation process was for the brave/foolhardy only.

I built the computer, plugged in my TV card (a Hauppage PVR-350) and installed Linux.  Then the fun really started.  I eventually found Jarod Wilsons Myth(TV)ology pages with some excellent instructions to follow.  After a lot of fiddling and playing around, I managed to get a TV picture displayed – a joyous moment!

The comments from my family were around the lines of ‘why not just buy a TiVo??’ – at the most frustrating times of my install, this was a good point, but when done it felt much more of an achievement than just handing over the credit card.

The system worked well, with an uptime of over a year until I decided that I needed to make some ‘tweaks’.  The tweak I had in mind was to get a DVB card so I could watch and record UK freeview channels.

“Just a quick upgrade” I assured my wife.  She was not convinced.  At 2am when I finally gave up and went to bed, I wasn’t convinced either – it was not going well.

Next day I discovered Mythdora, which seemed to be a complete ‘Myth-in-a-box’ installation.  Now, normally I don’t like these types of solution as I like to do it my own way, but I was getting desperate now.  I downloaded the image and created my install DVD.  I decided on a fresh install rather than an upgrade and just preserved my recorded programs directory.

What an amazing process – install, reboot and, lo and behold I could view and record the Freeview channels.  I was a convert.   There was still a lot of fiddling to do, but nothing to the level I had been used to.  Only problem was that my remote control wasn’t working, so we had a keyboard in front of the screen.  Amazing how you get used to not having to get up to change channels like we had to before remote controls.

I was happy with this arrangement apart from the remote control.  Everything worked perfectly.  Unfortunately every forum I tried insisted that the remote control worked on their setup – so I was getting nowhere with that.

A few weeks ago I noticed that Mythdora were beta-testing the next release, Mythdora 5 which included a new version of MythTV and a new kernel.  My only hope for remote control happiness was to upgrade to a new kernel as the video4linux drivers had been improved, so I signed up as a beta tester and duly received my link.

I downloaded and installed the new software and, incredibly, my remote control worked first time!  So I now had a fully functioning system.

Nearly….

I have a VIA EPIA M10K motherboard which has a VIA graphics chipset (CLE266).  MythTV will use the XvMC extensions to pass off some of the MPEG2 decoding the graphics chip.  This means that CPU usage when showing a recording or watching live TV is about 20-30%.  Unfortunately this doesn’t appear to be working in the new version.  If I choose a playback profile the uses XvMC, then the frontend crashes (saying that xv-blit is not available).  I can use the ‘slim’ profile, but the CPU usage is about 80% for playback now and the nautilus process wakes up at regular intervals, using CPU and causing the playback to pause.

This is not a huge problem to anyone else except me.  I know it used to work, so will not be satisfied until it works properly again.  I have tried many forums (fora?) to try and find the answer to this problem, to no avail.  Many problems look like the same issue, but none of the answers solve it.  It must be something to do with the way the frontend has been built, but it looks like XvMC is compiled in.

So I have a mostly functional system, with TV, Radio, News, Weather, Internet Streams, DVD, Picture gallery, access to the PVR over the Web etc. Was it worth it?  Yes, if only to be able to say I don’t have to use MS media center!

If anyone passing reader knows how to get XvMC working, then I will be a truly happy man!

Once I have a stable version, then I will work on making the web interface mobile.  Imagine being able to control the system from your phone…..

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Posted in: Hobbies