It’s just data

Stalking the wild PVR...

As with many journeys, most of the interesting things happen in the tangents and detours taken.

My goal at the moment is to get MythTV running... as the primary author of this application runs Debian unstable, following a similar path seemed to wise.

Unstable appears to be a name explicitly designed to scare away the newbies.  Despite this name, getting from installation to a working client was pretty easy.  Download CD image.  Burn CD ROM.  Boot from CD ROM.  If you can partition a hard drive, then you can install Debian unstable.

The client has come a long way since I last checked.  Mozilla presents web pages with readable fonts now.  CUPS and Samba were simple to set up with webmin.  Enough so, that I've made a provisional decision to make this my default OS on my primary desktop machine.  What makes it really nice is that everything is designed to be scriptable.  You can set things with the Control Center in KDE or Gnome, or with a web interface, or via the command lines and text editors. 

Once the OS is installed, installing the MythTV application is a snap.  Update sources.list, and apt-get install mythtv and you are done.  Note: if this is a fresh install, you probably should heed the recommendation to put a root password on your mysql installation.  This converts the one step process into a three step process:

apt-get install mysql-server
mysqladmin -u root password 'passwordyouwant'
apt-get install mythtv

That's the good news.  But we aren't done yet.  There is a MythTV setup that looks to be pretty simple and an install of a device driver that is considerably less so.

There appears to be two basic classes of video capture devices.  The first set, and the cheaper of the two, are frame grabbers.  This means that the task of encoding this is left to your computer.  This is fine if you have a beefy computer that you can dedicate to this task.  Video capture is a realtime operation, if the CPU is busy, the video stream won't wait...

Apparently, debugged device drivers exist for this.

Hardware MPEG-2 encoders are an alternative.  Seems to be the wise choice for the long term, but for the short term, the problem is that the device drivers are under active development, and aren't prepackaged.  Instead, there are build instructions for these things.  Lots of them.  Many of which provide inconsistent or incompatible advice.  All in various degrees of being out of date, or for a given hardware/OS configuration that may be different than yours, or based on a different set of preferences than you mike like.

For example, I started with MythTV on a dedicated Eden/PVR350 Mythbox Walkthrough, which was last updated on the 30th of November 2003.  In the little over two months since that was published, the Apt source for the Perl modules changed to

deb http://www.pcxperience.org/apt/debian unstable/

The instructions also mention ptune-ui but don't mention apt-get install perl-tk.  One can either use ptune without the ui, or one can install perl-tk.  No biggie.

More significantly are the ways in which I deviated from the instructions.  The instructions start with building your own kernel and replacing the kernel image.  I'd much rather:

apt-get --yes install kernel-headers-`uname -r`

I don't see the need to install ALSA as my sound is already working.  When the instructions come to the point where it describes getting a "decent window manager and display manager", this clearly comes down to personal taste.  I haven't yet tried to install lirc (the infrared remote daemon), and I already said that I installed MythTV using apt-get instead of building it from CVS.

The problem is what to do when things don't work.  Particularly when you see messages like Failed to bind port 6543, and the best suggestion you can find online is this.  Which, amusingly enough, worked for me... once.

This best antidote to these problems is to have access to somebody who has been through this before.  In my case, I've gotten as far as I have due to the patient advice of John Beimler.

In the process, I learned some things, and made some mistakes.  I have some new things to try the next time around.  I've grown reaquanted with old friends like Samba, and discovered a new friend with apt-move.  Network install is great, but installing from your hard drive is even better.  I can now do a complete reinstall, with the users, network, printer, and display configured the way I like it in about 10 to 15 minutes.

The inevitable result of this is that I will ultimately end up with a set of instructions that work for me, I will post them and link to them from the wiki, and in two months they will be out of date.

Hopefully because more packages are directly installable.


You're an open source developer.  You have the tools.  Why don't you make a more directly installable seed package?  Perhaps then you could write instructions on how to create more directly installable packages...

Posted by Andy at

Andy, by now you should know me better than that.  Everything I do will be automated, published, and shared.

But, first I have to get it working repeatably...

Posted by Sam Ruby at

apt-move MythTV

apt-move... Brilliant! Equally so is where I found it — Stalking the wild PVR where Sam Ruby sets up MythTV on Debian a la apt-get install mythtv. Everything should be so easy (as long as you ignore the part about...... [more]

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Yet Another PVR Install Log

This time by IBM luminary Sam Ruby. His post is just is just the start of his experience building a dedicated MythTV box based on Debian, but the wisdom will eventually..."... be automated, published, and shared." "But, first I have...... [more]

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MythTV, Here I Come: Part I

The beginnings of the MythTV oddesey. Let the planning begin!... [more]

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RSSTV: Syndication for your PVR

Okay, here's my promised writeup, entitled RSSTV: Syndication for your PVR. Take a look and comment here....... [more]

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The Pains and Joys of PVRs

'Leedvermaak' is this Dutch word for which there seem to be no direct translation, but which means 'having fun with someone's suffering'. The subject of my leedvermaak is Sam Ruby and his experiences with the installing the Hauppauge WinTV PVR-350 board under Linux. In essence this board is a TV tuner enhanced with some mpeg encoders. I have one of those boards and use it as a PVR to fuel the AV380. Sam got himself one of these boards with the goal to run MythTV, a very nice looking PVR application under Linux. Sam thought he was being smart by installing the Linux version the main MythTV developer uses, but his journey is a typical one of searching for packaging, puzzled debugging and a apparently a final victory, although Sam doesn't really report on how well it runs.

... [more]

Trackback from All Things Distributed at

Sam, when installing Debian, did you type "bf24" at the boot prompt?

On "stable", you get a 2.2 kernel if type Enter at the boot prompt, an unintuitive default, at least for me.  I couldn't understand why EXT3 filesystems weren't an option, nor why my 3c905b network card wouldn't install.  Some friends pointed out the bf24 "boot flavor" option, which solved the problems.

Posted by Andrew Grumet at

I'm running Debian unstable.  uname -r returns "2.4.24-1-386".

Posted by Sam Ruby at

Network printing

Sharing my experiences with installing a network printer using CUPS and Samba. I really like Jon Udell's consistent approach of applying the scientific method to design problems.  Based on the response to Eric's sharing of his install woes for a CUPS p... [more]

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Sam Ruby: Stalking the wild PVR...

Getting MythTV to work (incomplete)...

Excerpt from del.icio.us/jason/mythtv at

PocketDish Saga

This adventure started a number of years ago. The first time I saw an Archos device was when Beth Goza brought an  AV340 to FOO in 2003.  I then explored  MythTV last year.  My conclusion at the time is that what I wanted was technicall... [more]

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