MythTV discussion

I went to a Boston Linux and Unix
Users Group
(BLU) meeting last night to hear a talk on MythTV by one of its developers
(Jarod Wilson who works for Redhat).

Some points of interest about real world MythTV use:

  • Recording from a cable box is more haphazard than you would
    wish — the most reliable way to record anything you’ve paid to
    be able to watch is to get the Hauppage HD-PVR which lets you
    plug in the composite video cables from the cable box and use an
    IR blaster to change the channels. Modern cable boxes have a
    firewire output, which should let you both record digitally and
    change the channels, but it’s fairly haphazard what channels
    your cable company will let you see unencrypted on the firewire
    output. Also, the HD-PVR will allegedly record in either 720p
    or 1080i, but there are some issues with the linux drivers for
    interlaced video, so you’re currently safer sticking to
    720p.
  • Most of the USB remote control boxes on the market,
    including the HP branded one that I inherited from Bonnie, are
    essentially the same as the Windows Media Center one.
  • If you’re setting up a filesystem partition for mythtv, XFS
    is currently stable and designed for large files. ext3 is
    usable; ext4 is a bit bleeding edge and people have lost data
    using it.
  • If you can’t handle the volume on the mythtv users mailing
    list, there’s an indexed
    archive
    that you can search.
  • The speaker repeated the common wisdom that an NVidia
    graphics card with the NVidia binary-only driver “just works”.
    This has been very much not my experience, but it must be true
    for lots of people.
  • He admitted that his first install of MythTV took a week of
    hard work before it “mostly worked”. He says that once you have
    the setup working, using it (even for the non-technical) is no harder than a commercial
    system (such as Tivo), and administering it is a couple of
    minutes a week for an experienced Linux user, but setting up is
    definitely harder than it should be.

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