Mythtv update

latest updates on my homebrew tivo project

After a couple months of playing around with mythtv, I’d qualify the experiment as a total success. It records shows perfectly (ok, occasionally misses the first 15 seconds), plays them back, manages them, etc. I can extract the shows, convert them, burn them if I want.

In my last entry, I mentioned the only remaining problems are slow channel changing and occasional crashes. The only other problem I’ve had is frame jitter, caused by the difficulty of converting progressive vga to interlaced ntsc.

Well the channel changing is always going to be slow, but I’ve been keeping up with the development version of mythtv, and it almost never crashes now. Rarely the frontend locks up, and almost never does the backend die. And now there’s experimental code to try to reduce the frame jitter, and it works really well. I call it the CNN Test — is the crawl at the bottom of cnn smooth or shaky? With the new code it’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better than it used to be. It’s much easier to forget I’m watching output from a computer now.

The mythtv team writes some amazingly robust, quality code. The install process, however, is still ridiculously hard for anyone other than an experienced linux guru. There’s not even a configure script that tells you if you have all the pieces installed! Take a look at the 2000 page install script sometime, you’ll see. Naturally video capture is a delicate art, so there’s a lot of ground to cover, but the actual software installation of mythtv could be streamlined greatly. Hopefully one of the TODO items for 1.0 will be some sort of easy installation.

Of course it wouldn’t have been any fun if it hadn’t been challenging. Henry likes to complain about my computers, he has since I’ve known him. This is not his fault, I just tend to do weird things with my machines that make them behave differently than most people’s machines — therefore, they are unfamiliar and weird. Mythtv, however, is a very smooth, invisible system. I don’t think he can complain about much of anything (except the channel-change speed — that man weilds a remote like an automatic pistol).

Last gripe: mythtv doesn’t stop recording if the disk is full. this causes big problems and crashes. come on people.
this has been fixed in newer versions.

pps: The writer of the Tivo Hacks book recently advertised his services to build mythtv machines for 1200$. Given my experiences, that is way more money than necessary. I’ll do it for 750$.