Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The alternatives.

I have ben asked a couple of times "Why MythTV?". I really have no good answer for those that have not tried it themselves, so I usually give a summary of the features list.
But there are alternatives, one of which I have tried myself. I'll start with that one:

Very popular system written i Python. This makes it really flexible and easy to write plugins to, which shows in the number of plugins available. I decided to leave Freevo since it was a bit on the slow side and, more importanly, did not behave at all the way I and my girlfriend expected it to.

One should also mention the DVR project which aims to replace the VCR, nothing more. It records shows from an EPG and is able to display them. Good enough for some people, but I and my family. No point in having a screen shot of this one.

Leaving the Linux world and looking at Windows XP MCE reivals, I find a two projects workt taking a look at:


A .NET based approach that seems to have attracted a good following Open Source world. There are loads of plugins and themes, including a PIM applications and email checking. Some skins are quite similar to the appearance of MCE:

Media Portal

Another feature-rich Windows media center. From the features list, I get the impression that this one acctually rivals MythTV in features, and has DVD burning included also. For MythTV there is only a web-based plugin so far (which caused me some trouble last week). However, a friend tells me it is quite slow sometimes.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

DVDs on PVR-350.

Even though there is a MPEG2 decoder on the PVR-350 card, there is no was (yet) to use this ability in when playing DVDs. Somewhat counter to what you would expect, but then there it is. Even more, until a couple of months ago, there were no Xv support in the framebuffer driver for X, which basically seems to mean that the TV output on an old, dumb graphics device would be just as good.

When reasearching various DVD playback programs, I found (like many before me) that you basically have to choose the less unsatisfactory solution for you. There is basically no alround solution.
Mplayer rocks for speed and lirc support, but there are no menues. Ogle is has really smooth playback and menu suport, but no lirc (why??). There is a companion program on the web that handles lirc -> ogle transactions, but it would not compile agains the versions of ogle i tried.
Xine is fully stacked in features, but the speed leaves much to be desired. I finally went for the xine solution, and with the following line I get pretty steady playback:
xine -D -V xshm -A alsa --no-logo --no-splash -pfhq dvd:/

The -D flag is strictly necessary for me.. the interlace lines are terrible.

It is mentioned once in a while in the relevant mailing lists that someone should provide direct support for PVR-350 in the form of a driver for Xine. So far, I have not seen anyone mention any progress on this. I really hope someone is working on it...

Friday, June 10, 2005

No port this time, just a patch..

The mess I got into last week was due to a half-ready port of the mythburn shell scripts to a more general environment. Luckilly, the bad code killed itself in the process by removing itself from the disc. Now that I have the system up again, I decided agains starting to restructure the code to a distributable package again and just fix the thing that needed fixing. I've posted a patch here that takes me from the current CVS to code that will generate a correct DVD structure (with menues and chapters) as well as with thumbnails that are not blue inhte faces and not up-side-down.
Hope this will help someone.

Someone should get the urge to continue the work done on a MythTV frontend part of the scipts that are in the CVS. Web scripts are great, but there is something strange about having to fire up two computers in order to burn a DVD of the recordings. I don't know QT and is not really up to it right now, but since the code that acually does the work is in shell scripts already, it might not be that difficult to make a "selection" application in QT.

I tried nuv2disc. The thing is set to operate in 800x400 or more screen resolution. I have not been able to scale it down to 720x576 which is the TV out reolution of a PVR-350 in a PAL country. I don't like guessing which buttons I am pushing..

Monday, June 06, 2005

Not sure about udev..

The system is up again. I decided to go with Gentoo dispite the compiling time.. although this time I started at stage3. Stage1 builds are cleansing for the soul, but boring when you just like to get the damn thing to work.

This install (which I really hopoe will be the last one I do) was of course much less work then the first one. The settings stored in this blog and in the Gmail archives of ivtv-devel, mythtv-users and mythtv-sweden lists really helped. Mostly copy-n'-paste and wait for gcc to finish.

The major obsticle has been udev. I know that devfs is not perfect, and even really unflexible when it comes to removable devices, but for me it is more important to get drivers for static hardware to work. No matter what I tried, i could not get the video devices readable by the system. The filsystem in /dev reported the correct attributes, but i got error everytime I tried to access them.
Switching back to devfs did the trick.

Maybe m just being a n00b, but if this is the state of udev, my thought is that it was prematurelly released.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Not very happy...

This is it: I am officially a victim of bash scripting and have reached a new low in hacke status.
I hve been mucking around with a bash script for burning DVDs of my MythTV recordings. I wrote before that I really like the script, buthte problem with it is that it is written specifically for KnoppMyth. I've ported it to "proper" Myth once before, but this time I thought I would do something that could be distributed to other distros then Gentoo as well.

To make a long story short, in one of the scripts i inherited, there is a line
rm -R $dir/*
which was fine, until I started thinking that this is incomple and changed the name in the setup file I introduced. Now $dir was undefined... and I managed to stop it just *after* it completed /bin...

It is of some comfort that I have posted most of the tricky parts of my setup on misc lists and on this blog. I don't think getting back will be that hard, but then there is the compile time of Gentoo.

I am seriosly thinking about moving to a binary distro, although I know I would go fairly quickly.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Fire in the hall!

I must admit that I gave up on burning from MythTV. The main obstacle seemed to be the DVD+RW device itself which would not burn an entire DVD in Linux. I updated the firmware, tried both the ATAPI and SCSI interfaces for burning, upgraded the kernel to a version that would work for this burner and finally rebuilt Gentoo completelly using a set of USE flags I got from a guy in the Gentoo forum.
Yet, it would not work. At least not until a two days ago.

When trying a Plextor USB writer at work, without problem, I got an idea that there might be a driver-disc-interface issue here. Trying a bunch of combinations of disc and interface using a new version of cdrecord-proDVD finally got me a sucessful burn of a Video-DVD image on a DVD+RW disc that I could then play as a DVD in MythDVD. Now, I will toss the non-working DVD-Rs I bought a while back and try to find another brand that works. I am getting close in this!

For MythTV part, I am planning to use the mythburn scripts fount here. I've ported it a while back from KnoppMyth to "Proper" Myth, and I like it so myuch that I will make a more easilly distributable port of it and give it to the maintainer. The script is too good to just fade away.
I like it much better than the nuv2disc package.