Friday, July 22, 2005

Xv and a new case?

I have to say that I am basically satisfied with the MythTV box as it is right now. I know that things will change when the new version, featuring a frontend deamon and other much needed stuff, but it works pretty much as one would expect right now. Of course, out of the two times I have tried to show off it's capabilities to visiting people, the first one was a complete failure and the second one was a complete success. Not bad, considering the fact that the failure was caused by me having fiddled a bit too much with the XML parsing libraries that MythTV needs for it's menues. A re-install of them solved the problem.

The only small issue I can think of regarding hte software is the lack of hardware accelerated scaling for non-MPEG2 sources using the IVTV framebuffer device drivers. This issue is, however being worked on by John Harvey and teh state of the Xv implementation is that it is already quite usable but that the image may in some cases have artifacts. This mainly concerns OSD elements, and I am sure that John, or someone else, will solve the problem. Not a very big issue for me, since playback using the x11 driver in mplayer and xshm driver in xine is not a problem on the Sempron 2.4 GHz box I am using.

I have never been a particular big fan of the case though. Sure, it is kind of flat and it was cheap enough, but now.. I don't know. Judge for yourself.

And in place:

Appart from the look fo the case itself, I am a bit disturbed by the noise caused by the box. In hte beginning, the 40mm fan I am using (since there is no room for a larger one in the case by the processor) was connected directly to the PSU. This way, the noise of hte fan was really very unintrusive, and I noticed the PSU more than the 40mm fan. However, I noticed (when I enabled the hardware sensors in the linux kernel) that the temperature inside the box was not healthy at all.
Most of hte time, this was not a problem, since the box was not on for more that about half a day at a time. However, I noticed that the box would crash if we went away for a couple of days, usually leaving some stuff not recorded. So, I got an extension cable for the fan so that it would reach the far-away connector on the MB (and thereby getting it regulated by the the MB temperature). Now, the temperature in the case is fine even under high load, but the noise has increased considerably.

I have found a candidate replacement case, the Aspire X-QPack. There are a number of good review of this case around, and most of them concludes that the design is really good regarding airflow and internal space (considering the volume involved).
Here are some pictures:

The 120mm fan in the back is also, according to one review, pretty quitet. It compares well to dedicated HTPC cases out there, for a lot less money. One thing I don't like, however, is the LEDs in combination with the side windows. In case I decide to take the plunge, I will either have to find a store that sells the no-window variant, or kill the light!

Monday, July 04, 2005

KnoppMyth has got some competition

The alternative to doing a full Linux install and then figuring out and installing the components needed for MythTV is to go with a pre-packaged distribution known as KnoppMyth. This distro is based on Debian and installs quite easilly it seems (I have not tried it myself, but I have seen it been done), but the problem is just that this is Debian. I ran debian on my boxen a couple of years back, and I noticed that all the media stuff that I did want to use (like Mplayer) needed a bunch of libraries with *much* higher version number than the packages available in Debian unstable. As a consequence, I started getting a /usr/local that was almost as large as the rest of /usr (QT and GTK helped aswell). When scanning the archies in Mythtv-users, I definatelly see people needing to compile a bunch of stuff on their own.. I mean the IVTV driver is usable with a recently bought card only if you run the unstable branch.

Maybe a change in base distribution for knoppmyth is the key. Dennis Hand seems to think so. He has recently announced a Fedora Core-based distribution solely devoted to provide a simplistic install of MythTV on a computer. It is called MythDora and even provides a Fedora Core port of the Mythburn scripts. Check it out.