Recently, my hard drive died on my old Dell PC.  The PC is a PIII 867MHz with 384MB RAM.  I had been considering buying a new computer and this sealed the deal.  I had also wanted to convert this old PC into a Digital Video Recorder (DVR).  I had a spare 100GB drive on which I installed the Ubuntu Linux distribution.  My Unix skills were somewhat rusty, but I still remembered how to use vi, which was a good sign.  Installing Ubuntu was a breeze.  Installing and configuring MythTV was a challenge.  Fortunately, there are plenty of articles on the web about MythTV.  I still have a couple of issues, but all in all, the software is running very nicely and very stable.  
The two issues that I’m still having are that some channels don’t have any sound either when viewing live or when recorded.  Other channels work fine.  I haven’t had time to really dig into what the problem is, but my guess that it’s either that the channel frequency needs to be adjusted on those channels or that the version of ivtv I’m running needs to be updated.
The other issue I’m having is that live or recorded video hesitates sometimes.  The audio always sounds fine, but the video has this periodic hesitation.  My guess on this one is that my PC is struggling due to age.
Anyway, here are the notes that I took while doing the install.  The djlosch article was the best that I found and if I had a newer platform, it might have worked without a hitch.  Hopefully, these notes will come in handy for someone...even me when I finally get time to upgrade to a newer platform.
    1.    Install Ubuntu 6.10 (Edgy Eft) from Live CD (available here:
    2.    I have a Linksys WMP54GX wireless card.  I was able to install it using ndiswrapper.  Follow these instructions:
    3.    Next, you'll need to update Ubuntu since quite a few updates have come out since the Live CD was created.  Rather than separate the instructions for updating Ubuntu, the remaining steps for it as well as for MythTV can be found here:
    4.    Changes:
    ⁃    Even after editing the sources.list file as described in the post, the w32codecs package could not be found.  Instead, I downloaded it from
    ⁃    Use the apt-get command from the djlosch article that installs mythtv and all of the codecs first, but leave off the w32codecs package.  
    ⁃    You'll be prompted for a mysql root password.  The article says to switch over and run phpmyadmin, but at this point apache isn't installed.  So, I just left the root password blank at this point.
    ⁃    The msttcorefonts download/install takes a while.
    ⁃    After that completes, install the w32codecs_*i386.deb file using this command from the directory where the file was downlaoded:  sudo dpkg -i <filename>
    ⁃    Add mythtv to the admin group by editing /etc/group and adding mythtv to the end of the line that looks something like this:  admin:x:114:jhs,mythtv
    ⁃    Change the autologin to timedlogin (30 secs?) otherwise you may get a "Failed to initialize HAL!" error.
    ⁃    While running mythtv-setup, use the right and left arrow keys to change selections for those items in dropdown lists.
    ⁃    Ignore the line that's specific to the PVR-150.
    ⁃    For remote control support, follow this article:
    ⁃    Make sure to select "us-cable" for the video source instead of Default in mythtv-setup.
    5.    After changing my video card to a GeForce FX 5200, I had to do the following:
    ⁃    Install the nvidia drivers:
    ⁃    I then got an error when trying to watch live tv in MythTV.  The error was something like 'MythTV already using all available inputs".  Apparently what had happened was the capture card was no longer recognized.  So, I had to rerun the following commands (from the djlosch post):
    ⁃    m-a update,prepare
    ⁃    m-a a-i ivtv
    ⁃    depmod -a
    ⁃    modprobe ivtv
    ⁃    I then had to go back into mythtv-setup and redo the commands listed in the djlosch post.
    ⁃    I also had to remake the remote control source (do a 'make clean' to make sure it remakes everything)
    ⁃    I got the TV Out working by following the instructions for TwinView (first part of article):
    6.    A couple of problems encountered:
    ⁃    The audio of live and recorded tv was very low.  I fixed this by increasing the volume within Ubuntu and also within the MythTv setup within myth-frontend.
    ⁃    Live TV could be recorded fine by pressing the record button on the remote.  However, scheduled recording ended up with the picture being black.  The proper amount of time was recorded for the particular show, but there was no picture.  This was caused by me entering the PVR-250 for more than just Tuner 1 (I had also entered it for Composite 1 and S-Video 1).  Removing the extra entries fixed the problem.
    ⁃    Some scheduled recordings to not record audio.
    7.    Configuring the NetFlix plugin
    ⁃    See this article:
    ⁃    Basically, you need to perform the following commands from a shell:
    ⁃    /usr/local/share/mythtv/mythflix/scripts/ -L <userid> <passwd>
    ⁃    /usr/local/share/mythtv/mythflix/scripts/ -L <userid> <passwd>
Sunday, April 15, 2007