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What can I do with Linux? (The MythTV thread)


I am not really a newbie with Linux, but I am lacking inspiration right now. I have an old P4 that is lying in my closet and I am wondering what cool thing I could do with it. I could always install a LAMP server and try to have my own web server, but I would like to do something cooler. My favorite distrib is Debian, but I could always install Ubuntu or Fedora. Or anything you find so awesome that I absolutely have to check it out! ;)

Thanks for your ideas!




  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    I would recommed trying out Ubuntu Server edition, it is command line based, but you can easily install a LAMP server, Samba Server, FTP, etc... you can then find ways to implemenet the services on that box throughout your network for backups, a http based streaming music server, firewall, proxy server, Intrustion detection system, honeypot, etc.
  • If you have a HDTV or a large screen lying around, why not try installing Boxee on it and turn it into a media centre,
    or setup as an iFolder server. and possibly
    as a backup server using BackupPC or the like?

    Infact I have an old laptop (2005) sitting at home doing the first two...:)
  • My old Pentium 4 clocked at 2.6ghz is now my secondary desktop via Linux Mint. I use it for my internet needs and other stuff. Nothing fancy or special.
  • Wow, thanks for your replies guys!

    I actually tought about building a media center, but quickly got discouraged by the lack of easy how-to. But I honestly did not search very long since I was at my job while doing the research :blush: Anyway I will definitly look out for that Boxee thing.

    A backup server would also be a great idea. My disaster recovery plan right now consists mostly in crying over my dead computer if anything bad happens :P

    I also looked into a domotic server, but I feel like the project would be a bit too hard to complete :dry:

    Thanks again!

  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    If your thinking of a media center, I've been told that MythBuntu is easy to set up and is easily managed.
    The file is sitting in my downloads folder waiting for me to get some time to play with it. It's been recommended to me by folks running it, so, hey, if you give it a shot, let me know.
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  • Ok my idea is getting more and more precise :) I am going to turn my computer as a PVR, but I am still not sure if it's gonna be boxee or mythbuntu. Boxee looks a lot nicer to me, but mythbuntu seems more "finished" (dunno how to say that in english...) Also I was not sure if my provider supported that kind of thing, but I finaly managed to get a proper answer from the support guy (Videotron is my provider, if any one is wondering)

    Did anyone experience any trouble in Boxee? Is it stable, reliable, smooth, etc.? In doubt, I might just go with Mythbuntu, just because I don't fell like acting as an alpha tester :P


  • I haven't tried Mythbuntu, but isn't it available as a Live DVD that you can probably test?

    As far as Boxee, you are at luck if you use Ubuntu as there are pacakages available to install using synaptic.
    Else, you would need to install it from source and be prepared to get all dependencies installed!

    Here is my experience on compiling a slightly older version under OpenSUSE 11

    But its really worth it. Once installed, it had worked well for me. The only factor is then how good the Internet connection is - if watching videos from the web (that's its major function anyway) but one could also watch local dvds etc.,

    XBMC is another choice....
  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    Mythbuntu link from distrowatch.com. And yes, it acts as a live cd.
  • Ok I finaly decided to give a shot to Boxee. I'll see how it works and if it's driving me nuts, I'll try mythbuntu. And if I feel reeeally inspired, maybe I'll just try both :P

    I'll keep you posted on my experience :)

    Talk to you later!

  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    Definitely keep us posted. Especially, for me, if you try Mythbuntu. I still have the iso in my download folder and will be curious re your experience.
  • Hey guys!

    I must once more request your help...I'm getting a bit confused :P

    So I cleared the dust off my old computer *cough* and pluged it in. I then installed Ubuntu with absolutely no problem. Explosion of joy. I also installed Boxee which was also free of any pain. (put the boxee repository in your apt sources, then apt-get install boxee. The procedure is detailed on Boxee's website in the getting started section.)

    Now that I know that my system works well with Ubuntu and Boxee, I need to find a TV Tuner.

    Now 1st question: what is the difference between a Tv Tuner and a capture card? Is a tv-tuner for watching TV and a capture card to "record" from your TV?

    2nd question: How can I make sure the card I chose is Ubuntu compatible? My local dealer is not really cooperative :-P I found that wiki but it does not seem up to date: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/HardwareSupport/

    3rd question; I've seen some cards are limited to 125 channels...so I would not be able to watch 126+ channels? Is there a way to bypass this limitation or is it a hardware limit?


  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    I have a PVR-500 from Hauppauge labs that I've used in the past. Hauppauge labs seems to have quite a few cards that work with linux. I giving you a link to the PVR-500 MythTV wiki. It has a troubleshooting section that might be helpful.
    MythTV has an extensive list of what cards work in Linux (I'm sure that whatever works for MythTV will work for Boxee). If your running Ubuntu, the troubleshooting commands should work for whatever card you choose. I haven't really used it in a while (I've been trying to find time to test out Mythbuntu, but I have to many other things going). Right now, attaching my computer to my TV and watching internet feeds fills my need for entertainment. I have cable, but don't need to stream it through my computer.
    A TV-tuner and a capture card are probably the same thing. It depends on what software your using as to whether you can just watch or capture the stream while it's feeding into your computer.
    As far as the number of stations? That probably depends on which card you buy and how you use it. I still have to set my TV to channel 3, and the cable tuner does the channel choosing (all the way up to channel 999 now). I haven't looked in a while, but I would assume newer cards allow for access to more channels. Does your cable provider have basic stations that go beyond channel 125? Or does it require a box to convert above that point.
    This a link to the Hauppauge Online Store:
    If you have time, look at the specs for the different cards and see what channel range they offer. Check sites like MythTV to see if they work with Linux.

    Also: Just a note. I see that my PVR-500 has reached it's end of life, so, the newer cards are the ones to look at.

    Hope this helped. And I hope that my info is correct, I know it's certainly dated.
  • wow, that was very usefull :-) I tought that haupauge was a problematic brand, but I guess it's just more popular (so it generates more issues). Anyway, my local suplier has the haupaugue hvr-1600 but it still has that 125 channel limit...I wrote an email to the company to see if it was really a limit or if we could still tune channels over 125 in some way.

    thanks again!

  • FYI, I chose to go with the Haupauge HVR-1600. I asked the haupauge technical support about that 125 channel limit and here is their answer (by the way, I got my answer same day...I was kind of suprised :) )

    The Hybrid Video Recorder (HVR) can only tune up to 125 channels in the NTSC analog tuner since it is a 125 channel cable ready Tuner. The other tuner on the board is an ATSC digital tuner.


    Vincent D.

    Hauppauge Computer Works US



    From: Patrick
    Subject: Hauppauge WinTV-HVR 1600


    I am looking to buy a tv-tuner card and I am currently looking at the WinTV-HVR 1600 and I am wondering; will I be able to tune channels over 125? Because some of the channels I watch are over that number…is there some kind of workaround or shoul I look for another tuner card?



    So stay tuned for the rest of the story. I also bought some ram and a new CPU, because my current hardware is getting a bit old :P

  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    That's great Patrick. I'll be watching for your posts here. Also, I'm a little bit biased about Hauppauge. I live on Long Island where they are based and remember buying components from them back as early as the 80's. They had good customer service back then, and I guess that good feeling stays with you when your initially treated good.
    Have fun, let us know how it goes.

  • Hey guys!

    Just an update and a question (again :P)

    So I finaly decided to go with a Hauppauge 1600 tv tuner. I got it yesterday and threw it in my system. Booted Ubuntu, detected and installed my card, everything is perfect :-) I also installed a wireless keyboard/mouse combo and there again, I did not have to fight with it.

    So I started boxee, and the interface was kind of sluggish. But it must be my wireless mouse since I did not have any problem using my keyboard. And suddently my mouse started to respond faster...oh well...I will also get a new CPU and some extra RAM because as I said, I think I will get tight on resources.

    So I started messing around with boxee, looking for the option to start treaming the TV...but never found it. I went through a bit of documentation on Boxee's website and a few others on the net; nothing! Is Boxee only to watch videos that has been previously recorded on my harddrive or streaming videos on the web? If that's the case, I might just throw away Boxee, because that's not what I wanted to do :P


  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    I don't believe Boxee has the abilities of say a "MythTV". But I've never really used it, so I can't tell you for sure. Isn't it a proprietary app like hulu?

    BTW:congrats on getting everything else to run.
  • Actualy, Hulu seems to be a website that "offcialy" streams only to americain customers for legal reasons. I've seen a way to bypass this, but I do not want to listen to only american TV. I'm from Qu√©bec so I also want to watch stuff from my place.

    Although, Hulu seems to be a very good site...I wish they had some of our stuff there :)

  • If its mainly for watching tv, you would need to lookup MythTV or the other options. I had a quick at the comparison chart here http://www.deviceguru.com/comparing-10-free-media-center-apps/ (pdf at the end of the post) and Boxee doesnt support tv tuner cards.

    On the slow response of Boxee, you can consider disabling vsync.

    @Goineasy9: Boxee is Open Source (source code available for download after registration at the website)
  • wow, another very usefull post :D I'll defnitly look at this video (And I supose I'll have to throw boxee to the trash...what a shame)


  • Hey guys!

    So I got my brand new ram and CPU. All excited (and worried it would not work), I unpacked it all, replaced my parts, booted up and TADAAAA! I got 2 times the CPU speed and 2 times the RAM :-) So this week-end I'll try out MythBuntu and give you some updates afterwards. (So if anyone else is wondering if it's easy to upgrade your hardware in Ubuntu, the answer is yes :))
  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    Just saw this on DistroWatch and thought of this thread:

    New Mythbuntu is out.
  • Oh great, I just downloaded the RC 2 days ago... :P Thanks for the info!
  • Hi again!

    So I redownloaded MythBuntu, installed it, BAM! everything worked. :) Until I plugged it in my TV :(

    The problem; I see the POST when I boot up, the little MythBuntu splash, then nothing. I think the next thing I am supposed to see is they greyish progess bar.

    I use a good old cathodic TV with an S-Video cable. First thing, I thought it was because of the resolution. So I lowered it to the minimum thinking I would set it as high as I can afterwards. (it was 720X480 if my memory is good..) But still nothing when I plug it back in my TV. Back to my screen; the default resolution (at the login prompt) is not the one I set in my session. So I'm stuck there...duh! :P So I set up auto-login just to see if it would work; still nothing! I also noticed I could not lower the refresh rate (80 hz) Maybe thats the problem... Oh and I don't know if it makes a difference, but the image just stops diplaying as if I unpluged the cord. So it's not just a black screen. That's what makes me think my display settings are not right.

    Anyway I'll check out the MythBuntu documentation as well as my TV's doc. But as usual, your help is always welcome :D

    See ya!

  • Nevermind about the display settings; I found out that the display settings to use with a TV is 800X600 60Hz . So I changed it and still have the same problem...I also tried to reinstall the whole thing just to see what it will do; I can get to the installation prompt, then I select my language, then nothing...
  • There are a few things I found since my last post;

    when I hit alt+f1 I do get to the console mode. So my computer is not frozen and my tv-out does work.
    A strange thing though; i do not have a /etc/X11/xorg.conf file...this is confusing me a bit :P

    I'll try to do the following:
    sudo /etc/init.d/gdm stop
    sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg
    sudo /etc/init.d/gdm start

    I found that on a few websites, so I'll give it a shot. I tried it without stoping GDM, but it did nothing.

    I will also try the command xrandr which I found on the Ubuntu website. I'm not sure what it does yet... from what I read it lists the different resolutions available and lets you set it.


  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    You can also try to run "sudo xorgsetup", I am not at an ubuntu system now so I cannot verify if it is available. xorgsetup attempts to automatically find the appropriate settings for your video card and monitor nad write them to /etc/X11/org.conf.
  • Hello all!

    Well, I've managed to make that thing work. I simply reinstalled Mythbuntu but this time in safe graphical mode. worked perfectly. I only noticed a weird thing when I got in the OS; my refreshrate is 61 Hz...and my screen flickers a little bit :huh: Anyway, I can see something that is not white over a black background so it's an upgrade :P

    Now I have to figure out how to make my tv-tuner...I didnt hit the documentation right now, but when I select "watch tv", MythTv tells me that there are no active recordings...anyway, I'll figure that out later :)

    Oh and by the way here's what I tried:

    - dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg still did not work. It showed no output. I even wonder if it did anything at all :P

    - xorgsetup does not seem to exist...or I am missing something (a package, bad spelling, etc...)

    - xrandr did not work as well...it said something like "cannot open display". Same thing with some of the options I've used with it.

    - I've also tried various options I've seen in this post: http://threebit.net/mail-archive/mythtv-users/msg10862.html

    - I've managed to start X with a specific config file, (can't tell how I did it though...:P) but I always had the same problem.

    - Whatever I used cut the signal between my tv and my pc. The only thing that did something is when I used the vesa driver. My screen would go all black, but i would not lose signal.

    Do you guys think I should make a new post at this point? It's been a while that I'm a little bit off topic...

    Thanks again!

  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    I changed the topic line. Since we started talking about MythTV early. I'd hate to loose or split the thread, it's been interesting. That okay with you?
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