The Quest for the Perfect PVR

The Quest for the Perfect PVR

I've been running MythTV for years. Typically I just let it do it's thing, and I don't often update the box.

Lately I've had issues with the DVD info downloader and the weather modules. I also haven't had cable in a few months for various reasons and just ordered a digital HD package to be installed this weekend.

All seemed like a good opportunity to start the machine from scratch.

My first step was to remove the original boot drive and put in a spare drive. This would let me roll back to my old install painlessly if things didn't work out the way I planned. I prepared a copy of Ubuntu 7.04 desktop in advance, and was ready to go. There are probably thinner distros that would have worked, but I'm a fan of Ubuntu's hardware detection and hate tracking down driver problems.I started about 10:00 PM. Knowing that I'm a glutton for punishment I knew this would take some time. For one thing, I planned to install the devel edition of MythTV from the subversion repository. I typically stay up late so I wasn't worried. I'd explain what Subversion is, but if you don't know, you won't be trying this anyway.

I started by booting the disk. Wow, after the initial splash screen, my Samsung 32' widescreen LCD no longer supported the resolution produced by Ubuntu by default during install. Ugh. Drag out the old 15' LCD.


Now, as my system doesn't have a keyboard or mouse typically, I didn't bother installing a mouse. Turns out, Ubuntu doesn't configure the 'windows' key to pull the menu up, so I had no way of navigating the install without a mouse. Ugh. Drag out the old Microsoft PS/2 ball mouse and...


Finally, I launch the installer. The language option comes up, and shows 'English' as highlighted. I hit 'Enter' to choose the default and it switches to Arabic. Ugh. Try to exit out and some dialog in Arabic pops up and none of the buttons on it work, so I use xkill to kill the installer from a console. I start the installer again, only to find that the buttons are STILL in arabic.


The installer fires up. I quickly learn one of my hard drives is missing. Turns out I left the power cord disconnected.


Finally I'm cooking with gas. The install goes smoothly (taking care to CLICK forward when picking the language instead of hitting return.) My Squeezebox continues spewing 'Red, Red Wine' from the Internet radio station despite the fact that the server software used to be on the box I'm now working on. It must have handed the stream off to the Squeezebox for direct processing before I shut down.

Reboot. (Things are installed this time!)

Once things were installed I immediately fired up Synaptic and removed the following, just to streamline things a bit:
OpenOffice (and all related)
Gimp (and all related)
Evolution (and all related)

I then allowed it to download and install updates to everything that was left. No need installing updates to OpenOffice, for instance. It's a TV for goodness sake.

Next I set the login manager to automatically log me in without the need for a password. This lets the family reboot it if necessary.

Then I got to work installing packages I needed such as:

openssh-server (personal preference)
gxine (for testing)

I added the SlimDevices repository and installed the latest Slimserver software.
I added the automatix2 repository and installed it as well.

I then used Automatix2 to install all the extra cool codecs and DVD software.

Next I did 'apt-get build-dep mythtv' to grab all the developer libraries I would need. I could have been lazy and just installed the MythTV binaries, but like I said I'm a glutton for punishment.

I made sure all my QT3 paths were set as specified in the MythTV howto Wiki.

Then I downloaded MythTV from SVN sources and started compiling.

Hopefully it won't be long now - it's only 1:50 AM.

Posted by Tony on May 04, 2007 | Desktop Linux, Linux Tricks