Thursday, June 22, 2006

MythTV Pitfalls & Help: 2

This is my second post on MythTV. The first post went through some of the very basics like MythTV can do and some basics about choosing hardware. If you have any questions about that stuff check out the first post or the MythTV docs.

Step 1

The first step to getting a MythTV box setup is picking and install your favorite Linux distribution. There is no "best distro", but some of the most popular are Ubuntu/Kubuntu, Suse, Mandrake, and Fedora. I used Ubuntu for my choice because I had never used it and wanted to see what it was like. Choose your favorite in the end it doesn't really matter.

Additional Distro Comments
If you have little Linux experience I would highly recommend using Ubuntu or Kubuntu. (The difference is that Ubuntu will install Gnome as the default desktop and Kubuntu will install KDE. Once you install one you can install the other as well.) Both are very easy to use, have very good installation programs, package management tools (Add / Remove Software for windows people), and are very easy to get help with. The Ubuntu installer picked up all of my hardware basic (not my encoder card) including my wireless card (madwifi). I was then through the package management software able to install the Nvidia drivers for my video card.

Step 2
At this point I had all of my hardware basic hardware setup and configured. It was no time to get the Video Encoder Card to work. As I mentioned before I purchased the PVR-350 from Hauppauge. This card has great support under Linux with the ivtv drivers. The ivtv site has a good Howto for installing on "Breezy Badger". I did not see this till after I installed so I didn't use it plus I use "Dapper Drake". Anyway the install is not that difficult. Here are the key points.

1.) Download the 0.4.X version, it's probably the one you will need. When in doubt run 'uname -r' to get your current kernel version. If your kernel is less than or equal to version 2.6.15 then you want version 0.4.x. If it is above that use the 0.6.x version. (This may change with time, consult the documentation if in doubt)

2.) Make sure you install the development tools for Ubuntu and make sure you install the kernel headers package. If you don't install this stuff you may get errors. Missing libraries, gcc, libtool, etc... Also if you have errors compiling the kernel modules you probably didn't install the kernel headers package.

3.) Next compile with 'make', and install with 'sudo make install'.

4.) Next download and install the firmware for the device. This is a critical step and the card will not work without the firmware. You can extract the firmware from your windows cd or download it from the website. Here is where you can find more about this. On "dapper drake" the firmware files go in /lib/firmware/.

5.) Make sure none of the modules are currently running by executing this command. 'sudo rmmod ivtv cx25840 tuner tveeprom msp3400 wm8775 tda9887 saa7115 saa7127' The execute this command to load the new drivers. 'sudo modprobe ivtv'.

6.) You can use dmesg and / or look at /var/log/messages to make sure the correct modules are loaded.

7.) You can test the input of your newly installed card by running the command 'cat /dev/video0 > test.mpg'. Then open 'test.mpg' with MPlayer or some other media player. You can test the output by running the command 'ivtvfbctl /dev/fb0 -noglobalalpha -localalpha; dd if=/dev/video0 of=/dev/video16 bs=64k'.

This install was not very difficult as long as you installed the development tool required and the kernel headers. Please do realize that if you install ANY kernel updates you will need to recompile and reinstall these drivers! To be safe I would recommend updating your kernel headers, running 'make clean', 'make', and 'sudo make install'.

At this point you should have a working encoder and decoder card. If you do not visit the ivtv website and figure out the problems and fix it. Do not proceed until you get this working.

Here is a good link that I used to get my system setup. Also this link even though it is mostly for Fedora is great also.

I'll be continue with building and install mythtv next. Leave your comments / questions.

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