MythTV Issues – Revisted

The other day I was going looking at some old posts in my blog and came across one that I thought might be a good idea to update: MythTV – Like TiVO w/no subscription! In it, I listed a series of issues that I had shortly after I finished my MythTV install. Well, I’ve been running Myth now for more than two years and have updated from the 0.18 version I originally installed to 0.20.2. But first, a little bit of back story of I got to here.

As I mentioned in the original post, I first installed Myth on an old computer running Fedora Core 4 as its OS. I upgraded Myth a couple times on this setup to get to 0.20.1, but never got around to upgrading the operating system. Then Zap2It announced they were no longer going to provide data information. A great group of people made a big last minute push to create Schedules Direct as a low cost alternative. The MythTV developers at the same time made a big push to get 0.20.2 out which supported the new Schedules Direct service. Unfortunately, my Fedora Core 4 based system was so old that there were no packages made for it. I tried a couple times to upgrade to Fedora 7 or Fedora Core 6, but always ran into some little issue or another. So I ended up using a slightly modified script I found in the mailing list to allow me to download updated guide data from Schedules Direct but continue to run my old system.

I ran like that until we got a new TV the day after Thanksgiving. The new TV supported High Definition and we discovered that there were a couple stations unencrypted on our basic extended cable (pretty much just the local broadcast stations) available in High Def. So it looked like a good time to rebuild the MythTV box. The new TV also supported VGA in, so I could stop dealing with the shortcomings of the PVR-350‘s TV out. It was a decent little card for doing Standard Def TV, but it wasn’t the best for the Myth menus and the way I had it configured, the only sound I could get to my TV was that from TV shows. I still don’t have the capability to record HD, but at least I have a machine that’s capable.

Now, without further ado, here’s my previous list and my current responses:

  • Channel changing is really slow

This very well may still be an issue…. I’m not sure. I don’t really do the Live TV part of things anymore. Having some idea of how this works (Myth basically first starts a recording then starts watching that recording), I’d say it’s very likely that it does still exist.

  • The fonts in the on screen guide are so small they’re pretty much useless

I guess I don’t know for sure because the guide is really part of Live TV, but I’m pretty sure this would be resolved now. I know when I did my original install, I had to tweak up the font sizes from default to be able to really read some things from across the room. On the new HD TV, the default sizes seem to be great, generally speaking.

  • I still need to figure out how to make channel icons work

As I already mentioned, I solved this one relatively quickly. The procedure is slightly different now than when I did it, but that’s all documented in a post to the MythTV-Users mailing list.

  • My wireless network card is unreliable (it’s an older 802.11b card that sometimes loses connection)

That year (2005) for Christmas, my wife got me an 802.11g linksys wireless card. It doesn’t have native Linux drivers, but it works just fine using ndiswrapper to load the Windows drivers.

  • The On Screen Display and the setup menus often place things off the screen where they aren’t really visible

I didn’t really know all that much about it at the time, but this is due to something called overscan. Basically, CRT based TVs (anything with a tube and a heavy glass front) “project” an image onto the glass screen. Because of differences in the manufacturing process, among other things, the amount of the original picture that lands on the visible area of this glass screen has some variance. My TV had a pretty high level of overscan which meant that most of the things on the edge (whether put there by Myth or by the TV station) didn’t show up. Now that my TV is an LCD TV, I get every pixel that’s sent to it displayed properly, so I no longer get things placed “off the screen.”

  • The sound output from the PVR 350 can only be used for TV sound. Other things that require sound (such as MP3 playback, games, etc) don’t work without a real sound card

I solved this one by no longer using the PVR 350 out as my output (sound or video). I’m now connected to the TV using a VGA cable for video and a standard 1/8″ stereo phone plug for audio. Because of that, MythMusic now works.

  • I only have a 20GB drive for my /video mount so that limits how much stuff I can record

Once again, my wife helped out with this one. She won a contest at work that gave her points she could spend to get, among other things, electronics. She got a 250GB hard drive which I migrated what little videos I had at the time to. No way I could have gone this long with on a 20GB hard drive :). Heck, we keep talking about whether or not to get an even bigger one!

  • It may be that I just haven’t found the module for it, but there’s an FM tuner in the PVR 350 that I don’t seem to have any support for in MythTV

Still haven’t solved this one. Even though I don’t use it for output anymore, I still use my 350 as a tuner.

9 Replies to “MythTV Issues – Revisted”

  1. MythTV is great. PVR-350 for output is a joke. The ONLY way to take full advatage of MythTV is DVI->HDMI cable. (or nVidia component breakout box).

    The single best thing about MythTV is the commercial detection, imho. 😉

  2. I have tivo and have consider mythtv before but decided against it. People just have too many problems, and there are features it is lacking where tivo picks up the ball.

    Now, maybe someday if there is a way to hack a tivo box to run something similiar, then I will upgrade.

  3. Have you tried mediaportal for windows? I’m using that one right now and don’t know if it’s worth the trouble for me to switch to linux + mythtv. If you’ve tried it please give me some advice like pros and cons

  4. I have Tivo and have been on and off again thinkgin about checking out mythtv. But after reading your informative post I think I’m going stay away from it until they can work out all the problems. Like someone else said above…the commerical detection is really cool but all the other issues don’t make it worth the hassle.

    Thanks for the very informative post.

  5. My husband is the techno guy in our house and has been telling me we need one of those mythtv things instead of you Tivo. I’ll have him read this and I bet I’ll get my way on this one and keep the Tivo. It could happen.

  6. Thank you very much for your discussion of mythtv. We have considered mythtv and believe it is a relatively good solution. For some time we have been using a DVR solution made available through our cable provider Roadrunner. It is relatively stable but has some room for imporvement. We may switch to mythtv, Tivo or another solution based on a comparison not only of the available features, but on the stability as well.

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