Friday, 29 August 2008

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Mythbuntu

This weeks, I spent a few hours with one of our friends, and had a chance to play with his new Sony Vaio Media Centre ( looks like a great big white hat box - if you're old like me - or a great big white chocolate box - if you're optimistic ). This is a Windows Media Centre device, that runs Vista, and allows him to store/play audio and media files.

He's not yet got around to hooking it up to live TV, and is considering a Freesat adapter as his next purchase. He's already added a USB/SATA docking station, which allows him to simply plug in new SATA drives without a huge amount of reconfiguration - he paid about £50 for ~500 GB, which is pretty neat.

So what's this got to do with Mythbuntu ?

Well, I decided to have another dabble with PC/TV combinations, having bought a Hauppauge WinTV Nova-T USB 2.0 nadger last year ( and not really got into it in a big way ). Not wanting to invest much money at this time ( credit has crunched ), I decided to use my 4-year-old AMD Athlon64 monster ( transparent case, lights, fans, 4 GB RAM etc. called ORAC ).

I'd also tried ( and failed ) to get MythTV working on SuSE 9 last year, but had come across Mythbuntu on a random wander across the 'net.

I went here and downloaded Mythbuntu 8.04.1 ( which, quelle surprise, is based upon Ubuntu 8.0.4 "Hardy Heron" ) as a ~500 MB ISO image, cut it to CD, and installed it onto ORAC with little or no configuration.

Having done this, I fired it up, plugged in the Nova-T and ...... nowt.

Sadly, I had to do a little more configuration. Happily, I didn't need to recompile my kernel or use VI ( like Marmite, it's a love/hate thing ) to manipulate a whole bunch of shell scripts and CONF files.

This page on the MythTV wiki helped a lot.

In essence, I opened a console, cleared the message log ( sudo dmesg -c ) and then plugged in the Nova-T. When I checked the message log ( sudo dmesg ), I saw a series of messages which indicated that I was missing a firmware file for the device.

I needed to download a firmware file ( dvb-usb-nova-t-usb2-02.fw ), and finally found it here, thanks to Google. I placed this in the /lib/firmware directory, and unplugged/plugged the Nova-T. This time, sudo dmesg showed me that the device was now working.

I had to do some fiddling around with the MythTV back-end configuration, and will post more details about.

However, at the moment, I can watch live TV via Freeview without any major problems - I get a good picture, and can receive all of the Freeview channels. I've also recorded a few snippets of TV ( some inadvertently ) and seem to be able to record one channel whilst watching another ( which is nice ).

PS I didn't use this but it looks quite good.

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