Monday, December 11, 2006

MythTV - just a myth or a reality for the Linux neophyte

<rant>Rant #1 - I have to start this off with 'WHY ME, WHY ME, OH THE HUMANITY!' Why you ask - well barring the fact that this is now 2:30 am, I have been attempting to get MythTV running on my CentOS Linux box for the past 4 hours. I have to hand it to Microsoft and Windows application developers, at least when they need a dependency they either include it or provide a direct link to it (well most of the time). My limited experience with Linux makes me the perfect candidate for RTFM, however who needs a manual??? Ok well I do, but it doesn't help - provide examples that anyone can understand, not just Linux guru's!</rant>

<rant>Rant #2 - BestBuy you kinda suck. I went to BB yesterday (Saturday) to pick up an ATI TVWonder 650 card for like $130. I got it with no probs, then the next day I look at the circular and what do I see - the card for $99! However, I had a bad feeling last night so I never opened the box. I was reading some posts about people having Windows/Linux driver problems and various problems all around so I elected not to open it and go with my original plan - the Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-150. Normally it retails for about $100, however CompUSA had a special this week (Dec 10, 2006) for $40 after rebate!!! Joy! I picked one up and returned the ATI and I'm super (thanks for asking). BB, you should have had some means of telling me that the product would be on sale the next day (hmm if only BB had a computer, or a room full of Monkeys to input the sales for the next week and then compare items when purchased...) - Boooo</rant>

Ok now that that is out of the way lets dig into what happened these past for hours. First off I have to give EXTREME thanks to a guy called Jarod C. Wilson. He wrote this great tutorial on how to set up MythTV on Fedora.

While it got me about 70% of the way there, there was another person - 22Eleven who created a tutorial for the CentOS specifics

Ok a tutorial can only take you so far with Linux. In a perfect world (not that I'm calling Windows the perfect world) you could just run the installer and boom it would be done. Well when I installed CentOS, I chose some extended options like GIMP so I could potentially do some photo editing. Well MythTV installer wants nothing to do with GIMP or any other photo type programs. So during my installation of MythTV as per:
> yum -y install mythtv-suite

I received many errors like the following:
Missing Dependency:
Missing Dependency: perl(File::Slurp) is needed by package perl-XMLTV

Well I'm not a Linux master, but wouldn't you think that you could just install libstdc++ with a yum command? NOPE forgetaboutit! So then I had to uninstall them with commands like:
> yum erase gimp

After uninstalling anything that was in the "is needed by" list, I tried again - no good, other probs still. I ended up going into 22Eleven's tutorial again and looking at the YUM configuration again. I noticed that I had mixed some of the YUM configs from Jarod's and 22Eleven's. I wiped out the unnecessary configs and tried again - no luck. Then I went in and enabled the "atrpms-testing" and tried again. This time still no luck. Ok I was about to throw in the towel and then with dumb luck I tried installing it with the following command:
> yum -y install mythtv

Notice no "-suite" on the end. Well to my suprise it worked!!! It installed with no errors (at this time it is about 1am). Well now I'm on a roll so I figured what the heck - lets try for the home run and I ran the yum command with the -suite and it too worked properly with no errors!!! My assumption is that by installing MythTV standalone first it fixed some dependency issues.

Well now this is freaking sweet so I just followed along "10. Get and install capture card driver(s)" within Jarod's tutorial and I didn't hit any hiccups since. I was able to query my card and the picture looked like crap, but I had faith that it was just using some baseline driver for looking for video. After the tv tuner card was set up, I walked through setting up MySQL with no problems either. Then came the setup for MythTV. That too had no problems. It brought me into a wizard which walked me through its initial setup. My only problem was that my mouse had no cursor in their setup wizard so I had to either use the keyboard or eyeball when the mouse was over a field by looking for the box to lightup.

I realized the first time through the setup that I didn't have the channel guide. Upon RTFM'ing I realized I had to create a Zap2It account in order to retrieve the channel listings. After creating it with no problems, it reminds you that you have 3 months of free usage, then you have to come back to the site and take a survey before it will let you use it again. A small price to pay for something free like this.

Finally I made it through the setup and finalized the download/processing of the channel guide (which btw took about 10 minutes to grab 2 weeks worth of channel data). Now comes the juicy part - using the program! I ran:
> mythbackend

to start the service - then I ran:
> mythfrontend

to run the actual application. I immediately went in and tried the tv and........... IT WORKED!! The quality was a little off, but that could have been because of a number of reasons:

  • Old cabling

  • Old cable splitter

  • Bad signal coming in (not likely since the tv looks fine

  • Computer is too slow - could be since it is only a 700mhz, 512mb ram, 16mb Voodoo 3 3000 vid card

  • Computers don't like me

Well I would love to stay up and tinker some more, but I have to get some sleep before work starts in a few hours. Tuesday or Wednesday I'll get more time to tinker again.


baumer said...

Glad you found my CentOS notes helpful. They are pretty outdated and I never ended up using that box in production.

For a Linux neophyte, you chose one of the harder distros to use with MythTV. If you ever do a rebuild, you'll find that distros with packages that are a little more cutting edge like Fedora Core or Ubuntu will be much easier.

You could also check out MythDora or KnoppMyth which attempt to make the setup process as easy as possible.

Kevin Pechin said...

Thanks Peter for the advice. I'm always looking for a challenge, but you are right, I probably should have started with Fedora. I liked the idea of using Cent because it is basically a direct rebuild of RedHat Enterprise. I figured that if I ever wanted to do more with this box server-wise, that RH may be better, but what do I know yet ;-)

I have mythtv working beautifully so far except for my remote which I had working at one point for a day and then I started playing with the mythgames plugin and now it doesn't work so I have a little work ahead of me. Kudos to you for your tutorial!