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My DIY Linux PVR
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
  MythWeb Rocks
MythWeb was beyond trivial to setup and gives you full control of recording features from anywhere in the world. Don't go hunting for my MythWeb URL though, I still don't have .htaccess configured well enough to prevent unauthorized use!
 
  Simple Solutions
I found two very simple solutions to separate items on my TODO list.

The wireless connection is a little sporadic and sometimes reports a bit rate of 1Mb/s. Before tearing out the generic Broadcom drivers I downloaded, I cleared out some of the cable cruft near the antenna at the back of my ATI case. This alone bosted the bitrate up to 48Mb/s and it occasionally goes to the full 54Mb/s. No software configuration necessary.

SPDIF output on the built-in sound card was easy once I figured out that my NVidia nFORCE4 Motherboard comes with a Realtek chip'd soundcard which is based on the Intel i8X0 chipset. Confused? So was I. Contributing to this is ALSA's silently finicky .asoundrc file that requires the right chipset code after it's pcm and ctl config sections. My final .asoundrc file with PCM output going to the SPDIF device (2) looks like:


pcm.intel8x0 {
type hw
card 0
device 2
}

ctl.intel8x0 {
type hw
card 0
}
 
Monday, November 28, 2005
  TODO
Here are the items on my TODO list that will need to be completed before this project can be called a succcess.
 
  MythTV on my TV

MythTV on my TV
Originally uploaded by Billy The Kid.
MythTV installation was a breeze. The Gentoo ebuild makes it really really easy to perform. I can't effectivley hear audio through the SPDIF output on my sound card yet, but with a little more time reading up on ALSA, it's only a matter of time.
 
Sunday, November 27, 2005
  wlan0 Success with Broadcom
Switching my card from the Linksys with RaLink chipset to one with a Broadcom chipset did the trick for getting wirelessly connected. I couldnt' find information on any current PCI cards that use the Orinoco or Prism chipset. Broadcom thankfully provides 64 bit drivers, downloadable through LinuxAnt.

With a new Belkin F5D7000 and Generic broadcom 64 bit Windows drivers the wireless link is up.
 
  Linksys Bait and Switch
Linksys decided to silently change chipset manufacturers for v4 of thier wmp54g PCI card. This is too bad for me becuase although ndiswrapper support is great for Broadcom cards, RaLink 2500 Windows 64 drivers suck. They either refuse to load or cuause kernel panics. Others have had similar difficulty with the RaLink "native" Linux drivers downloadable from thier site.

I think I'll sell the wmp54g on eBay tomorrow and make my life easier with an Orinoco or Prism PCI card.
 
Friday, November 25, 2005
  Xorg and the nVidia Driver
Following the Gentoo Linux nVidia Guide to a T, my first shot produced an nvidia driver that would lock the system when X was started. Not lock the system like; make the mouse freeze, lock the system like make it impossible to log into. I took a look at my current kernel configuration and saw that support for PCI-e had not been built in by the installation time genkernel invocation. How can genkernel claim to do anything automatically when it can't figure out that I need PCI-express support? I compiled this in, but included framebuffer support at the same time and produced a different problem.

With framebuffer support compiled in for nVidia cards, the card could not be probed during startup. This caused the kernel nvidia module to fail when loading was attempted. A few searches on the excellent and information plentiful Gentoo forums talked about framebuffer support being a bad thing when using the nvidia kernel module. Once it was removed, the kernel module loaded properly and everything works great. GLX gears reports 1300 fps and I'm ready to move onto the soudcard support.
 
Thursday, November 24, 2005
  LVM2
With an 80GB primary drive only 26% allocated and an empty 250GB drive, I used LVM2 to create one 298GB drive from the unallocated portions of both. This will make myth video repository administration a bit easier. Also, I plan to add one more disk in the future, and LVM allows you to extend my video logical volume with any other combinations of disks and partiions at any time. JFS was used to initialize the new logical partition. The Gentoo LVM guide and LVM Recipies list were invaluable in making this a successfull operation on the first try, without any data loss.
 
Monday, November 21, 2005
  Booting Gentoo 2005.1 (2.6.12)
For some odd reason, my SATA DVD Burner does not like to mount as a boot device. doscsi and noatpi options didn't help at all. Luckily I had an old IDE DVD reader lying around. Hopefully support for this device can configured, though I've read that the Plextor 712SA can be problematic.

First I tried rollling my own kernel without the help of genkernel. That may have worked well, I was pretty carefull to add support for all the new hardware I have, but initially formatting the root and boot partitions as JFS was a big mistake. I hear a lot of people using JFS for thier media partitions, so I figured I would just go JFS all the way. Grub really did not like that idea. I also had problems with JFS on the root partion. One reformat with ext2 on /boot and ext3 on /, 1 stock humungo genkernel built kernel later and my first successfull boot was made.
 
  Real OS Installation Begins
Today I begin the harrowing journey of installing Gentoo and MythTV on my PVR. I read an article in this month's Linux Journal which detailed some of the amazing features now available in MythTV. Web based recording schedule management, automatic transcoding to DVD, automatic commercial skipping are the most attractive to me. The killer feature though, free and unrestricted recording format is the primary reason for my switch. I was disappointed that none Windows based time-shifting software packages (except GBPVR), allowed you to transfer content from one machine to another. I don't want to upload every episode of Lost through Bittorrent to single-handedly bring down Apple Corp's sales of the program, I just want to take content on the go, onto my laptop or occasionally email snippets and segment to my family. Who han't been at the water cooler talking about last week's SNL and wished that they could email a 5 minute clip for those who missed it?
 
Thursday, September 08, 2005
  Fame
When I posted a photo of my PVR to a photo Pool on Flickr dedicated to the magazine Make:, I never thought that the photo would actually wind up on the MAKE: Blog! When I noticed that the photo had over 22,000 views, I searched for outside references and saw my entry in the blog.
 
A project log (Plog) documenting the planning and assembly of a Linux PVR.

HARDWARE
PROJECT LINKS
Gentoo
HTPC News
BYO PVR
O'Reilly's MythTV PVR Project
PVR Hardware Database
PVR Plog Listing
PVR Review Listing
Linux Hardware Compatibility List

RECENT
MythWeb Rocks
Simple Solutions
TODO
MythTV on my TV
wlan0 Success with Broadcom
Linksys Bait and Switch
Xorg and the nVidia Driver
LVM2
Booting Gentoo 2005.1 (2.6.12)
Real OS Installation Begins

ARCHIVES
August 2005 / September 2005 / November 2005 /


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