Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Retelling of a Myth: The Myth Part

Installing MythTV is fairly easy once the OS & appropriate drivers are installed. Thanks to the all-knowing Packman repository for SuSE, I was able to easily use YaST2 and get the mythfrontend, mythbackend, myth-plugins and myth-themes with a minimum of fuss. Dependencies automagically installed and I was ready to go in a few minutes.

The SuSE packages show a good deal of polish. I installed the Gnome login manager (GDM), since it seemed to be the most lightweight login manager that allowed the mythtv user to auto-login. While I installed FvWM and expected I would need to use .xinitrc to launch mythfrontend upon startup, it turns out SuSE setup GDM to have MythTV as a session choice unto it's own. So instead of needing to specify Gnome, KDE or FvWM as the session to login to I could specify MythTV as a session of its own without a window manager. Very nice!

First, one needs to set a root password for MySQL and create an account for the zap2it Web service. After those accounts were created I followed the universal MythTV installation instructions for openSUSE, started the backend server and began populating the database.

Once the backend was ready to go, the frontend was ready to roll. First thing I did was ensure live TV was rendering correctly; since XvMC wasn't enabled, I had to find alternate ways of doing motion compensation. I ended up using the "standard" MPEG2 decoder library with kernel deinterlacing, which was the only deinterlacer that a) worked and b) reduced blur. Bear in mind the rational option should have been using the VIA XvMC decoder w/ bob 2x deinterlacing, but it just wasn't an option using VIA's X11 drivers. However, MPEG2 playback still only consumes 40% of the CPU. Go figure.

Sound, recording and playback all pretty much worked out of the box. Transcoding and archiving to DVD are still a work in progress for me... I haven't been able to get everything working correctly yet. I was able to transcode using default settings to RJPEG... but that turned a 1.1GB MPEG2 file into a 1.4GB RV file. Umm... wrong way.

I attempted to stream DVD-quality MPEG2 files from my home file server via 802.11b, but of course the latency just didn't agree with that kind of streaming. I replaced the Linksys 802.11b bridge I was using with an old (and I mean old) 10Mb Ethernet hub and the DVD-quality MPEG2 files were rendered via my MythTV box just fine.

While tweaks are still to be had the keyboard has been disconnected, cables tucked away and recordings are now being scheduled. Playback is smooth thanks to the via X11 driver and recording is transferring to ye olde Western Digital nicely thanks to the ATA patch. Lirc is reading remote commands nicely, and the 10M Ethernet line is feeding remote streams just fine.

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