Latest news (2004-09-05)

This will likely be the last update to the Fedora Core 1 version of this document, as both my Myth boxes now run on Fedora Core 2, and things are (sort of) approaching stability with that as a base platform. I'm sure it isn't quite perfect yet, but folks have been clamoring for it, so check out the Fedora Core 2 version of this document. While my PVR-350-equipped diskless EPIA is currently out of commission, I've also snuck in some updated PVR-350-specific info, regarding use of the ivtvdev X driver.


Step-by-step guide to building a MythTV System on Fedora Core w/ATrpms

Compiled by Jarod C. Wilson <>
Pundit contributions by Christopher Richmond <shaarkster_at_comcast_dot_net>
Version 2.4.1, last updated September 05, 2004
Made possible by information gathered from all over the Internet (google is your friend)...


  1. Introduction
  2. Hardware
  3. Initial Software
  4. Firstboot setup -- create MythTV user and enable ntp
  5. Install Ethernet Driver (nForce2 boards only)
  6. Get and install apt, update your OS packages
  7. Get and install custom ATrpms kernel
  8. Get and install video card drivers
  9. Get and install ALSA
  10. Get and install MythTV
  11. Get and install capture card drivers
  12. Get and install lirc
  13. Set up MySQL
  14. Set up MythTV
  15. Configure automatic startup
  16. Configuring MythTV add-ons
  17. Upgrading your system
  18. Miscellanea
  19. Changelog

1. Introduction

MythTV is an open-source project, with its primary functionality being similar to that of TiVo, but with several way-cool add-ons and much greater flexibility. The project's founder and leader is Isaac Richards. The official documentation can all be found on MythTV's official web site, at The project is supported by the contributed time and effort of the open-source community, with the primary lines of technical support being the documentation on the project web site, and the project's mailing lists. It is highly recommended that if you are intending to install MythTV, join at least the mythtv-users mailing list, which you can subscribe to here:, and read through the official docs.

While the official documentation attempts to be as distribution-agnostic as possible, this document is geared specifically toward building a MythTV system on the Linux distributions put out by Red Hat. Quite a few people following this particular body of documentation have successfully created their own MythTV systems, and many of them frequent the mailing list. They can generally help you if you have a problem. I also frequent the mailing lists, and will help out in any way I can. However, please search the mailing list archive, found here:, before you mail the list, because there is a good chance you'll find your answer there. If you are unable to find the answer there, then read this document:, after which you may address your question to the mailing list. ;-)

It was suggested to me by a number of folks that I provide PayPal account information for those wishing to contribute. The fund for a PVR-350 has already matured, I've bought it, got it up and running, and have since committed my experiences to this document. Further funding went toward the purchase of a PVR-350 for Axel Thimm, the maintainer of ATrpms, as a thank you for all the packaging work he's done, upon which this guide relies heavily. At present, contributions have slowed considerably, so they primarily go toward paying my web hosting bill, but anything extra is being saved up for the next cool hardware purchase. Certainly don't feel obligated, but go ahead and click on the little PayPay button if you feel inclined. =)

Anyhow, I try to answer any email I get, but of late, there's no way I can keep up. I often get some of them the same questions/problems over and over, so chances are, someone on the list can answer your question, even if you don't find what you needed in the mailing list archive, and you'll likely have a solution faster than I can respond. If you think you've found a problem with something in this document, or have a suggestion for an improvement, please don't hesitate to contact me directly via email. I try to keep this document as up to date and accurate as my time permits.

Also, please note: most of what is in here should apply equally to Red Hat Linux 9, just change the package version numbers and distro tags accordingly. Much of this should apply equally to RHL8.0 and 7.3 as well, but you'll have to upgrade your qt packages to 3.1+ for MythTV 0.13+ compatibility, which I'm not covering. While definitely very Red Hat-centric, a fair amount of the information here should apply to MythTV installed on just about any variant of Linux. For those of you running on FC2 or a later FC release, check out the newer version of this doc.

Thank you, and enjoy!
--Jarod C. Wilson, RHCE

2. Hardware

I suggest you start here for information on hardware:

On top of the hardware requirements described there, this document assumes you've got either a Hauppauge WinTV PVR-x50, AVerMedia M179, or a bt8x8-based capture card. I also have a pcHDTV card, but no time right now to do a full write-up. This document DOES now cover PVR-350 TV-Out, thanks to contributions to purchase one. Also note that this document assumes both the MythTV frontend and backend are on the same machine, though I do have a bit of info on setting up a remote frontend in the Miscellanea section.

Just about any computer that runs Linux and has enough processing power can be used as a MythTV box. For reference, here are the specs on the production systems of both Christopher and I:

Jarod's Master Backend System:

Jarod's Primary Frontend System:

Jarod's Secondary Frontend System:

Christopher's Production System:

A good place to look at other examples of what people are using for their MythTV boxes, and how they rate their systems, is Mark Cooper's PVRHW database, browseable here:

Pundit users might also find Matt Marsh's "Pundit MythTV Device" site of use:

Also note: the WinTV PVR series and AVerMedia M179 cards may have issues running correctly on some motherboards based on VIA chipsets. Check the ivtv FAQ to see if your chipset is on the list of known offenders:

3. Initial Software

This guide is geared toward using Red Hat's Fedora Core 1 Linux distribution, but most of the steps are applicable to any recent offering from Red Hat (Red Hat Linux 9, 8.0, 7.3, and to some extent, Fedora Core 2), though you may have additional dependencies to install and the package versions will be different. I'm not shifting this document to Fedora Core 2 until there are stable ivtv drivers that work with the stock FC2 kernels. You can download the iso CD images for Fedora Core (1 and 2) from one of the many Red Hat mirrors out there, the official list of which can be found here:

Perform a custom installation of Fedora Core 1, selecting (at least) these package groups:

Some other packages that might be of interest, but are not required:

Also, I *highly* recommend a custom partitioning scheme, rather than auto-partitioning. Having all your video storage on a dedicated partition will make life much easier if you ever want to nuke the OS. Just don't reformat the video partition, and all your video files will remain. This also makes it easier to convert your video filesystem to another format, like XFS or ReiserFS. A suitable custom partitioning setup is as follows (assuming a single IDE hard drive):

Partition Mount Point Size
/dev/hda2swapsame as RAM (ex: 512MB)
/dev/hda5/videoEverything else

Make a note of what partition /video is (/dev/hda5 in this example) for future reference...

As suggested on the MythTV site, we're going to use KDE as our X environment for running MythTV. If you happen to be running another window manager, you can fire up a terminal session, and issue the command:

$ switchdesk KDE

Or, you can try your luck with another window manager. Others will work, but this doc is geared toward using KDE. As an aside, I've used MythTV under Gnome 2.2 with Red Hat Linux 9 and under Gnome 2.4 with Fedora Core, both without issue. I'm contemplating a switch to XFCE4 myself, which I'll likely document and post as an alternative. Jim Chandler has already done something similar with WindowMaker, and contributed these notes (I still intend to try them out myself, but haven't had time).

4. Firstboot setup -- create MythTV user and enable ntp

At the first boot setup screen, create a user called mythtv, with a password of your choosing. All further documentation assumes you are logged in as the user mythtv. Lines with $ as the prompt are executed as user mythtv, lines with # as the prompt are executed as root. You should NEVER log in to your machine directly as root. Log in with the normal user account, then assume root privs with 'su' wherever a command needs to be run as root.

For the beginners out there, type 'su' (without the quotes) then hit return, and you'll get prompted for the root password. After entering that, you'll have a root prompt. Do what you need to do as root, then type 'exit' (again, without the quotes) to get back to your normal user prompt.

In that same first boot setup area, there is an option to enable ntp. This is highly recommended. You want your shows to start recording at the right times, don't you? ;-) Check the box to enable ntp, and either enter an ntp server you know of near you, or just go with, which is a dns alias that will try to find an ntp server in your vicinity.

5. Install Ethernet Driver (nForce2 boards only)

Fedora Core 1 actually includes the NIC driver for the Pundit, so building your own is no longer necessary. Prior versions of Red Hat Linux do require you to build your own NIC driver for the Pundit. Drivers for nForce2 onboard ethernet controllers are not included in Fedora Core 1, so you've got a little work to do if you're running on one (but its worth it ;-). Fedora Core 2 includes the open-source forcedeth driver for nForce2 boards, so this step will disappear in due course...

Rather than mess with nVidia's binary ethernet driver, which is part of this big messy glob that includes audio and usb drivers as well, I went with the forcedeth driver, which has been back-ported from the 2.6 kernel tree and packaged on ATrpms. In reality, my nForce2 system now actually runs Fedora Core 2 and a 2.6 kernel, but I used the back-ported forcedeth for some time before upgrading to FC2.

Anyhow, you'll have to download the forcedeth driver from ATrpms and get it onto your system somehow... Obviously, you'll either need another machine with which to download them (then burn the files to a CD or put them on a USB thumb drive), or a spare NIC to put in your nForce2 system temporarily (I used a spare NIC). You can find the latest version of the drivers here:

Given that kernel modules don't exist for the original FC1 kernel, you'll have to do a bit of leg work to get the driver installed... The easiest thing to do is download the latest kernel (currently and matching kernel-module-forcedeth packages (*.yourarch.rpm and forcedeth-* Install the kernel, then install both forcedeth components and reboot your system. Kudzu should now be able to find the onboard ethernet controller and configure it.

# rpm -ivh
# rpm -ivh*.yourarch.rpm
# rpm -ivh forcedeth-*

NOTE: obviously, since you just installed the latest ATrpms kernel, ignore the part in step 7 about installing a kernel, but take note of the environment variable stuff.

6. Get and install apt, update your OS packages

This will make life MUCH easier!

Install Axel Thimm's ATrpms-kickstart from This provides you with apt and a pre-configured set of apt repositories, which include everything we'll need.

# rpm -Uvh

NOTE: the version number for the atrpms-kickstart package may be different when you read this, in which case you'll have to download it manually, and install from a local package.

Now update the apt package list and kick off an upgrade of all your installed rpms (this will take a while, lots of packages to download):

# apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade

WARNING: Do NOT do attempt any other rpm activity while the upgrade is in progress. Performing multiple exclusive rpm operations at the same time can lead to very bad things happening (rpm database inconsistencies, race conditions, etc). After the big upgrade, you MAY get an error about being unable to open the rpm database (this used to happen to me w/RHL9, but hasn't ever with FC). If you do encounter this error, try the following:

# rm -f /var/lib/rpm/__db*
# rpm -vv --rebuilddb

Note that the rebuilddb will take quite a while to complete. After it completes, you'll see an error message, but you can safely ignore it and move on to see if the rebuilddb cleared the problem. If not, good luck...

BIG, FAT, IF YOU MISS IT, I WILL SCOLD YOU, WARNING[1]: To get your installation to go off without a hitch, you need to comment out the and entries in /etc/apt/sources.list (simply place a # in front of all kde-redhat lines), then pull one more update to get your local apt metadata cache fully updated to proceed with the installation:

# apt-get update

However, if you are crafty, you can work out the dependency problems with the kde-redhat repo (search their site/mailing lists at, I can't recall the work-around), and end up with a very nice KDE 3.2 desktop, which is what I'm currently running on my FC1 workstation (didn't bother for my Myth boxes though, next desktop environment change for me will be to try XFCE4, if I ever get the time).

[1] Don't ask questions on the mailing list about redhat-artwork conflicts. I just gave you the necessary info to get around this problem. Its been asked way too many times already. Hopefully, this makes it plain as day. :-)

You might also want to install Synaptic, a graphical frontend to apt, which you can use in place of the command line if you prefer.

# apt-get install synaptic

Note that Axel maintains several different channels of rpms, with varying stability labels on them. Most of the packages used in this document are classified as "testing" or better, meaning at the very least, they've been tested by a few people and found to work just fine. The only channel to *really* watch out for is the "bleeding" channel. If you enable it, you've been warned; things may break. You're on your own to fix 'em, so be prepared (Axel appreciates bug reports though!). The classifications are as follows (from Axel's web site):

For those that are attempting this installation using apt, but without installing the atrpms-kickstart package, note that you'll have to do some editing of your apt repositories. At a minimum, you need to be set up to use the ATrpms repositories and the FreshRPMs repository, as a number of dependencies for various MythTV components, as well as core OS updates, are pulled from FreshRPMs.

7. Get and install custom ATrpms kernel

While everything in this guide CAN be done using the stock Fedora Core kernels, Axel has also prepared a kernel that is properly patched for use with v4l2 devices (like the PVR-x50/M179), and has a number of other added features (XFS, a very good file system large files, low-latency patches, etc...).

Install his latest kernel package (as of this writing), like so:

# apt-get install

Those wanting to build any of their own stuff, like lirc or ivtv drivers, you'll also want the matching kernel-source package (not required for most installations anymore):

# apt-get install

*Check to make sure you are using the most up to date kernel. If you are using an older kernel, the very latest kernel modules likely won't be available.

Now edit /boot/grub/grub.conf, changing default=1 (or whatever it is) to default=0, so your new kernel is the default boot kernel, and reboot!

Following the reboot, we're going to set up a custom environment variable that will make life easier when installing kernel modules via apt. With the latest change in kernel module naming conventions (a coordinated effort between ATrpms, DAG, FreshRPMs and a few other rpm repositories), all systems can simply use this environment variable, like so:

# export MYKERNEL=`uname -r`
(those are back-ticks, not single-quotes)

Please note: this variable will NOT survive a reboot, so if you reboot, you'll have to set it again. It is merely a short-hand convenience for the install procedure, not something that is present by default.

WARNING: There is a minor, inconsequential, feel-free-to-just-ignore-it error message with the ATrpms kernels, regarding a powernow-k7.o module with some unresolved symbols. While annoying, it doesn't cause any problems, so you can safely ignore it for now.

8. Get and install video card drivers

While Fedora Core includes video drivers for most video cards, they aren't always the best ones for the needs of a MythTV user. For example, many video cards require experimental 3rd-party or proprietary drivers to enable TV-Out. Without nVidia's own proprietary video drivers, the performance of cards based on their chipsets will suffer greatly, even if you aren't using TV-Out. Instructions for installing accelerated drivers for nVidia and SiS cards can be found below. You're on your own for other cards.

For users of the PVR-350's TV-Out:

Initially, you'll need another video output device hooked to a display in order to configure the PVR-350's TV-Out, unless you're extremely comfortable at the command line, in which case you can simply ssh into your PVR-350-equipped box. I actually did all the setup of mine while the computer was connected to my TV via TV-Out on my GeForce 4 MX, in run-level 5. That way, I had a shell window and a browser window open, so I could easily cut and paste. Further instructions for configuring the PVR-350 can be found in section 11.

For users of nVidia Video Cards:

As of June 30, 2004, nVidia has finally released a long-overdue driver update, 1.0-6106, since superceded by the bugfix release, 1.0-6111, that restores almost all the functionality broken in driver releases after 1.0-4363. This driver restores overscan functionality last seen in 4363, but retains the superior OpenGL performance of later drivers. However, the /dev/nvidia0 functionality from 4363 used for Myth's experimental vsync code is still non-existent (though the latest Myth code base has some OpenGL-based work-arounds that are almost as good). Oh yeah, this version will also work with the stock Fedora Core 2 kernels (versions prior to 6106 weren't clean for use with the 4kstacks feature in recent 2.6 kernels, including Red Hat's). I'm going with 6111 now myself, but some folks may still have better luck with 4363.

Anyhow, to make life easier, Axel has prebuilt kernel modules for use with both the latest Fedora Core 1 stock kernels and his custom kernels. Install for your active kernel like so:

# apt-get install kernel-module-nvidia-graphics6111-$MYKERNEL
# apt-get install nvidia-graphics6111
(answer Y if prompted about removing XFree86-Mesa-libGL)

Simple replace the 6111 with 4363 above, and you can install the older version instead. Note that you can actually have multiple versions installed, and switching between them is as easy as:

# init 3
# nvidia-graphics-switch 6111 (or 4363, or whatever else)
# reboot
(you *might* be able to get away with reloading X at this point, but reboot to be safe)

This latest revision of the nvidia rpms inserts a necessary line into modules.conf, and generates an XF86Config file for use with the nvidia driver, based on your initial XF86Config file. This new file is saved as /etc/X11/XF86Config.nvidia, and after peeking through it to make sure it looks appropriate, drop it into place. I suggest backing up the original file, and keeping a copy of the initial nvidia version, just for good measure.

# mv /etc/X11/XF86Config /etc/X11/XF86Config.orig
# cp /etc/X11/XF86Config.nvidia /etc/X11/XF86Config

Add Load "v4l" in the "Module" section near the top of your XF86Config file, for optimal v4l to X video transfer and v4l picture control.

If you're in X right now, simply log out to relaunch X with the new configuration. If you're at the command line, either switch to run-level 5 ("init 5") or run "startx". Once you've verified this configuration is working, you'll likely want to look into the additional options below, to enable TV-Out, accelerated rendering, etc.

Here's an example Device setup section for a GeForce 4 MX video card using the 1.0-6111 nvidia driver to output to an NTSC television via S-Video (this should work equally for any GF4 or FX series card, as well as GF2/3, minus TVOverScan):

Section "Device"
Identifier  "Videocard0"
Driver      "nvidia"
VendorName  "Chaintech"
BoardName   "nVidia GeForce 4 MX 440"
Option      "RenderAccel" "1"
# TV Out Setup
Option      "TVStandard" "NTSC-M"
Option      "TVOutFormat" "SVIDEO"
Option      "TVOverScan" "0.6"

Those with particularly cantankerous displays and/or people who want to pass their signal through an A/V switchbox may have problems with their card/drivers not auto-detecting the attached display type, in which case, you can add an Option line to the above Device section to force the display type, such as this one:

Option      "ConnectedMonitor" "TV"

You will likely have to tweak the TVOverScan option value to best suit your TV. Valid values range from 0.0 (no overscan) to 1.0 (overscan as much as possible). This helps to eliminate a black border from showing up around the picture on your TV. Again, note that overscan is only supported on GeForce4-class (or newer) video cards, but all other options should work for earlier nVidia cards. Obviously, your settings may vary slightly, depending on your card.

Note: overscan is possible with some older nVidia cards, as well as some 3Dfx cards, by using nvtv, which but you can find here:

My secondary MythTV system had a GF2MX until it was recently upgraded, with which I was using nvtv to blow the picture up a bit. It did a fine job. I'll add something on that when I get a chance, if I can remember what I did, now that I've junked the GF2MX...

There are a few settings not explicitly specified in the above configuration, as most of them can be auto-detected. However, it is possible you'll have to force some settings if auto-detection doesn't work. All these options are well-documented on nVidia's web site in the documentation files available in the Linux driver download area (

Also, if you are having issues with video performance, there are reports that some chipsets don't let nVidia cards play nice with the nvidia driver using the kernel's agp driver, so try enabling nVidia's own agp driver. Other folks not having any problems have also reported a perceptible improvement in video quality and smoothness using nVidia's agp driver. You can enable it by adding this line to the above "Device" section of your setup:

Option    "NvAGP" "1"

And of course, there are some setups that don't like nVidia's agp driver, so just yank that line back out if you find that to be the case. I'm currently using NvAGP on my system without issue.

To make it even more interesting, some people have system stability issues if they use the RenderAccel option, so if you run into stability issues, you may try removing the RenderAccel line from my config snippet above.

For reference, and because many people have asked, I'm posting full copies of the XF86Config files from both my primary and secondary systems. My primary system uses a custom 960x540p mode to output to a High-Definition TV through an Audio Authority 9A60 VGA to Component Video converter. I used to feed this set via S-Video, and while the picture was good, it can't touch the progressive-scan signal I'm now feeding the HDTV. My secondary system outputs via S-Video to a plain old 27" analog TV.


For users of the Asus Pundit w/onboard video:

The Asus Pundit's onboard video controller is made by Silicon Integrated Systems. Accelerated video is not supported by Fedora Core's native video driver. You'll want to obtain the binary SiS driver, or MythTV performance will suffer greatly (and TV-out won't work right).

Use wget to get the binary SiS video driver

$ cd ~/sources
$ mkdir sis_drv
$ cd sis_drv
$ wget
$ tar -zxvf sis_drv.o_4.3.0_gcc3_current.tar.gz
$ su
# mv /usr/X11R6/lib/modules/drivers/sis_drv.o /usr/X11R6/lib/modules/drivers/sis_drv.o.orig
# cp sis_drv.o /usr/X11R6/lib/modules/drivers/sis_drv.o
# exit

Note: also lists a SiS Display Control Panel, which might be of use, especially for folks that need to tweak their display settings a bit and don't want to deal with command-line text-file hacking. I've used it myself, and it certainly is a handy tool. You can adjust overscan and underscan, flicker reduction, display mirroring, etc., all on the fly without restarting X.

Now run the redhat-config-xfree86 utility to change the video driver.

# redhat-config-xfree86

Choose the 'Advanced' tab, then press the 'Configure' button for the video card type.

Choose the 'SiS 630' card. This will set the driver to 'sis'. Also click on 'Custom memory size' to the value you have set in the BIOS (8 to 64M).

Press the 'Ok' button, then press the 'Ok' button again.

Log out of your X session (if you had one active) and log back in for the settings to take effect.

Here is an example /etc/X11/XF86Config 'Device' section for the ASUS Pundit:

Section "Device"
Identifier  "Videocard0"
Driver      "sis"
Option      "XvOnCRT2"  "true"
Option      "ForceCRT2Type" "SVIDEO"
#Option      "ForceCRT2Type" "TV"
#Option      "CHTVOverscan"  "false"
Option      "CHTVOverscan"  "true"
VendorName  "Silicon Integrated Systems"
BoardName   "SiS 315/650"
VideoRam    65536

And finally add Load "v4l" in the "Module" section near the top of your XF86Config file, for optimal v4l to X video transfer and v4l picture control.

9. Get and install ALSA

For starters, let me say that aRts (the KDE sound server) does NOT work well with MythTV in many cases, though work has been done recently to remedy that. It is still highly recommended that you disable aRts from starting up. To do so, while logged in as your mythtv user, choose "Control Center" off the Fedora (Red Hat) menu. Navigate through "Sound & Multimedia" to "Sound System" and deselect "Start aRts soundserver on KDE startup" and then click "Apply". On subsequent logins, aRts will not launch.

Please note: the rest of this step is not essential. It is possible to get MythTV working without touching ALSA. Fedora Core's included OSS audio framework generally works fine. It occasionally has issues, and ALSA is generally superior in sound quality and features, but I did have my system working without ALSA. One HUGE reason I wanted ALSA was so I could use the digital coax output on my SoundBlaster Audigy sound card to feed my amp a digital coax S/PDIF signal, which I couldn't do with OSS (at least not without a CVS version of OSS and the addition of emu-tools, but that's a story for another time).

That said, and still assuming you want to attempt an ALSA install, the easiest way is to use apt:

# apt-get update
# apt-get install kernel-module-alsa-$MYKERNEL
# apt-get install alsa-driver alsa-utils

Optionally, you may also want to install the gnome-alsamixer, as it is a bit easier to work with than the cli alsamixer, and tends to better cover all your card's features than KDE's kmix (it works just fine in KDE also, despite the Gnome name):

# apt-get install gnome-alsamixer

Typically, the Fedora Core installation process will have detected your sound card and inserted some module configuration lines for the legacy OSS audio drivers in /etc/modules.conf (the nForce2 driver installation may have also made some edits). Make sure to remove them, or you'll end up trying to load multiple drivers for the same device (not a good thing). The lines I had to remove for my Audigy were:

alias sound-slot-0 audigy
post-install sound-slot-0 /bin/aumix-minimal -f /etc/.aumixrc -L >/dev/null 2>&1 || :
pre-remove sound-slot-0 /bin/aumix-minimal -f /etc/.aumixrc -S >/dev/null 2>&1 || :

At this point, I would recommend rebooting, just to be safe. That way, you know for sure you don't have the old OSS sound modules loaded. However, it is possible to do this without a reboot, which in my case, required the commands below, but will vary from sound card to sound card:

# /usr/bin/killall artsd
# /sbin/rmmod audigy

If you rebooted, remember to reset the $MYKERNEL environment variable:

# export MYKERNEL=`uname -r`

On with ALSA... The ALSA drivers have reached 1.0 status (concurrent with the final 2.6.0 kernel release, in which ALSA is now the default audio subsystem). The currently available rpms now includes a VERY nice little utility by the name of alsaconf. It's a nifty little program that will attempt to discover all the sound cards in your system and insert the necessary lines into /etc/modules.conf.

However, for me anyhow, it only seems to work for one card at a time (trying to add another card results in replacement, rather than addition). The good news is that it does seem to get the settings correct for that one card, meaning you don't have to do much manaul editing of /etc/modules.conf to get ALSA working. Simply run this:

# /usr/sbin/alsaconf

If you have multiple sound cards you want to use, and/or alsaconf just doesn't work for you, you'll have to edit your /etc/modules.conf file for your specific card. Details for supported cards can be found here:

I'm including a copy of my /etc/modules.conf ALSA configuration excerpt, which is for a SoundBlaster Audigy sound card. This should be valid for SB Live! and Audigy2 cards as well. If your card isn't one of those, check out the ALSA site's sound card matrix to find information for your card. The differences are very minor for most cards, and usually only the 'alias snd-card-0 snd-emu10k1' line has to be changed. For example, to configure ALSA for use with the onboard audio of an nForce2 board, it should be a simple matter of replacing all instances of "emu10k1" in the following modules.conf and .asoundrc with "intel8x0".

----Insert the following text into /etc/modules.conf----
# ALSA portion
alias char-major-116 snd
alias snd-card-0 snd-emu10k1
# OSS/Free compatability portion
alias char-major-14 soundcore
alias sound-slot-0 snd-emu10k1
# Sound card #1
alias sound-service-0-0 snd-mixer-oss
alias sound-service-0-1 snd-seq-oss
alias sound-service-0-3 snd-pcm-oss
alias sound-service-0-8 snd-seq-oss
alias sound-service-0-12 snd-pcm-oss
----Cut above here (don't include this line)----

For those folks out there unfortunate enough to need dual sound cards, I'm including my modules.conf ALSA snippet from when I was doing just that, with a SoundBlaster Audigy and nForce2 onboard audio. You are on your own for figuring out dual mixers, dsp devices, etc...

----Insert the following text into /etc/modules.conf----
# ALSA portion
alias char-major-116 snd
alias snd-card-0 snd-emu10k1
alias snd-card-1 snd-intel8x0
# OSS/Free compatability portion
alias char-major-14 soundcore
alias sound-slot-0 snd-emu10k1
alias sound-slot-1 snd-intel8x0
# Sound card #1
alias sound-service-0-0 snd-mixer-oss
alias sound-service-0-1 snd-seq-oss
alias sound-service-0-3 snd-pcm-oss
alias sound-service-0-8 snd-seq-oss
alias sound-service-0-12 snd-pcm-oss
# Sound card #2
alias sound-service-1-0 snd-mixer-oss
alias sound-service-1-1 snd-seq-oss
alias sound-service-1-3 snd-pcm-oss
alias sound-service-1-8 snd-seq-oss
alias sound-service-1-12 snd-pcm-oss
----Cut above here (don't include this line)----

Next, create a .asoundrc file for your mythtv user (full path of /home/mythtv/.asoundrc). Just make a new text file called .asoundrc like so (adjust for your specific card):

$ cat > ~/.asoundrc
pcm.emu10k1 {
type hw
card 0

ctl.emu10k1 {
type hw
card 0
(Now hit Control-D to end cat input)

Now fire up the audio controller of your choice (aumix, alsamixer, kmix or gnome-alsamixer) and adjust the volumes to your liking. The alsaconf utility will have set your volumes to reasonable levels to start out, but you'll likely have to tweak things to achieve optimal sound, epecially if you're using something like S/PDIF out. While enabling S/PDIF out for my Audigy was a matter of a checking a box in gnome-alsamixer, some folks have reported having to set a particular slider to zero to enable the S/PDIF output on certain (non-Creative) sound cards. Go figure.

After you have the sound drivers loaded and everything configured to your liking, you should store the settings with the command:

# /usr/sbin/alsactl store

That will let you mess with your settings all you want after saving them, and always be able to fall back to a known good setup. Run it again if you make further changes you want to save.

To go along with that, it might be nice to also restore your settings when the machine reboots. The easiest way to make sure this happens is to append a line to rc.local:

# echo "/usr/sbin/alsactl restore" >> /etc/rc.d/rc.local

A simple way to test whether or not you've got sound is to use ALSA's aplay utility, like so:

$ /usr/bin/aplay /usr/share/sounds/KDE_Startup.wav

10. Get and install MythTV

Now, here's why we REALLY like apt... MythTV has several dependencies to install correctly, which apt automatically takes care of with one simple command:

# apt-get install mythtv-suite

The last time I looked, that one-liner installed 54 different packages. Just a wee bit easier than hunting down everingthing by hand, let alone compiling everything... :)

If you get some error about failed dependencies, package conflicts, etc., with gtk2, gtk+, redhat-artwork, or something like that, please refer to the big fat warning back in section 6...

11. Get and install capture card driver

For WinTV PVR-250/350/Freestyle and AVerMedia M179 capture card users-

Disclaimer! The ivtv driver for these capture cards is still considered beta, though it does work quite well. Driver development isn't entirely stable just yet, and thus parts of this section may become obsolete over time. But on with the show!

Install the ivtv driver components, like so:

# apt-get install ivtv-firmware
# apt-get install kernel-module-ivtv-$MYKERNEL
# apt-get install ivtv

This has been broken down into multiple lines, due to apt flat-out not cooperating when it comes to dependency resolution (multiple kernel modules will satisfy the deps of ivtv, but it seems to like to install something other than the one we want, unless we install the one we want first).

Note: 21288 is the firmware version I'm currently using in my primary production system with both a PVR-250 and M179. My secondary system with a PVR-350 in it is also using this firmware revision. However, others have reported problems using this firmware version, but success with older versions (that, of course, gave *me* problems...). Whether it is signifcant or not, I'll also add that my M179 is now /dev/video0 and my PVR-250 /dev/video1. Anyhow, you can find both some newer (beta) firmware and older firmware to experiment with here:

Now, edit /etc/modules.conf to add ivtv-specific configuration info. For the PVR-250 and M179, as well as PVR-350 users that aren't using its TV-Out (in NTSC land):

# ivtv modules setup
alias char-major-81 videodev
alias char-major-81-0 ivtv
options ivtv ivtv_debug=1 mpg_buffers=90
options tuner type=2 # NTSC tuner
options msp3400 once=1 simple=1
add below ivtv msp3400 saa7115 tuner

Note that successful loading of all modules at startup seems to depend on the ordering of your entries in modules.conf. One user reports that he had to reload ivtv every time after a reboot until placing the entire ivtv section just under the path[toplevel]=/lib/modules/`uname -r` line in his modules.conf.

I'm told that for PAL regions, the tuner type will vary, likely either type 20 or 28. For SECAM, the tuner type is typically 3. The type can be obtained from dmesg after modprobing tveeprom, like so:

# /sbin/modprobe tveeprom
# tail -50 /var/log/dmesg | grep tuner
  tvee: tuner=Temic 4009FR5 (idx=42, type=20) <-- type=20 is what is of interest here
  tvee: tuner fmt=PAL(B/G) (eeprom=0x04, v4l2=0x00000007)

For the above PAL example, the resulting modules.conf entries would be:

# ivtv modules setup
alias char-major-81 videodev
alias char-major-81-0 ivtv
options ivtv ivtv_debug=1 mpg_buffers=90 ivtv_pal=1
options tuner type=20 # one variant of a PAL tuner
options msp3400 once=1 simple=1
add below ivtv msp3400 saa7115 tuner

You might also need to specifiy your audio standard explicitly, as auto-detection in the msp driver isn't always perfect (can result in no audio, or very tinny audio). See for details.

Users of the PVR-350 will need a few additional settings if they want to enable TV-Out, so their modules.conf additions should look like this for S-Video output:

# ivtv modules setup
alias char-major-81 videodev
alias char-major-81-0 ivtv
options ivtv ivtv_debug=1 mpg_buffers=90
options saa7127 enable_output=1 output_select=1
options tuner type=2 # NTSC tuner
options msp3400 once=1 simple=1
add below ivtv msp3400 saa7115 saa7127 tuner
add above ivtv ivtv-fb

And like this for PVR-350 Composite video output (the options saa7127 line being the only difference):

# ivtv modules setup
alias char-major-81 videodev
alias char-major-81-0 ivtv
options ivtv ivtv_debug=1 mpg_buffers=90
options ivtv dec_yuv_buffers=20 # <-- Not needed anymore for my 350 w/ivtv 0.1.9
options saa7127 enable_output=1 output_select=0
options tuner type=2 # NTSC tuner
options msp3400 once=1 simple=1
add below ivtv msp3400 saa7115 saa7127 tuner
add above ivtv ivtv-fb

NOTE: Most of the PVR-350 TV-Out information contained here is derived from the TvOutHowto on the ivtv wiki site, with slight modifications to be Fedora/Red Hat specific.

PVR-350 TV-Out users: at present, the ivtv-fb module cannot be unloaded (it'll probably crash your system if you try), so if you're debugging, it might be best to comment out the ivtv-fb line in modules.conf. You'll also need to create some additional video devices for the PVR-350 to use once you do load up the ivtv-fb module. Due to differences in the way Red Hat handles device permissions, this command varies a fair amount from the version in the ivtv wiki's TvOutHowto. Anyhow, create the necessary devices with proper permissions using this command (all on one line):

# for i in 16 32 224; do if [ ! -f /dev/video$i ]; then echo "Creating /dev/video$i" && mknod /dev/video$i c 81 $i && chown mythtv /dev/video$i && chmod 600 /dev/video$i; else echo "/dev/video$i already exists"; fi; done

Now try loading up the ivtv driver:

# /sbin/depmod -a
# /sbin/modprobe ivtv

PVR-350 TV-Out users: With the ivtv-fb line in your modules.conf, this will also load up the ivtv-fb module. If you have that line commended out, you can load the ivtv-fb module up manually, with this command:

# /sbin/modprobe ivtv-fb

Check that the card is being properly recognized:

# /sbin/lspci -v

The lspci output should return something like this for a PVR-250 within the output (rev2, iTVC16, thus "Unknown device 0016"):

01:08.0 Multimedia video controller: Internext Compression Inc: Unknown device 0016 (rev 01)
Subsystem: Hauppauge computer works Inc.: Unknown device 4009
Flags: bus master, medium devsel, latency 32, IRQ 12
Memory at dc000000 (32-bit, prefetchable) [size=64M]
Capabilities: [44] Power Management version 2

Or like this for an M179:

01:07.0 Multimedia video controller: Internext Compression Inc iTVC15 MPEG-2 Encoder (rev 01)
Subsystem: Avermedia Technologies Inc: Unknown device a3cf
Flags: bus master, medium devsel, latency 32, IRQ 5
Memory at d8000000 (32-bit, prefetchable) [size=64M]
Capabilities: [44] Power Management version 2

And finally, like this for a PVR-350:

00:07.0 Multimedia video controller: Internext Compression Inc iTVC15 MPEG-2 Encoder (rev 01)
Subsystem: Hauppauge computer works Inc.: Unknown device 4000
Flags: bus master, medium devsel, latency 32, IRQ 10
Memory at e0000000 (32-bit, prefetchable) [size=64M]
Capabilities: [44] Power Management version 2

Those intending to run X on their PVR-350's output(s) will want to make note of their PCI bus ID, which is the very first part of that lspci output (the 00:07.0 part in the above example), because it'll have to be specified in your XF86Config file.

Also check that your video device(s) exist:

$ ll /dev/video?
crw-------    1 mythtv   root       81,   0 Jun 06  2003 /dev/video0
crw-------    1 mythtv   root       81,   1 Jun 06  2003 /dev/video1
crw-------    1 mythtv   root       81,   2 Jun 06  2003 /dev/video2
crw-------    1 mythtv   root       81,   3 Jun 06  2003 /dev/video3

Make a note of what your video device has been set up as (device /dev/video0 in this case), as you will need to inform MythTV of this fact later on. You can determine exactly what device ivtv is configured on by looking in /var/log/dmesg just after loading the module. For example, you should see something like this:

# /bin/dmesg |grep ivtv
ivtv: Found an iTVC16 based chip
tuner: probing ivtv i2c driver #0 i2c adapter [id=0x10005]
saa7114.c: starting probe for adapter ivtv i2c driver #0 (0x10005)
ivtv: Encoder revision: 0x02040011
ivtv: Registered v4l2 device, minor 0   <---This is the specific entry we're interested in
ivtv: Registered v4l2 device, minor 32
ivtv: Registered v4l2 device, minor 224

I believe M179 users may see failure messages regarding i2c. I think the primary use of i2c on the PVR-x50 is for the IR interface, which the M179 does not have. I'm not certain on that one though...

PVR-350 TV-Out users: you'll also need to take note of the frame-buffer device that ivtv-fb grabs. You can find that out with this command (followed by example output):

# cat /var/log/messages |grep "iTVC15 TV out"
Feb 7 21:17:39 htpc kernel: fb0: iTVC15 TV out frame buffer device

In this case, the PVR-350's TV-Out grabbed /dev/fb0, since there are no other frame-buffer devices loaded on the system. Most likely, you'll either get fb0 or fb1. You'll need to know that for your XF86Config file later on.

PVR-350 TV-Out users: the next step is to test the functionality of the TV-Out connection. First, remove the saa7127 module, so we can subsequently reload it with a test pattern. If you only have one input to your TV at your disposal, and you're already using it with your video card's TVOut, it is perfectly safe to unplug that connection and substitute the 350 for it. Simply switch the connections back when you've seen the 350 test pattern. For an S-Video connection:

# /sbin/rmmod saa7127
# /sbin/insmod saa7127 enable_output=1 output_select=1 test_image=1

And for a Composite video connection:

# /sbin/rmmod saa7127
# /sbin/insmod saa7127 enable_output=1 output_select=0 test_image=1

PVR-350 TV-Out users: If you're using the right output, you should see a test pattern, consisting of several vertical bars of color. If you don't get color, you've got the wrong output type selected, and/or maybe your TV is expecting the other variant (if you're using some sort of adapter to convert from SVid to Composite, which you should NOT do, since the 350 has outputs for both).

PVR-350 TV-Out users: If everything looks good at this point, unload the saa7127 module and reload it without the test pattern:

# /sbin/rmmod saa7127
# /sbin/insmod saa7127 enable_output=1 output_select=1

And for a Composite video connection:

# /sbin/rmmod saa7127
# /sbin/insmod saa7127 enable_output=1 output_select=0

Now you need to set some aspects of the capture card for test capturing. In this case, we're going to make sure the card is set up for tuner input, using the NTSC (US) video standard, and full NTSC resolution (720x480). The next four lines 1) set NTSC as the video standard, 2) select the tuner for input, and 3) set the full NTSC resolution of 720x480 (you can set a lower rez if you really want, but I say use the best! But then I have an HDTV...) and 4) specify the sound input and output channels. NOTE: The ivtv docs say that './test_ioctl -p 0' should set the tuner for input, but yours may vary (mine did, it is '-p 4'). Keep trying with different -p values (I think at least 0-8 are valid for some cards), doing a test capture after each change until you get the right one. You may or may not have to do the same for the 4th line.

# /usr/bin/test_ioctl -u 0x3000
# /usr/bin/test_ioctl -p 4
# /usr/bin/test_ioctl -f width=720,height=480
# /usr/bin/test_ioctl -v input=3,output=1

And by popular demand, here is the PAL version:

# /usr/bin/test_ioctl -u 0xff
# /usr/bin/test_ioctl -p 4
# /usr/bin/test_ioctl -f width=720,height=576
# /usr/bin/test_ioctl -v input=3,output=1

And finally, the SECAM version:

# /usr/bin/test_ioctl -u 0x7f0000
# /usr/bin/test_ioctl -p 4
# /usr/bin/test_ioctl -f width=720,height=576
# /usr/bin/test_ioctl -v input=3,output=1

MythTV now controls some (all?) of these functions internally, so be sure to set similar values when we get to the MythTV setup portion. Now hook up your cable or antenna to the WinTV PVR-250's tuner input if you haven't already done so, and we'll try to capture some video... Press Ctrl-C to stop the video capture.

# cat /dev/video0 > /tmp/test_capture.mpg
(ctrl-c to stop capture)

Use that copy of mplayer you installed a bit ago to view the capture:

# mplayer /tmp/test_capture.mpg

If you get something that looks and sounds intelligible, then congrats, you've got ivtv video capturing set up!

PVR-350 TV-Out users: to hear audio with this video capture when played back through mplayer, audio output is going to be through your sound card, not the PVR-350's audio outputs. Personally, I piped the 350's audio outputs back into the line in port on my sound card, and then the sound card feeds my speakers, because system, MythMusic and mplayer audio (currently) can only be output through a sound card (but work is underway to change that).

If you get the following error:

cat: /dev/video0: Input/output error

Run the following commands to reload the driver (this won't work for PVR-350 users if the ivtv-fb module is loaded -- see above):

# /sbin/rmmod ivtv
# /sbin/modprobe ivtv

Now try the capture again.

If you don't have any sound, it is possible that the correct msp3400 module didn't get loaded for one reason or another. To remedy that situation, follow these steps:

# /sbin/rmmod ivtv
# cd /lib/modules/$MYKERNEL/kernel/drivers/media/video
# mv msp3400.o msp3400.o.orig

Then reload the driver yet again, and try the video capture one more time:

# /sbin/depmod -a
# /sbin/modprobe ivtv
# cat /dev/video0 > /tmp/test_capture.mpg
# mplayer /tmp/test_capture.mpg

PVR-350 TV-Out users: now that you have video capture working, we'll try to play some video through the PVR-350's output(s). First, we'll tweak some of the cards settings, then read video in and immediately pipe it out:

# /usr/bin/ivtvfbctl /dev/fb0 -noglobalalpha -localalpha
# dd if=/dev/video0 of=/dev/video16 bs=64k
(control-c to stop)

PVR-350 TV-Out users: at this point, you need to connect the PVR-350's video output to something you can actually see its output on. For those with a single TV input, once again, you can type the commands in, then move your cables around. Note that sound for this test will be fed out the 350's audio outputs. If you see and hear what you'd expect from television, you're ready to keep moving on, s reset the alpha settings on the card (which MythTV handles internally, so you shouldn't have to do this again):

# /usr/bin/ivtvfbctl /dev/fb0 -globalalpha -nolocalalpha

PVR-350 TV-Out users: if you got video, but there were about 20 evenly spaced horizontal lines overlaying it, try tweaking the ivtv-fb driver with this command:

/usr/bin/ivtvfbctl /dev/fb1 -alpha -on -globalalpha -nolocalalpha

Then run the dd test again, and with luck, the picture will look like it should. If not, rinse and repeat from the beginning...

Some people have run into issues with their cards generating a slight inverse ghosted image off to the right of the main picture, myself included. The recommended fix, which appears to be working for me, is to set the DNR mode to 0 (mine was initially set to 3), like this:

# /usr/bin/test_ioctl -c dnr_mode=0

Also make sure that the values for DNR temporal and spatial filters are set to 0, for best results:

# /usr/bin/test_ioctl -c dnr_temporal=0
# /usr/bin/test_ioctl -c dnr_spatial=0

You can verify all the settings for your card, see possible inputs, video standards, etc., with this command:

# /usr/bin/test_ioctl -a

NOTE: While MythTV has been able to control ivtv capture resolution for some time now, as of version 0.12, MythTV can also control the capture bit rate, so scripts adjusting bit rate are no longer necessary (and will be overridden by MythTV's internal mechanisms).

Running X on the PVR-350's TV-Out-

For starters, recall the PCI bus ID of your PVR-350. Mine was 00:07.0 from the example output above, which is actually a hexadecimal value. What we'll actually need in XF86Config is 0:0x07:0 to get the card properly recognized (it may not matter in this case, since 7 hex = 7 decimal, but it certainly does if your PCI bus ID is something like 00:0f.0).

You'll also need to download the binary ivtvdev X driver, which works WORLDS better for PVR-350 output. It cured all the stability problems I had with my 350 the first time I set it up.

# wget
# gunzip ivtvdev_drv.o.gz
# mv ivtvdev_drv.o.gz /usr/X11R6/lib/modules/drivers/

You can simply download my (ntsc) XF86Config file for the PVR-350, edit the PCI bus ID and frame-buffer device lines to match your system. PAL users will have to check out the ivtv wiki TvOutPal HOWTO for PAL-specific info. You can grab my PVR-350 XF86Config file here:


To be on the safe side, I highly recommend making a backup of your current XF86Config file before putting your tailored XF86Config file into place:

# cp /etc/X11/XF86Config /etc/X11/XF86Config.pre350
# mv /path/to/customized/XF86Config-PVR350.txt /etc/X11/XF86Config

Assuming you're still in run-level 5 at this time, connected to your display with your video card's TV-Out, move your cabling and/or switch inputs on your TV over to the PVR-350 and hit ctrl-alt-backspace to kill off X and restart it on the PVR-350. You ought to be greeted by a login screen. If you are, you're in business. If not, you probably did something wrong, so retrace your steps. =)

NOTE: there is more X/TV-Out related info at the start of the ivtv-fb.c file in ivtv/driver if you download the ivtv source code.

Log in as your mythtv user and launch mythfrontend if you don't have it already auto-loading. Go into Settings → TV Settings → Playback and go to the "Use PVR-350 Output" screen. Check the box, and make sure it reads /dev/video16. Click through to the "Finish" button of that section, and now you should be good to go for MythTV to take full advantage of the PVR-350's decoder and TV Output.

With the addition of the ivtvdev driver, I have no qualms about recommending the use of the PVR-350's output to anybody that either 1) doesn't ever want to play games on their system (no OpenGL acceleration) or 2) doesn't have an addiction to goom (one of the MythMusic visualizations). The video quality is second to none, for standard-def programming.

Oh yeah, and with the ivtvdev X driver, the measly 1GHz Via C3 in my EPIA (runs like a PIII-600) can decode and play back high-resolution xvid and ffmpeg4 encoded DVD rips without a problem.

For users of capture cards based on the Brooktree bt848 and bt878 chipsets-

A wide variety of TV capture cards utilize the Brooktree bt848, bt878 and other variants. The particular card I have is an AVerMedia AVerTV Studio, which has a chipset labeled Conexant Fusion 878A (Conexant bought out Brooktree some time ago). My lspci -v output looks like so:

# /sbin/lspci -v

[snipped to relevant section only]

03:07.0 Multimedia video controller: Brooktree Corporation Bt878 Video Capture (rev 11)
        Subsystem: Avermedia Technologies Inc: Unknown device 0003
        Flags: bus master, medium devsel, latency 64, IRQ 19
        Memory at d0500000 (32-bit, prefetchable) [size=4K]
        Capabilities: [44] Vital Product Data
        Capabilities: [4c] Power Management version 2

03:07.1 Multimedia controller: Brooktree Corporation Bt878 Audio Capture (rev 11)
        Subsystem: Avermedia Technologies Inc: Unknown device 0003
        Flags: bus master, medium devsel, latency 64, IRQ 19
        Memory at d0501000 (32-bit, prefetchable) [size=4K]
        Capabilities: [44] Vital Product Data
        Capabilities: [4c] Power Management version 2

The card was automatically recognized by kudzu (Fedora Core's hardware detection utility) at system boot time after I put the card in the machine, and a basic /etc/modules.conf entry was written for me, and Fedora Core's stock bttv (v0.7.x) was loaded at startup. Everything worked fine in xawtv (once it was configured with the right parameters, i.e. ntsc, us-cable, tv input), and I was able to use it in MythTV. However, I decided to install the very latest bttv driver, 0.9.12, which is v4l2-only (and thus requires a v4l2-patched kernel, such as the ATrpms ones).

To install bttv 0.9.12, you'll first have to enable at-bleeding in /etc/apt/sources.list by adding the following lines:

# ATrpms bleeding-edge package repo -- WARNING!!! These may break something...
rpm fedora/1/en/i386 at-bleeding

Then update your apt package listings and install, like so:

# apt-get update
# apt-get install kernel-module-bttv-$MYKERNEL
# apt-get install bttv

At the moment, I recommend promptly disabling at-bleeding after you've installed bttv, as any install or dist-upgrade with at-bleeding enabled will suck in a whole lot of additional possibly less-than-stable packages. Comment out the at-bleeding line you added a minute ago, and then update your package listings again.

# apt-get update

While my card works with the single line, "alias char-major-81 bttv", and everything is correctly auto-detected, some more advanced features may not be enabled (such as btaudio) and some cards may not be properly detected. A script that appears to be of some use is ftvco, or Find TV Card Options, which you can find here: It'll ask you a few questions, then try a number of combinations, which you can preview in xawtv. Chances are, one of those combinations will work for your card, and then a file is written out with the necessary contents to be placed into /etc/modules.conf.

Side note: btaudio appears to NOT work on my AVerTV Studio card, contrary to reports this card does support btaudio, because no msp34xx chip is ever found (having an msp34xx is a requirement for btaudio). If anyone has input to assist me in forcing bttv to find the chip, I'd appreciate it, since nothing I've tried has worked. Also, note that I am unable to locate a chip on the PCB that says anything like msp34xx, so maybe it was removed in recent versions of this card, I dunno. There are also issues with this card not selecting the right audio channel on stations with SAP sometimes...

Unlike the PVR-x50s, which mux audio in with the video stream into mpeg2 files, and since I can't get btaudio working, I needed an audio jumper cable from the sound out on the TV card to the line in on my sound card. This is all well and good for xawtv, but you need to make a few quick tweaks for use with MythTV. Open up your sound mixer (Fedora/Red Hat menu → Sound & Video → Volume Control) and mark the check boxes for Mute and Record for the Line In on your sound card. Now when you try xawtv, you'll get no sound, but when you fire up MythTV, everything will be gravy. Trust me.

PVR-x50 and bttv-based card in the same system-

Only some minor tweaks are required to get both the PVR-x50 and a bttv-based card running in the same system, provided they have the same tuner type (if they don't, you'll need a hacked ivtv driver, which I can't help you with). I installed everything pretty much along the same lines as above, with the only real difference being my modules.conf. Here is the pertinent section of my modules.conf file:

# ivtv modules setup
alias char-major-81 videodev
alias char-major-81-0 ivtv
options ivtv ivtv_debug=1 mpg_buffers=90
options tuner type=2 # NTSC tuner
options msp3400 once=1 simple=1
add below ivtv msp3400 saa7115 tuner
# bttv
alias char-major-81-1 bttv

Note that I had only set up the PVR-250's remote in this dual tuner configuration. The PVR-250 was configured for /dev/video0, the AVerTV for /dev/video1, and both had a type 2 tuner. If you have a second card with a different tuner type, it could be problematic...

Hauppauge WinTV PVR-250 and AVerMedia M179 in the same system-

This is the setup in my current production system. The M179 doesn't always initialize properly at system startup, but always works if I rmmod ivtv, then modprobe ivtv after the system is up and running. Again, my M179 is showing up as /dev/video0 and my PVR-250 as /dev/video1, and I'm using the 21288 firmware. Here is the pertinent section of my modules.conf file:

# lirc
alias char-major-61 lirc_i2c
# ivtv modules setup
alias char-major-81 videodev
alias char-major-81-0 ivtv
alias char-major-81-1 ivtv
options tuner type=2
options msp3400 once=1 simple=1
add below ivtv msp3400 saa7115 tuner
add above ivtv lirc_dev lirc_i2c
# bttv
alias char-major-81-1 bttv

For users of the pcHDTV capture card-

My card finally arrived, and I have begun working with it. UPDATE: I've had the card for a few months now, but I haven't had much of any time to really play with it still... You're probably better off looking in the forums for information, but there are a few notes below.

-The custom bttv-based pcHDTV driver will not compile against the latest ATrpms kernel. I reverted to Fedora Core's 2.4.22-1.2174.nptl kernel, and everything compiled just fine.

-Initially, I had the pcHDTV card in a machine with a Radeon 9000 Pro video card. Using the open-source radeon driver, I got magenta artifacts covering the rightmost 10-20% of the picture on all channels that were 1920 pixels in width. It has been suggested to me that it is a problem with the radeon driver's Xv support, and not properly handling sources of that size. I switched to ATI's own fglrx driver, which failed to display ANY video on wide-aspect channels, including the previously perfect ABC, which has a 1280x720 signal in my neck of the woods. To top it off, the fglrx driver hard-locked my dual Athlon MP for the first time ever. (Buh-bye, fglrx).

-I was able to set up MythTV 0.12 and view HD channels within it while using the radeon driver, but was never able to change the channel successfully. Some fixes have already been rolled into recent CVS, and I'll be giving that a shot ever so shortly. With the fglrx drivers, I was never able to watch a single channel. Some X error kept spitting out repeatedly on the console. (Again, buh-bye fglrx).

-Upon swapping in a GeForce 4 MX card, everything looked much better. All channels show up in xine without a problem, no artifacts to speak of. I haven't had a chance to play with it in MythTV just yet. Thus far, my only advice is that you use a GeForce 4 MX or GeForce FX to minimize headaches...

12. Get and install lirc

As of this writing, the final version of lirc 0.7.0 still has yet to be released, and there are issues with it not compiling correctly against the ATrpms kernels, which are now patched with the latest i2c support. However, there is some very good news. We've now got pre-patched lirc rpms available from ATrpms, installable via apt and everything. However, it should be noted that at this time, as downloaded, they don't work with every single remote out there. LIRC is a bit of an ugly beast, in that it has to be recompiled for nearly every type of remote interface, and can't easily be compiled to support all at once, so creating rpms for all remote interfaces would be quite a task. Axel has attempted to roll in as much support for the most popular remotes as possible, and quite a few do now work. It is also possible to obtain the source packages, and rebuild for your specific remote, if the prebuilt packages don't work for you.

The earlier "apt-get install mythtv-suite" command installed part of LIRC for us already. To finish the install, we need the appropriate kernel module as well. Simply install the kernel module like so:

# apt-get install kernel-module-lirc-$MYKERNEL
# apt-get install lirc

For PVR-x50 users only:

With the kernel module installed, we need to put the correct config file for lirc and the grey Hauppauge remote in place, which is provided by the ivtv folks. Say yes if prompted about overwriting an existing file.

# cp /usr/share/doc/ivtv-*/lircd-g.conf /etc/lircd.conf

Users with the older black Hauppauge remote, you'll need to go this route (there's some variation in the config files, because the two different remotes have different buttons):

# cp /usr/share/doc/ivtv-*/lircd.conf /etc/lircd.conf

Alternatively, you can also use certain universal remotes with you Hauppauge IR receiver. I'm now using a RadioShack 15-2116 remote to control MythTV. I've done a little write-up on what was required to make it work, complete with config files, which you can find here:

Now we add a bit to ivtv's setup in /etc/modules.conf to load the lirc modules. Find this line of the ivtv module config:

add below ivtv msp3400 saa7115 tuner

And add this line below it:

add above ivtv lirc_dev lirc_i2c

Then add one line near the top of /etc/modules.conf, but after this section:

path[toplevel]=/lib/modules/`uname -r`/updates
# default path
path[toplevel]=/lib/modules/`uname -r`

that reads:

alias char-major-61 lirc_i2c

To get started with lirc right now, we'll just modprobe...

# /sbin/depmod -a
# /sbin/modprobe lirc_dev
# /sbin/modprobe lirc_i2c

If everything is still going like it should, let's set up lircd (the lirc receiver daemon) to start at boot time:

# /sbin/chkconfig lircd on

And go ahead and fire it up right now...

# /sbin/service lircd start

If you get one or two [OK]'s, then proceed to testing the remote (one is for lircd, one is for lircmd; you only really need lircd). If not, check /var/log/messages to see if you can figure out what went wrong. To begin testing, fire up the irw tool:

$ /usr/bin/irw

You should get some output corresponding to the buttons you pressed. Hit ctrl-C to stop irw.

The next step is to set up a file to map those remote button presses onto key combinations that MythTV understands, so your remote actually does something useful once we have MythTV working. I've got one already prepared and ready for download. You can view it here:

Getting it onto your MythTV box is a simple matter of:

$ wget
$ mkdir ~/.mythtv
$ mv lircrc-haupgrey.txt ~/.mythtv/lircrc

Please be aware that this lircrc file is somewhat customized toward my own needs. For example, the VOL+/- buttons don't alter volume at all, because I use an external amp. However, the MUTE button does mute. Other notables are the YELLOW button, which seeks to the previous commercial cut point, the BLUE button, which seeks to the next commercial cut point, and the FULL button, which toggles the aspect ratio (very useful with my HDTV). Adjusting the buttons to suit your own needs is a simple matter of editing the lircrc file.

For those with bttv-based cards:

There are quite a few different possible remote control interfaces used across the wide array of bttv cards. Many of them SHOULD work with the latest lirc kernel module available from ATrpms, but probably not all. You'll have to do some investigation of your own to figure out which lirc interface type your card uses, but the types that should work are (from the lirc driver types in the rpm spec file):

lpt1, sir_com3, it87, flyvideo, avermedia, tekram_bt829, udp, avermedia98, com1, hauppauge

My AVerTV Studio card uses the avermedia98 lirc driver, and works quite nicely with this rpm. The actual kernel module used is lirc_gpio, so I add this line to my /etc/modules.conf file:

alias char-major-61 lirc_gpio

Next, I drop the appropriate lircd.conf file for my remote in place. Config files can be found in /usr/share/doc/lirc-0.7.0/remotes/<your type>. I simply did this:

# cp /usr/share/doc/lirc-0.7.0/remotes/avermedia/lircd.conf.avermedia98 /etc/lircd.conf

At this point, I started up lircd:

# /sbin/service lircd start

The start command should return an OK or two (look in /var/log/messages if you don't get an okay for some possible insight as to what went wrong). Now fire up irw to verify that lircd is receiving signals from your remote:

$ /usr/bin/irw

You should see some output when you press buttons on your remote that correspond with each button press. Hit ctrl-C to stop irw.

At this time, you're on your own to create a lircrc file for your remote. I have mostly implemented one for my AVerTV Studio remote, mostly just to verify that it work and until I get something better (quite frankly, it is utter junk, especially for use with MythTV).

Hopefully, this section will be of some aid to those using a different remote interface also...

13. Set up MySQL

We'll need to enable MySQL to load at startup, set some passwords, and create the MythTV database, which we'll populate shortly. Starting with MythTV 0.12, the population of this database is handled by mythtvsetup, in the next step, and all MythTV add-on module database additions must be done AFTER running mythtvsetup.

# /sbin/chkconfig mysqld on
# /sbin/service mysqld start

Set the mysql root password, replacing ROOT_PWD with your chosen administrator password:

# mysql -u root mysql
mysql> UPDATE user SET Password=PASSWORD('ROOT_PWD') WHERE user='root';
mysql> quit

Now we create the mythtv database (called mythconverg) to get us started:

$ mysql -u root -p < /usr/share/doc/mythtv-0.14/database/mc.sql
(enter the password you just set above when prompted)

Again, all subsequent database population for MythTV's add-on modules must now be done AFTER running mythtvsetup for the first time.

Fedora Core contains a mysqladmin ping check in its mysqld init script, which fails after a password is set for the root account. The check will hang for 10 seconds, and then falsely report a failed mysqld startup. To remedy this, edit /etc/init.d/mysqld as root, changing the two lines that read:

"`/usr/bin/mysqladmin ping 2> /dev/null`"

To something like this:

"`/usr/bin/mysqladmin -umysql ping 2> /dev/null`"

14. Set up MythTV

For those that went with the recommended custom partitioning scheme with a dedicated /video partition and are running an ATrpms kernel, I highly recommend changing that dedicated partition over to XFS, which provides some significant performance gains when dealing with large files (like MythTV recordings). Its optional, but well worth the effort. The steps to do this are actually relatively minor. Check them out in the Miscellanea section below.

There are a number of other things you might want to know to successfully complete setup. First, recall that your video device was set up as /dev/video0. Note that the actual device number is NOT what determines what order MythTV will use your cards in. What matters is the order that you enter them in mythtvsetup, so your best card doesn't have to be /dev/video0. Set up /dev/video8 first, and it'll be the first card used for recordings.

You will also need your zip code (please tell me you know this...), and it would help to know the right listing from (for US users, other countries use different listings sources) that matches your service provider, so xmltv gets the right program listings (I screwed up the first time, because I was guessing, and most of the programming info was askew).

Now on to launching the MythTV setup utility. For this part, you need to have an X session started up, as the setup utility is an X application. Fire it up like so:

$ mythtvsetup

WARNING: I'm told that non-US folks may have issues correctly getting through the tv_grab_xx/xmltv part of the setup if "focus follows mouse" is already set (in KDE's Control Center), so keep that in mind. Just set "focus follows mouse" when everything else is already configured.

Recent changes in the mythtvsetup and database population methodology broke the default path settings for the MythTV rpms, which should be /var/lib/mythtv/ for storage of recorded shows, and /var/cache/mythtv/ for live TV buffer. These directories are automatically created at install time, but you'll have to manually enter them in section 1 of mythtvsetup.

Those using a dedicated /video partition, per my example, should obviously set /video/recordings/ for storage of recorded shows and /video/buffer/ for their live TV buffer. However, you can do pretty much whatever you like here, such as recording to an NFS or samba mount, a software RAID array, or even to an LVM group so you can expand your /video partition sometime down the road. Just make sure your mythtv user has permission to read and write to whatever location you choose.

Starting with MythTV 0.12, there is a new profile system that helps to better aid users in properly configuring their video capture cards, so the setup process is rather straight-forward and idiot-proof now (hopefully ;).

It is highly recommended that you go through the setup steps in order. Follow the on-screen instruction, with aid from the MythTV website's documentation on this page:

NOTE: your system may appear to hang at step 3; give it time, it isn't locked up, that part just takes a while!

Once you've gone through the setup, you have to populate the MythTV database with some program info. Personally, I find it useful to take a look at my xmltv file before filling the database, so I can edit out stations I really don't want listed (either because I don't care for them, or they don't actually work). You can open the xmltv file with the text editor of your choice. The location of your file should have been printed out on the console once you exited mythtvsetup, but the file should be /home/mythtv/.mythtv/whatever-you-called-it.xmltv and you can either delete the unwanted lines altogether, or just comment them out with a hash.

Once you have your xmltv file to your liking, fill your database like so:

$ mythfilldatabase

BE PATIENT! This takes a pretty long time, depending on your internet connection speed and how many channels your service provides... It is also recommended to run mythfilldatabase every night from cron, to keep your show information up to date. To help mitigate possible flooding of our listings provider's servers, we'll set mythfilldatabase to run at some random time after 2:30am, as suggested by David Rees on the mythtv-users mailing list. We'll simply add an entry to the mythtv user's crontab, like so:

$ crontab -e
----Insert the following text into your mythtv user crontab----
### Run mythfilldatabase every night at some random time after 2:30am
30 2 * * * sleep $(expr $RANDOM \% 7200) && mythfilldatabase > /var/log/mythtv/mythfilldatabase.log 2>&1
----Cut above here (don't include this line)----

When mythfilldatabase is done, start up the MythTV backend, which we'll daemonize a bit later:

$ mythbackend &

Now start up the MythTV front-end...

$ mythfrontend

There are various options within mythfrontend that you can tweak... On setting I would definitely suggest enabling is "De-interlace Playback", even if you're using an interlaced display (like a TV). Just trust me on that one, it'll improve your picture considerably. You're on your own for the rest of the settings. Just be sure to go through every section, and get to the point where you click a "Finish" button, otherwise some values seem to not get initialized (most notably, you may get crashes that say something about not being able to open the dsp). If everything appears to be working, once you've gone through all the configuration steps, you can set your system up to automatically load everything at startup. And congrats, you've done the bulk of the work. You can stop here if you want, but if you're like me, you'll want everything to load automatically when the system boots.

15. Configure automatic startup

The necessary init script for the MythTV backend to automatically start at system boot is already in place for you, just simply turn it on:

# /sbin/chkconfig mythbackend on

If the backend isn't already running, save yourself a reboot and issue this command:

# /sbin/service mythbackend start

Now set mythfrontend to automatically start on login (there are a couple of ways to do it; I chose this one):

$ ln -s /usr/bin/mythfrontend ~/.kde/Autostart/mythfrontend

While logged in to an X session, you'll also have to run gdmsetup, to set autologin for your mythtv user. You'll have to get a root terminal open (if you aren't logged into your X session as root already, which is a no-no), then:

# gdmsetup

In GDM Setup, on the first tab ('General'), you should see a section "Automatic login". Check the box for "Login a user automatically on first bootup" and select your mythtv user from the popup menu. Alternatively, if you are not very comfortable with Linux just yet, and you suspect there may be occasions where you've mucked something up to the point that an auto-login will lock up the computer, you might not want to use Automatic Login. Instead, you might opt to use the "Timed Login" option, to log the mythtv user in a few seconds after the login screen first appears. This way, you can circumvent the mythtv user logging in, and log in as root to hopefully correct whatever you've broken.

I recommend setting the Kicker (the panel at the bottom of the screen) to auto-hide, so it isn't on-screen during video playback, disabling the screen saver, and disabling any monitor-related dynamic power management, or you may not be able to wake your system up if you don't have a mouse and keyboard connected. You can use the KDE Control Center to disable your screen saver, and edit your XF86Config file to disable dpms, but here is a nice, quick and easy method of disabling of dpms and your screen saver:

# echo "/usr/X11R6/bin/xset -dpms s off" >> /etc/rc.d/rc.local

To turn on auto-hiding of the Kicker, right-click on the Kicker, choose 'Configure Panel...', then select the 'Hiding' tab, and select the radio button for 'Hide automatically'.

16. Configuring MythTV add-ons

When you installed MythTV using apt-get install mythtv-suite, you not only installed MythTV, but also all of the add-on modules currently available. Starting in MythTV 0.13, all database population is done automatically, but there's a bit of setup you still need to do to make them functional...


This is a new module as of 0.13 and I haven't had a chance to touch it yet, but this is excerpted from /usr/share/doc/mythbrowser-0.14/README:

First you have to enter the MythBrowser Settings to define your favorite webpages and groups. This is also where you can adjust the zoom level of the fonts on the webpages as well as define the command to execute mythbrowser (default: /usr/bin/mythbrowser). Then exit setup.

In the MythBrowser screen you can then select a webpage to display. If you select (SPACE/Enter) on a group the browser will be started with all the websites in that group in a different tab (you can switch between the tabs with the 'Pause' key).

Page Navigation:
  • Cursor Left -- Prev Link (eventually in the prev frame)
  • Cursor Right -- Next Link (eventually in the next frame)
  • ESC -- Exit
  • Return -- Return (i.e. follow the link)
  • Cursor Up/Down -- Scrolling
  • PageUP/Down -- Scrolling
  • Pause -- Switch to new tab
  • PrintScreen -- Popup Menu
  • Right mouse button -- Popup Menu
The popup menu (PrintScreen Button) allows to switch between tabs as well. Furthermore it features a Back menu item, as well as a zoomin and zoomout menu. Last but not least you can store the current link in the bookmarks via the popup menu.


Within the Setup section of the MythTV frontend, you need to specify the storage location for your DVD rips (MythTV → Setup → DVD Settings → Rip Settings). There are a number of other options you can set in this section, but the defaults will work for the most part (so will the DVD rip storage setting, for that matter, but I wanted to customize it).

You can also use the DVD playback application of your choice (MythTV → Setup → DVD Settings → Playback Settings), and as of version 0.12, there are preconfigured launch command lines for ogle, xine and mplayer. While mplayer doesn't properly support DVD menus just yet, both ogle and xine (with the right libraries) do.

The most critical part to getting all this to work is probably making sure MythDVD is pointing to your DVD drive (MythTV → Setup → DVD Settings → General Settings). Under Fedora Core, the device /dev/dvd isn't automatically set up. You'll either have to change this to /dev/cdrom, or create a link to /dev/cdrom. Note that some playback applications (Ogle comes to mind) require that you have a /dev/dvd entry, one way or another, so I went this route:

# ln -s /dev/cdrom /dev/dvd

Another common problem is KDE auto-mounting DVDs (and CDs), which can interfere with playback, ejection, etc. You can easily disable auto-mounting like so:

$ rm ~/.kde/Autostart/Autorun.desktop

Also note that if you happen to have multiple CD/DVD devices in your system, it is possible your DVD drive is actually /dev/cdrom1. (This is the case with my test system, which has a DVD drive and a CD burner).


Within the Setup section of the MythTV frontend, you need to specify your image storage location (MythTV → Setup → Image Settings).


There are several packages you'll have to install to get a functional MythGame, namely all the emulators -- x-mame, fce ultra and zsnes. Install them via apt-get like so:

# apt-get install xmame fceultra zsnes

You'll then have to configure MythGame through the MythTV configuration section (MythTV → Setup → Game Settings). Pretty much everything is already correctly configured when you use the mythtv-suite install method. MythGame launches fine for me, appears to find all my rom files, and drops me to the selection screen. The few roms I've tried with xmame all seem to do exactly what they're supposed to, though the volume level is a bit on the high side, and I haven't taken the time to try and adjust it. I can't get any of the snes roms to work (zsnes never launches for some reason, I'm still investigating), and the nes roms do launch fceultra, but in a very tiny window, or tiny, centered on a black background if I add a '-fs 1' to fceultra's location (I'm not sure how to make it fill the screen yet; other switches in the man page did pretty much nothing). More to come, if/when I have time, and/or when someone else can provide some insight...

UPDATE: According to Tim Harvey, the zsnes never launching problem is because MythGame is tailored specifically for snes9x. There's no apt-get installable rpm for snes9x yet, but hopefully will be in the near future...

For more information, you might want to check out


All prerequisite packages should have been taken care of when you installed the mythtv-suite, so it should simply be a matter of setting up your audio storage directories within the MythTV Setup section (MythTV → Setup → Music Settings). Further information with respect to use and configuration can be found on the MythTV web site, at this address:


There isn't much to say about MythNews. Simply go into MythTV → Setup → News Settings and select the news feeds you want, and you're done with the setup.


Within the Setup section of MythTV, configure your movie storage directory (MythTV → Setup → Video Settings → General Settings). You might want to look at the Miscellaneous section below for some additional tips for configuring mplayer, especially if you have a wide-screen TV.

Note that it looks like has changed something on their web site again, so searches for movie data currently fail (but manual entry of imdb # works).


Not much to do, other than select your location and tweak the aggressiveness for the speed of your connection (MythTV → Setup → Weather Settings). The MythTV website has plenty of documentation on this module, found here:


The mythtv-suite put almost everything where it needed to be. You need to read conf.php (/var/www/html/mythweb/config/conf.php) and configure things in that file accordingly. Once that's done, all you have to do is enable apache:

# /sbin/chkconfig httpd on
# /sbin/service httpd start

Now just point a web browser to and go to town. Please note: MythWeb provides listings, lets you schedule recordings, and see what is already recorded. You cannot use this interface to control playback on your MythTV box in any way. There are also some controls for MythMusic and MythVideo.

Personally, I don't plan on using the web server on this box for anything *but* MythWeb, so I opted to move everything in /var/www/html/mythweb/ to /var/www/html/ and remove the mythweb folder, so I get to MythWeb with just http://htpc/ (htpc is the hostname for MythTV box). Alternatively, Zachary Hamm suggests creating an index.php file in /var/www/html/, containing the following to achieve the same effect:

<?php header("Location: /mythweb"); ?>

This works better for those who also run other web-based apps on their MythTV box (like phpMyAdmin, for example), and keeps the apache doc root a bit tidier.

17. Upgrading your system

Upgrading your MythTV installation to a new release is now extremely straight-forward. As of MythTV 0.13, all database changes are handled automagically, so you merely have to upgrade your mythtv rpms when they become available. Occasionally, driver updates are also required (such was the case with the ivtv driver when upgrading to MythTV 0.13, and PVR-350 output in 0.14+ requires ivtv 0.1.9+). The basic upgrade process should be as simple as:

# apt-get update
# apt-get install mythtv-suite
# apt-get install kernel-module-ivtv-$MYKERNEL ivtv
(remember, you'll have to either reset $MYKERNEL as prescribed above, so simply substitute `uname -r` for single-processor systems)

Those without capture cards using the ivtv driver can obviously skip the ivtv line.

A general note about upgrading and installing rpm packages: you should NEVER use --nodeps to install or remove a package. If you can't get around using --nodeps, there is likely a packaging problem, which you should report upstream, to have it fixed. A tanked rpm database can do Very Bad Things™ to your system, and recovery is sometimes impossible. Try 'apt-get check' to verity its integrity, should you happen to have committed the --nodeps sin in the past.

Upgrading your kernel is a little bit more involved than upgrading only MythTV, because all custom kernel modules, both rpm-installed and source-installed, will have to be updated also. Kernel modules carry two different versions, one for the kernel they are for (the 'kernel version') and one for the actual module itself (the 'module version'). Everything but kernels and their matching kernel modules get upgraded automatically by 'apt-get dist-upgrade'. However, note that cases where the kernel version on a kernel module remains the same, but the module version is incremented, an 'apt-get dist-upgrade' will upgrade that kernel module. Essentially, you really only need to take extra measures when upgrading your kernel, as everything else gets handled automatically.

When you do come to a point where you need to upgrade your kernel, one of the nice features of installing from packages, rather than source, shows itself. For all the ATrpms kernel modules, you can simply type in the command...

# rpm -qa kernel-module-* get a full list of all the kernel modules you have installed on your system. With that list in hand, you can now install your new kernel, along with all the corresponding updated kernel modules. For example:

# apt-get install
# apt-get install kernel-module-{alsa,ivtv,nvidia-graphics4363}

You might also want to install the corresponding kernel-source rpm, especially if you're compiling any kernel modules by hand. You can also uninstall an older kernel and its kernel modules with a single command:

# apt-get remove kernel#<oldversion>

18. Miscellanea


I'm not a big fan of the default MythTV theme. However, Oscar Carlsson's G.A.N.T. theme, which I rather like, is now included with the MythTV source tarballs and gets pulled in by mythtv-suite. For the theme to flourish in its full glory, your KDE widgets really need to be changed from Red Hat's Bluecurve style to Keramik. Otherwise, menu buttons don't highlight correctly. Alter said setting through this menu path: Fedora/Red Hat Menu → Control Center → Appearances & Themes → Style. These settings only affect the logged in use, so this must be done as the mythtv user (or whatever user you run the frontend under).

Dedicated XFS-formatted /video partition-

Note that some people have had problems with XFS leading to system instability, while another good option, ReiserFS, was rock-solid. Personally, I've used XFS on quite a few systems now without incident (and greatly improved performance), but you've been warned. ;-).

First, ensure that you have xfsprogs installed:

# apt-get install xfsprogs

Now unmount the video volume:

# umount /video

Recall what partition you set up /video on (/dev/hda5 from my example). Now reformat the partition with XFS:

# /sbin/mkfs -t xfs -L /video -f /dev/hda5

You'll have to make one quick edit to /etc/fstab to allow the drive to properly mount upon restart. Mine had this line:

LABEL=/video /video ext3 defaults 1 2

Which I changed to this:

LABEL=/video /video xfs defaults 1 2

Now mount the partition:

# mount /video

Create recordings and buffer directories, set proper permissions for the mythtv user:

# mkdir /video/recordings
# mkdir /video/buffer
# chown -R mythtv.mythtv /video

Wide-screen tweaks-

I have a wide-screen HDTV. This does funny things to movies viewed with mplayer if you are connected via S-Video or composite video. Because you are feeding the TV a 4:3 video signal, which the TV stretches, movies that are already wide-screen get stretched, and only use about 1/2 of the screen vertically. To fix this, add a single switch in the mythvideo configuration section (MythTV → Setup → Video Settings → Player Settings), -monitoraspect 16:9, so mythvideo launches mplayer with this command:

/usr/bin/mplayer -fs -zoom -quiet -monitoraspect 16:9 -vo xv %s

This forces mplayer to compensate for the distortion, and movies look like they ought to. You can use this tweak for MythDVD also. Note that I'm actually connected to my TV via Component video now, using an Audio Authority 9A60 VGA to Component video adapter, feeding the TV a 960x540p signal, so I'm already 16:9, but including the monitoraspect statement doesn't hurt.

Use native ALSA in MythVideo-

If you're using ALSA, you can use mplayer's native ALSA support, rather than OSS emulation, by adding the switch "-ao alsa1x" to the mythvideo launch command, so it reads (along with the wide-screen tweak):

/usr/bin/mplayer -fs -zoom -quiet -monitoraspect 16:9 -vo xv -ao alsa1x %s

Even better, if you're using an S/PDIF output, you can further tweak that to:

/usr/bin/mplayer -fs -zoom -quiet -monitoraspect 16:9 -vo xv -ao alsa1x:spdif %s

And even better still, if you have are outputting to an amp with Dolby Digital decoding capabilities like I am, you should pass raw ac3 audio to your amp (the comma is important, it tells mplayer to fall back to pcm if no ac3 audio is found in what you're playing):

/usr/bin/mplayer -fs -zoom -quiet -monitoraspect 16:9 -vo xv -ao alsa1x:spdif -ac hwac3, %s

Just like the wide-screen tweak, these options can also be applied to MythDVD. Note that the :spdif option may require a different syntax or keyword for non-Audigy sound cards (I don't know for sure, I only have Audigy cards at my disposal right now).

Even better yet, and much cleaner, is to drop most of these configuration options into ~/.mplayer/config so mplayer is always launched with those options (or at least put the options you always want to use in there). The following is an example mplayer config file:

# run full-screen
# zoom image to fill the screen
# disable mplayer's usual verbosity
# use XVideo for video output
# don't enable joystick
# use alsa for audio out, through spdif
# if ac3 audio, send raw stream to my amp, else fall back
# my display is 16:9

MythVideo/mplayer remote control consistency-

The switch from irxevent to MythTV native lirc broke my previous setup for controlling mplayer, but folks have been kind enough to contribute native lircrc file additions that restore (and extend) control of mplayer via remote. They are already in the lircrc file linked in the lirc setup section, but we'll also need to create a ~/.lircrc symlink, so that mplayer can find it without requiring an extra launch switch:

$ cd
$ ln -s .mythtv/lircrc .lircrc

The lircrc config file should provide at least similar behavior of the remote between mplayer/mythvideo and mythtv.

MythVideo focus issue-

Yet another problem with MythVideo... When you exit, the remote ceases to function. This is because for some reason, KDE shifts focus to the Kicker, rather than the MythTV window, so your remote presses are trying to execute upon the Kicker, and do nothing. One possible fix is to change to a different window manager, but that's a fair amount of work, and outside the scope of this document. The easy fix is to change KDE's window focus behavior, so that you have focus following the mouse. This is a bit goofy for some people if they're trying to use the system as a normal computer, but works well if you dump the cursor in the middle of the screen, because when MythVideo (mplayer) exits, focus will return to MythTV, and your remote will function. You can change the window focus behavior by opening Control Center (off the Fedora/Red Hat/KDE menu), Navigating to Desktop → Window Behavior, and then change the Focus Policy to Focus Follows Mouse, and hit Apply.

Maximizing hard drive throughput-

Most of the time, the DMA capabilities of your hard drive are automatically recognized and enabled. However, there are some chipsets and/or drive combinations that don't always get properly recognized. The performance of your MythTV system will suffer greatly if DMA isn't enabled. You can quickly tell if DMA is active on your hard drive with this command:

# /sbin/hdparm /dev/hda |grep dma

For reference, my system spits out this:

# /sbin/hdparm /dev/hda |grep dma
 using_dma = 1 (on)

You can force DMA on by adding a line to the end of your rc.local:

# echo "/sbin/hdparm -d1 /dev/hda" >> /etc/rc.d/rc.local

Note that Red Hat claims some chipset/drive combinations have DMA intentionally disabled, due to bugs in the chipset, the drive or the combination of the two. Use at your own risk.

Graphical boot-

If you installed the prescribed packages above, you've got graphical boot. Nothing more to do. Much easier than making it work under RHL9, eh? Note that it still has issues on systems with dedicated /usr partitions though.

Remote front-ends-

Configuring a remote front-end is relatively easy. There are two steps you need to take on your back-end machine, followed by a quick edit of a config file and a breeze through the mythtvsetup utility on the remote front-end.

1. On your back-end, you need to allow mysql connections from other hosts on your network. This example assumes your local area network is, adjust accordingly for your network:

$ mysql -u root -p mythconverg
mysql> grant all on mythconverg.* to mythtv@"10.0.1.%" identified by "mythtv";
mysql> flush privileges;
mysql> quit

2. In the mythtvsetup application on your back-end, you'll need to make sure you set the variables for "IP address for <host>" and "Master Server IP address" to the IP address of the back-end's network card, rather than the loopback address (

3. On your remote front-end system, edit your /usr/share/mythtv/mysql.txt file, and change the DBHostName variable from localhost to the IP of your back-end server (the one you just set in the previous step).

4. In the mythtvsetup application on your front-end, you'll need to make sure you set the variable for "Master Server IP address" to the same address you just set in your mysql.txt file.

These are the primary changes that differentiate a setup with a remote front-end, but you'll also have to go through the bulk of the rest of the steps detailed here to get things working. A few of the packages installed throughout this guide aren't necessary for a front-end only system, but it won't hurt anything to install them anyway, so I'm not going to go into what they are.

Compiling stuff on your own-

Should you have need to compile any component on your own, you may need to drop the proper .config file into your kernel source tree. This is simply a matter of copying the appropriate file for your architecture out of /usr/src/linux-2.4/configs/ into /usr/src/linux-2.4. For example, on my single-processor Athlon MythTV box, I'd:

# cp /usr/src/linux-2.4/configs/kernel-2.4.20-athlon.config /usr/src/linux-2.4/.config

Adjust accordingly for your architecture. Also, some software looks for your kernel source tree in /usr/src/linux, instead of /usr/src/linux-2.4, which is the Fedora/Red Hat Standard (at least until they're shipping 2.6 kernels...). To compensate, just do this to create a symlink:

# ln -s linux-2.4 /usr/src/linux

For those wishing to install MythTV from source (or more likely, from CVS source), but wanting all the installation dependencies taken care of, you can still apt-get install mythtv-suite to get all the deps installed, then selectively remove (via rpm -e) all the myth packages. You'll also need lame-devel, so:

# apt-get update && apt-get install lame-devel

Now you can install from CVS source, with all the dependencies taken care of.

An alternate route you might take is to build your own CVS-based rpms. Axel also maintains MythTV CVS rpms, updated fairly frequently, which you can use (at your own risk, of course), or at the very least, build your own using his spec files (just substitute something for the at_release macro). Check out Axel's CVS stuff here:

Exporting your recordings to play elsewhere-

Another little goodie you'll find on Chris Peterson's site is nuvexport. This handy little perl script works with MythTV's built-in transcode daemon to help you export your recordings from .nuv format to a variety of different formats that are more readily playable on other systems that are without MythTV on them (such as a Mac or a Windows PC). You can also use the script to simply export the relevant sql information on a per-recording basis, if you want to move the recording from one system to another (or backup your recordings and corresponding info for a clean install).

Key bindings-

Many of the default key bindings, along with contextual functionality descriptions, can be found in the file /usr/share/doc/mythtv-0.14/keys.txt, which for convenience, I'm stashing on this server, accessible through this link.

As of MythTV 0.13, these keys can be customized, through an interface in MythWeb. Once you have MythWeb up and running, simply point a web browser to http://your_mythbox_IP_or_hostname/mythweb/settings_keys.php and go to town.


The changelog maintained here was getting too long, and really didn't serve much purpose anymore. It'll continue to exist in my source repo for historical purposes, but from here out, people should go to to see what has changed.