mythtv and screen blanking

So I’ve had my mythtv box running nicely for quite a while now but one annoying thing I couldn’t figure out was how to stop the annoying screen blanking. I’d set various dpms parameters in xorg.conf, turned off the screensaver. But it kept blanking. The most annoying part was that it hadn’t always happened.

Anyhow, I finally found the one command to stop it; xset -dpms.

MythTV Torture – Part 1

So since last Friday I’ve been attempting to get my new PC up and running with MythTV. I’ve built a HTPC using some the following components:

  • AMD Athlon64 3000+
  • 1 gigabyte of Kingmax RAM
  • DVICO FusionHDTV Plus
  • 250Gb Seagate SATA HDD

I used the apparently simpler KnoppMyth boot cd to install MythTV. Its a sort of live CD based on Debian. Its been bloody annoying so far.

KnoppMyth’s default kernel ( appears to detect the digital TV tuner card. But I can’t get any signal from this fucking thing. According to some people, I needed to patch the kernel using this patch. No dice. Now the system can’t even tell that there’s a card there at all.

Then to get the bloody remote controller working, you have to patch lirc. Unfortunately the patch only patches against an older version of lirc (0.7.0) than what is included in debian (0.7.1pre2). SO, I have to uninstall all the lirc debs, but when I do that, due to dependancies, it goes to remove xawtv, xmame-common, xmame-gl, xmame-sdl and xmame-x.Get fucked. I don’t think so. This is pathetic.

Then due to some wacky reason that I can’t figure out, networking attempts to start up before any kernel modules have been loaded. No network card module, no networking starting… what the hell!?!

OK, so its not all bad. Downloading of the TV schedule works as it should, MAME, SNES and NES emulation all works nicely. It’ll play my mp3s, although the interface for browsing songs is completely retarded. Programs like iTunes and Rhythmbox can provide some inspiration here surely.

It’ll play most of my videos (although, as I expected, it barfs on realmedia and quicktime movies).

Most of the documentation that I’ve seen for this project has been pretty appauling. Its been a while, but the documentation is that bad that I actually want to contribute to this darn project.And I think I will. I don’t think I can sleep at night knowing that other people are stumbling round, experiencing the same level of pain and agony that I’m currently going through. There are some MythTV wikis, but even though appear to be pretty sparse.

I’ve also started looking into the MythGame modules. The current NES configuration module doesn’t support passing any switches to the emulator (FCE Ultra). So far I’ve put the switches I need into a script, then I get the module to use that instead of the fceu binary. Looking through the other MythGame modules, it shouldn’t be too difficult to write a complete configuration module for this emulator.

If that all works, I’ll probably look at some other emulators like perhaps Hu-Go! (PC Engine) and DGen/Gens (Sega Genesis/Megadrive) if someone else hasn’t already.

So far going to work at 3am on Sunday morning to attend to a network outage on a production server was actually less annoying than this experience has been. I feel like I’ve gone back a decade when I first started messing around with linux, spending way too long on am XF86config file or attempting to get a working ppp or slip chat script. I can’t say I’d recommend mythtv at all at this point in time. Hopefully I’ll get around all these hurdles (there’s really only two large ones right now) I’ll be less pissed off about, but for now, arrrgh…

Update: It should probably be noted that most of my problems with this setup come down to my choice in digital tv tuner card. There are other choices out there which are supposed to work better. The only problem I found when selecting a card was that either the ones that worked were analogue or were EOL’ed. Or if I could find ones that worked in Australia, they didn’t support linux at all.

In regards to the remote controller, KnoppMyth works with Hauppage controllers out of the box (why lirc doesn’t have support for more than one controller without having to recompile is beyond me… I’m sure there’s some reason for it). Right now a bluetooth, RF or IR keyboard is looking a lot more tempting (and less painful).