Considering Setting Up MythTV on Linux

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Tango
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Considering Setting Up MythTV on Linux

Post by Tango » Sun Oct 13, 2019 6:54 am

I'm dropping DISH TV and going to OTA TV only. I've looked at the various DVRs out there and the ones I like the best are Tablo and TiVo, but they have problems I'd rather not deal with. I'd rather go with MythTV.

I used to run a business based on my software, in Perl, Javascript, MySQL, and Java. I wrote the code myself and the main programs ran on a Debian server that I maintained myself. So I can program and have always liked Linux. The problem is that it's been about 10 years since I could do much, seriously, on Linux. I am also limited, these days, in terms of time.

What I'd like is a Linux box running the MythTV backend with 4 tuners on it and then being able to use different devices to play back recordings or library videos from different rooms in my house and guest house.

The problem, as I said, is I'm seriously limited in time. I would have loved to have set up MythTV with an OTA antenna when we first moved in 2 years ago, but had to go with DISH TV instead because I did not have time to research a new system and figure out what I would need to do.

So I have a number of questions about MythTV. In some cases, I think I know some of the answers, but I want to clarify things so I know for sure.

1. I think I basically need a computer I can run Linux on, 4 tuners or a 4 tuner device (I think I've seen some out there), and the usual computer attachments (like mouse, keyboard, monitor...) to set up a MythTV backend. Do I need anything else?
2. Once I get a Linux system installed on a box, how hard is it to set up MythTV on it and get it working? Do I have to tweak a lot of settings and spend a lot of time fiddling with settings, or is it easy to start using it as a DVR right out of the box?
3. Where does MythTV get listings from? Do I have to subscribe to a service to get the data for a program guide?
4. Does a MythTV system need much in terms of maintenance? Can I have it updated automatically?
5. Does MythTV have a "binge mode" I can use to play all the recorded episodes of a particular TV show?
6. Are there problems using a Roku or Apple TV as a front end viewer for a MythTV backend?

If I can be sure I've found a good system that will do what I need, it's easier for me to set aside some time to set it up. The problem is I'm not sure to just settle for Tablo or TiVo, or to try to set up a MythTV or Plex system. I'm trying to at least narrow things down so I can at least pick a system to research and plan on using.

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heyted
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Re: Considering Setting Up MythTV on Linux

Post by heyted » Sun Oct 13, 2019 1:47 pm

1. I think I basically need a computer I can run Linux on, 4 tuners or a 4 tuner device (I think I've seen some out there), and the usual computer attachments (like mouse, keyboard, monitor...) to set up a MythTV backend. Do I need anything else?
2. Once I get a Linux system installed on a box, how hard is it to set up MythTV on it and get it working? Do I have to tweak a lot of settings and spend a lot of time fiddling with settings, or is it easy to start using it as a DVR right out of the box?
3. Where does MythTV get listings from? Do I have to subscribe to a service to get the data for a program guide?
4. Does a MythTV system need much in terms of maintenance? Can I have it updated automatically?
1. I prefer a small PC such as an Asus thin mini-itx with a network tuner such as an HDHomeRun. I have always used an IR remote with mythfronend installed on a PC. The backend and frontend can be installed on the same PC.
2. It is more difficult than an off-the-shelf DVR. Being technically inclined certainly helps with this.
3. For most people in the USA, Schedules Direct is used which is not free but low price. SiliconDust's guide data is a free source for live TV if you own an HDHomeRun (this is disputed by some people on this forum). Also, TVmaze is a free source. OTA guide data is another free source.
4. It can automatically update if the ppa is used for bug fixes and other updates. You will eventually need to spend time upgrading to a new version. You can backup the database, but I have never used a previous database in a new MythTV version on a new system.
Last edited by heyted on Fri Oct 18, 2019 1:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Tango
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Re: Considering Setting Up MythTV on Linux

Post by Tango » Mon Oct 14, 2019 2:39 am

heyted wrote:
Sun Oct 13, 2019 1:47 pm

1. I prefer a small PC such as an Asus thin mini-itx with a network tuner such as an HDHomeRun. I have always used an IR remote with mythfronend installed on a PC. The backend and frontend can be installed on the same PC.
2. It is more difficult than an off-the-shelf DVR. Being technically inclined certainly helps with this.
3. For most people in the USA, Schedules Direct is used which is not free but low price. SiliconDust's guide data is a free source for live TV if you own an HDHomeRun (this is disputed by some people on this forum). Also, TVmaze is a free source. OTA guide data is another free source.
4. It can automatically update if the ppa is used for bug fixes and other updates. You will eventually need to spend time upgrading to a new version. You can backup the database, but I have never used a previous database in a new MythTV version.
1. Thanks for pointing out the part about an IR remote. I am working on home automation and use a Z-Wave hub that can handle IR signals being sent to a transmitter. Using IR for MythTV would be a big help!
2. Any way you can give me an idea of how difficult? For instance, to get it set up so it scans the airwaves and gives me a list of channels it can get, connect to a programming guide source, and being able to pick the shows I want to record, will it take minutes, hours, or days? I'm not going to hold your feet to the fire for that one - I'm just trying to get an idea of whether I could likely get Linux installed, setup MythTV, and get it up and running in a shorter time or if I would need a few days to do that.
3. Sounds good - I can get free programming guide data or pay for it. Is there any advantage to use a paid source instead of any of the free sources?
4. Do you basically have to reset all your shows to record each time you upgrade because you don't keep the previous database? What else would I have to do if I tossed the old DB?

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Re: Considering Setting Up MythTV on Linux

Post by wesnewell » Mon Oct 14, 2019 4:31 am

I got rid of all my DVR's back in 2005 and all I've used since then is mythtv with 6 tuners (3 dual) in my combo front/backend and 4 other frontend only boxes.
1. Forget hdhr's. get a 4 tuner card for under $100. For control you can use mini keyboards, ir remotes or whatever else that will work like the airmouse, etc.
2. easy for some. Hard for others.
3. You can get guide data for free OTA or get a $25 a year Schedules Direct sub. And possibly other ways.
4. Depends on how good your hardware is. Yes, you can get auto updates.
5.You can watch it as long as you want. Not sure I understand your question.
6. I don't know. I only use linux box's as frontends.

Perhaps you should should go to https://www.mythtv.org/ where all your question are probably answered.
BE/FE-Asrock AB350 Pro AMD Ryzen 3 2200G, 6 atsc tuners. Frontends-GF8200's,,AMD Athlon II's. Mythtv user since 2005.

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Re: Considering Setting Up MythTV on Linux

Post by heyted » Tue Oct 15, 2019 1:13 am

Any way you can give me an idea of how difficult? For instance, to get it set up so it scans the airwaves and gives me a list of channels it can get, connect to a programming guide source, and being able to pick the shows I want to record, will it take minutes, hours, or days? I'm not going to hold your feet to the fire for that one - I'm just trying to get an idea of whether I could likely get Linux installed, setup MythTV, and get it up and running in a shorter time or if I would need a few days to do that.
Since you are setting up a new system, maybe keep what you are using now, and set up the new system using a different input on the TV a little bit at a time when you have time. It might take a couple or few hours per day for a few days.
Is there any advantage to use a paid source instead of any of the free sources?
Schedules Direct is higher quality than OTA EPG and Mythrecmaze. Hdhrepg2myth is limited to live TV using just about four hours at a time.
Mythrecmaze uses crowd sourced guide data for shows from TVmaze, so it may be necessary to enter some info on tvmaze.com for unpopular shows. Mythrecmaze may need to be edited since it was written to work with cable.
Do you basically have to reset all your shows to record each time you upgrade because you don't keep the previous database? What else would I have to do if I tossed the old DB?
No since I use Mythrecmaze. I just install Mythrecmaze on the new system, and MythTV starts recording the shows I follow. I just start from scratch using my notes when installing MythTV on a new system.
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Re: Considering Setting Up MythTV on Linux

Post by gacross » Sat Nov 30, 2019 9:10 pm

Tango wrote:
Sun Oct 13, 2019 6:54 am

1. I think I basically need a computer I can run Linux on, 4 tuners or a 4 tuner device (I think I've seen some out there), and the usual computer attachments (like mouse, keyboard, monitor...) to set up a MythTV backend. Do I need anything else?

A. Just about any old computer will do... I'm presently running ver. 29 on an old 2.0Ghz. dual core machine, with 8Gb of RAM, backend and frontend. (and SETI-at-Home, concurrently!). It's more than enough. It's running Ubuntu Linux with a light desktop. Get the largest hard drive you can - you'll fill it up!

2. Once I get a Linux system installed on a box, how hard is it to set up MythTV on it and get it working? Do I have to tweak a lot of settings and spend a lot of time fiddling with settings, or is it easy to start using it as a DVR right out of the box?

A. I've been running MythTV since version 25, and it has gotten much easier to install since then. There are Wizards now that help you with the basic set up. After installing the Backend, you'll need the information in /etc/mythtv/config.xml to set up a Frontend. You should be able to do it in a couple of hours.

3. Where does MythTV get listings from? Do I have to subscribe to a service to get the data for a program guide?

A. I've always used Schedules Direct and it has worked flawlessly. It will give you custom listing(s) for over-the-air or cable (or both), and it's very, very seldom wrong. It updates its listing daily. It's well worth the $25 a year subscription.

4. Does a MythTV system need much in terms of maintenance? Can I have it updated automatically?

A. Once it's running, leave it alone! It's too easy to "break" it and then you have to "fix" it. As someone else suggested, set up the PPA for automatic updates, instead of relying on Ubuntu's updates.

5. Does MythTV have a "binge mode" I can use to play all the recorded episodes of a particular TV show?

A. You can set up a separate directory to store your particular program episodes in, but it isn't necessary. The front end will separate out every show with a given name into an episode list you can go through as you like. You will have to select each episode, though. I don't know of a way for one to lead into the next one, 'though it may be possible.

6. Are there problems using a Roku or Apple TV as a front end viewer for a MythTV backend?

A. MythTV comes with it's own built in web server. So, any device that has a web browser can view the recorded programs, and more. The web server is on your Backend machine. just type in your server's IP address followed by the word "mythweb". For example: http://192.168.1.10/mythweb. There is also a Web Frontend, at port 6543. Like this: http://[your machine's IP]:6543.

Of course, you can also install the normal MythTV Frontend on your other computers, too. Recognize that the MythTV Frontend is a very capable full Media Center, not just a player.

By the way, I'm just a novice user. Contrary to the admonishment in #4 above, there are lots of add-ins that I haven't tried, and a myriad of functionality to customize and expand with, waiting for you! Have fun!

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Re: Considering Setting Up MythTV on Linux

Post by Gribnif » Tue Dec 03, 2019 4:35 pm

5. To start binge watching, go to any series and press the Menu key. Then select Add to Playlist. When you're ready to start playing, again use the Menu to play the playlist. All the episodes will play in the order they appear in the list. See https://www.mythtv.org/wiki/Watch_Recor ... _Playlists in the docs.

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Re: Considering Setting Up MythTV on Linux

Post by Tango » Wed Dec 04, 2019 3:33 pm

@gacross, thank you - that answers ALL my questions!

I've had to go with Channels for now. It was a quick and easy setup on an old MacMini I use as a file server. There are a number of things I like about MythTV. I can use it as a media center, so I won't need to use Plex or UMS along with it and can put a lot of other things like videos and music files on there, too. (And I've always liked open source.)

What's prompting this is that we're out away from cable and I got fed up dealing with Dish TV. While their customer service isn't pathetic (unlike Viasat, who we had to use for internet for 2 years), their DVR system is so buggy that I just can't believe it. I realized that a lot of what I watched was available on local TV and could ditch DIsh. (The only thing I'll miss is Tour de France coverage and now that we're off Viasuck - er, Viasat - I can get that through several streaming sources.) Add to that the old barn that was on this property when we bought it. It old and falling apart and really charming in a Freddie Krueger/Blair Witch kind of way, plus there were some dangerous things there so we had to either demo it (seriously expensive for multiple odd reasons) or eventually renovate it, so we're turning it into a guest house. That's let to a lot of decisions about providing that area with wifi and video. Since we'll want full access to anything we can get in the house down at the barn, I've had to start thinking about media and file servers in a different way.

I'm thinking, now, that after the barn is done and set up, I can take time to set up a Linux system as a server with MythTV on it to handle a lot of the audio and video files. That way everything would be working with one package.

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