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post #31 of 340 (permalink) Old 2006-10-08, 10:14 AM Thread Starter
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Well, I have been back at it again...

First, I put my money where my mouth was and tried to give MythTV a chance. Here is what I thought (Note that I treated the experience very much from a "User" perspective):

- When multiple NICs are present, Linux is still too cryptic about which one is which.

- The IPG is WAY too difficult to set up. I am guessing that this my be more an issue with XMLTV than with MythTV.

- The 10ft interface is still too utilitarian looking.

- DVD playback was unacceptable "out of the box". It stuttered badly.

Here is the build and hardware for those that will want to know:

- KnoppMyth R5D1
- ABti NF7-S 2.0
- Athlon XP 2500 mobile
- 1 GB PC3200
- 80 GB Hitachi 7200RPM
- ATI Radeon X1600 Pro 256 MB

Also note that I did not waste much time fussing with it as the interface was unacceptable to my wife. It is likely that I would have overcome the bulk of the issues but the WAF is a huge issue in my universe.

On the upside, if it were not for the DVD playback issues and the frustrating IPG setup, KnoppMyth is DRAMATICALLY faster to set up than MCE 2005. Some of that speed is obviously due to the fact that the KnoppMyth install is stripped down and built up with all of the needed and up to date drivers and software.

If someone built an up to date MCE 2005 equivalent to KnoppMyth, the difference could be reduced but I doubt that MCE will catch up with KnoppMyth for install speed any time soon. MCE takes 1.5 CDs right from MS. KM only uses one. Padded up with everything, it is likely that MCE 2005 would easily be bigger than 2 CDs and possibly more than half a DVD.

I did some more playing with MCE but that will be in the next post...
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post #32 of 340 (permalink) Old 2006-10-08, 11:25 AM Thread Starter
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MCE and Firewire!!!

So after my above Myth-adventure , I reinstalled the system with MCE 2005 and downloaded the latest Firestb.msi from Timm Moores site.

http://home.comcast.net/~timmmoore/firewire/readme.htm

At the same time, I was forced to pull one of my hauppauge 150 cards from my dual tuner setup in the bedroom. So with that, I also rebuilt that box so that I could clean up some of the mess from all of my tinkering. I will save that for another post as there is a few things that I want to touch on.

Back to the firewire fun...

I built up the system and patched fully, something that is highly recommended by Timms installation instructions. After that, I installed the Firestb.msi package but I did so with my Motorola DCT6208 hooked up to the computer. There is no definitive warning against this in the instructions but I was to discover that this is not the preferred way. It is better to leave the box disconnected and to hook the firewire cable up after the Firestb.msi package reboots the PC.

So after getting the software/drivers (There are drivers in the msi as well) installed, everything started to come together. Timm has a command line test that can be run to confirm channel changing is working. With my incorrect installation giving me unplanned insight, I can say that if you test the channel change function and it works, it nearly guarantees 100% that recording over firewire will work.

Once I was recording successfully, I started watching how things behaved. The first is that the firewire recording is stored in a subdirectory of the MCE target recording location. The directory is named "fire". Depending on how you set Firestb to handle the two recordings, er, let me take a pause and bullet out a few things...

Limitations of Firestb:

- Only works 100% on the most dominant STBs like SA and Motorola. Others will work but only to varying degrees.

- Will not push the firewire stream as the actual Live TV feed.

- Still requires an analog tuner card for each firewire connected STB

- Requires a set amount of free space for the temporary storage of the firewire recording as both the firewire and analog feed are recorded at the same time.

Back on track...

So after recording, you have 3 ways to deal with the two recordings:

- Keep both

- Delete the analog on successful firewire recording

- Archive analog recording to a subdirectory called "Old" on successful firewire recording.

I can only see using the keep options if you are leary that there is an ongoing issue. Otherwise, just set to delete the analog.

A neat thing that I took note of was that it seems that the MPEG2 stream from the firewire port produces SD quality recordings at only half the size of the Hauppauge card. HD recordings are obviously larger. Timm states that they should be around 7 GB per hour. As I continue to use the new setup, I will take a close note of how much space is used on average.

Beyond this, I can't say a whole lot. I have only been using this new setup in the main HT for a day. I can say that as annoying as the Live TV limitation is, it is not a showstopper. I still have the component video feed going to my AV switch so I can always switch directly to the STB to watch HDTV properly.
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post #33 of 340 (permalink) Old 2006-10-08, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by que3jxp View Post
So after my above Myth-adventure , I reinstalled the system with MCE 2005 and downloaded the latest Firestb.msi from Timm Moores site.
Who is your cable co - Rogers? If so then that is one thing that you folks in NB have on Rogers customers in Ontario. We cannot get a STB with an active firewire port, at least as far as I have heard.
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post #34 of 340 (permalink) Old 2006-10-08, 12:23 PM Thread Starter
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Who is your cable co - Rogers? If so then that is one thing that you folks in NB have on Rogers customers in Ontario. We cannot get a STB with an active firewire port, at least as far as I have heard.
That is right! The one thing that Rogers NB does right hardware wise!!!

I am likely to get a DCT6200 in place of my DCT2500 that my upstairs MCE box is using.
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post #35 of 340 (permalink) Old 2006-10-09, 10:02 AM Thread Starter
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Timewarps and wormholes :)

I made another (re)discovery...

For whatever reason MCE 2005 spazzes out REALLY bad in regards to keeping the system time tracked well.

This morning was the first check on a full night of recording with my new firewire setup and everything was a good 20-30 minutes out. At first I thought it was sports shows bumping it but then I remembered. I had the same but not as dramatic problem with my first MCE box.

Now there are tons of conversations out there on the WWW in regards to ways to fix the problem natively in Windows. Forget them all. It is a waste of time and energy as the problem will come back.

The solution is this. Install a piece of software that was suggested in another thread I read somewhere on the WWW. The software is called Dimension 4 and can be found here:

http://www.thinkman.com/dimension4/

Some may know of it already, but for those that don't, get it now. MCE will mess with the clock on ANY system. No matter how good the RTC is on the motherboard.

And when I went downstairs this morning? The clock was out by no less than 32 minutes!!! That was the drift in about 38 hours of uptime on that MCE system.
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post #36 of 340 (permalink) Old 2006-10-09, 08:39 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by que3jxp View Post
A neat thing that I took note of was that it seems that the MPEG2 stream from the firewire port produces SD quality recordings at only half the size of the Hauppauge card. HD recordings are obviously larger. Timm states that they should be around 7 GB per hour. As I continue to use the new setup, I will take a close note of how much space is used on average.
I paid attention to a few HD recordings and they come in at a beefy 7.5 GB per hour. So that works out to a bit more than 30 hours on a formatted "250 GB" drive. Boy am I glad I am running a 500 GB RAID 5 array.
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post #37 of 340 (permalink) Old 2006-10-11, 11:51 AM
 
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Originally Posted by que3jxp View Post
Well, I have been back at it again...

First, I put my money where my mouth was and tried to give MythTV a chance. Here is what I thought (Note that I treated the experience very much from a "User" perspective):

- When multiple NICs are present, Linux is still too cryptic about which one is which.

- The IPG is WAY too difficult to set up. I am guessing that this my be more an issue with XMLTV than with MythTV.

- The 10ft interface is still too utilitarian looking.

- DVD playback was unacceptable "out of the box". It stuttered badly.

Here is the build and hardware for those that will want to know:

- KnoppMyth R5D1
- ABti NF7-S 2.0
- Athlon XP 2500 mobile
- 1 GB PC3200
- 80 GB Hitachi 7200RPM
- ATI Radeon X1600 Pro 256 MB

Also note that I did not waste much time fussing with it as the interface was unacceptable to my wife. It is likely that I would have overcome the bulk of the issues but the WAF is a huge issue in my universe.
Well, I am glad to see you gave MythTV a shot. I think your points are quite valid. Just some thoughts:

Multiple nics: Yes, network setup is a little obscure. However, knoppmyth also is MUCH harder to use than Fedora Core 5 in this respect... the network control panel in FC5 is very informative. And the network card setup during install of FC5 is also pretty easy as well.

IPG: I find the IPG a little frustrating for folks in Canada. Setting up an account at labs.zap2it.com makes things a little easier. But the datadirect XMLTV data feeds seem to treat Canada as second fiddle to people in the US. Once setup it works, but it is not that clear that is for sure.

Oh yeah, and getting OTA ATSC channel data in Canada is next to impossible without digging into some obscure settings - which I hate as I use MythTV with OTA in Toronto. Datadirect/Zap2it it only shows CityTV as being available in digital in Toronto. (But manages to map it to 53_1 instead of 57_1.) I get programming data for all the Buffalo channels, so it is annoying but not really a deal breaker for me. (But for someone that only gets Toronto OTA ATSC it is less than ideal.)

10 foot interface: Hmmm, I like the MythTV interface. (And my wife likes it too.) But I also immediately switch out of the default interface as it is downright ugly - it has been a while since I used KnoppMyth so I am unsure what theme is defaults to, and whether is even installs the nicer themes out there.

DVD stuttering: I personally have not experienced this before. However, it is a common complaint with Linux as DMA is often not turned. This is definitely a knock against Linux. However, Knoppmyth also seems to default to very conservative settings during install to ensure it runs on as much hardware as possible.

If you ever decide to give MythTV a shot again, I would strongly recommend trying Fedora Core 5 as your base. And then follow the great guide at: http://wilsonet.com/mythtv/fcmyth.php
The downside is your install/setup will take a lot longer than KnoppMyth. Actually the two biggest time consumers are downloading the FC5 DVD ISO and running 'yum upgrade' after the initial install to upgrade the base FC5 install before installing MythTV. I typically need to download 500-600MB of updates when doing this... which is rather slow to complete.

My experience with KnoppMyth is it is not the greatest for a base for MythTV. Though it is a great way to test the waters. I found things run much better with Fedora Core 5 as the base.

My biggest gripe with KnoppMyth is it really does not offer much in the way of GUI tools at all. With FC5 you get a lot more and lot nicer admin tools to work with rather than the spartan knoppmyth package. (IE: Configuring multiple network cards in FC5 is as easy as WinXP. Video settings are easily adjusted. Etc.)

I also suspect you would not experience stuttering while playing back DVDs using Fedora Core 5. (As FC5 is pretty good at setting DMA correctly in the first place, and it is easy to force DMA on to see if that helps.)

FC5 also seems to handle detecting video cards and monitors a lot better than KnoppMyth. I was shocked to have FC5 automatically detect and set the resolution when I hooked up my latest MythTV box to my Panasonic 32" LCD TV with a DVI-HDMI cable. I did initial setup on a 1280x1024 LCD and then hooked it up to the TV after. (It made me feel like I was using WinXP when it just brought up the system to the correct resolution.) Neither the KnoppMyth nor Ubuntu Linux distributions do this without manually fiddling with your xorg.conf file.

Again, congrats on trying MythTV out... and hopefully you will find time to try MythTV in the future again. Cheers.
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post #38 of 340 (permalink) Old 2006-10-11, 12:57 PM Thread Starter
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Again, congrats on trying MythTV out... and hopefully you will find time to try MythTV in the future again. Cheers.
If you know me, you will know that I most certainly will. I started with KnoppMyth due to being in a bit of a hurry to test it. I also wanted to challenge the supposed "easy" factor that is preached. It is not hard for someone that knows Linux/UNIX, but otherwise, not so nice.

I am planning on dual booting my Work system with either Ubuntu or FC5, so I will get loads of time to play with each and then make up my mind as to which one to use.

Where I have firewire working quite acceptably for myself, I am no longer as passionate about converting to Myth but my tinker "gene" is kicking in again so you never know.
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post #39 of 340 (permalink) Old 2006-10-11, 01:17 PM
 
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Originally Posted by que3jxp View Post
If you know me, you will know that I most certainly will. I started with KnoppMyth due to being in a bit of a hurry to test it. I also wanted to challenge the supposed "easy" factor that is preached. It is not hard for someone that knows Linux/UNIX, but otherwise, not so nice.

I am planning on dual booting my Work system with either Ubuntu or FC5, so I will get loads of time to play with each and then make up my mind as to which one to use.

Where I have firewire working quite acceptably for myself, I am no longer as passionate about converting to Myth but my tinker "gene" is kicking in again so you never know.
Cool. I would recommend Ubuntu for anything but MythTV right now. I initially went with Ubuntu 6.06.1 and had a lot of frustration trying to get MythTV to work well.

MythTV-FC5 is a great combo because of the website I mentioned and the fact you can install MythTV from the ATRPMS repository with minimal fuss. I have yet to find a reliable Ubuntu repository for MythTV anywhere. ATRPMs has a critical mass that ensures issues are dealt with promptly at ATRPMS. And the ATRPMS mailing list is very active and very helpful if you have a problem. I have seen Ubuntu-MythTV repositories come and go with way too much frequency.

I find going with Ubuntu-MythTv means you are on your own. As well, Ubuntu does not seem to release updates to packages that MythTV depends on very frequently. (For example, I had to compile my own LIRC package as the Ubuntu one was out of date and was compiled with way too generic settings to be useful for anything but one type of IR receiver.)

Ubuntu is also extremely slow in release updates with new Kernels. I expect to see 2.6.18 very soon with FC5 whereas I would be surprised to see 2.6.18 within 6 months with Ubuntu. This is an issue as kernel releases support out of the box more and more HD tuners. My pcHDTV 5500 tuner will be supported out of the box with the 2.6.18 kernel... so I will no longer have to worry about compiling support into Linux.

As well, a newer Kernel equals more hardware support for newbies, so more people can try it out without needing to compile drivers for their hardware. (I'm waiting for 2.6.18 in FC5 to see if it supports my AMD AM2 cpu motherboard better to let me finally jump to 64bit with the Athlon 64 X2 4200+ cpu I am using.)

Don't get me wrong though. Ubuntu is really cool and an awesome product. (I recommend Ubuntu over FC5 for anything but MythTV right now.) Cheers.
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post #40 of 340 (permalink) Old 2006-10-11, 02:15 PM Thread Starter
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Don't get me wrong though. Ubuntu is really cool and an awesome product. (I recommend Ubuntu over FC5 for anything but MythTV right now.) Cheers.
Well, that is no fun, you just took the tinkering away

It is settled, Ubuntu at work and FC5 at play.
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post #41 of 340 (permalink) Old 2006-10-11, 05:15 PM
 
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Well, that is no fun, you just took the tinkering away

It is settled, Ubuntu at work and FC5 at play.
Nah, if you want to use Ubuntu-MythTV you can... but you might end up banging your head against a wall at times in frustration. (I know I did!) And as they always say, "your mileage may vary" in your experience.

Over the past year, I have tried MythTV on FC4, FC5, Knoppmyth, Ubuntu 5.10, Gentoo (ouch!) and Ubuntu 6.06.1 and a few others that I have tried to erase from my memory due to the pain involved. And FC5 seems to work the best and has a very active and helpful community. So I thought I would pass on some advice on my experience thus far. I investigated pretty well every major Linux distribution before settling on FC5 for a base.

Of course, if you are tinkerer, you are welcome to try and distribution you want... that is part of the fun.

BTW, I used VMWARE Workstation heavily when testing different distributions/configurations to make the process less painful. (Nothing like running 3-4 Linux distributions at the same time trying different things.)

Once you get the hang of FC5-MythTV using Jarod's guide, it is pretty smooth sailing and very quick to setup. I think a lot of folks get intimidated by the lengthy howto, but it falls onto the wordy side to cover as many possibilities as possible rather than to be brief.

And the bonus is you get a system you can tinker with to boot as FC5 is a very, very large and complete distibution. Tinkering with MythTV is practically a hobby for me. (I'm about to dive into how to directly alter the MySQL database to get what I want to happen exactly... yes, I apparently like pain trying to optimize everything.)

I must say your MCE setup seems mighty customized (what you are doing is not the domain of typical users by any means)... but now that it works for you, it sounds like quite a nice setup. Downloading HD via firewire is mighty cool.
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post #42 of 340 (permalink) Old 2006-10-12, 10:13 PM Thread Starter
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New inadvertent discovery...

HD MPEG2 video can have the audio negativly impacted by having the AC3 audio codec installed. SD quality MPEG2 is not impacted. I suspect it is due to the fact that the HD content is in DD5.1 and the SD is typically stereo or DPL.

I was having a VERY low playback volume on a system with AC3 installed. I took it out and the issue went away. I suspect that there is a setting that can be chosen to aleviate the issue without uninstalling but I have not tinkered that far yet. Anyone that may know, post it up if I don't get back on it quickly.
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post #43 of 340 (permalink) Old 2006-10-14, 02:08 PM Thread Starter
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With HDTV comes new hardware...

So a week into having HDTV recording off of firewire and I have come to the conclusion that a Radeon 9600XT is just not quite powerful enough to play back HDTV encoded in MPEG2. It seemed to be able to deal with WMV-HD clips from MS but would just not play seamlessly otherwise.

So, I bought an X1300 Pro for the AVIVO capabilities. And with that, I can list off the following hardware as readily capable of dealing with high bit rate HDTV content:

- Athlon XP 2500+ (Recent upgrade from 2000+ courtesy of a dead Epox board)
- ASUS A7N8X-VM mATX
- 512 MB PC3200 @ PC2700 speed
- 120 GB IDE
- ATI Radeon X1300 Pro 256MB

With the X1300, the main CPU runs at about 25% so I figure that a system as slow as 1.5 GHz or equivalent would be sufficient as long as the vid card was X1300/GF6600 or better.

I never tried HDTV content with the GF6200 but if someone wants me to, I still have that card and will do so if asked. I do not have a 6600 for testing, sorry.
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post #44 of 340 (permalink) Old 2006-10-14, 02:11 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by que3jxp View Post
A neat thing that I took note of was that it seems that the MPEG2 stream from the firewire port produces SD quality recordings at only half the size of the Hauppauge card. HD recordings are obviously larger. Timm states that they should be around 7 GB per hour. As I continue to use the new setup, I will take a close note of how much space is used on average.
I am not sure if I was on crack that day or what, as I have not seen this level of compression since. All of the SD content that I have recorded off of Firewire since, has been equivalent in size to what a hauppauge card produces.
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post #45 of 340 (permalink) Old 2006-12-13, 07:00 PM Thread Starter
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Back to MythTV: Round 2

Well, here I go again...

I started with Fedora C6 and ran head long into the very broadly experienced vieo issues on first reboot after installation.

So...

Onto FC5.

That installed quite fine and frankly, easier than Ubuntu and still a lot faster than XP MCE 2005.

Now I am stuck at video drivers. I admittedly have not put a lot of effort into it as I am short on time but I have not wiped the drive that FC5 is on. Actually, this time I was extra smart and put a 40 GB drive in the HTPC in the master bedroom and when I want to tinker, I just change the primary boot device. This way, if I have to cook the drive, I don't lose the Windows installation.

Back to video...

I have an X1300 Pro in the system so if anyone has a fast set of instructions to volunteer up, TIA. Otherwise, I will be waiting to install Myth untill I have the best drivers installed as I don't want to unwittingly disappoint myself.

Otherwise, I am inspired with the easier use in FC5 over Ubuntu so I will get this Myth attempt all the way through to scheduling a recording before I make any final conclusions.
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