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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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Discussion Starter #42
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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Discussion Starter #43
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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Discussion Starter #44
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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Discussion Starter #45
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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Discussion Starter #46
So thanks to the recommendation to try FC5 with MythTV, I have got a LOT further than I have in the past.

I actually carved enough time out to get FC5 reinstalled and to discover the wonderful world of the "yum" command!!!

So now I have a FC5 box (Test hard drive) with Myth .20, the ATI drivers, the resolution set to 1360 x 768, guite information and....

Problems...

I have smooth DVD playback but the color is all gone to hell. The Display is the same ACER 3201W that I use for MCE 2k5 and is connected via DVI-D.

I also am having issues with firewire. I have done the test that is suggested on the wonderful FC/MythTV howto site but when testing the video on playback, there is massive studder and what looks like tearing into stripes. The color, however, seems to be intact as opposed to DVD playback.

I have still yet to get my MCE remote to work with Myth.

The last issue which I figure is all my fault is that I cannot get live TV. It seems I am having issues keeping the myth backend up and running.



So after all this, I must say that I am more optimistic than before. I still take issue with the enormous amount of setup time involved compared to MCE 2005 but if I can have firewire control AND a client/server setup, I may just eat the other inconvieniences as "time well spent". Provided, of course, that I get the still major issues fixed.

And to that, it is now further blowing my mind that MS never bothered to put firewire natively into MCE as a tuner option or at least allowed for a client/server setup.
 

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Discussion Starter #47
Bad news for Linux and MythTV...

Well, Toms Hardware did another review of AVIVO(ATI) vs PureVideo(NVidia) and AVIVO whipped PV bigtime.

Another issue that I realized was that it seems that the ATI drivers for Linux do not include reasonable settings for the variable fan speeds. This is a huge issue as the fan on an X1000 series card is loud as hell and will not go over well with my wife.

Combine these issues with the problems in the previous post and MythTV is now totally ruled out in my universe. Unfortunate as it is more the fault of ATI driver support under Linux and NVidia not really delivering on the video playback quality.

On the upside, I have now learned of a new plug-in for MCE 2005 called WebGuide 4. It allows for some really cool remote web connectivity and streaming capabilities that are usually only expected under Myth. Check it out here if you are interested.
 

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On the upside, I have now learned of a new plug-in for MCE 2005 called WebGuide 4. It allows for some really cool remote web connectivity and streaming capabilities that are usually only expected under Myth.
WebGuide is cool but I haven't been able to get it working 100% yet but this may be do to network config issues - i.e. opening ports on the router and/or changing firewall settings.

Another option, although it isn't integrated with MCE, is Orb.
 

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Discussion Starter #49
Yes, I too am having issues geting it to run. It is far too intriguing to not get working so I am going to pound on it till it works.

I have a WiFi capable IPaq and in Fredericton, we have a totally free access WiFi network that covers a tremendous amount of the city. :D
 

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I have a WiFi capable IPaq and in Fredericton, we have a totally free access WiFi network that covers a tremendous amount of the city.
I have a similar device - a Dell Axim 51V and I have used it in my house with Orb to stream videos and live TV in my house so I will have to try to get this working on it as well. Unfortunately Toronto doesn't have as good a WiFi network, although there is a network in the downtown core that was set up by the Toronto Hydro Co but they plan to start charging for it soon.

Have you tried converting content from MyTV for the PPC using dvr-ms toolbox or other tools. I have a 4GB SD card for my PPC so you can hold quite a bit of content on that.
 

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Discussion Starter #52
Never buy a "custom" case

Well, the cute case that I used for the MCE box in the bedroom, well, the stupid power supply died. And guess what I did not know when I bought it...

The standard looking power supply was not so standard so the case is garbage as it is too much of a pain in the rear to try to get it swapped with NCIX (Just because of the shipping logistics).

So I will never again buy a case that does not take a "standard" sized power supply.

The case that I bought today to relieve me of my issues? An Antec NSK2400. For the record, it is one nice mATX case and it is super freaking quiet.
 

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I considered this case but I didn't want to be tied down to a lack of expansion room that you would get with a mATX mobo - I went with a Silverstone case that can hold a full sized mobo in case I want to add a bunch of tuners or other stuff in the future.
 

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Discussion Starter #54 (Edited)
Yes, I too thought about that but fortunately for myself, the HTPC in question is not my main system. And the NSK2400 was in the city and would let me fix my problem asap.:D

Compared to when I first started building my HTPCs, I have fully decided to accept and preach the fact that one should use a case capable of holding a full sized ATX board and at least 2 hard drives. Especially if it is to be your only HTPC.
 

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ATX/mATX really depends on what you want to do with the HTPC.

Mine doesn't have any tuner/capture cards since my HDPVR does all that so mATX works fine for me. I only use one PCI slot for my sound card.
 

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Discussion Starter #56
Heatpipes, pawn shops and minimum requirements...

So I got right lucky the other day and found a Gigabyte 6800 fanless AGP for $60!!!

I rushed the puppy home and was all intent on using it in my HTPC. And then...

Heatpipes...

The heatpipes on the fanless Gigabyte 6800 are so tall that they are unusable in any low profile HTPC case. If it were a full size like the Silverstone LC-17 then it would probably have been fine.

So I took it and put it in my 1GHz P3 e-mail/browsing box and gave it a stress test. The result?

A P3 1GHz with 512MB RAM and a GeForce 6800 AGP combined with PureVideo "can" run 720p/1080i HD programming if it is in MPEG2. The CPU utilization was at no less than 80% the whole time, but it never dropped a frame!

Now don't take this as me saying that a P3 can do HD. Take it as me showing everyone how much of an impact a good video card can have on playback performance and capabilities. Also note that the P3 universe only has a 4x AGP slot.
 

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Yeah, heatpipes.

When I bought my 6600GT I didn't think to check the clearance for the heatpipes and it wouldn't fit in my case either.

However, I was able to remove the heatpipes and heatsink, dremel away some of the larger heatsink, and lower the pipes and main assembly enough to make it fit while still making full contact with the GPU.
 

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Discussion Starter #58
However, I was able to remove the heatpipes and heatsink, dremel away some of the larger heatsink, and lower the pipes and main assembly enough to make it fit while still making full contact with the GPU.
Thanks!!!

Now I have a new DIY project for this weekend!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #60
More and more video cards...

Well, if I haven't gone from never being able to afford even one to owning just about every variety of the last three generations... :eek:

I committed to getting a dual monitor capable card for the church and was just not finding something I trusted as adequate so I bought myself a new 7600GS and played musical video cards so that I could free up a Radeon 9600XT to give up.

Well...

I have nothing but praise for the 7000 series, their drivers and screen adjustments for the TV outputs!!!!!

I originally intended it to just go in the HTPC in the bedroom and connect via DVI but I was to discover that the EVGA 7600GS AGP cannot have the fan speed adjusted. So, down to the main HT it went. The settings on the 7 series are just so nice that there is absolutly no need for powerstrip.

I was able to perfectly tune the component video output settings to fully use the screen in a way that I was never able to get the ATI card to do it. Short of the slight delay for the autosynch on one of the film cadences, my nod firmly goes to the 7600 series card as the best (at minimum) card to toss your money on if you are building or updating your HTPC.

Oh, and to top it off, the main CPU utilization when palying 1080i HDTV dropped from 35% to 17%. (Previous card in the system was a X1600 Pro)
 
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