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October 14, 2015


Could the Netflix Player by Roku be used as a MythTV frontend?

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 11th 2008 8:57AM
Netflix player by Roku naked
Roku, the company behind the $99 box that lets you stream Netflix movies over the internet to your TV has released the source code for the set top box. And the hacking has already begun. Some folks have already reported they can access the box via telnet.

MythTV News raises an interesting question: Could the Netflix Player be a cheap frontend for the Linux-based MythTV media suite? MythTV's backend software requires a full computer with a decent CPU, hard drive, and RAM to run. But it might be possibel to shoehorn the frontend software, which lets you access media stored on the backend, onto a less powerful device.

As Dave Zatz points out, the software used on the Netflix Player is signed. What that means is that modified code will not run properly, and the box should automatically revert to the last good version of its software if it encounters hacked or modified code. But it is at least theoretically possible to send software updates to the box, and to update the bootloader. And that means it's possible that someone might be able to find a way to run MythTV or other software on the Netflix Player. Just because a platform is locked doesn't mean it can't be unlocked. Just look at the iPhone.

[via eHomeUpgrade and Hack A Day]

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Hauppauge HD-PVR drivers for Linux/MythTV

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 25th 2008 5:57PM
Hauppauge HD-PVRThe Hauppauge HD-PVR may be the first device capable of recording HDTV through the analog hole by basically capturing high definition video from your TV screen and compressing it using the H.264 codec into something you can watch on your PC. But if the box doesn't work with the operating system of your choice, what's the point?

Fortunately, members of the MythTV community have figured out how to make the box, which was designed for Windows, work with Linux. Setting up an HD-PVR to work with Linux and MythTV isn't quite as simple as getting it to work with Windows. You need to compile the driver from source. And the driver is still in alpha, meaning it hasn't been tested very widely yet, so there's a good chance it simply won't work on your system. But if the early reviews are anything to go by, there's a good chance it won't work perfectly with your Windows system anyway.

[via Brent Evans]

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AppleTV updates: Linux bootloader released, internet radio improved

by Brad Linder, posted Apr 30th 2008 2:33PM
atv-bootloaderThe Unofficial Apple Weblog picked up on two interesting tidbits related to the Apple TV today. First up, the latest software update from Apple includes the ability to listen to internet radio streams. You'll need to connect your Apple TV to a computer with iTunes, and that computer will need to have some streams saved in a playlist.

But the much more exciting news (if you happen to be a big nerd) is that hackers have figured out how to load Linux on an Apple TV. That means if you're a fan of the Apple hardware, but not so much the Apple TV interface, you might be able to turn your box into a MythTV FrontEnd, or even load a port of XBMC, the media center suite originally developed to run on converted Xbox video game systems.

You can find out more about the Linux bootloader at the atv-bootloader page.

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MythTV 0.21 released

by Brad Linder, posted Mar 9th 2008 8:58AM
MythTV A new version of open source Linux-based media center MythTV was released this weekend. It's been half a year since the last major MythTV release, which means there are a ton of bug fixes and new features in MythTV 0.21.

The latest version includes support for ClearQAM recordings using the HDHomeRun. That means if you have the proper hardware you can record unencrypted HDTV streams from your cable company. MythTV 0.21 also includes several new official plugins including MythMovies, which displays movie showtimes based on your zipcode, and MythZoneMinder for monitoring security cameras.

Here are a few more highlights:
  • MythFrontEnd memory consumption reduced by up to 75%
  • Automatic discovery of MythTV servers and frontends
  • Enables multiple recordings with one DVB or ATSC card if the channels are in the same multiplex
  • You can now choose to record main audio, a secondary audio channel, or both
[via Missing Remote]

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Mythbuntu 7.10 released

by Brad Linder, posted Oct 25th 2007 1:29PM
Mythbuntu 7.10
Want to try MythTV, but don't know the first thing about Linux? Mythbuntu 7.10 is to Windows Vista Media Center what Ubuntu 7.10 is to Windows. Or something like that. Anyway, Mythbuntu makes installing and configuring MythTV about as easy as it gets.

This is the first full release of Mythbuntu. We first looked at a public alpha this summer.

Mythbuntu is not distributed by Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu. But it is recognized as a community supported project. Basically, Mythbuntu is a stripped down version of Ubuntu Linux, with MythTV frontend and backend software thrown in. You can either download and run/install Mythbuntu from a LiveCD or you can install Mythbuntu packages on an Ubuntu machine to convert it into Mythbuntu.

Like Ubuntu, you can expect regular updates to Mythbuntu every six months.

[via Digg]

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Open source developers sue makers of Hava placeshifter

by Brad Linder, posted Sep 20th 2007 5:00PM
Hava Wirless HDIt's no secret that a lot of consumer electronics devices, including TiVo and Monsoon Multimedia's Hava place-shifting device are built using Linux and open source software. It's powerful, stable, and most importantly, available. The open source community has developed a wealth of code that developers can draw from in order to build robust consumer oriented products.

But while the software is often free, meaning you can use it without paying, it's also free as in speech. In other words, once you incorporate code that has been published under the General Public License, you have to allow others to see the source code for your device. And that's not something a lot of companies like to do. You know, trade secrets and all.

So when the folks that developed the open source BusyBox software, which is used in the Hava, asked Monsoon Multimedia for a peek at the company's source code and Monsoon failed to comply, two open source developers filed suit against the company.

This is apparently the first time anyone has filed a copyright infringement suit in the US involving an alleged violation of the General Public License. It should be interesting to see if the case goes to court where it could set precedent, or if Monsoon Multimedia decides to settle out of court.

[via CNet]

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SageTV 6.2 released

by Brad Linder, posted Sep 18th 2007 1:04PM
SageTVAfter spending a few months in beta, SageTV 6.2 was officially released this week. The powerful PC-based PVR offers a lot of features you won't find in Windows Media Center (without appropriate plugins), like automatic recording of recommended shows and the ability to watch online video from sites like YouTube.

So what's new since SageTV 6.1?
  • Support for transcoding videos for viewing on the Apple TV or iPhone
  • Enhanced H.264 support
  • Support for DVB-T, DVB-C, and DVB-S on Windows and Linux
  • ClearQAM support for the Hauppauge HVR-1600/1800 on Windows
  • ClearQAM support for the AverMedia M780 on Windows Vista
  • New themes
  • Bug fixes
SageTV 6.2 is available for Mac or Linux. It's a free update if you've already paid for SageTV 5.0 or later. New customers will have to cough up $80.

[via Missing Remote]

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MythTV 0.20.2 released

by Brad Linder, posted Aug 27th 2007 11:39AM
MythTVThe folks behind MythTV pushed out a new release this weekend. As you can probably tell from the title, this is a point release, moving from version 0.20.1 to 0.20.2. But don't let those low numbers fool you. MythTV is a powerful media center application for Linux.

The update includes two major changes:
  1. Support for Schedules Direct program guide updates
  2. Reduced MythTV front end memory consumption by up to 75%
There's a slew of smaller updates and bugfixes as well, including faster startup of the MythTV frontend, improved default theme images with better scaling and anti-alias, and fixes for ATSC channel scanning.

Probably the main reason to update your system is the support for Schedules Direct. In a few days, Zap2it Labs will stop providing the free program guide data that earlier versions of MythTV relied on. Unlike the Zap2it Labs data, Schedules direct program guides won't be free. You'll need to shell out $15 for 3 months of data. It's not clear if MythV 0.20.2 will support CT TV guide data which is available for $30 per year.

[via Digg]

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Fiire + LinuxMCE = accessible Linux based media centers

by Brad Linder, posted Aug 16th 2007 11:58AM
Fiire engineLinuxMCE is a powerful and customizable Linux-based media center interface. But Linux isn't for everyone. If you like the features, but don't relish the idea of installing and configuring Linux, you might want to take a look at Fiire's new LinuxMCE-based media centers.

Fiire has a $800 box cleverly named the FiireEngine. That price doesn't include a TV capture card, but the FiireEngine packs an AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ processor, 1GB of memory, and a 160GB hard drive with support for up to 6 eSATA drives. There's an NVIDIA 6200 graphics card, and all the usual inputs and outputs with the exception of HDMI.

You can also pick up FiireStation units for streaming audio/video content from your FiireEngine to other rooms in your house.

The problem with these Linux-based systems is there's no support for DRM. While that might sound like a good thing, it means you'll have a hard time recording any high definition programming except over-the-air and unencrypted cable. In fact, there's no option to even buy an HDTV tuner with the FiireStation, although we don't see why you wouldn't be able to slap an ATSC card in there.

[via Engadget]

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AppleTV hack enables external hard drives

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 28th 2007 2:30PM
AppleTVDigging the Apple TV, but not a fan of its anemic hard drive? Sure, Apple's released a 160GB version for $100 more than the 40GB AppleTV. But if you're a big movie/TV fan you might want to store more programming than you could fit on such a puny hard drive.

Lucky for you, the Apple TV hacking community has released tools for enabling external storage. In fact, the hack is more sophisticated than that. It enables the Apple TV to boot off its internal hard drive while using an external hard drive as its primary storage drive. In other words, plug in your 750GB drive to store all the movies you can handle.

Remember to backup your unit before attempting the patch. This is certainly warranty-voiding stuff. But if you've got an Apple TV, and an intel-based Mac or Linux/Unix machine lying around to execute the script, we don't see why you wouldn't want to at least look into applying this hack.

[via Gizmodo]

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GeeXboX 1.1 released

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 3rd 2007 9:00AM
GeeXboXThe folks behind the Linux LiveCD-based media center GeexBox have released version 1.1. It's been more than a year since hte last official release, but the devs have been pretty busy during that time.

GeeXboX is pretty much one of the easiest Linux distributions you'll ever find. It's built entirely to be used as a media center. So all you have to do is download the CD ISO and burn it to disc. Then reboot your computer with the CD in its drive. You'll be greeted with a complete media center capable of playing back audio, video and photos.

Version 1.1 supports playback of decrypted HD-DVD files. There's also support for more multimedia codecs, including propietary formats like Flash and Windows Media Video.

GeeXboX 1.2 and 2.0 are both in the works. Upcoming features will include 32 and 64 bit editions and support for native HDTV resolutions.

[via eHomeUpgrade]

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Mythbuntu Alpha released

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 5th 2007 8:40AM
Mythbuntu Alpha
Interested in setting up a MythTV-based media center, but don't know enough about Linux? Just as Ubuntu is designed to make Linux accessible to the casual user, Mythbuntu is designed to bring media center software to the masses. Of course, that's what Windows Vista does, but for anyone interested in open source applications, MythTV is the way to go, and Mythbuntu makes installation a relatively painless process.

The current version is a public alpha, so don't expect everything to work perfectly. But if you download the disc image, burn it to a CD, pop it in your computer and reboot, you should load up a MythTV frontend. That's the part that lets you interact with media. If you want a fully functioning media center that can record record television shows, you'll want to install the backend as well. If you've already got a backend machine running, you can access it from the frontend included on the liveCD.

Still, the LiveCD is a great option for anyone who wants to see how MythTV works without having to repartition or reformat their hard drive.

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How to install MythTV on Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn

by Brad Linder, posted Apr 20th 2007 4:36PM
mythtvUbuntu and its siblings Kubuntu and Xubuntu are widely considered some of the easiest Linux distributions for non-geeks to set up and use. But that doesn't make setting up a Linux based media center any simpler.

Sure, you could just install Knoppmyth or Mythdora if all you want is a PC running MythTV. But what if you want a multipurpose PC?

Well, there's some good documentation for setting up a MythTV frontend, backend, or both on Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn. A backend is a machine that can record TV shows and store photos, videos, and music. It acts as a server, letting frontend PCs on the network play back those files. Or you can install a frontend and a backend on a single PC.

The process isn't quite as simple as installing PC-based software like BeyondTV or SageTV, but the walkthrough makes installation about as easy as it gets.

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LinuxMCE - open source Linux media software - VIDEO

by Brad Linder, posted Mar 21st 2007 11:23AM
If Windows Media Center's not your cup of tea, and MythTV is too complicated to set up, you might want to check out LinuxMCE. The program is described as an open-source add-on for Ubuntu, with a 10-foot user interface for a PVR, media center, and automated home control center.

Just a quick warning, this video contains some hardcore Microsoft-bashing, and a narrator with a really smug voice.

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Things I Hate About TV: Video on the web

by Brett Love, posted Oct 8th 2006 1:44PM
Microsoft failure to play
I'd imagine that, for most of you, I don't even really need to go into details on this one. Just reading the phrase 'video on the web' probably conjures plenty of your own experiences fighting with technology to get your dander up. Why? Why does it have to be so damned complicated to put a video file on the internet?

Now, part of my frustration with this comes from the fact that I'm one of 'those guys.' I loathe Windows. I could go on and on about the evils of Bill and the Gang, but that is probably a post for another site. It does bring up one of the most frustrating things we run into when we link to content from the various networks. Requirements to play. You need Windows XP, or Media Player 10, or Flash 6, or IE, or Quicktime, or to stand on your head and chant the namshub of Enki. Good grief, it doesn't need to be that hard.

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