Months ago, from the scraps of old computers, I pieced together a Personal Video Recorder or Disk Video Recorder or Digital Video Recorder – I never know which name is right. Take your pick.
That it ran at all was a surprise!
Over time I added extra hard drive space and a new CPU/motherboard combo. Anything that could fit in, and was heavily discounted, flew its way to my house. I was happy to take out a Phillips head screwdriver and do battle. I know my way around the inside of a computer case.
I chose KnoppMyth as my software. Hmmm…. this is going to get a little geeky, but I’ll give it a try.
MythTV is a software package to ‘make’ a DVR. It runs on Linux – the operating system that talks to the hardware in your computer. Linux is an operating system, like Windows XP is an operating system.
Linux is free and freely modifiable. And, it’s free as in, “Here it is.” It’s not free as in, “Here’s a copy of Windows XP I downloaded off the net, along with this serial number.”
So far, so good.
I say Linux, there is really no specific software called Linux.
There is Ubuntu Linux and Fedora Core Linux and Red Hat Linux, etc. Each is slightly different for slightly different reasons. Remember, it’s free. If you wanted to form a group with friends or with your evil twin to make a Linux distribution, more power to you. It’s allowable and encouraged.
KnoppMyth, the DVR software I used, combines a Linux ‘flavor’ (Knoppix Linux) with MythTV. It’s downloaded and then burned onto a disk. It’s the computer equivalent of making a Betty Crocker cake.
I like KnoppMyth, but it has its shortcomings. It isn’t 100% up-to-date and there are a few nagging bugs. Any time I’ve attempted to update or fix something, I’ve broken then entire installation.
Since KnoppMyth doesn’t seem to be a perfect answer, I decided to try to roll my own MythTV installation – combining MythTV with a Linux operating system. That’s how I wasted a good part of Sunday!
My attempt was to add MythTV to Ubuntu¹ Linux. Makes your head spin? I should have said the same thing and stopped right there.
“How tough could it be,” I said to myself?
All day Helaine reminded me, “Messing with the penguin,” the penguin being our euphemism for Linux, “never ends up being a good experience.”
Before bedtime Sunday night, I had given up on mating Ubuntu and MythTV… but I hadn’t given up on the quest.
Today, while I was at work, my PC was downloading Fedora Core 5 – another Linux flavor. It was a 3+ Gb download! Now, home and in pajamas, I’ve burning it onto five CDs.
There’s a website which describes the process of mating Fedora with the very latest MythTV version. It looks easy, though it’s 29 printed pages (honest).
I could have gone back to KnoppMyth, but that was too easy. I want the feeling of accomplishment that is only earned following feelings of frustration and angst.
I’ll report back after the installation is finished, or the penguin and I have settled our score for good.
¹ – Ubuntu seems to be the Linux distribution garnering the most favor right now. Forgetting MythTV for a second, Ubuntu was easily installed and came fully stocked with the programs most folks need on a daily basis.
As opposed to earlier Linux distributions, Ubuntu found and installed drivers for my sound and video cards without asking. It found its IP address for web surfing. It worked right out of the box.
I would recommend Ubuntu for any non-gamer who uses their computer for web surfing, IM chatting, word processing, email and other ‘normal’ web pursuits.
Right now at least, Ubuntu and the other Linux distributions are virtually virus and spyware free and they nearly never crash!
Blogger’s note: I worked on this project until 4:00 AM. Tuesday morning, I picked it up for a while, but it’s not done yet. Amazingly, after all my original downloading, most of the install time has been spent downloading newer files to replace the ones I got yesterday.
When I was providing input, it was copying intensely dense computer code from a web page to a ‘terminal’ window. I’d hit enter and the screen would look like hieroglyphs were flashing by until I had to ‘feed the beast’ again.
Hopefully I can complete the task later tonight.