Chuckles’ Blog or Chog, or maybe Bluckles » media pc

media pc


A few weeks ago my media pc decided it has had enough of the hard life it was leading and died, rather quietly but with much annoyance to myself.

Instead of rushing and buying replacement motherboard and cpu I’ve taken the more economic response and a) done without the pc and b) investigate my options for fixing it. During this time I was offered an old celeron micro ATX that Dave (of Dave’s Occasional Brainfart) had lying around. It gave me the chance to at least have a second internet access point around the place (I’m down to 1 laptop and 3 carcasses lying in the corner).

The original pc use to run windows xp home (I know, I know….) purely because i used the awesome tv recorder DVB Web Scheduler. Web Scheduler was originally and open source application but it is now closed (as of version 5 i think). The news that someone ported the older version 4 code across to Linux means that if I did want to continue with Web Scheduler I wasn’t necessarily bound to windows, so I decided, while I’m looking at moving my media needs to Linux I may as well take another look at MythTV.

To be honest the last time I tried MythTV, the problems I had were with getting the DVB capture card up and running not MythTV itself. I have DVICO Fusion Pro, great card but at the time its Linux support was limited, now however the setup went very smoothly. The distribution I’m using is Ubuntu Gutsy and using the instructions here and here. The basic steps I took were:

1. Make sure required software was installed
sudo apt-get install mercurial linux-headers-generic build-essential
2. Obtain source code from Chris Pascoe’s branch of repository
hg clone http://linuxtv.org/hg/~pascoe/xc-test/
3. Compile and install driver
cd xc-test
make
sudo make install

4.  Download and install firmware
cd /lib/firmware
wget http://www.linuxtv.org/downloads/firmware/dvb-usb-bluebird-01.fw
wget http://www.itee.uq.edu.au/~chrisp/Linux-DVB/DVICO/xc3028-dvico-au-01.fw
wget http://www.itee.uq.edu.au/~chrisp/Linux-DVB/DVICO/dvb-usb-bluebird-02.fw

I then used the LinuxTV.org instructions for testing the card. All went smoothly and I could scan the channels.

Installing MythTV was a breeze, just use Ubuntu’s packages (instructions here), I had some trouble with setting up my xml electronic program guide. Even though xmltv was install, no xml grabbers whereappearing in MythTV for me to select. The problem ended up being that becasue the cpu was so slow the script to find all of the xml grabbers was taking too long and MythTV was discarding the process and continuing. My solution was to delete all of the xml grabbers except the one I wanted.

I did most of my playing with the myth-web plugin and basically it does everything I wanted, you can schedule recordings, apply jobs to the recordings (transcoding etc) and download the recording and its all password protected. The music interface didn’t impress me that much but I have yet to find a network music solution I’ve settled on yet (although now that its a Linux system I will play around with Xmms some more).

So bottom line, MythTV looks like my solution for a media pc with digital tv recording for now.

I have a PC that i’ve setup to be come a media box, digital tv card small box, remote etc etc. The problem is all my other PCs have died so for now the media box is serving as a desktop.

Due to this temporary arrangement the media functionality isn’t fully setup, and the other day i wanted to remotely control its music playing. So i needed a quick solution to setup a remote (network) interface to control its local playing. The remote interface needed to provide access to the local media pc’s library of music.

XMMS2 was my first choice, it’d been following its progress for a while under Linux and its design was exactly what i was after. However as i discovered XMMS2 under windows (i forgot to mention the media pc is currently running lowly windows XP) had some issues playing streaming media (hey when your ISP mirrors radio streams for free you gotta listen), so i had to pass on XMMS2 for now.

VLC was where i next looked, i knew VLC offered network streaming of music but i wasn’t sure if it also could act as a juke box and have and interface for remote control. As it turns out there is a couple of methods, one of them being a nice http interface. The interface didn’t provide access to the media pc’s local music collection, so while listening to Digitally Imported Lounge I continued searching.

Winamp, its been around for years and while its become more then just a small application to hear some sounds from I do quite like its media library. I also use to use a web interface for it back in the old version 2 days. Anyway I found a plugin for the new 5 versions called BrowseAmp and in a very basic way it does what i want. It provides access to local files on the media pc (has password protection for those making their system public) Plus the usual play list controls.

So until XMMS2 comes along BrowseAmp it is for me.