Cooking with Linux - Watching the Community Network

Use your Linux system to watch TV, record home movies and listen to FM radio.

This is all you need. There are also a handful of recommended modules, which you will be told about when you install the xmltv package. The installation is typical for Perl packages and not unlike the standard extract and build five-step:

cd xmltv-0.5.10
perl Makefile.PL
su -c "make install"

As part of the XMLTV installation, you'll be asked about listings for your area, so pay attention to the messages at this stage. You're almost there. Because MythTV uses MySQL to store its information, you need to set up a database for it. You also should have the qt-MySQL package loaded (look for qt-mysql or libqt3-mysql). Even if you have MySQL set up properly, you may get an error similar to QMYSQL3 driver not loaded if you run without this. Now, make sure MySQL is installed and running, then use the provided schema file:

cd database
mysql -u root < mc.sql

Depending on your distribution, you may not need the -u root above. Now, we still have a couple of database things to attend to here. At this point, only the localhost address is allowed to access the MythTV databases. In my case, I wanted to provide access to all users in my private subnet:

$ mysql -u root mythconverg
mysql> grant all on mythconverg.* to \
mythtv@"192.168.1.%" identified by "mythtv";

The percent sign above is used as a wild card. Consequently, if you want to allow all domains in (probably not what you want), remove the subnet portion and leave only the percent sign.

Aside from taking several steps, the installation was pretty easy. That said, I did run into a couple of minor problems. For instance, with qmake, part of the Qt development package, the configure script didn't seem to be able to locate the program, so I created a symbolic link for it in /usr/bin. Then, I ran a make from the MythTV distribution directory, and all was well.

Now that you've compiled and installed the software, in the MythTV distribution directory, you'll see a directory called setup, and in that directory, an executable by the same name. Run the command as follows: setup/setup.

You'll see a screen with four options labeled General, Capture Cards, Video Sources and, finally, Input Connections. Go through each of these to configure MythTV for your local system setup. Your input connections (number 4) should basically be set up already as part of selecting your video sources. Pay attention to the on-screen help messages and guides as you go through this process. When you are done with all the setup steps, press Esc.

Figure 4. Setting Up the MythTV Front End

Now, run mythfilldatabase to pick up your television listings. If this is the first time, you may encounter an error because your local xmltv configuration file may not exist:

/usr/bin/tv_grab_na --configure

You'll be asked for your ZIP or postal code to help identify a local provider for the TV guide listings. From that list, you also will be able to decide for which channels xmltv will gather listings. Being one for spice in my life, I opted for maximum variety and accepted every channel. Filling the database with program information is certainly something you will want to do with a cron job.

The next step is to start the mythbackend program. I chose to run it as a dæmon by using the -d option (you can add this to your rc.local start-up scripts if you like).

Finally, as a regular user, run mythfrontend to start up the MythTV interface. At this stage, you have two options on the graphical screen, setup and TV. Use your cursor keys to navigate the screen. Choose TV, and you'll be able to select from watching TV now, scheduling a recording or watching a previously scheduled recording. You also can browse the Program Guide for current or upcoming programs (Figure 4).

Figure 5. Searching through the MythTV Program Guide

Another option is to record embarrassing programs from your youth, such as my early documentary of the 1984 Tall Ships Festival, “Romancing the Sail”. Select the appropriate channel for your VCR, pop in the tape and record those memories.

MythTV is an excellent package with a great deal of energy and promise. In addition to the obvious television playing and recording aspect of the package, additional modules are available, which I don't have time to cover here. They include MythWeb, which allows control of MythTV through a Web page; MythGallery, for photos and slideshows; MythMusic, for ripping, storing and playing music files; and MythWeather, for weather information.

Well, mes amis, the hour is growing late and we must soon close the doors. As late as it is, after tonight, you will have no worries about missing your favorite programs, non? In the meantime, François happily will pour you another glass of wine—perhaps we should make it two glasses, and you can pretend you never saw that old Marcel video. There is surely something to be said for growing up. Until next time, mes amis, let us all drink to one another's health. A vôtre santé! Bon appétit!