MythVideo: Managing Your Videos
Now that you know the basics, there are a few tricks to make this all work a little better. First, you'll want large storage drives for your videos. Even when ripped to the relatively small AVI files, a collection of 100 videos each ripped to 2GB in size will take up 200GB of disk space. And, if you're like me, you've probably purchased much more than 100 DVDs.
Next, you'll want to separate your videos from your live TV recordings. My internal IDE is a 7200RPM drive, and my external USB 500GB drive is only 5200RPM. The latter is fast enough for playback but not ideal for video recording. That's another reason I rip to temporary storage (on a fast IDE drive) before copying to the external USB drive.
External drives are easier to install than their internal counterparts. However, you'll need to make each drive a different directory under the main MythVideo storage directory. I created a directory called /store/movies/Cinema-1 for my first external drive, then mounted the external drive to that directory. The /etc/fstab entry looks like this:
# MythTV drives /dev/sdc1 /store/movies/Cinema-1 ext3 defaults 0 0
If you have multiple drives, you may need to write a program to identify what drives are allocated to which device files at bootup time, because it's possible that the drives may not be recognized in the same order each time. This is a problem when dealing with external USB drives and a reason I'm currently using only one very large drive.
A minor problem with USB drives is that they spin down when not in use. This means the first time you browse your video collection to that drive, there may be a modestly long pause while the drive spins up. Fortunately, this is, at most, an inconvenience and will not affect playback of the video.
I've had good luck with my Western Digital 500GB USB drive, but I've had poor luck with Maxtor drives—two of three drives have failed inside of the first week (the other is working fine, however). At the time of this writing, the Seagate FreeAgent drives were having problems related to power-saving mode under Linux. Workarounds are available, but until Seagate resolves the problem, you probably should avoid those drives.
Another tip is to place your DVD readers on separate machines, if available. This will allow you to rip your videos to NFS mountpoints without affecting performance off your MythTV back end. I export /store/rip from my back end to all my systems and rip to that directory from various places, including my laptop. Again, /store/rip is on the internal IDE drive, so it doesn't adversely affect playback of saved videos from the external drive. My exports file, /etc/exports, looks like this:
/store 192.168.1.0/255.255.255.0(rw,sync,no_root_squash) /store/movies/Cinema-1 192.168.1.0/255.255.255.0(rw,sync,no_root_squash) /music 192.168.1.0/255.255.255.0(rw,sync,no_root_squash)
Note that my back-end server is behind a firewall with no direct access from the outside world. I'm not streaming any videos across the Internet, which is fairly pointless, as the throughput would be quite bad from my home. The videos are accessible only from within my home network.
Now, let's look at naming your ripped videos. AcidRip pulls the name of the video from the disk but generally uses all lowercase letters and replaces spaces with underscores. You always should change this to be the same as the title of the video as it is listed on IMDb.com. Because the metadata lookup will use that name, you'll have a far greater chance of having the automated lookup succeed if you simply use the correct title for the video's filename when you rip the video.
You'll also want to categorize your videos. The primary reason for this is that you won't want to scroll through 100s of videos in any mode (Browse, List or Gallery) using MythVideo.
If you create top-level directories with the category names and then copy the videos into those directories instead of the top-level MythVideo directory, browsing the files in any of the available modes will be a bit easier. Ideally, MythVideo would allow you to categorize the files without creating directories manually, but because it doesn't do that yet, this is the next best way to handle the issue. As an added bonus, you can add an image file called folder.png (or folder.jpg) to each category directory and that image file will be used as an icon in the Gallery display.
My directory structure looks like this:
/store/movies: top-level storage directory configured for MythVideo.
/store/movies/Cinema-X: mountpoints for each external drive, with X replaced by a number.
/store/movies/Cinema-X/category: video categories, with category being one of the following: Action, Comedy, Drama, Romance, War, Classics, Documentary, Fantasy, SciFi and Westerns.
Note that each external drive, when mounted, also includes a lost+found directory. MythVideo is smart enough to ignore this directory, as should you when managing your videos.