Ditching cable for HTPC - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 02-12-2012, 11:01 AM - Thread Starter
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I have a little home server running Ubuntu connected to my TV via HDMI for the occasional YouTube and web surfing, it does a few other things right now like DNS, storing backups, and serving up Minecraft, but that's probably irrelevant...

What is important are the requirements I have for ditching cable to make the rest of the family happy.

1) Need to tune OTA HD and output via HDMI. Is this going to be a problem with linux? I remember some discussion about HDCP long ago, but haven't kept up with it. Does it apply to OTA HD? If so, can linux "do" HDCP now, or is that still limited to Windows machines?

2) What's the best front end? I'm reading up on MythTV and XBMC, but based on the little bit of reading I've done, XBMC seems like nothing but a front-end for other programs. It'd be nice to have the ability to tune OTA HD, watch Hulu, and other streamed content without much of a hassle, since the whole family will be using it.

3) Related to question #1, how are the DVR functions (record/pause/rewind/etc) with any of the programs asked about in question #2?

Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 16 Old 02-12-2012, 11:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knivesout View Post

I have a little home server running Ubuntu connected to my TV via HDMI for the occasional YouTube and web surfing, it does a few other things right now like DNS, storing backups, and serving up Minecraft, but that's probably irrelevant...

What is important are the requirements I have for ditching cable to make the rest of the family happy.

1) Need to tune OTA HD and output via HDMI. Is this going to be a problem with linux? I remember some discussion about HDCP long ago, but haven't kept up with it. Does it apply to OTA HD? If so, can linux "do" HDCP now, or is that still limited to Windows machines?

2) What's the best front end? I'm reading up on MythTV and XBMC, but based on the little bit of reading I've done, XBMC seems like nothing but a front-end for other programs. It'd be nice to have the ability to tune OTA HD, watch Hulu, and other streamed content without much of a hassle, since the whole family will be using it.

3) Related to question #1, how are the DVR functions (record/pause/rewind/etc) with any of the programs asked about in question #2?

Thanks in advance.

1) For OTA HDTV, HDCP is irrelevant, so no issue with HDCP there. In all other cases- DVD playback, BluRay rip playback, video files, Flash, HDCP is not an issue, either, since DRM is stripped either when ripping or in realtime- DVD playback or current BluRay disc methods with MakeMKV streaming. HDCP on Linux is unnecessary for all playable sources.

2) For tuner control/OTA viewing, you need to use MythTV. XBMC is another media center and uses its own media playback routines, as well as plugins and other backend decoders is you wish. XBMC does not control tuners or do tuner PVR. It's a good idea to have both MythTV and XBMC installed together. Read the details on XBMC on their site- it is far more than "just a front end for other programs"

http://xbmc.org/

3) MythTV was started before the first commerical release of Win Media Center, so its very mature. For a detailed list of MythTv's capabilities, see

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MythTV

http://www.mythtv.org/

http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/User_Manual:Index

but bottomline- MythTV is a full PVR media center- live TV pause, rewind, time shift, etc.

To try out XBMC, use the Geexbox liveCD

http://www.geexbox.org/

http://www.geexbox.org/download/

The easiest way to try/setup MythTV is with MythBuntu

http://mythbuntu.org/

or Xubuntu,

http://xubuntu.org/

then install mythbuntu-desktop from the repository with Synaptic (Ubuntu "App Store")
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post #3 of 16 Old 02-12-2012, 04:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info. Another question I forgot to ask was what tuner would be most linux-compatible?
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post #4 of 16 Old 02-12-2012, 05:34 PM
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Either the HD-Homerun if interested in a network tuner setup. If using internal cards I have success using both a Hauppauge 2250 and 1250 in my Myth TV setup.

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post #5 of 16 Old 02-13-2012, 03:33 AM
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I have a Hauppauge HVR-950Q that works great, it is a USB tuner. The "Q" means it is cable compatible. Since you won't be using cable, the HVR-850 should fit your need.

No one mentioned this, but for OTA you need a good antenna. If you live near the transmission towers, an indoor antenna may be OK. I live in the suburbs, and I put up a roof antenna for optimized reception.
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post #6 of 16 Old 02-13-2012, 06:08 AM
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I like the HDHomerun because since it's on your network, any computer on your local LAN can use it easily. Plus sometimes it's easier to put it in an area where your antenna comes into your house - assuming you need more than an indoor antenna. I guess it depends on your setup and it you see your "system" growing.

I have all my satellite boxes and HDHomeruns in the basement all together, then have ethernet to all my TVs. It's nice to have it centralized in a corner of the basement. Then at the TVs, all video is over ethernet including netflix/amazon etc.
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post #7 of 16 Old 02-13-2012, 06:44 AM
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HDHomerun for tuner...don't try it over wifi..sucks up too much bandwith

Install the Mythbuntu package (you're already running Ubuntu so no need to reinstall it) and you should be good to go. My backend/frontend/VM/backup server is my HTPC
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post #8 of 16 Old 02-13-2012, 07:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djb61230 View Post

I like the HDHomerun because since it's on your network, any computer on your local LAN can use it easily. Plus sometimes it's easier to put it in an area where your antenna comes into your house - assuming you need more than an indoor antenna. I guess it depends on your setup and it you see your "system" growing.

I have all my satellite boxes and HDHomeruns in the basement all together, then have ethernet to all my TVs. It's nice to have it centralized in a corner of the basement. Then at the TVs, all video is over ethernet including netflix/amazon etc.

How are the sat boxes connected to Ethernet?
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post #9 of 16 Old 02-13-2012, 09:13 AM
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How are the sat boxes connected to Ethernet?

Sorry didn't mean to imply the satellite video is accessed directly over it's ethernet port. The ethernet port on the sat box is just used to change the channel. The analog hole and a hd-pvr is used to capture the video and then is available over the local network via a PC.

My point was it's nice to have most of the equipment centrally located. If you only have one TV then of course it doesn't matter. But with the future bringing hardware like the raspberry pi then a client/server setup with multiple TVs is something to consider.
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post #10 of 16 Old 02-13-2012, 01:33 PM
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Just to add on to the original question, #2. XBMC now has a pretty stable beta of the Eden release, and there are working ports (or maybe they are technically forks or something) with the PVR functionality being added. XBMC has been working for sometime as a reasonable alternative to the MythFrontend. I prefer it for watching recordings and ripped DVD's. I don't use it for live TV since we have a Cable box for that. But in the latest versions, I have read the the Eden release you can get TVHeadend working for controlling DVR functions directly on a TV card. I agree on the idea of using HDHomeRun, works great and you don't have to worry about slots in the computer.

http://www.hoomanb.com/cs/Linux/how_to_build_a_pvr.html

That gives an idea on setting up with that combination.

Another thing you asked about is Hulu. I have mostly used the Hulu Desktop app. I find it is usable, but flaky. It can be operated with a remote, but sometimes it is just easier use a browser. Big gotcha here is just the horsepower given it uses flash.
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post #11 of 16 Old 02-13-2012, 02:12 PM
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Another thing you asked about is Hulu. I have mostly used the Hulu Desktop app. I find it is usable, but flaky. It can be operated with a remote, but sometimes it is just easier use a browser. Big gotcha here is just the horsepower given it uses flash.

Have you tried the latest 11.2 Flash? In another forum post someone mentioned this beta version was multi-threaded. I tried HBOGo on an atom based processor and it seemed better, but still not great. Just curious if others had an opinion on it.

I don't run Hulu Desktop anymore or else I'd try it myself. Since they moved to an 8-day window, I decided it wasn't worth futzing with for me.
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post #12 of 16 Old 02-13-2012, 06:14 PM
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The PVR branch of XBMC with the addon for MythTV (libcmyth) works quite well for me ( http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?t=110694 ) but "timeshifting" live tv hasn't been implemented yet. Alternatively, you can use the Mythbox addon which has a different-looking UI so IMO doesn't look as good as the PVR addon which integrates into the theme. It has some extra functionality, though, like pulling in TV show banners in the EPG which is nice.

Another backend alternative to MythTV or TVHeadend is vdr which also has a couple of XBMC PVR addons. I haven't fully explored it yet, but it will require some extra steps getting the EPG set up. You'll have to set up XMLTV with Schedules Direct then use a vdr plugin to convert the data and so on from what I've gathered so far.

As for TVHeadend, I never was able to get a good channel scan from it, and it won't use a channels.conf file, but I was scanning QAM cable channels which is a completely different beast than OTA, so it might work better for you.

RE: Adobe Flash Player 11.2 beta with multi-threaded video decoding support -- I finally got around to trying it, and while the performance is *better* it still isn't *perfect*. It will choke on me now and again (this is with an on-board ATI HD4200 with current proprietary drivers, btw). I really don't watch enough Flash video to care. I knew as soon as Hulu started testing HD streams that it would only be a matter of time before they went to a subscription model and seriously limited availability of their "free" content. Funny enough, you still get to watch all of the commercials with a paid subscription to Hulu Plus.

Anyway, it's pretty straightforward building XBMC with PVR and MythTV support from GIT if that's the route that you choose. I might even write a little script to do it. I'll post it if I do.
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post #13 of 16 Old 02-16-2012, 05:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sysadmin View Post

The PVR branch of XBMC with the addon for MythTV (libcmyth) works quite well for me ( http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?t=110694 ) but "timeshifting" live tv hasn't been implemented yet.

How can can a PVR work well for Live TV when you can only pause for 30 seconds? If I'm watching a Nascar race and have to get up for some reason (I won't be specific but it involves massive quantities of beer) I want to pause the TV then later FF through a few commercials to catch up to live. That's why when watching Live TV sports I either open MythTV using the XBMC executor addon or close XBMC and run Myth.

The HDHomerun is a great choice because it is pretty much universally supported in every PVR and is the only tuner directly supported by XBMC. Using the TVGuide addon with a XMLTV file you can have Live TV in XBMC without any PVR backend installed. There's no PVR functions but for watching the local news or the occasional show it's fine.

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post #14 of 16 Old 02-16-2012, 11:03 AM
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@dobyken:

Try the Mythbox addon in Dharma -- IIRC, it supports timeshifting Live TV. The PVR branch of XBMC is still in Alpha testing, and timeshifting will be implemented by the time it reaches a stable release.
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post #15 of 16 Old 02-17-2012, 10:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenyee View Post

HDHomerun for tuner...don't try it over wifi..sucks up too much bandwith

Install the Mythbuntu package (you're already running Ubuntu so no need to reinstall it) and you should be good to go. My backend/frontend/VM/backup server is my HTPC

Oooh, I really like that option. Is the recording done within the box, or is it done on the client computer?
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post #16 of 16 Old 02-17-2012, 02:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knivesout View Post

Oooh, I really like that option. Is the recording done within the box, or is it done on the client computer?

The HDHomerun is a great device. I've been running one for quite a few years. All it does is act line a tuner. The recording is done on whatever client is using the HDHR.

It's a dual tuner device and you can record multicasts as well with virtual tuners (one tuner can record several different channels at the same time as long as they are on the same multicast stream).
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