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Linux HTPC setup with DVR/PVR, OTA TV guide, 1080 playback, web browsing/netflix all in 1 UI - Page 2

post #31 of 50
I agree AMD has came a long way. I am running an openelec (xbmc) on a gigabyte e-350 fusion board with built-in amd graphics, that I paid $69 for and added 2gb memory a mini itx case plus a 4gb usb stick (that I boot from) for a grand total of about $140 and this little box plays all my blu-ray rips, HD mpeg2 live tv, vc-1, etc. I have no stuttering or audio issues, nada - it just works. I tried this motherboard about a year ago and it was no go but the new amd drivers work pretty sweet. The cpu is a dual core 1.6ghz and running some of my highest quality HD rips the cpu barely breaks a sweat.
post #32 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by minivanman View Post

However, in the last year or so, AMD has FINALLY stepped up their game.
I've heard this song-and-dance many times before. Last year I got an AMD Radeon HD 6450 card. The Linux drivers for it are crap! I replaced it with a nVidia GT 430, and couldn't be happier.

That is the second time I've been burned by all the hype about the "Improved Linux drivers for AMD GPUs!". It won't happen again. Why chance it with AMD when you know everything will work with a nVidia GPU.
Edited by waterhead - 9/3/13 at 3:30pm
post #33 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by minivanman View Post

The AMD stigma will live long with Linux. If you said this a year ago, I would have 100% agreed. However, in the last year or so, AMD has FINALLY stepped up their game. They're drivers are leaps and bounds better than before, and graphics acceleration is available even in MythTV. Even MythTV has admitted the improvements and they're page has ALWAYS had the "stay away from AMD/ATI" statements. That's what makes the new AMD APUs so appealing. Awesome GPU to CPU ratio in one chip.

If you read the mythtv mailing list you will find that it's still often not the case with AMD. Problems galore. A new user to MythTV & Linux, simply doesn'tt need the headaches especially when you can get a GT430 (or equivalent) for very cheap.

AMD can possibly be made to work but we are back to the trade offs that I mentioned above.
post #34 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by waterhead View Post

Just several posts about Pipelight:

Like I said. What did I miss. biggrin.gif
post #35 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackcat6 View Post

If you read the mythtv mailing list you will find that it's still often not the case with AMD. Problems galore. A new user to MythTV & Linux, simply doesn'tt need the headaches especially when you can get a GT430 (or equivalent) for very cheap.

AMD can possibly be made to work but we are back to the trade offs that I mentioned above.

Pretty much have to concede the point when put in the perspective of a new user.

I'll have more on the APUs in a bit when I've had more time to really use them. So far, they're working fine though.
post #36 of 50
I've only skimmed through, but I don't believe any one made any differentiation between which drivers (for AMD graphics adapter hardware) they were using i.e. the prop. (catalyst/fglrx) stack or the OSS stack? I imagine the bulwark is in regards to the former. For that matter, I imagine that most people are still unaware that the modern OSS stack is very good for r600 class hardware (SI catching up, and Sea Islands/CIK will probably be in pretty good shape upon release). In brief:
  • 3.10 - brought about UVD support for a large swath of hardware ... used inconjunction with VPDAU ... besides the kernel, you will need appropriate user space supprt (i.e. update your Mesa version etc.)
  • 3.11 - brought about DPM support for a large swath of hardware (i.e. no more thermo nuclear reactors) ... further UVD support refinements
  • 3.12 - will bring about even further UVD and DPM support fixes and extension of support
post #37 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by CityK View Post

I've only skimmed through, but I don't believe any one made any differentiation between which drivers (for AMD graphics adapter hardware) they were using i.e. the prop. (catalyst/fglrx) stack or the OSS stack? I imagine the bulwark is in regards to the former. For that matter, I imagine that most people are still unaware that the modern OSS stack is very good for r600 class hardware (SI catching up, and Sea Islands/CIK will probably be in pretty good shape upon release). In brief:
  • 3.10 - brought about UVD support for a large swath of hardware ... used inconjunction with VPDAU ... besides the kernel, you will need appropriate user space supprt (i.e. update your Mesa version etc.)
  • 3.11 - brought about DPM support for a large swath of hardware (i.e. no more thermo nuclear reactors) ... further UVD support refinements
  • 3.12 - will bring about even further UVD and DPM support fixes and extension of support

I'll revisit this again after working with an AMD APU (6400K) for the last several days.

First, I'll start with acceleration is finally working, and generally usable with AMD GPUs now. XvBA, and VA-API are working, and generally pretty good. You can even use VDPAU now, which is a recent development (July I think). This gives you acceleration with Adobe Flash, which is something that has been severely lacking with AMD GPUs.

The Catalyst (proprietary) driver is actually quite good, and only getting better, for video. More on that in a bit. The Catalyst suite can be complicated to get set up though. Using both Linux Mint and Arch Linux, I had some issues getting it to load properly. The driver packaged with the distribution will give you fits in Mint. Arch Linux I had a hell of a time getting the driver to properly load. In Arch I had to use the Catalyst-Hook package to get everything resolved properly. You'll have to Google the latest information for your distribution.

The open source driver is good. It's well supported, and easy to load. However, any GPU 7000 series or higher (I was using a 8470) you'll have no audio over HDMI. Here's the feature matrix for the open-source drivers pertaining to each series of GPU.

http://www.x.org/wiki/RadeonFeature/

So, I was able to get graphic acceleration in VLC and Mplayer. Running Netflix via Pipelight was good enough. However, I've found that it's dicey on the quality you can expect with any GPU when using Pipelight or Netflix-Desktop. Tweaking will be necessary, and finding a sweet spot can be challenging. It's no different than a virtual machine where I had to allocate over 3 GB of RAM to the virtual machine to get good enough Netflix playback.

With the open-source driver I couldn't get audio over HDMI due to my series of GPU. It's coming, but it's not here yet. The proprietary driver had audio over HDMI, but it wasn't good. Anything that ran Flash had a lot of static.

MythTV, which is the heart of the system I am using this APU for, is another story.

MythTV still doesn't like the AMD stuff. Granted, I got decent playback with stock settings. However, the VA-API acceleration was unusable. It created all kinds of problems. Stock settings for a computer monitor would probably be okay, but a 50"+ TV will have noticeable problems. MythTV really relies on acceleration to get things done. Without it, you can get by, but it's not the quality you'd like.

So, I rebuilt my old machine with my Nvidia GT440. It's a big box, my wife wants it smaller. But realistically, AMD is close, but not fully there yet. Not fully there yet puts my project on the backburner for a bit.

I'm going to futz around with XBMC a bit and see what I can accomplish there. MythTV is pretty demanding when it comes to resources.
Edited by minivanman - 9/10/13 at 2:02pm
post #38 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by minivanman View Post

The open source driver ... However, any GPU 7000 series or higher (I was using a 8470) you'll have no audio over HDMI. Here's the feature matrix for the open-source drivers pertaining to each series of GPU.

http://www.x.org/wiki/RadeonFeature/

...

With the open-source driver I couldn't get audio over HDMI due to my series of GPU. It's coming, but it's not here yet.
Note that the support is actually already available (see 4th bullet pt. below). If anyone is interested, the following links will provide some context towards background/history and where current status lies:
post #39 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by CityK View Post

Note that the support is actually already available (see 4th bullet pt. below). If anyone is interested, the following links will provide some context towards background/history and where current status lies:

Has the 3.12 kernel dropped yet?? The current kernel available in Arch is 3.10 (Core), or 3.11 (Testing). I was utilizing the 3.10 kernel in my tryouts.

Even with audio enabled in the kernel I was getting nothing. So, it's exciting to know it's just around the corner. Like I said earlier, this has been a big year for AMD and Linux.

I'm thinking you could probably rock an XBMC setup currently with the proprietary driver. The problem I ran into was with MythTV. It's just not playing nice yet.

Ultimately, it doesn't stop the fact, as somebody earlier pointed out, that getting AMD to work well with Linux is not for the beginner. Beginners will probably be better off with Nvidia for some time yet.
post #40 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by minivanman View Post

Has the 3.12 kernel dropped yet??
No, you'd have to grab (DRM) from git ... or wait until the first 3.12RC comes out (won't be long) ... or until official 3.12 drops (likely mid to late Dec)
Quote:
Like I said earlier, this has been a big year for AMD and Linux.
Indeed. Also of note, Mesa 9.3 (because the sb shader optimization backend is built and enabled by defualt) provides a very healthy boast for 3D/OpenGL performance on most hardware, for many such apps that may take advantage of it (caveat: YMMV)
Quote:
Ultimately, it doesn't stop the fact, as somebody earlier pointed out, that getting AMD to work well with Linux is not for the beginner. Beginners will probably be better off with Nvidia for some time yet.
A fair point ... at the same time, Linux beginners should get used to the fact that its an OS that tinkering goes hand in hand with (i.e. Linux is not Windows) ... sure, some distros strive to make it easier, as well as time itself tends to bring about both incremental or big jumps that provide greater ease of operation, and that's all well and good (I appreciate it as much as the next person), but at its core, its always been about hacking cool.gif

(I'll just add, that I think that the "for some time yet" might prove to be a whole lot shorter then what we may imagine ... or I could be wrong (shrugs wink.gif ) )
post #41 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by CityK View Post

No, you'd have to grab (DRM) from git ... or wait until the first 3.12RC comes out (won't be long
Actually, I just checked and I didn't spot the DCE6/8 commits in Dave Airlie's initial 3.12 pull request to Linus, nor in Alex Deucher's pull request to Airlie .... so, unless I overlooked something, perhaps they aren't going to queue them up for 3.12 (though there is still time to slip them in).

I did, on the other hand, find another very relevant commit: http://lists.freedesktop.org/archives/dri-devel/2013-September/044728.html
post #42 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by CityK View Post

Actually, I just checked and I didn't spot the DCE6/8 commits in Dave Airlie's initial 3.12 pull request to Linus .... so, unless I overlooked something
Umm, the later ... (i.e. the commits will be in RC1) tongue.gif
Quote:
or until official 3.12 drops (likely mid to late Dec)
I meant to say Nov ... really not with it today ... better quit while I'm ahead
post #43 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by CityK View Post

I'll just add, that I think that the "for some time yet" might prove to be a whole lot shorter then what we may imagine ... or I could be wrong (shrugs wink.gif ) )

I actually considered how to word that exact phrase "for some time yet". Since we really don't know is why I went with it. Who knows though. I'd rather be surprised than disappointed. So, I'll keep going with "for some time yet".
post #44 of 50
Thread Starter 
Appreciate all of the great info in this thread! I realize that Linux isn't Windows, and as a beginner with limited time am definitely looking for something that is easy to work with. At the same time in my perfect world I want something robust that works & give me everything I need in my HTPC (see title)-DVR/PVR, OTA TV guide, 1080 playback, web browsing/netflix all in 1 UI. It would be great if that could be done with a Raspberry Pi or some other inexpensive box, but it sounds like right now that really isnt possible.

For my Windows HTPC builds I have also had issues and glitches with AMD so have just steered clear. I have found great value & success with an Intel G860 or G630 without the need for any separate graphics card-I assume this would work just fine for a Linux build?
post #45 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by freetvEE View Post

Appreciate all of the great info in this thread! I realize that Linux isn't Windows, and as a beginner with limited time am definitely looking for something that is easy to work with. At the same time in my perfect world I want something robust that works & give me everything I need in my HTPC (see title)-DVR/PVR, OTA TV guide, 1080 playback, web browsing/netflix all in 1 UI. It would be great if that could be done with a Raspberry Pi or some other inexpensive box, but it sounds like right now that really isnt possible.

For my Windows HTPC builds I have also had issues and glitches with AMD so have just steered clear. I have found great value & success with an Intel G860 or G630 without the need for any separate graphics card-I assume this would work just fine for a Linux build?

The real value I've found in the Linux HTPC is the "everything I want, but nothing I don't" aspect of it. That's why my preferred distribution is ArchLinux which, while not simple to build necessarily allows you to keep your system very clean, and simple.

Even with the prepackaged distributions like Mythbuntu, you end up running into glitches and issues when you start to move outside the basic scope of the distribution. For example, Mythbuntu is focused on MythTV. There's no focus on running Netflix. So, you have to build that ability in yourself, which is fine, but in the process you can run into issues, and it rarely goes seamlessly.

There's another thing to look at that I don't think was really addressed. That is storage. This goes back to the "backend/frontend" topic. You have to have somewhere to store all your media. Whether it be recordings, videos, movies, music, etc. Storage is relatively cheap, but it is big. A Raspberry Pi, and other ARM based units will have limited storage capacity just by their nature. You want 1 TB of data available to stream? Then a ARM based unit probably won't work. You need that data stored somewhere. You can use the ARM unit to stream, but it will still be limited to purely acting as a frontend that connects to some form of storage server.

I doubt you'll ever get a small ARM based unit to do what you want. What may be reasonable in the near future is to run as many Raspberry Pis as streaming devices that you want that all connect to a server that provides all the features you want. That's realistic. Minus the Netflix, we're pretty much already there for the most part. You gotta have that backend though.

So, my suggestion would be instead of nixing the idea. Work out the backend part of what you want to do. That's where I started. I still have the same backend. It's ugly. Not WAF friendly, but it's purely for gathering, processing, and pushing the data to the frontends in the house. It doesn't have to be pretty because it sits in my basement now. Then I worked on making the frontends pretty.
Edited by minivanman - 9/13/13 at 4:21pm
post #46 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by CityK View Post

... better quit while I'm ahead
Indeed. My advice stands concerning building a MythTV DVR and staying away from AMD hardware. Don't do it.

Anyone who is new to linux who wants to put together a Myth TV DVR better stick to Nvidia. And... Anyone who would build a DVR with all the associated issues of receiving RF and getting it to a TV is a tinkerer by definition. However this doesn't mean they should take on something that clearly does not work well.
post #47 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by freetvEE View Post

....I have found great value & success with an Intel G860 or G630 without the need for any separate graphics card-I assume this would work just fine for a Linux build?

Will it de-interlace 1080i at 2X? What about 1080p? If not, then the work drops to your processor so expect the heat/noise to go up. If you go with Nvidia and Vdpau, you won't need to worry about it. Even an Ion2 will be fine with not only the de-interlace part, but also handling such things as picture in picture, overlaying guide info, etc.

I just checked, you can get a GT430 off Amazon for $35. (or it's newer equivalent) You can even get them fanless though I've never had an issue with fans spinning up on one of these cards.
post #48 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by CityK View Post

another very relevant commit: http://lists.freedesktop.org/archives/dri-devel/2013-September/044728.html
As some follow up to this:
  • as outlined in Alex's commit message, as of 3.12, you will no longer have to pass the radeon.audio= boot parm for the drm/kms module, and that the feature will now be set on the fly
  • initially, the default state for hdmi audio will be set to "off" (as there are still a few lingering problems for some chipsets), but you can change this dynamically or "on the fly" (from within the X display server) to "auto" or "on" via xrandr; the general form of the command is given by:
    xrandr --output outputname --set audio auto/off/on
  • as xrandr commands are not persist (meaning you will have to reset it after everytime you've exited an instance of X), you will have to configure it to do such each time. There are a variety of ways to accomplish that so that it is done "automagically" i.e. so that you don't have to manually evoke the command each time you log into X .... (For example: I use the display server setup script feature offered in my Display Manager ... that method has the advantage, as the changes apply at initiation of every X session, thus they occur/slash, are available to the DM's greeter too ... as opposed to waiting until within the Desktop Environment to apply the change)
  • anyway, sometime in the future, the kernel module will be made to default to having the hdmi/dp audio feature set on auto ... which will re-open up the possibility of having it available on the console (if you can somehow make use of it for such purposes ... though, until that pt., I suppose you could still just utilize the existing method (i.e. passing the boot parm) to afford the same feature/luxury)

Also of note, some documentation on hdmi/dp audio got released by AMD a couple of days ago, and that has lead to initial multi-channel support with the OSS stack; see:http://mailman.alsa-project.org/pipermail/alsa-devel/2013-September/066578.html
Edited by CityK - 9/22/13 at 12:58pm
post #49 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by CityK View Post

As some follow up to this:l

I'm not sure what this has to do with this discussion. The question at hand is about using MythTV on Linux to solve the OP's requirements. AMD is to be avoided in lieu of Nvidia which works out of the box. Anyone who has actually built one of these system knows this either because they read the information about it, or found out the hard way.
post #50 of 50
You've opined. And that's perfectly fine. Your opinion, however, like everyone else's on these forums,
  • carries no greater weight then the next person's
  • does not constitute a rubber stamp or gold seal about anything, to anyone, but yourself
  • is not big enough, nor important enough, to control the course of discussion

Now back to the free flow and sharing of information.
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