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Media Software Upgrades Entertainment Linux

MythTV 0.25 Released, New HW Acceleration and Audio Standards Support 144

Posted by timothy
from the now-that's-some-conservative-numbering dept.
unts writes "The highly configurable Linux PVR, MythTV, has reached the 0.25 release, over 500 days after the previous full release. New features include VAAPI support, E-AC3, TrueHD, and DTS-HD audio, the ability to control other home entertainment devices via HDMI CEC and additions to the API to allow HTTP live streaming. The release notes for 0.25 don't reflect the release status at the time of writing, but should contain most of the relevant changes. MythTV can be used as a backend (recorder) and frontend (viewer), but can also feed other frontends such as appropriate versions of XBMC. Hopefully the new HTTP streaming API will lead to even more ways to get your video fix."
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MythTV 0.25 Released, New HW Acceleration and Audio Standards Support

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  • User Guide anyone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pieroxy (222434) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @12:48PM (#39632943) Homepage

    I think MythTV is in dire need of a more polished and coherent UI. And a comprehensive user and installation guide.

    New tech feats are ok, but they'll probably make the whole thing even less useable.

    • by i.r.id10t (595143) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @12:59PM (#39633141)

      And a comprehensive user and installation guide.

      Thats my biggest issue with F/OSS - poor or missing or flat out wrong and outdated documentation...

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:03PM (#39633193)

        It's one of the things I love about OpenBSD. They classify missing documentation on any feature as a bug.

      • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:14PM (#39633423)

        Too many in the FOSS community think the programmers are all you need to make decent software. So they take a "Who needs UI designers and technical writers?" approach that leaves the software produced sorely lacking in the kind of polish that people are willing to spend money for with commercial software.

        • by Moryath (553296) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:47PM (#39634003)

          In a nutshell.

          The larger picture is, the programmers often ACTIVELY reject offers of critical help on interface design and usability, not to mention requests to streamline the installation of basic hardware such as remote controls. For instance, the Mythbuntu page for using ATi Remote Wonder remotes [mythtv.org], which were immensely popular and are still readily available in retail packaged alone or with ATi's capture boards including the All-In-Wonder HD line. Setup for these things is a nightmare - command line garbage, edit this or that file, go see "this other page" to find out how to get all the buttons working.

          Would it REALLY be hard to set up a script that could enable the necessary settings? Of course not, they've done it for a number of the other remotes by outfites like Hauppauge. But because scripting that isn't "sexy" and some of the programmers are still acting all butthurt about ATi not having open drivers before AMD bought them out, none of the MythTV or Mythbuntu team want to get off their ass and integrate such a script into the main trunk even if someone from the outside submitted it.

          It's shit like this that hinders F/OSS adoption by the larger population.

          • by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @02:55PM (#39635189) Homepage

            My distribution handles all of my IR remote issues automagically. This is as it should be because it really has nothing to do with MythTV. It's a basic OS level hardware support issue.

            Your own description of the situation seems to highlight why a lot of people still have a considerable amount of "skepticism" when it comes to ATI.

            ATI has been a "vendor best avoided" since the bt879 days.

            Even on Windows it helps to ask the community for recommendations and actually listen to them.

            • by Moryath (553296) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @03:08PM (#39635355)

              See, this is precisely the standard shitty linux user attitude that causes problems.

              The ATi stuff I have, I've had for years. Under a Windows install, it worked great - STILL DOES in fact. F/OSS evangelists in my area are always trying to get me to "switch over" to a MythTV / Mythbuntu-based system, which I've tried a few times (no harm to slap in an alternate hard drive and test the build for the sake of testing).

              You didn't even look at the wiki page I pointed to, to see all the different sets of instructions for multiple different distributions and specific issues on each. You just went straight into your bullshit about ATi being "a vendor best avoided since the bt879 days" which is twofold stupid considering (a) all you're doing is trash-talking and (b) I wasn't even talking about capture cards, I was talking about remotes, which operate completely independent of the capture hardware.

              Your own description of the situation seems to highlight why a lot of people still have a considerable amount of "skepticism" when it comes to ATI. ATI has been a "vendor best avoided" since the bt879 days.

              And your attitude shows why anyone who already owns ATi equipment is going to say Fuck You in return and go about their business, most of them never to try F/OSS alternatives again since you are acting like a bunch of stuck up pricks poo-pooing existing and widely used hardware.

        • by tlhIngan (30335) <<ten.frow> <ta> <todhsals>> on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @02:06PM (#39634357)

          Too many in the FOSS community think the programmers are all you need to make decent software. So they take a "Who needs UI designers and technical writers?" approach that leaves the software produced sorely lacking in the kind of polish that people are willing to spend money for with commercial software.

          Exactly. Then again, given the derision towards companies that repackage technology (e.g., Apple) into more user-friendly form...

          I mean, Apple's big points on marketing, but they score a pile on usability. With Jobs it was easy - he'd scream his head off if something was just a little bit off.

          Then again, maybe it's just derision when we see our computers and other gadgets being used and enjoyed by the hoi polloi and realize that computer operation isn't as elite as it used to be even just 30 years ago. Especially since everyone needs to use a computer to do anything it seems.

          Or maybe it's just human nature- I suppose the mechanics have similar "cupholder" stories to tell about people who use their cars as mere transportation rather than moving works of art they should be priviledged to touch?

          • by Moryath (553296) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @02:17PM (#39634545)

            I don't know about cupholders, but I remember one of the trophy-wife types who was somehow working her way through an MBA (probably on her knees) when I was going through undergrad.

            Come out to the parking lot, she's screaming at the BMW that had been her birthday gift from her sugar-daddy/husband a bit over a year ago, kicking the tire with her way-too-high heels, cussing up a storm because it makes a grinding noise and won't turn over to start. Tow truck shows up, guy asks her when her last oil change was.

            Response of girl with more tit-silicone mass than brain mass: "you have to change the oil? Nobody told me that!"

        • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @02:15PM (#39634511)

          I enjoy writing documentation..... but only if I'm getting paid. I listen to audiobooks or talkradio while I'm writing. But since documenting OSS doesn't pay, I'm not doing it. (shrug)

      • by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:39PM (#39633883)
        And really scary version numbers.
        I see a 0.25 version number. I am like this isn't a full featured project. Then I have to step back and go. Well it is open source. They hate giving it a version 1.0 label until they get everything they wanted done.
        • by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @02:56PM (#39635193)

          I've been using it since 0.17 and it's been "fully functional" as far as I care since then.

          I don't think it's ever going to penetrate the commercial space now ; digital TV has made it much easier to make products with PVR features and you can get devices that are basically an HDMI dongle with an SD card slot that perform the significant function (stream recording and playback), you have the likes of Ubuntu TV and the built in OS that most digital TVs seem to have these days.

          I cut my teeth on Linux with MythTV though - at the time, I had to use Gentoo to get the bleeding edge kernel support for my DVB hardware. I learned a lot. I'd guess it's still a reasonable way to learn something about Linux, even if it's much easier than it used to be. Which is another way of saying it's a hobbyists project.

    • by Mojo66 (1131579) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:47PM (#39633983)

      I think MythTV is in dire need of a more polished and coherent UI. And a comprehensive user and installation guide.

      New tech feats are ok, but they'll probably make the whole thing even less useable.

      I'm still on 0.23 for exactly that reason. It took me ages to set it up properly and now I hesitate to upgrade.

    • by omnichad (1198475) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @02:35PM (#39634891) Homepage

      They finally have the structure in place for a decent UI (as of 0.24, actually). Unfortunately, there aren't any great designers working on themes. A lot of designers who make pretty pictures, but know nothing of how to make things for people who are using the TV from 10 feet away with a remote.

    • by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @05:05PM (#39636667)

      I think ______ is in dire need of a more polished and coherent UI. And a comprehensive user and installation guide.

      New tech feats are ok, but they'll probably make the whole thing even less useable.

      Insert your favorite FOSS equivalent of a commercial program in the blank, and you now know why it has a hard time taking off and beating the competition.

      Usability is severely lacking in a lot of FOSS. Here's an example from my own personal experience. I wanted to outline some text in GIMP. this [gimpology.com] is what I had to go through. I'll just quote one of the comments from that post that gets the point across best:

      Nov 21, 2007, piminger said:
      Are you serious? 6 steps to outline text?

      • by Pieroxy (222434) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @05:50PM (#39637257) Homepage

        Well, I've worked with countless FOSS programs and I have to say that MythTV gets the palm by about a couple of miles. All FOSS programs I could get something out of in a few minutes / hours of work. MythTV? Completely different league. You need DAYS to get anything working. And that's for a simplistic setup.

        Media Portal is also FOSS and it works all by itself.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @12:49PM (#39632963)

    Have they created a netflix plugin yet? If not, then who the hell cares.

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:00PM (#39633165) Journal
      I think there is one that works on Windows. For other platforms, the setup involves running Windows in VirtualBox or similar. Unfortunately this is a requirement because Netflix streaming uses Silverlight with some DRM that is not compatible with Moonlight, so is only available on Windows. Want to fix it? Write to the movie studios and tell them that this is why they're not getting any of your money.
      • Re:Netflix (Score:4, Insightful)

        by CODiNE (27417) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:05PM (#39633233) Homepage

        Want to fix it? Write to the movie studios and tell them that this is why they're not getting any of your money.

        Good luck with that. I'm pretty sure they're trying to kill netflix not get them more subscribers.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:11PM (#39633361)

        I fixed it by just buying a WDTV Live Plus last year and between Netflix and pirated content from Usenet I get everything I need. No need for tuners or cable boxes or complicated setups. Just a Linux backend running Sickbeard + Couch Potato for the Usenet-sourced content and the WDTV Live Plus plays it all and streams Netflix.

        • by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @03:01PM (#39635255) Homepage

          When I first started using MythTV, an mp3 streamer would set you back at least $300. Video streamers are so cheap now that the lack of Netflix in MythTV itself is a lot less of a problem.

          A cheap Roku could be an MCE extender if not for the DRM nonsense with cable TV these days.

      • by KingMotley (944240) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:56PM (#39634169) Journal

        Dear TheRaven64,
        We here at the movie studios are writing you back to let you know that we don't agree with your open source stance, and that is why don't get the privilege of viewing our totally awesome content. You can keep your money, and we'll use your illegal downloading of our content to show how we've lost 10 billion trillion million dollars, and use that as a case to filter the internets, get the courts to allow us to rifle through any/all social networks whenever we want, place surveillance cameras in your home, and threaten to sue you until your grandkids go bankrupt.

        Thank you,
        The Movie Studios

    • by Medievalist (16032) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:12PM (#39633383)

      A perfectly good netflix client for linux definitely does exist, because netflix comes standard on android-based googleTV devices. However, netflix is not willing to let the world have the sources, or even unrestricted access to the executables.

      The only reason I can think of for this is that the netflix service must have some titanic security flaw that is so deeply embedded in their architecture that it would take absurd amounts of money to fix. You don't give up an income stream for no reason - maybe they're hiding something? I'd love to hear other explanations.

      • by thelexx (237096) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:34PM (#39633803)

        Projected support costs of Linux version vs. Projected revenue from it would be my guess. It's oft-repeated unfortunately.

        • by David Chappell (671429) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @02:25PM (#39634705) Homepage

          Projected support costs of Linux version vs. Projected revenue from it would be my guess. It's oft-repeated unfortunately.

          Yes, it is a frequently cited reason, but not necessary the true one. Netflix used to work on Linux (until they switched to Silverlight). The last explanation from a Netflix executives of why they still have not restored Linux support was a long string of technical gibberish which basically boiled down to "because it isn't Windows". It was clear that he had no idea what it would take to get Linux support back.

          It is not just Netflix that does this. Estimates of how hard it would be to support Linux often assume a separate from-scratch development effort would be required. Often all that is really needed is to provide what they already have in a slightly different form. Sometimes this just means a new installer. In other cases all that is required is a few web pages. Very often the effort would benefit all of their uses. For example, if Garmin were to provided direct links to firmware files and instructions for copying them to the right place on the GPS, it would save users a lot of trouble when the just-click-this-and-don't-worry-your-pretty-little-head-about-it programs fail.

      • by berashith (222128) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:37PM (#39633857)

        the netflx client also exists for a few select android phones. There must be something in the hardware on some devices that allows netflix to lock something. Maybe it is that my G2 has no video out?

      • by Mojo66 (1131579) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:50PM (#39634061)

        I'd love to hear other explanations.

        Microsoft shoved a lot of money up their asses in order to get a foothold in a market where they don't yet dominate.

      • by squiggleslash (241428) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @02:20PM (#39634587) Homepage Journal

        This is why it's a good idea for people to write GNU/Linux when they mean "That open source operating system Ubuntu is based upon", even if some people seem to feel like they have to refuse doing so because RMS wants them to, and RMS is a dirty hippy or something. (WTF?)

        Basically, it doesn't matter that there's an Android version. The APIs for Android and GNU/Linux are so completely unalike it's probably easier to port the Mac OS X version (if there is one, although I think it's all Silverlight based anyway?) to GNU/Linux than it is the Android version.

        Which is not to suggest it's impossible to use the Android version as a base for an unofficial port, but it'd be awkward, and in reality it'd probably be easier to run the Windows client under Wine. And probably more efficient.

      • by SpzToid (869795) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @04:25PM (#39636201)

        I watch Netflix, Hulu, etc. on all my Linux devices which means several Ubuntu, including an Asus netbook that I adore, along with my Nokia N900. I won't publish all my tricks regarding the N900 aside from explaining the main one, which is I use PlayonTV UPnP media server, running in a windows virtual machine, which is what the linux UPnP clients access. www.playon.tv Playon keeps adding new channels all the time too, I am happy with my on-demand content setup and costs.

        Previously I used Totem on Ubuntu with the Coherence plugin, but the new XBMC works so much nicer and smoother on the netbook than previously and now I prefer it.

        In fact my recipe calls for spending 250 on a nice Asus netbook with long battery life, and this makes a nice and realistically portable, cordless TV for the kitchen, etc. However before I even power up the new hard disk, I've already imaged it and subsequently virtualized it and configured as described. Mods please don't feel a need to move up this post at all, but I'll add that including a normal windows proxy assists in some foreign situations which is otherwise hard to do when Wii or XBOX is doing similar UPnP duty. FWIW, I also have this windows VM operate as a server for my eye-fi (ww.eye-fi.com) card to automatically download images and videos from my camera, but I digress. The idea is to run Ubuntu with XBMC via UPnP on a newly purchased netbook, using the windows license as a server for Playon and the eye-fi software for 250 budget. For me, this is good enough and it works today. Now if my Playon setup gets broken in some way, I'll be upset as a linux user, because I am so happy with things as they are now. Sometimes I'll bork windows updates and whatnot on my own accord, but no problem when I revert to a known-good state using a VMware snapshot.

        Since this isn't the only virtual machine I run on fairly solid hardware, the hardware cost to me is negligible; and I need something that supports a dual-display workstation anyway. VMware all the way FWIW.

    • by Cajun Hell (725246) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @04:01PM (#39635929) Homepage Journal
      Has Netflix started using standards yet? If not, then who the hell cares.
  • Cablecard support? (Score:4, Informative)

    by crazyjj (2598719) * on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:11PM (#39633365)

    Doesn't do me much good if I can't use it on my cable system without a jerry-rigged IR blaster/multiple tuner setup.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:19PM (#39633507)

      already there!

      http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/Recording_Digital_Cable#Option_4:_CableCard_Tuner

      sad news is that most everything besides your local channels are likely to have the DRM flags set, which mythtv (or the tuner) honors so you can't record them.

    • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:21PM (#39633535)

      The phrase you didn't know to google for is "hdhomerun prime"

      I have no personal experience with that device, but its the "talk of the town" in mythtv circles.

    • by Digicrat (973598) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:23PM (#39633591)

      Unfortunately that's one issue outside the scope of the mythtv project.

      The HDHomeRun Prime technically does support CableCARD usage with Linux - but only for stations marked as "copy freely." If your cable provider decides to place any more restrictive copy flags on it (now or later), then your out of luck.

      To make things even more annoying, even if you have an Xbox360 to use as a supplement for those premium channels, it can't tune the encrypted stations live without a Win7 box to serve as a pass-through.

      Cable companies want above else for you to use their hardware and their services (DVR, cable box, etc) and are still fighting tooth and nail to cripple competing services on every front.

      • by kalpol (714519) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:29PM (#39633723) Homepage

        Cable companies want above else for you to use their hardware and their services (DVR, cable box, etc) and are still fighting tooth and nail to cripple competing services on every front.

        Well, too bad for them that they can't force me to subscribe to cable. I've even gone so far as to pull out the janky wiring from multiple cable installs over the years in the house I purchased.

    • by portwojc (201398) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:42PM (#39633919) Homepage

      There are three options for a cable card... http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/CableCARD

      Of course there is still the DRM problem...

    • by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @02:34PM (#39634851) Homepage

      > Doesn't do me much good if I can't use it on my cable system without a jerry-rigged IR blaster/multiple tuner setup.

      Worked well enough for Tivos.

      Since cable cards are not a simple CAM, it's not really a one for one comparison. Using draconian encryption comes with it's own tradeoffs. They aren't something to be casually ignored.

  • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:13PM (#39633399)

    I wish they would integrate mythnettv into the mainline. Its an addon that shoves video podcasts into your "recorded tv shows" list as if they came over the air (or cable or satellite or whatever). Most of what I watch on "TV" is from revision3 or twit.tv or ted talks rss feed now rather than the old fashioned "tv" networks and it all comes from mythnettv run by a cron job every night pulling a bunch of RSS feeds.

    Another thing thats bugged me for years with my myth setup at home is they've got all this psuedo-intelligent magic AI post-processing after recording that makes commercials disappear... literally hands free you're watching TV, a break comes up, it skips the commercials. Very nice, very impressive, something no other DVR has, a killer feature that makes it impossible to even consider trying another. However, for years and years they still can't figure out a way to auto-zoom widescreen content on a narrow channel shown on a wide display (in other words, a tiny pic in the center of a giant black border). You'd think tech smart enough to detect and autoskip commercials could figure out when a TV show gets "framed" and adjust the zoom appropriately. Maybe this is something they added back in 0.23 and I just haven't noticed yet, donno.

    Another thing that bugs me is digital dropouts make a star trek like sound in addition to ugly picture and I wish the backend could be convinced if the mpeg stream turns to crap that it should cleanly eat the bad checksum frames and mute the sound stream. Doesn't happen often. But the concept of a squelch function when the input drops doesn't seem like rocket science to implement. Even a cheap TV can bluescreen on lack of input signal, why not my myth backend?

    If you sign up for schedule data from schedules direct, how come myth can't tell you when it expires other than your listings disappearing?

    Back around 0.20 there was a really nice streaming audio player and I found it amusing to listen to various world wide stations on my TV. That disappeared in recent versions, a rare feature regression. I miss that.

    Honestly 0.24 is/was about 99% perfect, its just these weird corner cases that still bug me after years and years, and it sounds like 0.25 has fixed none of my real issues while adding support for stuff I simply don't care about.

    I am pleased that its 1998 in mythtv land so they finally support ipv6... I'm thinking of setting up a frontend at my mother in law's place and this saves me the effort of putting a vpn client to make her house part of my network. Then she'd have my full library of media and a decent DVR. From multi-room DVR to multi-house DVR, here I come!

    • by nschubach (922175) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @02:02PM (#39634297) Journal

      XBMC (Eden/Latest) directly streams Revision3 using the Revision3 Video Add-on. I no longer pull down RSS feeds and filter through them. Simply click Video Addon - Revision3 and browse all their shows.

    • by el borak (263323) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @04:10PM (#39636043)

      something no other DVR has

      My ReplayTVs have had this for well over 10 years.

      • by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @05:47PM (#39637193) Homepage

        The promptly got sued over it and had to disable it. Probably didn't help their position in the market relative to their main rival Tivo.

        Now Replay is little more than a historical footnote to bring up during Tivo patent trolling flame fests to highlight the fact that Tivo wasn't being terribly inventive at the time.

        Sometimes it's not the technology. It's "policy".

  • MythTV + XBMC (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Flammon (4726) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:35PM (#39633819) Homepage Journal

    MythTV has great backend and XBMC has a great frontend. The combo is fantastic and I don't think there's anything in the proprietary space that offers anything on par. Truely jewels from FOSS.

    • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @01:28AM (#39640985) Homepage Journal

      MythTV has great backend and XBMC has a great frontend

      Are parental controls or any kind of privilege levels working in this setup yet?

  • by GlobalEcho (26240) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @01:42PM (#39633913)

    I've been using [boonstra.org] MythTV for a couple of years on Mac Mini (running [mythtv.org] OSX rather than Linux), talking to an HDHomeRun [silicondust.com] network tuner connected to a broadcast antenna in my attic. The team has really improved the OSX port in the last few years, with the only lack of Linux parity being in the realm of hardware-accelerated playback.

    After dealing with the confusing setup screens and active channel scans, it has worked brilliantly, especially since the 0.24 release. The scheduling software is really good, especially using the web frontend. Watching TV on any computer in the house has been very convenient, and the automatic commercial skipping is pleasant.

    Between broadcast and online sources, I get most of what I want to watch, the exceptions being Game of Thrones and some cable-only basketball and hockey broadcasts. The complete, uncompressed HD signals over broadcast TV are perceptibly clearer than HD cable (or, worse, HD satellite) signals, which suffer from the compression.

A motion to adjourn is always in order.

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