Extra rpm repositories
Fedora already comes loaded with software, but for a good media pc, we need some some packages, that are not included in the default fedora repositories. I use the atrpms repository, because this holds a few rpms for mythtv, mythtv themes and plugins and also rpms for the nvidia-graphics driver needed for the nvidia graphics card. See http://atrpms.net/install.html
Thin window manager
Window managers can take up quite a lot of memory and cpu power. In stead of using Gnome or KDE I choose IceWM. After installing IceWM through yum, you can create the file /var/lib/mythtv/.dmrc with the following content:
[Desktop] Session=icewm Layout=us
This will make IceWM the default window manager for the user mythtv, while root will still use Gnome as the default Windows Manager.
Auto login user mythtv
When the mythbox server starts, you want it to automatically login with the user mythtv and then start mythfrontend. First setup the auto login. I have the following content in /etc/gdm/custom.conf
# GDM configuration storage [xdmcp] [chooser] [security] [debug] [daemon] AutomaticLoginEnable=true AutomaticLogin=mythtv
Auto Start Mythtv Frontend
When the user mythtv logs on automatically, mythtv must be started. This can be done very easy with some IceWM configuration file /var/lib/mythtv/.icewm/startup
#!/bin/bash xset -dpms s off xterm & mythwelcome > ~mythtv/mythwelcome.log 2>&1 &
Don’t forget to set the execute bit of this startup file. You see here that I start mythwelcome in stead of mythfrontend. Mythwelcome will start mythfrontend automatically (at least in with my configuration). But will also be there when mythfrontend is closed or crashes. Mythwelcome will give information if the media pc will shut down automaticaly, is still recording or converting recordings and shows the next recordings. You can also restart mythfrontend with a click on the enter button.
I also changed some other settings from IceWM to have a better ‘dedicated media pc’ experience. Content of the file /var/lib/mythtv/.icewm/preferences
QuickSwitch=1 ShowTaskBar=0 KeySysWinNext="Alt+Shift+Esc"
I have changed the ‘close mythfrontend’ keys in mythtv to Alt-Esc. But IceWM also uses this key-combination. So that’s why I changed the IceWM key combinarion to Alt-Shift-Esc”. Disabling the Taskbar makes mythwelcome and mythfrontend use the fullscreen without any information showing from the window manager.
Because support for playing videos on Linux with a ATI/AMD videocard is still not teriffic, I have exchanged the videocard in the system with a nVidia GeForce 7300LE. Not really a top videocard, but it does the trick for me. Although it does have some problems when playing hdtv video’s, But I don’t really have that much of hdtv stuff at the moment. (for playing blu-ray I have my PS3 🙂
To get the best video play performance, you need the official nVidia drivers. Downloading the drivers from the nVidia site, and get them compiled can be a bit tricky sometimes. Therefore I install them through a few rpms from the atrpms repository. First see which kernel is currently running (uname -r). Then look at the latest nVidia graphics drivers available at atrpms through: ‘yum list | grep “^nvidia-graphics” ‘. This can be quite a long list, and not sorted on version number. So look carefully. I’m currently running 190.53. Install the nvidia-graphics<latest version>-kmdl-<your kernel version>, nvidia-graphics<latest version>-libs and nvidia-graphics<latest version>. After installation run nvidia-graphics-switch with the just installed nvidia drivers version as argument. Then check if the updated /etc/X11/xorg.conf fits your system.
I have connected the media pc with VGA to a Grundig LCD TV. In my xorg.conf I have set the resolution to the exact pixel resolution of the lcd tv, which gives a very crisp screen. I wouldn’t recomend Grundig by the way. Very bad experience with their service. Maybe I will put more information about this here sometime.
Channel information grabber
Mythtv can only function at its best when you mythtv knows the programming of all channels you want to record shows from. I’ve used several in the past. I thought 2 years ago I finally found the best grabber: tv_grab_eu_epgdata. This grabber is provided by a company based in (I think) Germany. They have a license to supply this information. You pay a small amount (about 17.5 euro) per year, and you can use the grabber. The company generates the data in xml format. The grabber downloads the zipped xml, which can be loaded by mythtv very easily. This grabber is also very fast. But after one year of usage I found the data misses a few programs a bit too often. So when the grabber failed to load information for 4 days in a row, I switched back to tv_grab_nl_py. This grabber works very nicely, but hammers the tvgids.nl website and retrieves all pages of all programs from all channels you want included in mythtv. If you think about it. It’s a big waste of network traphic and cpu load when hunderds(? maybe thousands?) of mythtv system all over the Netherlands are retrieving the same html pages from the tvgids.nl server for a small part of the pages. If only tvgids.nl could offer a solution which would help minimize the load on their servers and on all mythtv systems. (My system is running almost one hour daily to retrieve all pages, hammering tvgids.nl about once every 1.5 seconds.)