[mythtv-users] LAN / WLAN / WLAN USB (with EPIA system) and some other Mythv questions (program extensions...)

Dewey Smolka dsmolka at gmail.com
Sat Sep 3 08:28:33 UTC 2005

On 9/2/05, Dennis Meyer <durchgedreht at gmx.de> wrote:
> Hi,
> I'm starting a VIA EPIA project with Myhtv and ask myself a few
> questions (I'm just starting, so some noob questions are there too ;-)
> 1) Is there a LAN support?

No problem whatsoever. Every modern distro will deal with LAN
painlessly, and out of the box -- either manually configured or via
DHCP. This is on the OS level. Remember that Linux was originally
started as a means to connect with UNIX over a network. The network is
a core function of Linux, and Linux without a network is a bicycle
without wheels.

> 2) Is samba within mithv?

Yes, in Linux, not Myth -- see above. However, the only reason to use
Samba (that I can see) is to share files between *nix systems and MS,
and that is only because of the latter's failure to deal with the far
superior NFS standard. Please note, however, that NFS/Samba is not
necessary for viewing live TV or recordings between a remote frontend
and backend -- there is a built-in protocol for that. It is useful,
however, for sharing stored audio and non-Myth-generated video files
over your LAN and to non-*nix machines.

>3) Does Mythv or better Linux at all support USB WLAN adapters?
> -As the VIA ITX boards do have only one PCI slot, I'd prefer a USB WLAN
> adapter.

This is a bit more tricky. The theoretical answer is yes, absolutely.
Linux uses open standards, so there's nothing in Linux to prevent this
from happening. But as Yogi Berra said, "In theory, there's no
differene between theory and practice, but in practice there is."

Frankly, WLAN can be a royal pain in the ass in Linux. I don't have
experience with USB options, only PCI and PCMCIA. For each of those,
it took a week of research to find good cards (look for Prism
chipsets, although there are other chipsets that work natively as
well. Avoid Broadcom).

Also, be aware that sending video around a network uses A LOT of
bandwidth and requires low latency, so you may run into problems with
WLAN, no matter how compatible it is.

The easy answer to getting WLAN working is a package called
ndiswrapper, which acts as a sort of API translator -- it fools a card
into thinking it's on MS, and lets you use the MS drivers to run your
card in Linux.

It works, but I have real philosophical problems with it -- namely
that it doesn't address the core problem of manufacturers not
supporting Linux, and doesn't give them any incentive to release Linux

Also, ndiswrapper will not support advanced features of wireless
cards, such as monitor mode -- letting your card only listen to all
channels simultaneously. This isn't necessary for MythTV or for web
browsing, but comes in very handy for finding wireless networks around
you and for penetration testing/security auditing. There are simply no
tools under MS that do what Kismet and other Linux tools do, and the
Linux tools will not work with a card using ndiswrapper.

> 4) Does Mythv or better Linux at all support USB Bluetooth adapters?
> -See 3 and 5 for my reasons.

Yes, but I can't really give you more information. However, bluetooth
drivers are included with pretty much every standard distro, if you
choose to install them. I have no bluetooth devices, so can't comment
on how well they work.
> 5) Can I add other Linux programs to Mythv on my own (I'm not a Linuxer,
> but do not hide myself for compiling ;-)?

Absolutely. It is also probable that you won't need to compile,
although it is somehow more satisfying that way (and really not all
that hard).

> -I would like to add a Bemused server, controlling XMMS from my
> bluetooth phone. I did this under windows and it worked incredibly!!!

Sounds nifty, but what do you do when you're setting up a playlist and
your phone rings? Why not just use a remote? Linux has very solid
support for remote controls through lirc.

> USB WLAN adapter (NETGEAR WG111TGR USB 108 MBit would be my favorite,
> but did not find any linux related websites!?)

A big caveat on Netgear WLAN stuff (though not exclusively Netgear):
they have a habit of changing chipsets while keeping the same model
number. The only way to tell the chipset (without buying the card and
trying it) is to search the box for a v number, which is not always
easy to find, and can sometimes be wrong.

A couple months ago I bought a Netgear PCI WLAN card that was
mislabeled -- IIRC the box said v2 or 3, meaning fully-supported Prism
chip, but the actual card was a v4 and had an unsupported Broadcom

I guess the moral of the story is that pretty much any old LAN card
will work, but you really need to do your homework before buying a
WLAN card. If just getting it working is your only goal, then
ndiswrapper can certainly help, but I needed direct control over the
driver, which ndiswrapper does not allow.

Also, I was unhappy with the performance of Myth over a WLAN (albeit
802.11b), and so run all my Myth connections over cat5, even though
the internet link is WLAN. Note that a Linux box has no problem
handling two separate netorks at once (and keeping them separate),
while I have had problems trying to do this on XP Pro -- a laptop with
a wireless card on one network and a cat5 NIC on the other. FWIW, the
laptop is now dual-boot with FC3, and the Myth frontend for my
bedroom. I only boot to MS when I need to for work.

Given what you have said here, I would definitely recommend you go the
Fedora route and follow Jarod Wilson's excellent guide. It will give
you a full, top-shelf Linux OS and walk you step-by-step through the
process of installing and configuring MythTV and all its components
and underlying requirements.

Best of luck, and welcome to MythTV.

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