[mythtv-users] My experience with MythTV annoyances

Yeechang Lee ylee at pobox.com
Sun Jun 11 05:47:06 UTC 2006

(This is part of an occasional series on how I've successfully [or
unsuccessfully] accomplished something in MythTV on my Fedora Core
4-based frontend/backend system using the ATrpms packages. I will
assume that readers can do basic Linux tasks, such as install RPMs,
edit /etc files, and generate xorg.conf. I hope to cover the mystery
areas where others may most often fall astray in.)

This is a slightly-different sort of message. Instead of how I've
accomplished something in MythTV per se, I'm going to talk about my
remaining annoyances with MythTV. There aren't many, but there are

We here talk a lot about MythTV's Wife Acceptance Factor (WAF), or
lack thereof. I'm not married and I don't have roommates. But, I
daresay, my MythTV setup has very high WAF. If we give my Series 1
TiVo a WAF of 100 (not to say that it's some kind of Platonic ideal,
but that it's a convenient benchmark to use), I'd say my setup is
currently at 95.

Here are the things keeping my MythTV setup's WAF from being as high
as TiVo's:

* The FireWire issue. The first message in my "My experience with
  . . ." series was on this topic. Since then I've switched over to
  the daisy-chained, all point-to-point setup for multiple boxes the
  Wiki describes with, unfortunately, no change to the status quo. I
  still have to run the script mentioned in that message (modified
  slightly so that both boxes now get n_p2p_connections set to 1) once
  (sometimes four times, sometimes seven, etc.) after a reboot of the
  MythTV box in order for the FireWire connection on one of my two
  cable boxes to work. Fortunately, also mentioned previously, in my
  experience once I can jumpstart said connection, it remain 100%
  reliable as long as the MythTV box isn't rebooted. Because this
  issue only affilicts one box and not the other I believe this is an
  issue endemic to only certain batches of DCT-64xx boxes and not

* Occasionally, when my box reboots, the Fedora booting process halts
  at the "Initializing hardware . . . audio" portion. A reboot here
  has always taken care of the problem. I presume this is due to some
  weird issue with the Intel HDA built into the motherboard.

* When watching Letterman, Leno, and Conan (US late-night talk
  shows)--all broadcast in high definition--and the shows show a clip
  of a movie the guest being interviewed is promoting, the clip is
  usually in 4:3 standard definition. When the clip starts, the sound
  and video get out of sync, and this continues after the clip ends
  and we return to the host and guest. Pausing and unpausing fixes
  this issue, but otherwise it's quite mystifying because most
  commercials are still in 4:3 SD and I've *never* seen a commercial
  cause sound and video to go out of sync.

* I use a 2TB Infrant ReadyNAS 600 to store my recordings. Infrant's
  decision to use ext3--which blocks all writes during deletes and is
  very slow at doing them--as the filesystem instead of something like
  xfs or jfs means that I will lose about 30-60 seconds of whatever
  I'm recording if I delete a recording of about 7.5GB or greater in
  size. (This is with the patch to ThreadedFileWriter.cpp I've
  previously described [I currently use 64-12-256]; without it any
  deletes greater than a few hundred *mega*bytes would result in
  missing recording chunks.) The solution is to simply wait until the
  box isn't recording anything, which is slightly inconvenient and
  also doesn't help in auto-expiration situations.

. . . That's it. Really. If these issues got resolved, I'd happily
give my setup those remaining five WAF points, plus a whole bunch of
bonus points for being able to do things that Series 1 TiVo
couldn't. As it stands today, MythTV already delivers to me 100% of
what I want it to do--record and play back two cable and one
over-the-air feeds, all in high definition--all wrapped in a
highly-attractive and reliable remote control-driven user-interface
package. Put it another way, without these four issues, I'd have *no*
hesitation whatsoever in letting a hypothetical non technically-minded
wife loose on the setup, and even thse four issues require
relatively-little handholding.

Don't get me wrong. There are a dozen little issues (such as, say,
stuttering video/audio when OSD is displayed when using XvMC, or my
inability, in downtown San Francisco, to get my HD5000 ATSC card and
indoor antenna to pull in more than two network-affiliate channels),
but I can work around them easily (don't use XvMC) or they are
relatively-minor inconveniences (the two cable boxes get me the
missing channels). Yes, it took weeks to get to this stage, but the
process was quite asymptotic; I'd say the box was 80% there a few days
into the process.

There are several things I haven't done. I don't:

* Try to force HD video out of underpowered boxes. (Yes, I'm pointing
  at you, there in the corner.)
* Try to force HD video out of unsupported video cards. Again, I'm
  pointing at you.
* Fiddle with standard-definition capture cards.
* Use LIRC.

Not doing these things unquestionably simplified the setup process by,
well, a *lot*.

My next message will be on how I use MythTV on a day-to-day basis.

Yeechang Lee <ylee at pobox.com> | +1 650 776 7763 | San Francisco CA US

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