[mythtv-users] low-cost low-grief remote

Rod Smith mythtv at rodsbooks.com
Tue Mar 27 21:45:34 UTC 2007

On Tuesday 27 March 2007 16:25, jedi at mishnet.org wrote:
> > On Tuesday 27 March 2007 15:17, jedi at mishnet.org wrote:
> >>     The only real "shenanigan" is the relatively crude daemon
> >> associated with lirc. Everything else is stuff that you really
> >> can't get away from. You're going to need device drivers, a
> >> layer to map what's on the remotes and another layer to map to
> >> what exposed functions in the apps.
> >
> > This is mostly true, but misleading. MythTV responds to keyboard input
> > with no
> > special configuration. Thus, if you're using an IR keyboard (or a remote
> > configured to emulate an IR keyboard) and its receiver, MythTV will just
> ...except remotes don't quite operate the same way as keyboards.
> In your rush to treat the two as the same, you're neglecting this.

Incorrect on both points, for two reasons. First, you can use a wireless 
keyboard as a remote; then it all works "out of the box," with no special 
configuration required, and your "remote" acts just like a keyboard because 
it *IS* a keyboard. Of course, a wireless keyboard is an awfully big remote, 
and I doubt if many people would want to use one exclusively instead of a 
regular remote. Second, as I noted in my earlier two posts to this thread, 
you can configure many advanced remotes to send the same IR codes as an IR 
keyboard (or likewise for wireless RF keyboards and remotes), in which case 
the remote *DOES* act like a keyboard. This approach doesn't come free, 
though. It shifts configuration burden from Linux to the remote; however, as 
your point is about *Linux* configuration needs, it's a fair response to your 
claims that you need to configure *Linux* for any remote.

> > The two mapping layers you mention are configured in your distribution's
> > setup process and by MythTV defaults (or by your tweaks to them). You
> Which distribution would that be?

Every distribution I've ever used. Most ask you to select your keyboard type 
(US, UK, etc.) when you install the system. Some just set up a default that 
you can change later, if you like.

> > In sum, compared to using a keyboard for MythTV
> > control (wireless or not), using LIRC adds complexity.
> It also adds flexibility. Treating the input as more than just
> a naeively configured keyboard is rather useful, especially in
> a device targeted towards consumer users.

I agree that adding LIRC adds flexibility. I'm not sure I'd agree that this is 
desirable in a consumer-oriented device, though. MythTV is already far more 
complex than commercial products such as TiVo, and that makes MythTV 
impractical for the typical consumer. I wouldn't recommend MythTV to my 
sister, for instance; she wouldn't have the skill or patience to get it 
working, much less deal with occasional database problems and whatnot. If she 
had to use MythTV, though, I'd want her to have the simplest configuration 
path possible. I'm not sure if that would involve LIRC or an IR keyboard and 
remote; LIRC is more complex on the Linux side but the IR keyboard is more 
complex on the remote side, and as I've never done the LIRC side, I don't 
know precisely how its complexity balances with the complexity of programming 
a universal remote to emulate an IR keyboard.

IMHO, MythTV is a product for a certain geeky class of consumers, not for the 
masses. The flexibility, or even the option of whether or not to employ that 
flexibility, is an advantage for the geeky do-it-yourself audience of MythTV, 
but the complexity cost is too great for more typical consumers. Many geeky 
types tend to forget that most people don't want to mess with LIRC 
configurations, xorg.conf files, or dozens of screens of configuration 
options with strange names. Geeks (myself included) have fun with such 
things, but typical consumers don't; they run screaming when they encounter 
them. (That said, if somebody were to sell systems with MythTV pre-installed 
and preconfigured, the average consumer might well like it -- until something 

> > As a practical matter, if you want to use a remote with a wireless
> > keyboard
> > configuration, you shift much of the remote setup task from LIRC to your
> That would be a case of intentionally making things difficult for
> yourself when you really don't have to.

Have you done both, remote-as-IR-keyboard and LIRC? That's not a rhetorical 
question -- I'd be interested in hearing from somebody who's done both 
comment on the difficulty of both paths. Of course, I'd expect that both 
paths would vary in difficulty depending on specific hardware choices.

Rod Smith

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