[mythtv-users] WHY exactly is firewire so unstable?

Chris Ribe chrisribe at gmail.com
Sat May 10 03:44:19 UTC 2008

On Fri, May 9, 2008 at 8:27 PM, Marc Barrett <mnealbarrett at cox.net> wrote:

> I have gotten firewire to work fairly well with a Motorola DCH-3200,
> on a system based on mythbuntu 8.04.  However, even though it
> works fairly well, it is still prone to "problems", where the connection
> will stop working right and I'll have to run "firewire_tester -B" to get
> the connection working again.  I'm just wondering why this happens
> exactly.  After all, you don't ever hear about USB connections being
> prone to these kinds of problems, for example.  I've never, ever had
> any of my USB peripherals (and I've got a lot) stop working; they just
> work, period.

It's not a problem with Firewire, it's a problem with the implementation in
the cable box.  The reason it sucks is because nobody has an incentive to
make it better.

Your USB peripherals work reliably because their manufacturers have a
financial stake in their functionality - if they didn't work, they wouldn't
be able to sell them.

Firewire outputs on cable boxes, on the other hand, wouldn't even be there
if the cable company had it's way.  They are only there because the FCC
mandated they be there.  The FCC probably doesn't even really care at this
point.  When the mandate was handed down they thought that Firewire
interfaces would become common on TVs.  They didn't, but the mandate

Now we have a situation where there are 60 million or so cable boxes in use
and maybe 10,000 people who care about being able to use Firewire output -
and to make matters worse, those Firewire users are just trying to avoid
paying for a cable company DVR.

If the Firewire reliability sucks enough, you will just get a cable company
DVR, which makes both Motorola and the Cable Company happy.

In short, Firewire output doesn't work because nobody in charge of the
implementation cares to make it work.


Chris Ribe
TV/IT Engineer
WCJB-TV/DT Gainesville, FL
(352) 416 0648
cribe at wcjb.com
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