[mythtv-users] MythTV and the "average" user...

Ronald Frazier ron at ronfrazier.net
Tue May 20 04:04:14 UTC 2008

>> I've had a TiVo for 4.5 years, and other than maybe 3 times that I had
>> to unplug it to reboot it, it has worked flawlessly. On the other
>> hand, the mythbox needs regular intervention and behaves irratic on a
>> regular basis.
>    From what I've seen of this it is mostly the frontend crashing or
> locking up and that's pretty easy to create simple workarounds for. The
> backend even crashes infrequently but that too is rather simple to
> workaround. A decent INNODB setup on mysql might even solve the problem
> of a hard box crash on the backend borking the db.

But it's not quite so simple. There are a host of things that can go
wrong, and I don't know that its so easy to detect. Some of the things
I've experienced recently (plenty of examples, but these are fresh on
my mind)

1) A couple weeks ago, apparently the frontend lost power while
watching livetv. The whole backend is on a ups, so it kept chugging
along. However there is apparently a bug where when the frontend fails
in live tv, the backend thinks it's still there. End result was that
the phantom frontend had the tuner occupied full time for almost a
week until I noticed. There was a ticket on this, and the last update
was about a year ago where a developer looking into it.

2) 2 weeks ago House didn't record. I wasn't sure quite why. I added
more dubugging to the backend. Once again, it didn't record tonight
(just a few hours ago). I'm still investigating, but I think it has
something to do with the frontend's LiveTVTimeout kicking in around
the same time the show starts recording. Not sure...I need to look
into it more and post a bug report. But what I can see is that the
recording started, then 20 or so seconds later something told it to
end. Whatever the excuse, the fact is, it didn't record. I've already
reported a couple bugs like this where LiveTV causes something to not
record (and they were promptly fixed). I've had a multitude of
programs that didn't record for one reason or another. On the other
hand, in those 4.5 years, TiVo has only missed one program on me, and
that was because the hardware locked up.

3) It's not uncommon for my wife to be changing channels and suddenly
its just sitting at a black screen. I'll start up livetv on the other
frontend, and instead of all the LAMGV lock flags showing up in about
1-2 seconds, they will slowly fill in, one every 10-15 seconds. A
minute later and I'm still staring at a black screen. Sometimes it
fixes itself after a minute or 2, sometimes I just give in and restart
the backend. I can never seem to find a reason for it (no load on
either boxes, nothing interesting in the logs, etc)

4) Occasionally when changing channels, or switching songs, or some
other audio change, I'll lose all sound on the system, and I've got to
restart X. I have no idea if its a myth issue, an alsa issue, a driver
issue, or a hardware issue. But it sure gets my wife annoyed.

5) DVD playback - between the Arccos protected discs, and discs that
dont play for various other reason (Just last night I ran into a DVD
that won't play becaue "libdvdnav: RANDOM or SHUFFLE titles are NOT
handled yet."). Granted, Sony makes defective DVDs, and a TiVo can't
even play DVDs at all, but when it comes to consumer electronics for
the mass market, if you are going to give your average consumer a
feature, it needs to work reliably.

Now it probably sounds like I'm ragging on mythtv. Again, don't get me
wrong...I love the software. I wouldn't spend so much time with it,
and contribute patches and bug reports, and help people on this forum
if I didn't love it as much as I do. But I can't just turn a blind eye
to it's faults, and my experience tells me I wouldn't dare put this is
the hands of someone who isn't tech savvy unless I was there to
handhold them and fix problems on the spot.


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