Hack 92 TiVo Your Computer

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Use KnoppMyth to quickly turn any computer into a standalone TiVo-like PVR using MythTV .

KnoppMyth (http://www.mysettopbox.tv/knoppmyth.html) is a unique Knoppix variant, because its primary function is to install MythTV, not to act as a portable Linux distribution. KnoppMyth uses the excellent hardware autoconfiguration of Knoppix, and bundles it with scripts and software to install and configure MythTV automatically.

MythTV (http://www.mythtv.org) is an open source PVR project with the goal of being the mythical all-in-one media machine for your home. MythTV allows you to schedule recordings, watch live TV with features such as pausing and rewinding live TV, listen to music, watch recorded video and DVDs, play arcade games , and even check the weather. Think TiVo or Microsoft Media Center on steroids, and you get an idea of what MythTV can do. MythTV is a great project and easy to use once it is running, but many people find it difficult to install and configure MythTV and all of its components , especially the installation and configuration of the TV Tuner hardware itself under Linux.

KnoppMyth automates the process of configuring MythTV on a standalone computer. Desktop environments, like KDE, and the applications most other Knoppix-based distributions include are absent from KnoppMyth. In fact, KnoppMyth includes software only to install and configure a MythTV system. KnoppMyth uses Knoppix's hardware configuration scripts to make it easy to detect TV Tuners, video cards, and other hardware.

As with MythTV, to use KnoppMyth you need to register with the free Zap2It DataDirect service to download TV listings for your area. Go to http://labs.zap2it.com and click on the "New User ? Sign Up" link to register with the service. As you fill out the survey on the registration page, notice that it asks for a certificate code. As explained at http://www.mythtv.org/docs/mythtv-HOWTO-5.html#ss5.4, use ZIYN-DQZO-SBUT .

Use your login and password in the MythTV setup program after KnoppMyth is installed.

When you boot KnoppMyth for the first time, the first thing you see is a no-frills frontend for the installation script that gives you the following options:


Configures and runs KnoppMyth as a frontend

Auto Install

Automatically installs to disk

Auto Upgrade

Attempts to upgrade previous version

Manual Install

Configures and installs to hard disk


Reboots the machine


Exits to console prompt

A KnoppMyth frontend uses the MythTV interface (the frontend) but accesses a different MythTV server (the backend) for listings, recorded shows, etc. The Frontend option is the only one that actually uses KnoppMyth as a live CD. This option requires another machine on the network that is configured with MythTV ( potentially another KnoppMyth install) with MySQL listening (http://www.mythtv.org/docs/mythtv-HOWTO-6.html). Answer some questions about your MythTV backend server, and then the MythTV frontend software loads. This can be useful in case you already have MythTV configured on the network recording shows for your TV, but you want to watch them on your computer instead. If you intend on sending the frontend output to a TV, then at the boot prompt, type:


This boots KnoppMyth to an 800 600 resolution suitable for TVs.

The Auto Install option is the main purpose of KnoppMyth. Select this option and answer some very basic questions, such as your name , username, and password, and then KnoppMyth automatically partitions your hard drive and installs Debian with MythTV.

Currently, the auto install works only for /dev/hda (the primary IDE drive on the first bus). There is a roundabout method to install to a different drive listed on the KnoppMyth site, but if you have such a setup, it is better to go with the manual install.

KnoppMyth reboots once the install finishes, and then boots back into your new Debian install. Enter your root password at the prompt, and then the KnoppMyth install asks some final questions, including your network configuration (DHCP versus manual configuration) and whether to use i586- or i686-optimized modules (i586 for Pentium class processors and i686 for PentiumPro and above and any Athlon processors).

When KnoppMyth's own configuration is done, it launches the MythTV setup program. Use this GUI to tell MythTV about any TV Tuner cards your system has, which channel to default to, which type of TV service you use (broadcast, cable, digital cable, etc.), your Zap2It account information, and so on. Once MythTV is set up the way you want, hit Esc to exit and watch as new television listings are downloaded. This process can take some time, so be patient. Afterwards, the MythTV frontend, the main program you use to watch and record TV, launches. Now you can go through the interface and schedule recordings, and watch live TV.

The Auto Upgrade option is fairly straightforward and simply upgrades the KnoppMyth install that is currently on the machine to the latest version. The Manual Install option is for advanced users and lets you manually partition your hard drive before KnoppMyth installs.

The KnoppMyth project continues to improve as time goes on. There are still rough areas here and there (such as installing only to /dev/hda ), but overall, this is a great project that takes out many of the headaches of installing and configuring a standalone MythTV PVR. Visit the official site (http://mysettopbox.tv) for more tips and hints for getting the most out of this project.

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Knoppix Hacks. 100 Tips and Tricks
Knoppix Hacks. 100 Tips and Tricks
Year: 2004
Pages: 166

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