Once in a while, we get so excited about writing an article that we completely lose focus and end up with a 10,000 word epic instead of a concise little review. This two-part Linux TiVo article ended up being one of those articles. Of course, we aren't really building a Linux TiVo, but rather something as close as we can come, with some rudimentary hardware and free software - such as Linux and MythTV.

Considering the cost of a TiVo, service runs anywhere from $100 to $600 per year depending on what DVR and subscription you buy. Building a moderate MythTV machine for around $500 actually saves us money in the long run. Building our own device also allows us to upgrade hardware easily and reconfigure the software at our will.

Ultimately, we would like our machine comparable to a TiVo device; but in actuality, we really would like it to perform as well or better than a machine based on the same hardware running the newest Windows Media Center (Anand wrote a small MCE introduction 18 months ago). Recently, we obtained a new whitebox Media Center device with similar hardware found in this Part I of our Linux TiVo experiment. Our goal for Part I of the article is to get Linux, MythTV and all the trimmings working successfully so that we can square both machines off against each other; and then compare encoding, image quality and functionality. We are publishing Part I: The Installation today, but expect Part II: The Comparison in just a few days.

If all goes well, we will probably follow up with a Part III some weeks later, dissecting Freevo, GeexBox, etc.

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  • - Saturday, October 24, 2009 - link

    sell:nike shoes$32,ed hardy(items),jean$30,handbag$35,polo shirt$13,shox$34
  • Edster - Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - link

    If you get stuck setting up mythtv then try this web site :

    [l=PVR Guide - How-to guides for setting up mythtv][/l]
  • sthes - Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - link

    Whatever happened to part two? Anxiously awaiting the review!
  • willy134 - Tuesday, September 7, 2004 - link

    You need to mention the mythweb extension. I log into my computer from work and set up recordings. There are also plugins that allow you to view your recorded shows on a windows machine.

    The web server also has a very nice search feature and lists all the movies playing in your schedule. It's a great way to also find when a show you want to watch is playing again. Much better than looking up the listings on most web sites.
  • serff - Tuesday, September 7, 2004 - link

    Can you guys comment on HDTV support in your follow up feature? I'm very intrested in building a HD DVR for less than $1000 (which is how much all of them are right now.) I'm also intrested in dual tuner solutions as well. Does MythTV support dual tuners? Also, in MythTV, when you go to the guide, can you still see the show you are watching? Like in the corner or something? It would also be cool to know about support for burning shows to DVD as well. Thanks!

  • sasa - Monday, September 6, 2004 - link

    The system in the article is a total overkill if PVR-x50 is used.
    A 677MHz PIII can easily do the job.
    Such system can be bought on ebay for $100, then just add 200GB hd for $100, GF4 for $40, PVR-x50 for $100. Total $340.
    This system will do both front end and backend.
    It is also possible to use very low spec PC for backend (like PII) and xbox as a frontend.

    A Socket 370 PIII is consuming much less power than P4, K7 or K8 which is very important if you want to run Myth 24/7. You don't want to save $10 on tivo monthly bills while paying $20 for electricity bills.

    Very nice distro for Myth is Debian unstable.
    You just add a line into your apt config, run apt-get and it installs all dependencies.
  • sasa - Monday, September 6, 2004 - link

  • JohanV - Monday, September 6, 2004 - link

    On the one side of the comparison: A windows MCE PC (hardware satisfying certain conditions + specialized preinstalled software)

    On the other side: A PC with approximately the same hardware with a general purpose SUSE Linux install, hand-compiled/hand-compiled drivers, databases and what not.

    Not really a straight forward comparison, it's even worse than like comparing a server cpu with a desktop cpu.

    Seems only fair to use handpicked hardware on both machines, and to use specialized OS's in both cases. In other words, use KnoppMyth with hardware that is known to work with KnoppMyth without any headaches.
  • griffy - Monday, September 6, 2004 - link

    Anybody have any personal experience on the Telly MC1200, and how it might compare? I would be interested in a few words in Part II about how this option stacks up, in real terms. (Yes, I've read all the reviews.)
    Thanks for booting up an interesting area on AnandTech.
  • lbt - Monday, September 6, 2004 - link

    Several people have mentioned KnoppMyth - no-one has said why...

    You insert the CD and it installs linux and *everything* you need to run Myth. (It aims to make running Myth 'appliance' like.)

    For those who care it's a Knoppix (aka Debian) based distro.

    Total install time is measured in minutes and you don't need to know linux (well, it's still at the 'not much' stage at the minute ;) )

    Checkout for forums and help.

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