Mythtv – Part I

Over the next few series of posts, I will discuss how I set up a “mythtv” entertainment center in my basement. In this post, I will only discuss two topics:

  • What is Mythtv?
  • Why do I like Mythtv?

What is Mythtv?

Mythtv originates from its creator, Isaac Richards, who wanted to work on an open-source project to replace cable boxes that didn’t provide quality features such as a colorful programming guide, or the ability to also switch to the Linux OS environment at the same time. The name “Mythtv” stems for the “mythical convergence box” (combining computers and Broadcasting Media) that has been talked about for so many years.

In fact, in my own humble opinion, it seems to be moving backwards with multimedia systems embedded into systems like the Wii or XBox360

Mythtv has modules built-in so it can perform the following:

  • Watch TV
  • Record TV Programs
  • View and Schedule Recordings from Programming Guide
  • Run Linux apps (for example, I have coded in a shell with transparent background (via compiz) while watching TV at the same time)..
  • View Recorded Programs (with commercials skipped)
  • Transcode Recorded Programs in various formats (in a batch job)
  • View Newsfeeds / IRC Chat / Web Conference / View Weather / Browse Web
  • Setup other Linux boxes in the house to access recorded shows, etc
  • Depending on Linux Box’s BIOS, and have system “Wake-up” prior to recording in order to save energy

… and to tell you the truth, those are the only features that I am aware of …
… and of course, its free …

Why do I like Mythtv?

Here are some of the reasons why I like using Mythtv:

  • Automatically skip Commercials during Playback
  • Runs in the Linux OS environment
  • It is free!
  • Can operate with remotes
  • Best programming Guide I have ever seen on any box (and I have used Bell Express Vu, and Rogers Cable boxes). Only costs $20 US to have schedules automatically downloaded from for one year.
  • Allows switching to other video capture devices (such as FTA satellite cards). I only deal with the unencyrpted signals (I’m not one of those “grey-area dudes” that is giving FTA Satellite users a bad reputation)…
  • Can search for shows / movies by letter or name
  • Ability to archive (backup) and transcode into different media including DVDs, etc (with the commercials automatically removed)
  • Works just fine on my older 32-bit Pentium IV, 1Gb RAM, 60 GB hard drive.

Here is a link to a youtube video demonstrating basic use of Mythtv:

[Mythtv Demo]

Coming up in Next Post

Things to consider BEFORE setting up Mythtv on your Linux Box…


~ by Murray Saul on January 10, 2009.

2 Responses to “Mythtv – Part I”

  1. MythTV is soemthing I’ve often considered playing with perhaps sometime in the future. I’ve wanted to PVR pretty much since the Tivo was introduced back in…what, 2003? 2004? I don’t know, I saw it on TechTV and wanted it. Anyway the problem was the initial lack of availability of such devices in Canada (only took 3 bloody years or so) and then after that, a lack of any real options once the finally did bring the technology up here. The best one I can really see for a Canadian user would be to go ahead and build a MythTV box.
    Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how this turns out.

  2. This looks like it could be an excellent solution for those that are running Linux boxes, however since most of us are running on the windows platform, Orb might be just as good, if not better.
    It can do all of the above, view any videos and pictures you have stored stored on your computer/network, and even use your Web cam for surveillance. On top of all this, can stream to just about any mobile devices.
    If you have a computer that has Windows Media Center Edition or Windows Vista Home Premium/Ultimate then you can run orb for free. The guide is downloaded for free because of the media center.
    Check it out at
    Nevertheless, I am interested in MythTv and will be checking it out myself. I just don’t have the experience with Linux so it will be quite the adventure.

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