Mythtv – Part IV


So here comes the really important part: the setup and actual running of your Mythtv system. I assume that you read the previous 2 posts involving the appropriate hardware and installation of Mythtv (in my situation: Mythbuntu). By taking the time to view these 2 sections will help to ensure the setup process works the first time.

Before proceeding, here are my hardware particulars:

  • CPU: Dell Dimension 4650 32-bit
  • RAM: 1.5 GB
  • Video Card: Nvidia GeForce 7600 GS (AGP)
  • Satellite Card: VisionPlus TwinHawn 1020A (PCI)
  • Hard Drives: 40 GB, 30 GB (SDA, SDB)
  • Keyboard / Mouse: Micro$oft Wireless 7000 (USB – Bluetooth)
  • Wired NIC card

In this post I am assuming that you already have a cable provider (like Rogers, Cogeco, etc… i.e. if you are living in Canada), and that you have connected your coax cable to the CORRECT input connector on your video card.

After rebooting the machine, the Mythtv “front-end” will automatically run – but this will NOT work until you setup (configure) the backend setup prior to running the frontend. Therefore, you should press <ESC> and select “yes” to exit the mythtv front-end application. Then you will run the mythtv backend setup by making the following menu selections:

APPLICATIONS -> SYSTEM -> Mythtv Backend Setup

When you make this selection, a window will appear for you to exit the Front-end application from running in the background. Make certain to click OK to perform that operation. You may have to enter your user account password you created when you first installed Mythbuntu on your computer…

The backend graphical setup application should run, and you should be presented with several menu items. NOTE: these menu items are in order for a reason. You should NOT proceed to the next menu item until you have properly completed the previous menu item!

In fact, there is one task that you should complete prior to running the backend setup application (but I will show you how to do it while running the backend setup application). Press the key combination <ALT><F2> to bring up a run dialog box. Type in the application name firefox and then click on OK to launch Firefox.

Go to the following URL: [[ ]] (Schedules Direct website)

What is the *Schedules Direct* website? Schedules Direct provides a database for TV listings for various providers (eg. Cable service, Satellite providers). The Schedules Direct website provides a means for the user to join the service to allow open-source applications (like Mythtv) to download and cut-out (parse) the data to incorporate into its own customized EPG (electronic programming guide). Therefore, it makes sense to open up an account first prior to setting up the service during the backend setup.

This service at one time was free (by filling out periodic surveys), but now Schedules Direct charges for their service. Here are the rates:

Free – 7 day trial period
$5 (US) – 2 months
$20 (US) – 1 year

I would recommend the 7-day trial period, then if you like what you see, then pay the 1 year contract. The site takes credit cards, but I used PAYPAL (my wife has an account to shop occasionally on e-bay)…

During the Schedules Direct account setup, you will be prompted for a username and password (write this down, since you will need this for the backend setup). You will also be asked for additional information such as your Television service provider and your postal code. After you have completed this account setup process, you can close the firefox window to return to your backend setup application.

Before we continue with Backend setup:

NOTE #1: When making selections in the backend setup windows, you may need to use either the <TAB> key, <right arrow> key, or <down arrow> key to properly navigate to the correct selection. When you are at the selection, then pressing the <right arrow> key allows values to be changed. The <ESC> key exits out of a screen or moves to previous menus.

NOTE #2: Don’t take “shortcuts” while in the screens. Make certain to complete all screens. Pressing <ESC> while in a screen won’t save your settings until you have completed ALL screens and select “Finish”.

Select the menu item labelled “1. General”. Leave first screen “as-is”, press <ENTER> at “Next” to proceed. If you are in North America, change “TV format” to the value “NTSC”. Also, set “Channel frequency table” to the value “us cable” if you have a cable provider. Then continually select Next (without changing any other settings) until you have returned back to the main menu.

Select the menu item labelled “2. Capture Cards”. Press <ENTER> at
“New Capture card”. The Default card type should show V4L and show probe info
“Hauppauge HVR-1600 cx18]”. If the probe info shows PROBE FAILED, then proceed to a section at the bottom of this post labelled “CARD NOT RECOGNIZED AFTER REBOOT” and re-run the backend setup. If you are using the Hauppauge video capture card, you need to change Card type to
“MPEG-2 encoder card (PVR-x50, PVR-500)”.

NOTE: If you selected “MPEG-2 encoder card”, but “PROBE FAILED” is displayed (i.e. does NOT display your Hauppauge capture card name), then press <ENTER> at “Finish”. Return to the “Capture Cards” menu again. Select the bottom of list
“[ V4L: /dev/video0 ]”, and then change “Card Type” to read
“MPEG-2 encoder card, etc …”. Why this works, I have no idea, but it works! Then press <ENTER> on “Finish” to return to the main menu.

Select the menu item labelled “3. Video sources”. Select the menu item “New Video Source”. A window will appear. In that window, type in your “Schedules Direct” username and password, and then select “Retrieve Lineups” and press <ENTER> . It should display your “Data Direct Lineup” that you specified when you created your Scedules Direct account. Do NOT make any other changes, and press <ENTER> at “Finish” to return to the “Video Sources” main menu. Press <ESC> to return to setup main menu.

Select the menu item labelled “4. Input Connection”. Press <ENTER> at the “Tuner 1” input connection. The “input” value should display Tuner 1. This should be the default selection. A window will appear. You can change the “Display Name” to something like “cable” to have mythtv display the input selected as “cable” when switching to different inputs when watching TV. Move down to “Scan for channels” and press <ENTER>. Move through the next two screens without making changes. A blue screen will appear indicating “scanning” (Don’t worry, this is not the “Blue Screen of Death” >;p ) this screen is just scanning for television signals. This process should take a minute or so…

When the scanning is complete, select “Next” and press <ENTER> to move to the next screen (do this a few times), and then press <ENTER> at “Finish”. Press <ESC> to return to the main backend setup menu. You have completed the basic backend setup. Press <ESC> to save and exit the backend setup. You may be asked for your Linux operating system password again, just enter it and click on OK.

A dialogue box will appear to ask “Would you like to run mythfilldatabase”, you should click OK. A little terminal application will appear displaying information populating your Mythtv database (like a two week programming schedule). In fact, if you see a series of icons that look like text and then something that looks to move like this:

[                          <->               ]

This is good! It is downloading a 14 day programming schedule. This process should take about 2-3 minutes. Then you can launch the Frontend Mythtv application by making the following menu selections:

APPLICATIONS -> Multimedia -> Mythtv Frontend

Now, Press at “Watch TV” to see if it works!

Three additional things to consider:


If you are using an Nvidia video card, you may need to edit the /boot/grub/menu.lst file to add the following options after the Kernel boot command for your default Kernel (located as first boot option – this section towards the bottom of the file). Here is how to run the “vi” text editor as “super-user” to change this system file:

sudo su
(Enter your Linux OS account password)
vi /boot/grub/menu.lst

You can also use other text editors if you wish (just make certain to do in “super-user mode”)…

Edit the file to change the kernel options as shown below. Note: a sample of the kernel command to boot Linux is displayed below. The one line to edit actually wraps around to make it appear as if it were two or three lines. For identification, the line is displayed in “light blue” text and the options added to the end are displayed in “green” text:

## ## End Default Options ##
title Ubuntu 8.10, kernel 2.6.27-11-generic
uuid xxxxxxxx-xxxxxxxxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxxx
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.27-11-generic root=UUID=xxxxxxxxx-xxxxxxxxxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxxxx ro quiet splash vmalloc=256MB pci=nommconf
initrd /boot/initrd.img-2.6.27-11-generic


If your TV picture quality is not correct, press <ESC> a few times (be patient – it may require some time for <ESC> to work). Eventually, you will return to the Frontend main menu. Select “Watch TV” again – it should be OK…
Here is a link that shows how to create a shell script called “” to prevent this from ever happening again. Just follow the instructions how to create and set it up in the Backend menu section “General”.

Link: []

HOW TO DISPLAY EPG (Electronic Programming Guide)

While watching TV, Press the letter “m” to get the main menu. In the main menu, select “Program Guide” to view the Electronic Programming Guide. Press <ESC> to return to watching TV… Pressing “m” also allows you to get certain items such as “Video Scan” (You may need to select “Progressive” to allow menu to display properly. There is a way to make that setting permanent, but not talking about that in this post)…

Have fun, and good luck!
This was a very long post…
No wonder I have been chopping Mythtv into different parts…!
Stay tuned for next post (Mythtv – Part V “Shortcut Keys for using Mythtv”)…
I think I’m going to take a rest…


~ by Murray Saul on February 7, 2009.

2 Responses to “Mythtv – Part IV”

  1. Hi Murray – great post.

    You say here that “Pressing “m” also allows you to get certain items such as “Video Scan” (You may need to select “Progressive” to allow menu to display properly. There is a way to make that setting permanent, but not talking about that in this post)”. I’ve Googled for the answer to this, but cant find it – can you help please?

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