Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Media center with MythTV

Last November I upgraded my desktop PC. Recently I've repurposed it as a media center running MythTV (and also for print serving/file serving etc).

The hardware is as follows:

  • Sonata III 500 W case

  • Gigabyte GA965P-S3 motherboard

  • Core2 Duo E6550 CPU

  • Gigabyte 8400GS Nvidia video card

  • WinFast DTV1000 digital tuner card

  • 320MB SATA disk

  • Kingston 1Gig DDR2 800MHz memory


Since then, I've added a 1Terabyte SATA disk - prices keep coming down every week. You can get a 1T disk for just over AUD200 now.

I installed MythBuntu 8.04 and found it a very simple process. I had to configure it for TwinView (Clone) so I've got the same output on my TV as I have on the LCD monitor. Then I had to get sound via the SPDIF optical output. To do this you have to:

  1. Unmute the ICE958 channel via alsamixer

  2. Configure MythTV to use ALSA:SPDIF and AC3 + DTS to SPDIF passthrough

  3. I also had to change my video player command to 'mplayer -ao alsa:device=spdif -fs -zoom -quiet so -vo xv %s' so that video with only stereo sound would use the SPDIF


I haven't set up a remote control yet. The TV card I have doesn't look like it is supported under LIRC. So I might look at getting a dual tuner sometime, hopefully one that has a supported remote.

The video has a slight defect when fast moving action is displayed - horizontal splits in the picture appear, but it hasn't proved too bad so far. I haven't had time to look into this one, hopefully sometime soon I'll start looking around the forums. I hope the solution isn't a better video card!

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