I’m back!

This started off as a general, personal blog and pretty much pre-dated the rise of social media. Over the years it turned into a blog about Linux and MythTV because this just seemed the best place to post that stuff. Because of the fact that my MythTV system has been so stable over the past few years, and I’ve had too much going on in my life to mess with it for the sake of it, not much has been going on here.

…until last week! My MythTV installation which I have been running for about 8 years finally gave up the ghost, so I’m going to be building a new one. I haven’t done this for a which so it should be fun. I’m also going to update my guide, of course. That thing is so hard to keep up-to-date without building a system every time a new release comes out. It will be good to get it current again.

As luck would have it…

Things seemed to be going so badly. I did a really stupid thing – the nVidia graphics card failed in one of my desktop machines. The one I use all day during the week. It was producing blue artifacts on the screen and it definitely wasn’t software related. So I bought a new card, but like an idiot, I bought the wrong type. I was sure that this machine was old so I got an AGP card. Only when I came to fit it did I realise that it was a PCI-E slot! Bugger. PCI-E cards are cheaper and better than AGP cards, so I got one with HDMI and VDPAU for £25.

I decided to keep the AGP card because they’re getting hard to come by and will fit in my old MythTV box, which is still plodding along. I seem to go through quite a lot of graphics cards on boxes which are left on all the time. Especially passively cooled cards.

Anyway, a few weeks later, without me making any changes to it, my MythTV box suddenly started playing up. The only change really is that it’s now connected to a HD TV, so it’s putting out full HD resolution, which must put extra strain on the card. X would go really slow, even in lightdm straight after bootup, and there were weird artefacts on the screen. Also, and this is weird, when typing at a console, the odd letter would not appear! Plus, the mouse and keyboard were unresponsive and it would not switch to the F1 console. It spewed out these messages into kern.log:

Sep 3 20:59:03 ripley kernel: [ 159.488221] NVRM: Xid (0000:01:00): 13, 0002 beef3901 00000039 00000328 00000000 00004000
Sep 3 20:59:23 ripley kernel: [ 177.448028] NVRM: os_schedule: Attempted to yield the CPU while in atomic or interrupt context

I tried all sorts of nVidia drivers, nvidia-current, nvidia-current-updates and even the latest x-swat driver. All of them gave the same results.

It really did not look like a hardware fault, but I tried blowing and reseating the existing 6200 card. Then, as a last resort, I stuck in the new 6200 card which I accidentally bought a month earlier and, hey presto, it worked perfectly.

As the 2 cards are pretty much identical, I can only assume that it really was a hardware fault. So it just goes to show, when life deals you a bad hand – stick hold of it – it may come in useful in the future!

Povray on Ubuntu 12.04 (precise pangolin)

Povray combines two of my interests quite nicely: programming and art. Unfortunately, it’s been dropped from the standard Ubuntu repositories for licensing reasons. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to compile from source. The following method shows how to do it with X support so the graphical preview window works…

sudo apt-get install build-essential libx11-dev libxt-dev

wget http://www.povray.org/redirect/www.povray.org/ftp/pub/povray/Official/Unix/povray-3.6.tar.gz

tar xf povray-3.6.tar.gz

cd povray-3.6.1

./configure COMPILED_BY="Your Name <yourname@example.com>" --with-x


sudo make install

Happy ray tracing!

My new TV and Myth

So the new TV (an LG LS570T) is up and runing and looks fantastic. Having tried DLNA, it works OK but can never be as good as a dedicated frontend. For the time being I have wired up my old frontend/backend to the new TV. I have to say that the Myth interface in full HD looks amazing.

The TV has iPlayer and LoveFilm apps, which are better than running those feeds through Myth, and the HD channels on Freeview look stunning. But I will still use Myth for recordings and films.

The only thing missing is the ability to record HD in Myth. To be honest, I’m not too fussed about that so there’s no rush to upgrade. I have an Acer Revo in the study which would make a great HD capable frontend, but as it’s the only PC in the study and I use it for lots of other stuff, it will have to stay there for now.

MythTV 2012

I’ve been using MythTV since 2004 (wow, that makes me feel old), and have been using the same hardware setup since January 2006. It’s been a very reliable system which has given my family and I hours of viewing pleasure, but as I’ve just ordered a new LG LED Smart TV, I’ll be slowly bringing it up-to-date.

The plan is to move my big (but very quiet) backend/frontend box out of the living room. First step is to try to do away with a frontend altogether and use the DLNA features of the TV to access the content. I can see some flaws with that plan already – I will only be able to access MythTV recordings, not live TV. So I will not be able to pause live TV via Myth, although there is an option on the telly to pause live TV if a USB device is connected.

I also have a large collection of DVDs backed up as directories in VIDEO_TS VOB format. Those cannot be streamed via DLNA either.

Also, I won’t be able to schedule or delete recordings from the TV.

So, DLNA isn’t a great replacement for a proper frontend, but I’ll give it a try and see if it will get me by while I get some new hardware sorted.

Keeping MythTV up-to-date on Ubuntu

If you want the latest features of MythTV without the hassle of upgrading Ubuntu then the easiest way to do it is using the Mythbuntu repositories. The folks at Mythbuntu backport new releases of MythTV for both regular and LTS versions of Ubuntu. Regular Ubuntu releases get just the next version of Myth, while the LTS releases get new versions for the lifetime of the release.

Instructions on using the repos are here:

MythTV Guide Updated

I’ve recently updated my MythTV guide. It was getting quite out of date, so I’m sorry if I’ve confused anyone.

My fourth child, Nathan, was born this month so I’ve been extremely busy!

I’ve included updated information on DVB-S2 for Freesat HD and also some information on Freeview HD, plus lots more stuff on supported tuner cards. If you spot any mistakes be sure to let me know.



Bruce Dickinson Rock Show Axed!!!

I had a knot in my stomach when I hard the news that the Bruce Dickinson Rock Show will be dropped from BBC 6 Music. As a long time fan of rock and heavy metal music, I can remember the days of the venerable Friday Night Rock Show with Tommy Vance. Since discovering the Bruce Dickinson Show, I thought those days were back for good. The show has given me many, many hours of listening pleasure. No other show on any station or channel comes close.

How can the BBC not know what a gem of a show it is? The respect Bruce commands in the hard rock community means that he gets frank and interesting interviews from all of the top artists. On top of that, he’s an excellent DJ; knowledgeable and witty in a quintesentially English way.

The music played on the show is an excellent mix of old and new, picking the best from the broad mix of genres which fall under the banner of rock. It proves that this style of music is as strong as ever. I don’t know what I would do without it. Come on BBC – keep the show on air! It’s worth the price of my license fee alone.