MythTV Ubuntu Freesat HD Installation Guide

Using MythTV for DVB-S2 (Freesat HD)

This guide shows you how to get MythTV working for free-to-air digital satellite channels in the UK (Freesat). However, much of it will be applicable to anyone using a DVB-S2 card.


Freesat HD channels in the UK Moved from using DVB-S to the new DVB-S2 standard on June 6th 2011. So for HD you will need a DVB-S2 card, such as the such as the single tuner Hauppauge WinTV Nova-HD-S2 or dual tuner Mystique SaTiX-S2 Dual. If you only have a DVB-S card you can still get thre standard definition channels.

MythTV can record and play the HD channels as long as your PC is capable. See here for more details.

For a list of compatible tuner cards, see the following guide:


See the main guide for details of how to install Ubuntu and MythTV.

Testing the DVB-S Card

To test the card, we're going to use some command-line utilities to do a channel scan and watch some TV.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install dvb-apps mplayer

Freesat is broadcast from the same satellites (Astra 28.2E and Eurobird 1) as Sky Digital. Let's do a scan on Astra and see what we can find (-x0 means include only free-to-air)...

scan -x0 /usr/share/dvb/dvb-s/Astra-28.2E | tee channels.conf

Check the /var/log/kern.log file if you have problems. You may have an issue with the firmware on the card.

After 20 mins or so you should get a channels.conf file containing hundreds of channels. To watch one of the channels, do the following:

mkdir ~/.mplayer
cp channels.conf ~/.mplayer
mplayer dvb://"BBC THREE"

Instead of BBC Three, you can play any of the channels defined in your channels.conf.

MythTV Setup for Freesat

To configure Myth, you run the mythtv-setup utility and step through the options. Select it from the menu: System->Administration->MythTV Backend Setup

Important: the first time this is run, it will complain that your user is not in the mythtv group. This is required so that your user can run and confgure MythTV components. It will offer to add him to the group. Click OK to do this and follow the prompts to log out and back in again.

Once you have logged in again, run MythTV Backend Setup once more. Click OK to stop the mythbackend process and and the mythtv-setup utility should run.


Change the TV format and channel frequency table based on your location. I changed the TV format to PAL and the channel-frequency-table to europe-west.

Capture Card

Select (New capture card). For a DVB card, change the Card Type to "DVB DTV capture card (v3.x)". It should detect it and show your card details.

Hit the DiSEqC button and set it to LNB, or one of the other options, depending on your hardware setup (see The button was a bit flaky for me on 0.22. Hit the cursor keys a few times and it should work. You MUST set this or the channel scan will fail!

It is possible to use "virtual tuners" to record more than one channel on a single tuner as long as they are on the same multiplex. Select the "Recording Options" button and set "Max Recordings" to >1. This governs how many simultaneous recordings can be made from the tuner. There are currently over 7 channels broadcast on some FreeSat multiplex. See here for more details.

If you have two cards or a dual tuner, repeat the above steps, changing the DVB Card Number to 1.

Video Source

This defines the source of the schedule listings. There are two options in the UK - the EIT data which is transmitted with the DVB signal and an XMLTV feed gathered over the Internet. I suggest EIT because it's easier to get working.

Select (New video source). Enter a video source name such as "EIT". Set the Listings grabber to "Transmitted guide only (EIT)". That's it. The listings will gradually be populated automatically once we have scanned for the channels.

Input Connections

This associates our DVB card with the video source. A good Display Name would be "Freesat". Set the Video source to the one we've just defined, "EIT".

We will now scan for SD and HD channels separately.

First we will scan for the DVB-S (SD) channels. To do this, enter the details for one transport and it will find the rest. Hit "Scan for channels" and enter the following details:

Freq: 10714000
Polarity: Horizontal
Symbol rate: 22000000
Mod Sys: DVB-S
FEC: 8/9
Modulation: QPSK
Inversion: leave at auto
Rolloff: leave at 0.35

The channel scan will take a few minutes to complete. Check the /var/log/kern.log file if you have problems.

Now we will scan for the DVB-S2 (HD) channels using the following details:

Freq: 10847000
Polarity: Vertical
Symbol rate: 23000000
Mod Sys: DVB-S2
FEC: 3/4
Modulation: 8PSK
Inversion: leave at auto
Rolloff: leave at 0.35

Hopefully it will find BBC HD, BBC ONE HD, etc.

Channel Listings

Go here and check you have all the channels you expected. If there are any you don't want, select it and uncheck the "Visible" box.

Testing the Configuration

Now you can exit the setup utility. It will ask you if you want to run mythfilldatabase. Answer NO because we're using the EIT.

Now run a MythTV Frontend from the menu: Applications->Sound & Video->MythTV Frontend

At this point you should have access to hundreds of channels of crap (plus a few good ones). Note that when mythfrontend is running, you can still switch between applications by pressing ALT+TAB. Enjoy.

HD Playback

For playback of HD channels it is best to use hardware to do the decoding. See the following guide:

MythTV Settings

See the main guide for more details on how to setup MythTV and troubleshoot any problems.


Comments, Questions and Feedback

You can post comments about this page on my blog:

Alternatively, feel free to drop an email to Garry if you have any comments, suggestions or just want to chat. Cheers.