MythTV - Building, Setup, and Configuration

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Show #45:

  • Date: 2005-12-03
  • Subject: MythTV - Building, Setup, and Configuration
  • Duration: 51:03
  • Format: MP3
  • Size: 20,984 kb

Topics Discussed:

  • My Comments
  • Helpful URLs
  • Guides, How To, Tips, Tricks, etc info URLs
  • Capture Card Helpful URLs
  • Misc URLs
  • Misc Info
  • Building Steps
  • Capture Cards
  • Hard Disk Space
  • Memory
  • CPU
  • Setup Steps

Additional Information:

Learn how build, setup, and configure MythTV.

  1. View MythTV visual tutorial #1
  2. View MythTV visual tutorial #2

~~ What is MythTV?

MythTV is an Open Source suite of programs that allow you to build the mythical home media convergence box on your own. Basically you can see it as a free Tivo or Replay TV.

MythTV has a number of capabilities. The television portion allows you to do the following:

  • You may pause, fast-forward and rewind live Television.
  • You may install multiple video capture cards to record more than one program at a time.
  • You can have multiple servers, each with multiple capture cards in them. All servers are centrally managed and all programs are scheduled by the Master backend.
  • You can have multiple clients (called "frontends" in MythTV parlance), each with a common view of all available programs. Any client can watch any program that was recorded by any of the servers. Clients can be diskless and controlled entirely by a remote control.
  • You may use any combination of standard analog capture card, MPEG-2, MJPEG, DVB or HDTV capture devices. With appropriate hardware, MythTV can control set top boxes, often found in digital cable and satellite TV systems.
  • Program Guide Data in North America is downloaded from, a subsidiary of Tribune Media Services. This free service is called DataDirect, and provides MythTV almost two weeks of scheduling information. Program Guide Data in other countries is obtained using XMLTV. MythTV uses this information to create a schedule that maximizes the number of programs that can be recorded if you do not have enough tuners.

We will be covering MythTV setup, what components are necessary to build MythTV. The nice thing is linux is the core operating system for MythTV. So on SuSE, knoppix, or fedora you can install MythTV.

~~ Helpful URLs.

~~ Guides, How To, Tips, Tricks, etc info URLs.

~~ Capture Card Helpful URLs.

~~ Misc URLs.

~~ Misc Info.

MythTV certificate code: ZIYN-DQZO-SBUT. If you live outside the US or Canada, instead of using Zap2it, you need a copy of XMLTV. XMLTV is a program that, as of this writing, can grab TV listings for Austria, Britain, Denmark, Ireland, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Spain and Sweden from local Web sites. It then turns the listings into a format that MythTV is happy with.

~~ Building Steps.

-- Hard Disk Space: Encoded video takes up a lot of hard disk space. The exact amount depends on the encoding scheme, the size of the raw images and the frames per second, but typical values for MythTV range from 700 megabytes/hour for MPEG-4, 2 GB/hour for MPEG-2 and RTjpeg and 7 GB/hour for ATSC HDTV.

-- Memory: A MythTV host that is both a backend and a frontend and using software encoding with a single capture card should run adequately in 256MB of RAM. Additional RAM above 256MB will not necessarily increase performance, but may be useful if you are running multiple encoders.

-- CPU: Selection of CPU type and speed is one of the trickiest elements of hardware selection, mainly because there are so many tradeoffs which can be made. For example, if you have plenty of CPU, you can use higher bitrates or capture sizes, etc.

MythTV has two modes of operation. First, it can function as a software video encoder, which means that it uses a fairly generic "dumb" video capture card to get frames of video, encodes them using the CPU on your motherboard and writes them to disk. High-end video capture cards and devices like the TiVo and ReplayTV have dedicated encoder chips which use specialized hardware to convert the video stream to the MPEG-2 format without using the motherboard CPU. The main CPU has the responsibility of running the Operating System and reading and writing the encoded frames to the disk. These tasks have fairly low CPU requirements compared to encoding video.

There are many variables that go into the question: "How fast a CPU do I need to run MythTV"? Obviously, the faster your CPU, the better your experience will be with MythTV. If you are using the software MPEG-4 encoder and performing the "Watch TV" function, where the CPU is both encoding and decoding video simultaneously to allow Pause, Fast Forward and Rewind functions for live TV requires more CPU then just encoding or decoding. MythTV also supports multiple encoder cards in a single PC, thereby increasing the CPU requirements if you plan on simultaneously encoding multiple programs. As a general guideline, plan on 1GHz per encoder if you are doing software-based encoding, less if you are using a hardware-based encoder.

Here are a few data points:

  • A PIII/733MHz system can encode one video stream using the MPEG-4 codec using 480x480 capture resolution. This does not allow for live TV watching, but does allow for encoding video and then watching it later.
  • A developer states that his AMD1800+ system can almost encode two MPEG-4 video streams and watch one program simultaneously.
  • A PIII/800MHz system with 512MB RAM can encode one video stream using the RTjpeg codec with 480x480 capture resolution and play it back simultaneously, thereby allowing live TV watching.
  • A dual Celeron/450MHz is able to view a 480x480 MPEG-4/3300kbps file created on a different system with 30% CPU usage.
  • A P4 2.4GHz machine can encode two 3300Kbps 480x480 MPEG-4 files and simultaneously serve content to a remote frontend.

The second mode of operation is where MythTV is paired with a hardware-based video encoder, such as a Matrox G200 or a Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-150/250/350/500. In this mode, because the video encoding is being done by a dedicated video processor, the host CPU requirements are quite low.

~~ Setup Steps.

  1. Register with Zap2IT -, signup. MythTV Code: ZIYN-DQZO-SBUT. Set your location.
  2. Main MythTV website:
  3. Get KnoppMyth:
  4. Burn ISO and boot off it.
  5. Select install type: auto install.
  6. Set time zone.
  7. Set user info.
  8. Clear video settings.
  9. Clear program details.
  10. Set general settings. (Channel frequency table)
  11. Capture card: new, select one or standard.
  12. Video source: new, Zap2IT, enter login info. (Channel frequency table)
  13. Input connections: Choose Television and set it to video source: Zap2IT.
  14. Let it download show schedules.
  15. Adjust options, etc...

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