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Installing Mythbuntu 14.04.1 with MythTV 0.27

Summary

This tutorial outlines the steps to install Mythbuntu 14.04.1 and MythTV 0.27 on a custom MythTV PVR.

It's been over three years since we first started the process in May 2011 of cutting the cord on cable TV, and selecting hardware for a custom MythTV PVR. We were happy with our Mythbuntu 12.04 install, however recent changes with the TV listings provider for Schedules Direct prompted us to take action. See Mythbuntu: Actions required by Nov 1st due to Schedules Direct change.

We chose to move to Mythbuntu 14.04 with MythTV 0.27 and the latest fixes that work with the new Schedules Direct service. Note that if you are migrating from an existing Mythbuntu installation and wish to migrate your recordings, then be sure to read this and other migration specific articles so that you save the appropriate information before you begin installing Mythbuntu 14.04. For example, read Migrating Mythbuntu 12.04 to Mythbuntu 14.04.

Following are the steps to install Mythbuntu and configure MythTV to work on the custom MythTV PVR. By the end of this tutorial you will have a functional PVR.

Update 2016-08-08: Add "noatime, nodiratime" to /etc/fstab for /data mount (contains recordings) to reduce hard disk drive wear and tear.

Contents

Completed PVR

Following is a picture of the completed PVR in operation.

Completed MythTV PVR in operation

Hopefully this picture will provide the incentive to complete the build of your own PVR.

Although this page has a lot of steps, remember that these only need to be performed once. The reward of building your own custom PVR will be worth it. It certainly has been for us.

A. Setup BIOS

Often the default Basic Input Output Settings (BIOS) are fine. However, since I would be providing support to family (three PVRs), I wanted to ensure that each PVR would be the same and would boot properly after a power outage.

To view or change the BIOS settings you usually need to press a key while the computer boots. For this custom PVR the key to press while booting is the Delete key.

On each ASUS P8H61-M motherboard I made sure I had the following BIOS settings:

  1. Ensure BIOS updated to same level (0702 in May 2011)
  2. Set dedicated iGPU memory to maximum amount (128 MB)
  3. Set SATA to AHCI mode
  4. Set Power ON when power restored
  5. Disable full screen on bootup
  6. Change boot order to DVD then USB then HDD

B. Partition Drive

When I set up a computer I like to choose my own custom partition layout. For the PVR I created an MSDOS partition table with the following partition layout:

    Path name   Partition type   Size       File system  Volume label
    /dev/sda1     Primary             40690 MiB   ext4           mythbuntu1404
    /dev/sda2     Primary              8192 MiB   linux-swap     swap
    /dev/sda3     Primary            ###### MiB   ext4           data

NOTE: The last partition (sda3) uses all of the remaining space on the disk.

Though you can create this partition layout with the Mythbuntu installer, I prefer to use a graphical partitioning tool such as gparted from a GParted Live CD-RW. With GParted it is much easier to create new partitions so I will not document the steps.

NOTE:   If you do not wish to create a custom partition layout, then you can choose to let Mythbuntu create a default partition layout during the Mythbuntu installation. MythTV will work fine with either setup. The only difference is that you will need to ignore tutorial steps that deal with settings using the /data directory.


Personally I set up three PVRs, each with an SSD for the operating system and swap, and two HDDs in a RAID 1 mirror for the recordings. See Why Consider RAID for PVR Recordings and Solid State Drive for Mythbuntu Operating System for the reasons I chose this configuration.

My current partition layout is as follows:

    Solid State Drive /dev/sda:
    Path name   Partition type   Size       File system  Volume label
    /dev/sda1     Primary             40690 MiB   ext4           mythbuntu1404
    /dev/sda2     Primary              8192 MiB   linux-swap     swap

    Hard Disk Drives /dev/sdb and similarly /dev/sdc:
    Path name   Partition type   Size       File system  Volume label  Flags
    /dev/sdb1     Primary            ###### MiB   unformatted                    raid

    The single partition takes up the whole disk, 953869 MiB on an 1 TB drive.

    RAID 1 Mirror /dev/md0:
    Path name   Partition type   Size       File system  Volume label
    /dev/md0p1    Primary            ###### MiB   ext4           data

    The RAID uses /dev/sdb1 and /dev/sdc1 in a mirror configuration.

C. Create Mythbuntu DVD/USB

In order to install Mythbuntu, we first need to download the software and write it to a DVD or a USB flash drive.

  1. Download Mythbuntu 14.04.1 64-bit .iso
  2. Burn the .iso file as an image to a DVD-R(RW),
    or write the image to a USB flash drive.
    Note that the image is too large to fit on a CD-R(RW).

D. Install Mythbuntu

  1. Boot computer with Mythbuntu Live DVD.
  2. When prompted, choose English language
    and click on Install Mythbuntu.
  3. Select Download updates while installing and Install this third-party software (mp3)
    and click on Continue.
  4. If you pre-created the partitions, choose Something else
    and click on Continue

    NOTE:   If you do not wish to custom partition the drive, choose Install Mythbuntu, click on Continue and skip to the next numbered step.


    1. Select from Device column: sda1
    2. Click on Change...
    3. Choose the following setttings:
                            Use as:  Ext4 journaling file system
                       Mount point:  /
              Format the partition:  [ ]     # Yes if need to erase file system
                                             # No will maintain volume label
              
      and click on OK

      TIP:   If you choose _not_ to reformat a partition, then you will be prompted later with a message similar to:

      The file system on /dev/sda1 assigned to / has not been marked for reformating...

      Simply click on Continue when this happens.

    4. Select from Device column: sda3

      NOTE:   If you place the recordings on RAID then skip setting up /data on /dev/sda3. We will set up the RAID later.
      Remember to perform the last of this section of steps to select the device for the boot loader installation.

    5. Click on Change...
    6. Choose the following setttings:
                            Use as:  Ext4 journaling file system
                       Mount point:  /data
              Format the partition:  [ ]     # Yes if need to erase file system
                                             # No will maintain volume label
              
      and click on OK
    7. Select Device for boot loader installation: /dev/sda
  5. Click on Install Now
  6. When prompted Where are you? choose your own time zone (e.g., Edmonton)
    and click on Continue
  7. Choose the Keyboard layout (e.g., English (US))
    and click on Continue
  8. When prompted Who are you? choose the following:
                    Your Name:  Personal Video Recorder
                Computer Name:  mythpvr
                    User Name:  pvr              # You should choose your
                     Password:  pvrpassword      # own user name and password
          Login automatically:  Yes
          Require my password to login:  No
                Encrypt my home folder:  No
        
    and click on Continue
  9. Choose the Installation type Primary Backend w/Frontend
    and click on Continue
  10. Choose the following Additional Services
                 SSH:  enable                # secure shell
               Samba:  disable               # windows file system sharing
                 NFS:  disable               # network file system
              MythTV:  disable               # remote frontend connections
        
    and click on Continue
  11. For Infrared Remotes choose the following:
        Choose:  USB & Serial Remote Support via LIRC (Linux Infrared Remote Control)
        Choose Remote:  Windows Media Center Transceivers/Remotes (all)
                                   Generate dynamic button mappings:  enable
        Generate frontend restart mapping (Power followed by Clear):  enable
        
    and click on Continue
  12. Grab yourself a fine beverage to enjoy.

    *** The installation might take 1/2 hour or so (15 minutes on SSD) ***
  13. When Installation Completed then click on Restart Now
  14. Remove Live DVD when prompted, press the Enter key and let the PVR reboot.

E. Choosing Country, Language, and Database "Configuration

Choose the country, language, and database configuration settings.

  1. Choose your country and language.
    For example,
         Country: Canada
        Language: English
        
    and click on Save.
  2. On Database Configuration 1/2 screen
    leave settings alone
    and click on Next.
  3. On Database Configuration 2/2 screen
    configure the following settings:
        Enable database server wakeup: enable
                       Reconnect time: 1
        

    TIP:   The above database setting prevented the country and language window from popping up every time I rebooted the PVR.

F. Exiting MythTV Frontend after Mythbuntu Boot

In several of the following configuration steps we will need to reboot the computer. By default the computer will boot into the MythTV Frontend. This is perfect for when we are using the computer as a PVR, but since we have more configuration to perform we need to exit out of the MythTV Frontend.

TIP:   If prompted with a warning regarding connection to the database, simply acknowledge this by pressing the Esc or Enter key.


TIP:   If prompted with a note that a new version of theme chooser is available then click on OK.

To exit the MythTV frontend:

  1. Press Escape key until prompted: Do you really want to exit MythTV?
  2. Use arrow keys to select Yes, Exit now and press Enter key.

G. Configure Desktop [Optional]

Following are some desktop configuration changes I make to improve my desktop experience, and so that I am not nagged to apply desktop updates.

Ensure Correct Display Resolution

  1. Start Applications -> Settings -> Display

    TIP:   If the menu is off-screen, you can right-click to access the menu.

  2. Choose a Resolution from the drop-down list.
  3. At the prompt Would you like to keep this configuration? click Keep this configuration.
  4. Close the window.

Enlarge Desktop Font

  1. Start Applications -> Settings -> Appearance
  2. Click on the Fonts tab.
  3. Change font from Ubuntu 10 to 16.
  4. Click OK.
  5. Close the window.

Delay Screensaver

  1. Start Applications -> Settings -> Screensaver
  2. Change Blank after from 10 to 500 minutes.
  3. Close screensaver window.

Turn Off Update Notifier

  1. Start Applications -> Settings -> Session and Startup
  2. Click on Application Autostart tab.
  3. Disable Update Notifier (Check for available updates automatically)
  4. Click Close button.

H. Opening Terminal Window

Several of the following steps require commands to be entered in a terminal window.

To open a terminal window:

  1. Start Applications -> System -> Xfce Terminal

I. Enable TV Capture Card

The driver for the Hauppage WinTV HVR-2250 MC Dual TV Tuner / Encoder card is not included in the default Mythbuntu installation. Hence we will need to install the appropriate driver.

In a terminal window:

  1. Download the driver.
    wget http://www.steventoth.net/linux/hvr22xx/firmwares/4019072/NXP7164-2010-03-10.1.fw
  2. Copy the driver to the proper location.
    sudo cp -p NXP7164-2010-03-10.1.fw /lib/firmware

    NOTE:   When prompted to authenticate, use your "pvr" account password.


    *** a reboot is needed later to load the firmware ***

CAUTION:   Hauppauge Shipping HVR-2255 in HVR-2250 Packaging.

On July 17, 2014, Hauppauge announced the new WinTV HVR-2255 dual tuner. Unfortunately the new HVR-2255 is not yet well supported by GNU/Linux, and is being shipped in the HVR-2250 packaging.

Update 2015-07-26: Hauppauge now has a web page that details how to configure the WinTV-HVR-2255 drivers on Ubuntu 14.04 (requires patching and recompiling Linux kernel). See: Support: Running WinTV TV tuners and HD PVR 2 under Linux.

J. Apply Updates

Because many software updates have been released since the Mythbuntu 14.04.1 was officially released, we should update the software to include the latest bug and security fixes.

  1. If Software Updater is flashing on top task bar, then click on Software Updater.
    Otherwise select menu option Applications -> System -> Software Updater.
  2. Wait while the Software Updater is checking for updates
    *** This might take 5 minutes or so to finish ***
  3. Click Install Now.
    *** This might take a 1/2 hour or more to download and install all of the updates ***

    NOTE:   If or when prompted to authenticate, use your "pvr" account password.

  4. Close window.
  5. Reboot if prompted and use the Exiting MythTV Frontend after Mythbuntu Boot steps above to get back to the desktop.

K. Install TV, DVD, and HDD Utilities [Optional]

Following are applications I install to help with viewing pictures and creating DVDs. These are optional. However, if you are not familiar with Linux text editors then I highly recommend installing at least leafpad.

In a terminal window, enter the following commands:

  1. sudo apt-get install leafpad              # Graphical Text Editor

    TIP:   Start Applications -> Accessories -> Leafpad.
    Close the leafpad editor window.
    This creates the ~/.config/leafpad/leafpadrc configuration file with the proper "pvr" ownership.

  2. sudo apt-get install ivtv-utils           # TV Tuner Utilities
  3. sudo apt-get install avidemux             # Video Editor
  4. sudo apt-get install devede               # DVD menu creator
  5. sudo apt-get install gsmartcontrol        # Hard Disk Health Monitor
  6. sudo apt-get install ristretto            # Picture Viewer
  7. sudo apt-get install xfce4-screenshooter  # Screenshot tool

L. Ensure Full Boot Up After Power Off

In a terminal window:

  1. Edit /etc/default/grub
    sudo leafpad /etc/default/grub
    to add the following two lines to the bottom of the file:

    ---------- begin lines to add ----------

    # Ensure full boot up after power outage
    GRUB_RECORDFAIL_TIMEOUT=10

    ---------- end lines to add ----------

    TIP:   Optionally reduce GRUB boot timeout.
    Change GRUB_TIMEOUT from 10 to 5 seconds.


    Save the file and exit the editor.
  2. Update the GRUB 2 boot loader with:
    sudo update-grub

M. Direct Sound Through HDMI on Intel HD Graphics

Normally sound from your computer is routed through the audio out jacks. This works well when you have speakers connected directly to your computer. However for a PVR, we wish this sound to be directed through the HDMI cable.

In a terminal window:

  1. Determine the card and device number with the command:
    aplay -l
    Check the row containing HDMI for these details. For my PVR it was card 0, device 3.
  2. Create file /etc/asound.conf with command:
    sudo leafpad /etc/asound.conf
    and paste in the following contents, replacing the card and device numbers with the ones for your computer.

    ---------- begin file /etc/asound.conf ----------
    pcm.hdmi_hw {
     type hw
     card 0
     device 3
     }
    
    pcm.hdmi_formatted {
     type plug
     slave {
      pcm hdmi_hw
      rate 48000
      channels 2
      }
     }
    
    pcm.hdmi_complete {
     type softvol
     slave.pcm hdmi_formatted
     control.name hdmi_volume
     control.card 0
     }
    
    pcm.!default hdmi_complete
    
    ---------- end file /etc/asound.conf ----------

    Save the file, and exit the editor.
  3. Test you can hear sound with:
    speaker-test -Dplug:hdmi -c2 -twav
  4. Remove pulseaudio package.
    sudo apt-get remove --purge pulseaudio
  5. Reload alsa drivers.
    sudo alsa reload
    A reboot will also reload the drivers.
  6. Test you can hear default sound setup with:
    speaker-test -c2 -twav

N. Install Flashplayer and Firefox

In order to be able to stream live content from the Internet, tools such as Adobe Flashplayer are often required.

In a terminal window:

  1. Install firefox
    sudo apt-get install firefox
  2. Install flashplayer.
    sudo apt-get install --reinstall flashplugin-installer
    Flashplayer is installed by default, this command re-installs.
  3. Start Applications -> Internet -> Firefox Web Browser

    TIP:   If prompted Firefox is not default browser, click Yes.

  4. Enable Firefox Menu and Bookmarks toolbars.

    1. Click on the icon with three stacked horizonal bars in the upper right-hand corner of the Firefox window.
    2. Click Customize
    3. If prompted, close Hint
    4. Click Show / Hide Toolbars
    5. Enable Menu Bar
    6. Enable Bookmarks Toolbar
    7. Click Exit Customize
  5. Create Firefox bookmarks [Optional]

    1. Select View -> Bookmarks Toolbar
    2. Remove bookmark Getting started
    3. Create bookmarks for your local TV stations

      For myself, I created the following bookmarks
                Global TV*
                CTV*
                CityTV
                CBC
                google
              
      * These TV stations did not work with native GNU/Linux Firefox. For a solution, see Streaming CTV shows not working with Firefox on Linux.
  6. Close Firefox.

O. Add Extra MythTV Plugins

To enable MythTV to archive shows to DVD and view web sites we need to install a few extra MythTV plugins.

  1. Start Applications -> System -> Mythbuntu Control Center
  2. Choose Plugins
  3. Enable the following:
            MythArchive
            MythBrowser
        
    Note the following are left enabled by default
            MythGallery
            MythMusic
            MythWeb
        
  4. Click on Apply.

    NOTE:   If or when prompted to authenticate, use your "pvr" account password.

  5. Click on Quit.

P. Update to latest MythTV Packages [Optional]

If you are not using the Schedules Direct service, then you can skip this section.

Otherwise, in order to accomodate the Nov. 1st, 2014 Schedules Direct URL Change, we need to update to MythTV 0.27.4 or higher. Since this version is not included in the Mythbuntu 14.04.1 image, we need to enable two repositories and update packages.

  1. Start Applications -> System -> Mythbuntu Control Center.
  2. Choose Repositories.
  3. Enable Activate MythTV Updates repository.
  4. Enable Activate Mythbuntu Updates repository.
  5. Click Apply.
  6. In Apply Settings? window, click Apply.
    If prompted, provide your "pvr" password.
  7. Close Mythbuntu Control Center window.
  8. In a terminal window enter:
          sudo apt-get update
          # If prompted, provide your "pvr" password.
          sudo apt-get upgrade
        
    When prompted with Configuring mythtv-database dialog, tab to No and press Enter
          Will other computers run MythTV?
          <No>
        
    When prompted with Configuring mythweb dialog, tab to Yes and press Enter
          Will you be using this webserver exclusively with mythweb?
          <Yes>
        
  9. Close terminal window.

Q. Add New Remote Control Button Mappings

The default Media Center Edition remote control codes are sufficient for operating the PVR. However, I like to add a few more mappings for keys that are not used in the default configuration.

TIP:   To learn the remote control keycodes, in a terminal window start the program irw and it will echo the keycodes as you press keys on the remote control.

The file containing the raw keycodes from the remote control is /etc/lirc/lircd.conf.
We need to edit the user file to add additional functions in ~/.lirc/mythtv.

The keys we wish to re-map are:

      Remote Key  LIRC Key    Key      Function
      ----------  ---------   ------   ---------
      Pictures    Pictures    PgUp     Page Up
      Music       KEY_AUDIO   PgDown   Page Down
      Videos      KEY_VIDEO   End      Forward 1 day in TV Guide
      Radio       KEY_RADIO   Home     Backward 1 day in TV Guide
      Zoom        Aspect      W        Zoom
      Subtitle    BB2         T        Toggle teletext closed captioning
  1. Edit the file ~/.lirc/mythtv
    leafpad ~/.lirc/mythtv
    and add the following many lines to the end of the file:

    ---------- begin many lines ----------
    begin
        remote = mceusb
        prog = mythtv
        button = Pictures
        config = PgUp
        repeat = 0
        delay = 0
    end
    
    begin
        remote = mceusb
        prog = mythtv
        button = KEY_AUDIO
        config = PgDown
        repeat = 0
        delay = 0
    end
    
    begin
        remote = mceusb
        prog = mythtv
        button = KEY_VIDEO
        config = End
        repeat = 0
        delay = 0
    end
    
    begin
        remote = mceusb
        prog = mythtv
        button = KEY_RADIO
        config = Home
        repeat = 0
        delay = 0
    end
    
    begin
        remote = mceusb
        prog = mythtv
        button = Aspect
        config = W
        repeat = 0
        delay = 0
    end
    
    begin
        remote = mceusb
        prog = mythtv
        button = BB2
        config = T
        repeat = 0
        delay = 0
    end
    
    ---------- end many lines ----------

    Save and exit the editor.

    Note to self: Investigate if/how we can use KEY_DVD for the DVD Menu

R. Prepare RAID [Optional]

If you are not using RAID then skip this entire section.

If you choose to store your recordings on RAID, then additional preparation steps are needed.

The steps in this section were taken from Setting Up RAID and Migrating MythTV Recordings and adapted for Mythbuntu 14.04.

  1. Install Linux Software RAID package.

    sudo apt-get install mdadm

    TIP:   Use TAB or ARROWS to navigate prompts, and ENTER to accept.

    1. At first Package Configuration screen:
      TAB to "Ok" and press ENTER.
    2. At second Package Configuration screen:
      ARROW UP to "No configuration", and TAB to "Ok" and press ENTER.

  2. Ensure boot from degraded RAID.

    1. Edit /etc/default/grub.

      sudo leafpad /etc/default/grub

      Change the line:

      GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash"

      By adding "bootdegraded=true" to become:

      GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash bootdegraded=true"

      Save the file and exit editor.

  3. Update the boot loader to boot from degraded RAID.

    sudo update-grub

    NOTE:   RAID Monitoring Suggested

    In the default configuration, Mythbuntu will not boot if the RAID is in a degraded state (for example, one drive has failed). Hence when a drive in the RAID fails, we will become aware of this by Mythbuntu failing to fully boot up.

    Since we change the configuration to continue with boot even in a degraded state, we need another way to know when there are problems with the RAID. Later on we describe how to add basic RAID monitoring.


  4. Install gparted graphical partitioning software.

    sudo apt-get install gparted

    NOTE:   Mythbuntu 14.04 uses older GParted 0.18.0

    This older version of GParted echos many error messages which can be safely ignored. The problem was fixed with GParted 0.19.0. See Prevent GLib-CRITICAL Source ID not found warning messages.

  5. Partition the RAID drive (For example: /dev/sdb and /dev/sdc).

    Run GParted from a terminal window using the following command:

    sudo gparted

    1. Select the /dev/sdb device using the upper right-hand-side drop-down list.
    2. Use Device -> Create Partition Table to write an msdos (MBR) partition table.
    3. Select the unallocated space.
    4. Use Partition -> New to create one new unformatted primary partition spanning the drive.
      NOTE: On my 1 TB drive this is 931.51 GiB or 953,869 MiB.
    5. Use Edit -> Apply All Operations to apply this operation.
    6. Close the Applying pending operations window.
    7. Use Partition -> Manage Flags to set "raid" flag.
    8. Repeat steps "a" to "g" selecting /dev/sdc this time round.
    9. Exit gparted.
  6. Create the RAID level 1 mirror on the drive partitions (For example: /dev/sdb1 and /dev/sdc1).

    sudo mdadm --create /dev/md0 --auto=p --level=1 \
      --raid-devices=2 /dev/sdb1 /dev/sdc1

    NOTE:   Creating RAID will take a long time

    Creating the RAID level 1 mirror on my 1 TB drives took 3 hours.

    You can use the watch command to frequently check the progress of building the RAID:

    watch -n 10 cat /proc/mdstat

    Use Ctrl+C to stop watching the progress.


  7. Partition the RAID.

    sudo gparted /dev/md0

    1. Use Device -> Create Partition Table to write an msdos (MBR) partition table.
    2. Select the unallocated space.
    3. Use Partition -> New to create one new ext4 primary partition spanning the drive with label "data".
      NOTE: On my 1 TB partitioned drive this is 953,738 MiB.
    4. Use Edit -> Apply All Operations to apply this operation.
    5. Close the Applying pending operations window.
    6. Exit gparted.
  8. Update /etc/mdadm/mdadm.conf to re-assemble RAID with name md0 on boot.

    1. Add the RAID configuration to the end of the /etc/mdadm/mdadm.conf file with the following command:

      sudo mdadm --detail --scan >> /etc/mdadm/mdadm.conf

      This should add a line like the following to the end of mdadm.conf:

      ARRAY /dev/md/0 metadata=1.2 UUID=8d8a88cc:e239f398:8c202a01:d3750e45 name=mythpvr:0

      NOTE: If you run this command multiple times, then you will need to edit /etc/mdadm/mdadm.conf to remove the duplicate entries.
    2. Rebuild the current initramfs.

      sudo update-initramfs -u
  9. Create script for mdadm to notify of RAID problems.

    1. Create new script file /usr/bin/mdadm-notify-mythtv.sh

      sudo leafpad /usr/bin/mdadm-notify-mythtv.sh

      and paste in the following contents:

      ---------- begin file /usr/bin/mdadm-notify-mythtv.sh ----------
      #!/bin/bash
      #    Purpose:  To notify user of problems with Linux software RAID
      #  Called by:  /etc/mdadm/mdadm.conf
      # Parameters:  1 - Event, 2 - Device, 3 - Optional Component
      #
      #
      # Write message to MythTV Frontend / MythWelcome
      #
      mythutil --message \
        --message_text="RAID Status :: $1 :: $2 :: $3" \
        --timeout=5 \
        --bcastaddr=127.0.0.1
      #
      # Write message to Desktop
      #
      notify-send 'RAID Status' "$1 :: $2 :: $3" \
        --expire-time=5000
              
      ---------- end file /usr/bin/mdadm-notify-mythtv.sh ----------
    2. Ensure script file is executable.

      sudo chmod a+x /usr/bin/mdadm-notify-mythtv.sh
  10. Add notification script to mdadm configuration.

    1. Edit /etc/mdadm/mdadm.conf:

      sudo leafpad /etc/mdadm/mdadm.conf

      add the following two lines:

      # notify if problems with RAID
      PROGRAM /usr/bin/mdadm-notify-mythtv.sh

      The resulting file should look something like the following:

      ---------- Begin example file mdadm.conf ----------
      # mdadm.conf
      #
      # Please refer to mdadm.conf(5) for information about this file.
      #
      
      # by default (built-in), scan all partitions (/proc/partitions) and all
      # containers for MD superblocks. alternatively, specify devices to scan, using
      # wildcards if desired.
      #DEVICE partitions containers
      
      # auto-create devices with Debian standard permissions
      CREATE owner=root group=disk mode=0660 auto=yes
      
      # automatically tag new arrays as belonging to the local system
      HOMEHOST <system>
      
      # instruct the monitoring daemon where to send mail alerts
      MAILADDR root
      
      # definitions of existing MD arrays
      ARRAY /dev/md/0 metadata=1.2 UUID=8d8a88cc:e239f398:8c202a01:d3750e45 name=mythpvr:0
      
      # notify if problems with RAID
      PROGRAM /usr/bin/mdadm-notify-mythtv.sh
      
      # This file was auto-generated on Sun, 19 Oct 2014 09:56:47 -0600
      # by mkconf $Id$
              
      ---------- Begin example file mdadm.conf ----------
    2. Rebuild the current initramfs:

      sudo update-initramfs -u
    3. Test notification with:

      sudo mdadm --monitor --scan --oneshot --test 2>/dev/null

      When I ran my tests, I was only able to see a visual indication of any RAID problems while viewing the XFCE desktop. While the MythTV Frontend was running, or when viewing a recording, I did not see a visual indication of RAID problems until after I exited the MythTV Frontend.
  11. Create a root crontab file to automatically have mdadm monitor the RAID at a time when you usually watch TV.
    I choose 8:35pm or 20:35 in 24 hour time format.

    1. Start up the crontab file editor using the leafpad editor.

      sudo sh -c "export VISUAL=leafpad && crontab -e"
    2. Add and save the following three lines at the end of the file:

      ---------- Begin three crontab lines ----------
      #
      # Monitor mdadm RAID and notify if problems
      35 20 * * * /sbin/mdadm --monitor --scan --oneshot 2>/dev/null
              
      ---------- End three crontab lines ----------
    3. Confirm the crontab file by listing the contents.

      sudo crontab -l

S. Setup /data Directory

If you did not create a separate /data file system, then you can skip this section.

From my personal experience, I have found it very useful to store recordings separate from the operating system. The main reasons are for ease of migration, upgrades, and failed disk replacement.

In a terminal window:

  1. Create a /data mount point.
    sudo mkdir /data
    Note that /data should already exist if /data was specified when installing Mythbuntu.
  2. Determine the UUID of your separate data partition using a command like:
    sudo blkid /dev/sda3
  3. Edit /etc/fstab to entry to mount /data.
    sudo leafpad /etc/fstab
    and check for a line for /data.

    If no line for /data is found, then add the following lines, replacing the UUID value with the one you discovered in the above step.

    ---------- begin /etc/fstab lines ----------
    # /data on /dev/sda3
    UUID=2f02b4a8-acfa-4a09-b809-73d1823d1d01   /data   ext4   defaults,noatime,nodiratime   0   2
    
    ---------- end /etc/fstab lines ----------

    TIP:   If using RAID then add an entry like:

    ---------- begin /etc/fstab lines ----------

    # /data on /dev/md0p1
    /dev/md0p1                                /data   ext4   defaults,noatime,nodiratime   0   2
    

    ---------- end /etc/fstab lines ----------

  4. Test mounting the directory.
    sudo mount -a
  5. Change into the directory.
    cd /data
  6. Create sub-directories.
    sudo mkdir mythtv mythtv/recordings  mythtv/videos \
                      mythtv/music       mythtv/pictures \
                      mythtv/livetv      mythtv/db_backups \
                      mythtv/mytharchive mythtv/mytharchive/temp \
                      mythtv/streaming
    
  7. Change ownership.
    sudo chown -R mythtv.mythtv /data/mythtv
  8. Change permissions.
    sudo chmod -R g+ws /data/mythtv

T. Setup Static IP Address [Optional]

By default Mythbuntu will use a dynamically assigned Internet Protocol (IP) address. Personally I like to have a known static IP address configured so that I can easily remotely connect to the PVR.

If you do not wish to set up a static IP address, then you can skip this step and your PVR will continue to work correctly.

For my PVR I chose:
IP-address:   192.168.1.55
hostname:   mythpvr

For the steps to set up a static IP address see the following tutorial:

How To and Why Set Up a Static IP Address on GNU/Linux

U. Create Schedules Direct Account [Optional]

In North America, television show listings are conveniently provided by a Schedules Direct subscription. MythTV can be configured to automatically use these TV show listings.

If you are not in North America, then consult the MythTV XMLTV page to learn how to acquire TV show listings.

High level instructions on how to create a Schedules Direct account follow.

  1. Start a web browser and visit http://www.schedulesdirect.org.
  2. Create an account ($25 USD per year).

    Write down all the details you provide.
  3. Set up TV listings.

    To get all listings on Schedules Direct: login, refresh all lineups and edit for the channels you desire.

    For Over-The-Air broadcasts, I used the name HD Antenna
    For Analog Cable connection, I used the name Shaw Cable

    For my PVR, I only have an HD antenna connected. I note the Shaw Cable connection for my family and my friends that still have analog cable TV subscriptions.

TIP:   To update MythTV immediately, use the following command in a terminal window:

        mythfilldatabase --dd-grab-all

V. Reboot Computer

At this point we reboot the computer to ensure all of the above settings become active.

  1. Start Applications -> System -> Logout
  2. Choose Restart.
  3. Exit the MythTV Frontend using the steps described in Exiting MythTV Frontend after Mythbuntu Boot.

In some of the following steps we need to navigate through the MythTV backend or frontend and alter values. Rather than detailing each keypress required, I have opted to describe how the keys work.

   Key            Action
   ---------      ------------------------------
   Tab            Moves forward through options
   Shift+Tab      Moves backward through options
   Esc(ape)       Backs out of a screen or setting
   Enter          Enters a screen or setting
   Right arrow    Like Enter, but also change value
   Left arrow     Like Esc, but also change value
   Down arrow     Move down through options
   Up arrow       Move up through options

X. Configure MythTV Backend

Before we can use MythTV, we need to tell it about the computer hardware. The MythTV backend handles recording shows and hence must be told about the TV capture card and the TV listings source.

  1. Start Applications -> System -> MythTV Backend Setup
  2. Click Yes to close any currently running mythbackend processes.
  3. Enter your "pvr" account password.
  4. Configure each of the backend screen settings as described below:
    
        1.  General
              On Miscellaneous Settings (near File Management Settings)
                Follow symbolic links when deleting files: Enable
                                      Delete files slowly: Enable
              On Job Queue (Backend Specific)
                Max simultaneous jobs on this backend:  2
              On Job Queue (Global)
                Start auto-commercial-detection jobs when recording starts: Enable
              On Program Schedule Downloading Options
                Automatically update program listings: Enable
    
        2.  Capture Cards
    
            For ATSC Over-The-Air Antenna (connection LHS from front of PVR):
              Select New Capture Card
                        Card type:  DVB-T/S/C, ATSC or ISDB-T tuner card
                DVB device number:  /dev/dvb/adapter0/frontend0
                Recording Options   # This was slow to open for me
                  Max simultaneous recordings: 2
              Select New Capture Card
                        Card type:  DVB-T/S/C, ATSC or ISDB-T tuner card
                Recording Options
                DVB device number:  /dev/dvb/adapter1/frontend0
                  Max simultaneous recordings: 2
    
            For Shaw Analog Cable (physical connection RHS from front of PVR):
              Select New Capture Card
                        Card type:  MPEG-2 encoder card
                DVB device number:  /dev/video2
              Select New Capture Card
                        Card type:  MPEG-2 encoder card
                DVB device number:  /dev/video3
    
        3.  Recording Profiles
              Choose MPEG-2 Encoders (PVR-x50, PVR-500)
                For each of Default, Live TV, High Quality, Low Quality,
                  Volume (%):  60
    
              See also: How to Fix MythTV Analog Volume Too Loud
    
        4.  Video Sources
              NOTE:  Here you will use you schedules direct account
              New Video Source
                Schedules Direct - "HD Antenna"
                Channel frequency table: us-bcast
                Retrieve lineup
              New Video Source
                Schedules Direct - "Shaw Cable"
                Channel frequency table: us-cable
                Retrieve lineup
    
        5.  Input Connections
    
            For ATSC Over-The-Air Antenna:
              Choose /dev/dvb/adapter0/frontend0
                    Video source: HD Antenna
                            Name: HDTuner1
                Starting Channel: 2_1
                  Input Priority: +1
                  Schedule Order: 1   # Ascending order, increment by capture card max simultaneous recordings
                   Live TV Order: 3   # Descending order, to avoid conflicts with scheduled recordings
    
              Choose /dev/dvb/adapter1/frontend0
                    Video source: HD Antenna
                            Name: HDTuner2
                Starting Channel: 2_1
                  Input Priority: +1
                  Schedule Order: 3
                   Live TV Order: 1
    
            For Shaw Cable (tuner on LHS near power supply):
              Choose [MPEG: /dev/video2](tuner) -> (none)
                    Video source: Shaw Cable
                            Name: Shaw Cable Tuner 1
                Starting Channel: 3
    
              Choose [MPEG: /dev/video3](tuner) -> (none)
                    Video source: Shaw Cable
                            Name: Shaw Cable Tuner 2
                Starting Channel: 3
    
        6.  Channel Editor
              NOTE:  For Over-The-Air HDTV broadcasts do a full channel scan.
                     For Analog Cable TV fetch listings from source.
              Full Channel Scan
              Icon Download                         # ~pvr/.mythtv/channels/*.jpg
              Note:  Space bar chooses icon
              Upload for others
              Delete unneeded channels
    
        7.  Storage Directories
              "Default" Storage Group directories
                 Select /var/lib/mythtv/recordings
                 Edit to be
                   /data/mythtv/recordings
              "LiveTV" Storage Group directories
                 Select /var/lib/mythtv/livetv
                 Edit to be
                   /data/mythtv/livetv
              "DB Backups" Storage Group directories
                 Select /var/lib/mythtv/db_backups
                 Edit to be
                   /data/mythtv/db_backups
              "Videos" Storage directories
                 Select /var/lib/mythtv/videos
                 Edit to be
                   /data/mythtv/videos
              "Streaming" Storage directories
                 Select /var/lib/mythtv/streaming
                 Edit to be
                   /data/mythtv/streaming
    
        8.  System Events
              No changes.
        
  5. Press Esc until you exit the MythTV Backend.
  6. Enter your "pvr" account password to start mythv-backend.
  7. Click Yes to run mythfilldatabase.

Y. Configure MythTV Frontend

The MythTV frontend handles the display of recordings from the backend. As such we need to configure the frontend for our preferences.

  1. Start Applications -> Multimedia -> MythTV Frontend
  2. Select Setup -> General
    On Database Configuration page:
    Note this page contains the database password if you should need it in the future.
  3. Select Setup -> Appearance
        On Appearance page:
                Paint engine:  Auto
        
  4. Select Setup -> Audio
        On Audio System page:
           Audio output device:  ALSA:default
        On Audio mixer page:
           Master Mixer Volume:  70 -> 100
              PCM Mixer Volume:  81 -> 100
        
  5. Select Setup -> Video -> Playback
        On Playback Profiles (3/8) page:
          Select Content Video Playback Profile: OpenGL High Quality
        On Commercial Skip (8/8) page:
          Commercial skip automatic rewind amount (secs): 1
        

    TIP:   The OpenGL High Quality setting fixes the video tearing problem with Intel GPUs.

    Be sure to navigate forward through all 8 pages in the playback section to ensure that the setting is saved.

  6. Select Setup -> Media Settings -> Video Settings -> Player Settings
           DVD Drive: /dev/sr0      # was /dev/dvd
        

    TIP:   Mythbuntu 14.04 does not create /dev/dvd entry.

    Since /dev/dvd is missing, we change to use /dev/sr0 instead.

    See Mythbuntu 14.04: /dev/dvd and /dev/dvdrw symlinks no longer created.

Z. Setup Mtyhbrowser [Optional]

This plugin permits you to view web pages on the MythTV frontend Information Center -> Web page. Personally I use this page to stream TV shows that are hosted by my local television station web sites. Later on I describe how to create bookmarks.

  1. Select Setup -> Info Center Settings -> Web Settings
        Text Size:  1.5
        Enable browser plugins (Flash, etc): Enable
        

AA. Setup Mythmusic [Optional]

This plugin permits you to store and play music on the MythTV frontend Media Library -> Listen to Music page.

  1. Select Setup -> Media Settings -> Music Settings -> General Settings
        On General Settings screen
          Directory to hold music: /data/mythtv/music
                        CD Device: /dev/sr0            # was /dev/cdrom
        On Player Settings screen
          Automatically play CDs: Enable
        On Ripper Settings screen
          Encoding type: Lame (MP3)
          Leave default rip quality at "Low" = 128 kb/s
                                    "Medium" = 192 kb/s
          Disable "Automatically eject CDs afte..."
        

BB. Setup Mytharchive [Optional]

This plugin permits you to burn recordings to DVD-R on the MythTV frontend Optical Disks -> Archive Files -> Create DVD page.

  1. Select Setup -> Media settings -> Archive Files Settings
        On Mytharchive Settings screen
          MythArchive Temp Directory: /data/mythtv/mytharchive/temp
                                      # was /var/lib/mytharchive/temp
             Video Format: NTSC
          Location of DVD: /dev/sr0   # was /dev/dvd
        
    The NTSC video standard is used in North America. The PAL video standard is used in many other parts of the world.

CC. Create Mythbrowser Bookmarks [Optional]

Personally I create bookmarks to various locations for weather, and also links to TV stations such as: Global TV, CTV, City TV, and CBC.

I use the category zTV Shows so that this sorts to the end of the categories as I more often check the Weather.

  1. Select Information Center -> Web
  2. Press the M key to access the menu to add bookmarks and follow the prompts to create your a bookmark.
        Category:  Weather
            Name:  location
             URL:  link to weather web site
    
        Category:  zTV Shows
            Name:  TV station
             URL:  link to TV show web site
        
  3. Repeat above step for each bookmark you desire.

Note that you can use your mouse, keyboard, or remote control to navigate web sites in the Mythbrowser.

DD. Optimize for SSD [Optional]

Solid State Drives (SSDs) are completely different than standard spinning hard disk drives. As such I spent some time researching SSDs and discovered some optimization tips. The general recommended practice is to lessen write activity where possible, and to reserve ~10% unallocated space when partitioning (some newer SSDs supposedly do this already -- maybe that explains the difference in SSD sizes such as 60 GB versus 64 GB).

Following are the tips I implemented on my Mythbuntu PVR.

  1. Add "noatime" and "nodiratime" to SSD file system mounts to inhibit last access time updates.

    Edit /etc/fstab

    sudo leafpad /etc/fstab

    and add "noatime,nodiratime" parameters to "/" mount. The resulting line should look something like the following:

    ---------- begin /etc/fstab lines ----------
    # / was on /dev/sda1 during installation
    UUID=d819744e-5a07-4039-95b8-9d322954b065 / ext4 noatime,nodiratime,errors=remount-ro 0 1
    ---------- end /etc/fstab lines ----------

    NOTE:   Some Recommend Adding "discard" or Scheduling TRIM

    From my research some people advise adding "discard" to /etc/fstab to help with wear levelling. However I have read that this can increase the time to perform a delete.

    Some other people advise scheduling regular TRIM operations to perform this same wear levelling.

    Since I was unsure of all the implications, I opted to not implement either method and instead take a wait-and-see approach. So far my PVR has been running without these "discard/TRIM" settings since May 2013 and I have not experienced any noticeable degradation in SSD performance.

  2. Limit swap space wear and tear by reducing the inclination to swap.

    Edit /etc/sysctl.conf

    sudo /etc/sysctl.conf

    and add the following 5 lines to end of file:

    ---------- begin 5 /etc/sysctl.conf lines ----------
    #
    # Sharply reduce swap inclination
    vm.swappiness=1
    # Don't shrink the inode cache aggressively
    vm.vfs_cache_pressure=50
    ---------- end 5 /etc/sysctl.conf lines ----------
  3. Limit write actions in Firefox.

    Start Applications -> Internet -> Firefox Web Browser.

    Select Edit -> Preferences -> Advanced
      On Network tab
        Click on Clear Now
        Override automatic cache management:
          Limit cache to 0 MB of space
      Click on Close
    Exit Firefox

Installation Complete

Congratulations! You have now completed the steps to setting up an always on PVR, that should reboot and work properly after any power outages. Enjoy!

References

While setting up a Mythbuntu MythTV PVR, I found the following references useful:

Future Articles

In future articles, I plan to cover the following steps of our path:

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