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Linux TV recorder

Started by EvilAndrew, 2004-12-09T19:13:36-06:00 (Thursday)

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I am thinking of using my Linux Box (Fedora Core 2) to record TV shows from my cable.  I was wondering if anyone on this group has done that before and what they would recommend for the following features.

1.  A USB1, PCI, or (if necessary) older AGP device/card that will work with Linux to record live TV.  Hardware compression would be nice.  The ability the see digital TV channels without being on the other side of my Digital Cable box would be cool (but might be impossible).

2. Software that allows for the easy scheduling of recording and compression of Live TV.  Once again it must work with Linux.  It would be cool if this program had a command line interface so that I could use it remotely without starting up a GUI.

3. Both of the above must work on a 933Mhz P3 with 512MB of ram and an old 40GB hard drive.

4. I would like to spend less than the cost of a Tivo(a few hundred $).

The last time I was seized by an impulse to do this I was completely disheartened by the 5 hours it took me to discover that the video capture card I had did not have Linux drivers that supported the video capture part of it.  This would not have been as difficult if there had not been so many different drivers available for the card itself.  I tried (and/or read about) each one and then finally gave up.  This time I am going to ask questions first then give it a shot. ;-)

Thanks for any and all help.


I wanted to set something up like this, but I ran into a few problems.

First, I have a nVidia card that has VIVO built in, so I thought I could use that. I use the nVidia drivers version 6629. However, nVidia does not make drivers for Video input for Linux, only for Windows <_<. I had to use RivaTV drivers, but they do not work with any of the 6xxx line of nVidia drivers because nVidia decided to lock out external drivers. You need to use early 5xxx drivers, but they did not work for me, and that new drivers are blazing fast. But, the built in XOrg drivers and older drivers work fine if you do not need to play any games on that computer.

Anyways, you need to enable Video4Linux in the Kernel. You can select the card in there. You can go through the list to see what is supported and base the card you get on that list. Also, I believe you need to enable the I2C bus support as well. Well, I had to for RivaTV. It all depends on the card I guess. You need to look on the PCI/AGP card to see what the maker of the chipset is and write down the exact number. On my nVidia card, for example, a Phillips SAA7108E controls the Video In.

If you have an external cable/satellite box, then all you need is a card with S-Video in and is supported Linux. That can be fairly cheap. You can get a card with a TV Tuner, but that gets more expensive. You would be able to change the channel though.

I still do not know which is better: MythTV or FreeVO. They are both pretty good, and free. :D

I am waiting patiently for RivaTV to be compatible with the new drivers before I can continue work on my DVR/PVR/TIVO like thing. They are working on it and are working directly with nVidia to get this resolved.

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Opps.  I guess I forgot that spec.

5. The card needs to have a TV tuner that tunes analog TV channels.  If it can do digital channels that would be cool, but I suspect that this is impossible.  If the card has no tuner then I will have to change the channel on the cable box and if I am home to to that then I can use my VCR and so the system becomes worthless. ;-)


I'm not sure about Linux, but I have this software called Beyond TV (www.snapstream.com) on one of my computers, and it's just like Tivo.  It's fricking awesome.  It came with a Hauppage TV tuner in the bundle that I bought (that's right, I actually bought software).

It is just about the coolest thing ever.

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Does this "Beyond TV" software encode/compress the video?  If so, what formats are available?  Can it take DivX Codecs?

If the software were cool enough I might use it on my Windows PC despite the extra works it is to remotly connect.


http://www.mythtv.org/ and supports pug-ins. I believe it supports DivX. I need to read the docs again. I believe there is a plug-in for DivX. There are cards that can decode digital satellite and cable signals. They cost over $100 dollars though. There are some from here, and they are compatible with Linux and Windows: http://www.telemann.com/
Retired webmaster of CAOS.