Mythbuntu: The Perfect Linux Media Box
If like me, you’ve dreamed of a Media Center PC that sits in your living room recording all your favorite shows but lack the money for it then good news for you. Mythbuntu is a specialized Ubuntu-based distribution designed to make using MythTV as painless as possible. It is designed to simplify the installation of MythTV on a home theatre PC.
What in the world is MythTV? It is a GPL licensed suite of programs that allow you to build the mythical home media convergence box on your own using Open Source software and operating systems. MythTV is known to work on Linux and Mac OS X (PowerPC and Intel). It does not run on Windows.
Think of MythTV as a build-it-yourself TiVo and Mythbuntu as a Linux version of Windows Media Center that you can install on any capable system at anytime. What’s more is it’s all free. You just need to supply the necessary hardware to be able to access MythTV’s robust PVR functions allow 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 or use for picture-in-picture functions.
- You may watch and record SDTV and HDTV via firewire if you have a firewire-enabled cable or satellite tuner.
- You can have multiple servers (called “backends” in MythTV parlance), 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. Each client can watch all programs recorded by any of the servers, assuming that they have the hardware capabilities to view the content; a low-powered frontend, for example, will not be able to watch HDTV. Clients can be diskless and controlled entirely by a remote control.
- You may use combinations of standard analog capture cards, MPEG-2, MJPEG, DVB, HDTV, USB and firewire capture devices. With a firewire capable backend, MythTV can control a variety of set top boxes often found in digital cable and satellite TV systems.
- Program Guide Data in North America is downloaded from www.schedulesdirect.org (a non profit orgainization) for a fee. This service directly replaces Zap2it’s DataDirect service (which is no longer available), 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 don’t have enough tuners.
- MythTV implements a UPNP server, so a UPNP client may automatically see content from your MythTV system. N.B.: this feature has not been verified to work on every available UPNP client.
- Plugins from the MythTV community provide functionality for: DVDs, Personal Video Collection, Music, Weather, News, Gaming, Netflix and much, much more.
If you’re tempted to try Mythbuntu but don’t have the PC to spare, don’t worry, as long as you have an Ubuntu-based distro installed, you can easily convert or add Mythbuntu with a few clicks. No more terminal commands, or package hunting for various package managers.