Setting up MythTV and getting disappointed

Submitted by dag on Tue, 2008/12/09 - 01:35

I was not very impressed by the MythTV installation process (after having installed the packages for 0.21). The documentation does not really explain well what the different steps mean, but instead repeats the same labels as on screen with little or no additional information.

So if you get stuck because of something, the documentation does not help you at all. Lost a good hour because of doing the same things wrong over and over without a good explanation. And then because of sheer irritation simply added all the missing values directly in the MySQL database. Something was not right...

Furthermore the XMLTV integration did not work out-of-the-box. (Never found a way to make it work I ended up configuring some channels by hand, but the frequency naming standards does not match, sigh...) There was something terribly wrong with the TV screen quality, it was not using the complete screen-estate and the sound (distorted and consistent high pitch sound). tvtime always worked flawlessly with very good screen quality.

I also was unable to make the composite input work to use my Nintendo Wii from the MythTV menu.

The mythmusic is not very customizable (either a sorted playlist, or a random playlist) and makes it hard to use a database of 50.000 songs (or even search for them).

And I did get it to work with the wii-mote, but not all the buttons were mapped as one would expect and things like changing volume was impossible. Also you couldn't point to the TV to select menus, only the buttons worked. It was not very stable, sometimes MythTV would bail out and restarting the wii-mote synchronization is a pain and not something you want your relatives to worry about.

In the end I just mapped tvtime behind the TV menu and added a second menu-item starting tvtime using the composite input. But then you need to manual stop mythmusic before starting the TV. And the wii-mote controls would not be mapped for tvtime (making it useless as a remote).

It is sad, but the MythTV journey was less than fruitful and not what I expected. We have not used it since.

Any good suggestions or alternatives ?

I've been using myth for over

I've been using myth for over four years now. I understand your pain; I was overwhelmed at first. Out of curiosity, did you compile it yourself or you did you settle for the binaries (i.e. from atrpms). I've had much more success since I switched from my own builds and using Axel's repo.

I did in fact use ATrpms. I

I did in fact use ATrpms. I am a big fan of Axel's work. Being a packager myself I both respect and trust Axel's packages.

The RPM packages were fine, I don't think they can be improved more. Setting up an environment like MythTV unfortunately requires a lot of custom work which in my case did not work out fine.

Alternative to MythTV

I use SageTV ( or They have a Linux OEM version that I use on a Linux platform. It is not OSS but it is multiplatform and works. I has all the standard features of a good central HTPC along with placeshifting (like slingbox).


I recommend MythTV on Ubuntu. I've had the best luck with Myth on Ubuntu. I tried KnoppMyth and MythDora but Ubuntu has the packages and how-to information. I built a functioning MythTV unit using a Happaugue PVR-150. I also had an NVidia video card in the unit. I think this link will help you.

I don't see why changing the

I don't see why changing the operating system would fix the MythTV problems I have.


You might have a look at Elisa, a Linux port of MediaPortal. It doesn't support TV watching yet, but if you don't need that, Elisa might be something for you. The stability of Elisa, however, isn't up to the state of MythTV... I tried it last week to see if it might be a worthy MediaPortal substitute (no Windows as my HTPC platform !), but I got rather quickly dissapointed...

Hi Kristof, I was interested

Hi Kristof,

I was interested in Elisa before and yesterday packaged and fixed some problems with it on CentOS. Despite the fact that I like it very much, it does not have TV support.

So it falls of the list quite quickly :-/


Good alternative


What aboute freevo? Good documentation and features.


MythTV Woes


After having a similar experience, and even retrying many times with mythtv I seem to stick to freevo.

I dislike the idea of storing media info within a mysql database, I find freevo much better as its more of a glorified filemanager for music and media content. With installation and config fairly simple too.

Although MythTV seems to boast more features, of some I would love to see within freevo, I still stick with freevo.

Just my opinion. :)

Use Ubuntu

Hi Dag,

While this is probably not what you want to hear, honest, your best bet is to use Ubuntu. I tried for months to get MythTV working well on CentOS and just couldn't get it to work well. I finally gave up and went to Ubuntu. Here's my process

Boot the latest Ubuntu Alternative Installer using CLI mode. This installs the base Ubuntu.

Perform an aptitude -y full-upgrade to apply all latest patches.

aptitude -y install mysql-server. Leave everything at the defaults, blank passwords and all

aptitude -y install mythtv if it is a frontend and a backend. Answer defaults, blank passwords and all.

aptitude -y install kubuntu-desktop mythbuntu-control-centre


Log into newly installed KUbuntu install and run mythtv-setup being sure to add yourself to the mythtv group in /etc/group first. Setup MythTV as necessary for you. Exit and run mythfilldatabase

Launch mythbuntu-control-centre from menu. Select the options that you want click apply.

You're basically done, except for the Wiimote. I don't use that.

Barring all this, you may wish to try MythDora or LinuxMCE which do tend to work very well out of the box. :)

Feel free to contact me with any questions. ;)

James, I fail to see why

James, I fail to see why changing the distribution would make a difference in the problems I report here.

I am talking about MythTV (or mplayer) shortcomings mostly. The fact that TVtime works fine with my hardware goes to show this is not hardware/kernel related.

I feel you are promoting Ubuntu instead of looking at my problems. Why should I not have the same problem with MythTV on Ubuntu ? It is the same MythTV.

It's not about the OS

Hi Dag,

I'm in no way promoting Ubuntu, but Ubuntu *may* contain fixes that the packages you are using do not.

Even using the Ubuntu packages I had to merge in some subversion sources to correct issues with MythVideo. I have just found that Ubuntu gave me a relatively good starting point to go from. Anyways, as you know, you could always package your own. I use your repositories at my day job. We use CentOS 5.2 as a "standard" desktop.

I've personally only experienced very minor annoyances with MythTV on Ubuntu, so I don't know what else to say.

I use P4 2.4GHz Intel, PVR-500 and a DVI => HDMI converter to connect my nVidia 5200 to my Panasonic 42" plasma TV and the quality looks great. Ubuntu/ driver recognized it and set the resolutions appropriately with no difficulties at all. AC3 passthrough to my home theater receiver provides me with full 5.1 surround.

BTW: use mythweb's music tab to create playlists

... I find it works much better than the graphical interface for that. It'll allow you to search and create/save playlists that are then selectable in the MythMusic screen.

That's a good tip. I'd like

That's a good tip. I'd like to make at least a few custom playlists for Brenda. But still I could appreciate if finding songs was easier in the default interface.

Changing the sort-type in the MythMusic interface would already be a great help. At the moment pytone is much much better for my needs :-/

Although I would prefer an integrated, remote-driven interface.

I am using old familiar

I am using old familiar mplayer (pvr://) for television, but I doubt it fits on a HTPC.



You could try to get some stuff working with XBMC. Although I know you are an RH users yourself there is a nice howto for Ubuntu. Big chance you can use it as reference or at first for a test.

Another solution...

is Boxee, an XBMC fork, actually very impressive.
All this solutions: Elisa, Xbmc, Boxee, lacks the Tv support.
I think that the only real and free alternative for now is Freevo.



I feel your pain. I've been using mythtv successfully for a few months now and loving it, but the startup docs are really nowhere near newbie-quality.

However, a few key points:
- does have the alternative channel names (SE38 etc), but it's highly recommended to have mythtv-setup scan for channels
- using a wiimote is not a very good idea, at least with the current mythtv, because it is not made at all to be used with a mouse; rather with a keyboard or at least an lirc remote, which does not have a cursor to move, just arrow buttons etc.
- using your wii through composite sounds like a very bad idea as you'll have 5 seconds latency watching the output... unless you meant adding a menu item starting up mplayer/tvtime/... using your composite input (which will only work if you have setup mythtv to not claim the video card when not recording)
- mythtv does not use or should not be using mplayer as default, it has an internal player which works great.
- mythmusic sucks donkeyballs, don't use it. at least not in its current incarnation.
- distorted audio may be a problem of the upmixer in the mythtv audio/alsa settings dialog. If I have it set to active, it kills my sound as well. Try setting the number of channels to stereo to start with and see if it helps.
- changing the OS will not make it better, but mythbuntu does have sensible defaults for everything, wrapper scripts and nice wizardly setup screens.

in short: patience is a virtue... you'll need to read the entire wiki and documentation 6 times, but once it's up and running it's a great system.