Most articles and blog posts on this topic, I have noticed, tend to use the phrase, “My Mythbuntu Adventure.” I am not going to. Well, from now on. And the reason why I won’t is because that is not how I conceived of my foray into Mythbuntu. I have had a TiVo for well over eighteen months now, even though they have been commercially available in Australia for a tick over six months. Not really something to brag about, I know—a friend of mine has had his for a lot longer than that, and he hardly forged the yellow-brick that is OzTiVo. Anyways, back to my point. I have had a TiVo for a while and I love it. It has actually gotten to the point where I am continually frustrated when I try and watch TV somewhere that doesn’t have one.
While a working Mythbuntu box would replace a TiVo, my Mythbuntu experiment was not born from dissatisfaction with the TiVo. Rather it was born from my dissatisfaction with Apple TV. Now, I don’t have an Apple TV, and I’m not particularly inspired to get one. For two reasons: 1. You want me to pay $329 to be able to watch my content two rooms away? 2. While I am interested in renting and downloading movies, it’s not really something that my internet is up to. Also, I could add, that I’d probably need to buy a new TV to work with the Apple TV.
What I do (or did) have is (was) a Windows box that is not being used. Well, occasionally I put my feet up on it, but it’s not even particularly suited to that. My Windows box used to be my primary TV for years, thanks to a WinFast 2000XP TV card from Leadtek. So, right there, at my feet—literally—I had the beginnings of a Mythbuntu box. With some limitations. Firstly, I wasn’t (and I’m still not) sure whether the TV card actually worked. It did stop being recognised by the program, but I figured that was at least just as likely to be Windows’ fault. And even if it did work, it is a software based encoder which was going to put an awful strain on my resources which were only borderline-adequate to begin with. Secondly, there is no video card at all let alone one that would enable TV out. So you can see why I eschewed the conventional ‘adventure’ and used the term ‘experiment’ instead.
After some trouble getting the Mytbuntu image to burn properly (apparently Linux distros are notoriously fussy about a few scratches on a CD) it was time to install. The process was pretty straight forward because it is just a straight software install. All the fiddly, difficult bits are done in the Set-Up once the install is complete.
Once I had the software installed, and I had flashed through a quick set-up (it was late at night and it didn’t find my TV card so I didn’t get too worked up over the details), I began trying to use the DVD function. It had trouble with the Region 1 disc that I tried, though it played copies that I had previously made okay. I also managed to rip that particular DVD as well as upload a Video_TS folder I had on my iMac. So that bit worked okay, but it was time for bed.
The next day I moved the Mythbuntu box into the lounge-room to hook it up to may satellite box. Yes, I do live somewhere where I have to get both my free-to-air television and broadband internet delivered by satellite. Different satellites, I believe. Anyways, because my TV card was not found during the set-up stage (remember, it had ceased working a while ago), I moved into a different PCI slot to see if that would work. Here I had some mixed results. After the move the card was found and correctly identified, but during the move I had to remove the RF cable and unfortunately the socket stayed connected and actually pulled out of the card. (See, I told you it was an old card.) So the failure of the subsequent channel scans was not that big of a surprise.
And that is really where my experiment has stalled. I have tried a few other connections, but nothing seems to work. There are at least four possible explanations: 1. The TV card really does not work. 2. Mythbuntu can’t handle my satellite decoder box. (I think this is unlikely as it is the same style box as Foxtel receivers use and there seem to be plenty of those who have a working Mythbuntu system.) 3. Incorrect/faulty cables. 4. A poor Mythbuntu installation, be it Mythbuntu itself, a corrupt install, or inadequate hardware.
All that remains left to add is what I actually thought of the Mythbuntu user interface. I didn’t move away from the default theme, so my conclusions are very much of the interim nature. (Interim conclusions?!) If I was a Windows user I would have probably thought the the interface was quite snazzy, but being a Mac user my feeling is that it was a little dowdy. Nothing unbearable, just not as polished as I am used too. It was an awful lot cheaper though.