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Xbmc is, at least as I’m concerned, the only media centre choice for
the discerning geek. Recently I upgraded my ‘cube’ machine and patched
appletv to the latest 10.0 version ‘Dharma’. The biggest difference,
that I had heard rumours of for a while, is that the OSX/appletv
verfsion how support hardware-accellerated x264 decoding! So now, all
those HD TV episodes and DVD/Blu-Ray rips I have (ok,up to 720p – I’m
not expecting miracles!) actually play on what is essentially a 1GHz
P3! There is still an issue where 5.1 ac3 audio doesn’t appear/downmix
but that could still be due to my surround decoder (still have tests to
run for that). Additionally, I recently purchsed a Hauppauge WinTV
Nova-TD-500 DVB card to turn my ‘cube’ machine into a freeview
recorder, along the lines of my existing Humax 9200 boxes. The bottle
that xbmc brings to this party is that of the ‘Video add-on’ known as
MythBox that is included in the default add-on repository. This extends
the familiar xbmc interface to be a front-end for that other stalwart
linux-based media centre, MythTV.

After the relatively painless configuration of MythTV (add card as
source, scan for channels, save channel names), the most techy change
was to allow access to the mythtv mysql database from the LAN ip and
local network for other distributed front-ends.

Then configure the locally installed MythBox to talk to the same
database and use the same recordings directory – neccessary for the two
componenets to talk to each other. it should be noted here that this
particular machine started as an xbmc-live 9.04 machine and has now
been upgraded to 10.10 Maverick and uses the xbmc ppa. i did try adding
the mythbuntu respositories to get the ‘latest’ mythtv packages due to
the ‘other’ frontend running on the appletv in my bedroom (it’s small
and quiet!) due to the protocol version mismatch introduced by the
mythtv project (jumping from 56 to 23056!) Which stopped the streaming
of live tv, but that caused a bit of a nightmare with mythtv expecting
a libmyth verfsion it didn’t have, so I reverted to the 10.10 versions
and all was good.

The other major issue was that the supplied Hauppauge remote was either
not getting its buton press notifications through to xbmc (so some,
like the rather important ‘OK’ button didn’t work) or xbmc was receving
the same input twice, resulting in equally unusable bouble-button
presses. After spending some hours (well, an afternoon) on this,
thinking that it was due to an interaction between the kernel ir
drivers being in twice + lirc input and working out how to disable the
ir remote as an xinput keyboard device all without a workable result.
What turned out to be the somewhat simpler solution was ‘sudo
dpkg-reconfigure lirc’, selecting thne wintv nova remote as a device.
After that, the xbmc debug log only reportged a single button-press per
button, meaning the other minor change was in
~xbmc/.xbmc/userdata/Lircmap.xml to tell that about ‘left’ being
‘ArrowLeft’ frrom the remote. After these happy events, all appeared to
be working so I took the machine back to its primary location in thne
living room for a demonstration. All the (configured) remote buttons
work, it’s possible to record programmes from the DTV tuner/s and
playback those recordings. Even watching live tv works! I was a little
puzzled for a few seconds as to why some random thing was coming on
when I tried to record an upcoming programme, then realised what I was
seeing was the interlude before the expected programme! Next step is to
get the extra remote buttons to do something useful, like have the
‘guide’ button bring up the mythbox tv guide… i haven’t yet had
another chance to see if the ‘watching live tv’ from another room
actually works, yet the fact I can schedule programmmes to record and
later play them back is probably good enough for the moment. I may even
end up ebay’ing at least one of my humax boxes! 😉