Saturday 30 April 2011

A computer to watch TV?

We have an unusual TV setup, we want to receive free-to-air satellite programmes from back home, but we also want to watch the local free-to-air terrestrial TV programmes. Thus we need a combined DVB-T and DVB-S/S2 receiver, that of course should be able to record on harddisk. Such a device is hard to come by in form of a set-top box. In fact thus far I have come across only one, which seems to be based on some Linux derivative and which is modular in that allows for plugging in receiver modules of any kind. However, the price was very high.

The next-best solution is to build a "set-top box" yourself using Linux and a software package called MythTV, which is a free package to watch TV. This package allows you to configure as many different TV cards as you want, limited only, it seems, by the processing power of the computer. MythTV even has a web interface, which allows you to schedule recordings while away from home, and to watch programmes recorded previously. Moreover, the computer can of course be used as a media server for the family, and store the backups of other computers etc.

Here I decided to use the Ubuntu variant of Linux. Over the next several posts, I will document the installation in detail, so that anyone can repeat the process (I hope). Please feel free to comment on the setup, esp. hints on how to do it better are naturally very welcome.

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