MythTV on Ubuntu plus IRman

I’ve been running mythtv for a couple of years. It is much more flexible and feature-packed than any commercially available DVR. Last week Sam told me that the free service for the TV listings has closed up. There is a new fee-based service from Schedules Direct. Unfortunately, I was still running mine on Fedora Core 3, and a fairly old version of mythtv itself. The SD service requires the latest version.

So, I decided it is time to update & upgrade. I went with Ubuntu on both the backend and frontend. Why? Well, I’ve noticed Fedora is difficult to upgrade to the next version and package maintainers for mythtv tend to drop old distros. Ubuntu is fairly simple to upgrade–even without downloading a new install CD. So, hopefully it will be easier to keep up to date.

There are some nice metapackages for mythtv in the Ubuntu repositories (can’t remember which ones–but they show up in Synaptics Package Manager). The backend version installed everything I needed and even setup the initial configuration. Oh, and my Hauppage PVR-150 required zero configuration. It just worked! I did have to update the packages with the latest build from mythbuntu in order to use the SD service. But they have easy instructions for doing it.

The frontend was a little more tricky. Using the “ubuntu-mythtv-frontend” metapackage was pretty sleak. It adds a mythtv user and enables auto-login; and it starts the OpenBox window manager and the mythtv client automatically when the machine boots up. That made it tricky to disable the screensaver since I couldn’t find a config file. So here’s the secret:

1. Let it boot up like normal. Then exit the mythtv client.

2. You’ll see a countdown for the auto-login. Login as some other user (you probably created one when you installed Ubuntu.) From there, change the password for the mythtv user using the admin tools. Make sure you know what the password is. Then log out.

3. The countdown will show up again. Type the username ‘mythtv’. Don’t enter the password yet. From the options menu, set your session to Gnome. Then go ahead and login with the password you created in step2.

4. When it asks you if you want to change your default session to Gnome–or just use it for this one session, be sure to tell it you only want Gnome for this session.

5. Use the regular screensaver tool to disable it. Then log out.

All set.

Now, I also mentioned IRman in the title. I’ve had one for years, but I never could get it working. I decided to make it work this time. Just my luck, IRman support is broken in the current version of lirc. The site says there is a fix in the CVS version. Cool.

So, I downloaded the CVS version and tried to build it. There must be something broken in the configuration scripts, because it never started configuring anything after I exited the menu. So, I tried the latest CVS snapshot (v0.8.2pre3). That installed fine, but IRman still didn’t work.

(Oh, by the way, the irrecord tool worked fine to setup the remote, but lirc itself wouldn’t respond using the IRman.)

After trying all sorts of versions, here’s what finally worked:

1. Download the latest CVS snapshot mentioned above. Extract it.

2. Checkout the latest files from CVS. Copy the contrib, daemons, doc, drivers, remotes and tools folders from the CVS folder to the folder you extracted to in step 1.

3. Run “” and choose “IRman” from the “Other Serial Device” menu. When you save and exit the program, it will configure lirc. Then just “make” and “make install” the lirc package.

I probably should mention, you’ll want to uninstall the Ubuntu version:

sudo apt-get remove lirc

When I did this, it kept my lirc startup script in /etc/init.d, but I had to modify it since lirc installed itself somewhere else. To find it, just do:

which lirc

(or maybe it was “which lircd”)

The rest of the setup for a mythtv remote is pretty simple. There are plenty of writeups once you get past this point. Here’s one:

So, there you have it, my very unclear instructions.


One Response

  1. I was a long time Knoppmyth user who recently made the switch to mythbuntu. I am VERY happy with the result.

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