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PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 8:07 am 
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Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 11:50 am
Posts: 102
I've got Knoppmyth installation, it's the latest build before we switched to Arch (waiting for myth .22 integration before I switch over). My father saw it and was just amazed with the usability and functionality that I've got- it's really just one backend/frontend and a separate frontend upstairs. I've got iceweasel on there for Hulu et al,, my movies are recorded, and my entire music collection resides there.

The problem is that every now and again, my system needs some kind of technical expertise- a database cleanup, the occasional reboot, an inexplicable missing tuner- not often, but enough that I'd be getting calls from the parents and they live an hour away.

Does anybody have a recommendation for a free or commercial solution that gives up some of the functionality and freedom of Myth (which is what I like so much about it) for some more stability? I'd still like it to be PC based, since I've got plenty of equipment. If you drop a recommendation, please let me know why you like it.

Thanks.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 9:52 am 
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Location: Elgin, Illinois
Myth .22 can run on Windows, so perhaps that might work better for your parents, assuming that is what they are using.
I have not tried it, but it might make a good starting point for them.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 11:26 am 
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Location: Calgary, Canada
uteck wrote:
Myth .22 can run on Windows, so perhaps that might work better for your parents, assuming that is what they are using.
I have not tried it, but it might make a good starting point for them.

Only the frontend works reasonably on Windows... the backend still has all sorts of issues. Anyhow that would not change the technical expertise required to run Myth. I would not recommend Myth for anybody who doesn't have a dedicated person available to work on it.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 12:54 pm 
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Thanks guys. I've got no problem setting a system up for them. What I do have a problem with is maintenance.

If it means 'once every 6 months I reinstall it', well, no problem.

If it means a call a week due to some oddity which requires me to ssh in at best, and visit at worst then it's a no-go.

Anybody have experience with beyondtv or sagetv? How about any other product? The ultimate need is for a DVR. secondary would be to keep movies and music recorded on it. Finally it would be nice to serve this stuff to the rest of the house.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 2:36 am 
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Posts: 700
Location: Germany
I can do most maintenance on my box remotely. I use:

ssh (with preshared key access for security). This give me command line access. In most cases, this is enough.

For X, I run cygwin.com on my windows PC and use ssh X tunnelling to run mythfrontend or mythtv-setup when I need it. (there are several alternatives to cygwin.com for X, however, I use a lot of the other unix tools on my PC)

I have a slow upload rate on my DSL, so the X access is painfully slow. However it works for emergency access. Watching TV/videos is not possible (but I don't really need it).

You can google "ssh preshared key", "ssh X tunnelling" and go to cygwin.com for more details. man sshd_config will tell you how limit ssh access for security. As a last thing, I recommend you expose a port other than 22 to the internet for ssh access. 22 get a lot of hits from bots.

Allen

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 8:39 am 
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Location: California
pilesofspam wrote:
Thanks guys. I've got no problem setting a system up for them. What I do have a problem with is maintenance.

If it means 'once every 6 months I reinstall it', well, no problem.

If it means a call a week due to some oddity which requires me to ssh in at best, and visit at worst then it's a no-go.


My brother and daughter both run R5.5 mythtv systems that I maintain for them, both for many years. I have had a total of 3 maintenance events for across both machines over the past 12 months, all associated with unusual events:
1. Comcast's switch to digital.
2. Change in email address that messed up schedules direct subscrition.
3. Hardware failure -- needed to move everything into a new machine.

Their machines are on R5.5 and once they were set up, I didn't do any configuration tweaking / adding of new features / etc.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 10:34 am 
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Thanks alien- a few years ago, when capable hardware was still expensive, I used to maintain a few thin clients in the house on old laptops and tunnel X over SSH. I had a wired network so it was practical. To do it remotely I switched to nxmachine for a while, maybe this is a practical method for providing support, but I've been assuming the time sink is pretty deep for this, and I definitely don't need to be volunteering for that kind of commitment.

marc- can you tell me about your setup? My home system is an old analog dish using a homebrew serial port IR blaster to make it go, plus a HD-5500. Problems that occur frequently include:

1. HD5500 programs appear to have recorded, but 'file could not be located' pops up when I try to watch it. This happens once every week or two.
2. Sound skips due to the old chaintek AV710, which used to be the perfect card for digital audio. If I leave the program and restart it a few times this goes away.
3. Rare solid lockup. Every month or so I realize the system is froze and won't respond to anything, including network requests. I'm pretty sure I can fix this, but I haven't followed up on it being that it's pretty rare.

I personally can put up with these things, and I've got a high WAF because of the functionality (multiple frontends, all my media in one place) but I'm always available to fix it if something flakes.

My father's setup is really just directTV HD with 2 receiver boxes, and it's ok to record one in analog.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:26 pm 
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Location: Silicon Valley, CA
I think KM (or now LinHES) is pretty robust. I'm sure we could continue to "robustify" it tho.

On my production box (still on 5.5) the only chronic problem I have is that a poorly formed ATSC program can cause my video card to get in a weird mode where the player won't work anymore. If I added a button on the remote to do the equivalent of cntl-alt-backspace it would improve the ability of a non-expert to recover from this relatively rare situation.

Any problem that is chronic and predictable can be automated to the point where it's no real issue. Things that can't be handled are random unpredictable events, like hardware failure.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 3:19 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2008 11:42 pm
Posts: 114
Location: Calgary, Canada
By coincidence, there was a similar question on Slashdot yesterday.

There are a surprising (for the Slashdot crowd) number of recommendations for Windows MCE, so I'll throw in my two cents: I used Vista's Media Center for a couple of months, before Linux supported my TV card. It is indeed dead simple to use, with simple interactive screens for setting up everything for the TV card to your music library. Also the UI is really slick - MythTV is light years behind it I'm sorry to say. I of course prefer the freedom and flexibility offered by Myth but I can't say my Media Center experience was unpleasant.

Also, failing everything else, the cableco DVR/PVR units are easy to use and relatively cheap. My buddy's got one and he and his whole family have no problems with it, and they're fairly technically-challenged. The newer ones even support swapping out USB hard drives for added storage.

Regarding the stability issues: I was also getting periodic random crashes and failures on R5.5 but so far have seen none on R6. So maybe an upgrade would solve some of those woes at least.


Last edited by paulsid on Mon Dec 07, 2009 11:46 am, edited 1 time in total.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 05, 2009 10:37 am 
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Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2005 2:07 am
Posts: 1530
Location: California
pilesofspam wrote:
marc- can you tell me about your setup? My home system is an old analog dish using a homebrew serial port IR blaster to make it go, plus a HD-5500. Problems that occur frequently include:

1. HD5500 programs appear to have recorded, but 'file could not be located' pops up when I try to watch it. This happens once every week or two.
2. Sound skips due to the old chaintek AV710, which used to be the perfect card for digital audio. If I leave the program and restart it a few times this goes away.
3. Rare solid lockup. Every month or so I realize the system is froze and won't respond to anything, including network requests. I'm pretty sure I can fix this, but I haven't followed up on it being that it's pretty rare.

I personally can put up with these things, and I've got a high WAF because of the functionality (multiple frontends, all my media in one place) but I'm always available to fix it if something flakes.

My father's setup is really just directTV HD with 2 receiver boxes, and it's ok to record one in analog.


1. My brother's system records OTA ATSC signals. Its a dell box with an nvidia video card and 2 haupauge USB tuners.

2. My daughter's system records Comcast analog and digital signals. PVR-150 for analog; Pinnacle PCI card for digital. Asus motherboard, Pentium D-930 CPU; Nvidia 6200LE video card; integrated sound.

A couple of things I did:

1. I setup a cronjob that restarts X twice/week due to the known memory leak issues.

2. Remote has a "reset" button that they hit of the front end goes sideways. This is used once in a great while.

3. I have a background script I use to monitor and automatically reset the backend and frontend if anyting goes sideways. I just checked the logs on my daughter's system and it had done an automated system reset 12 times since Jan 23, 2009. There were various reasons for the resets -- details below in case you are interested.

Marc

Problem encountered on Sat Jan 3 08:07:59 PST 2009
Myth backend process is missing
Halting backend
--
Problem encountered on Sun Jan 25 06:25:52 PST 2009
Unable to access mythweb/settings lstat=1 gstat=1
Halting backend
--
Problem encountered on Sat Mar 28 23:10:50 PDT 2009
Log file size of 1892 blocks is too large -- probable runaway
Halting backend
--
Problem encountered on Sat Mar 28 23:20:54 PDT 2009
Log file size of 1556 blocks is too large -- probable runaway
Halting backend
--
Problem encountered on Sat Mar 28 23:30:59 PDT 2009
Log file size of 1564 blocks is too large -- probable runaway
Halting backend
--
Problem encountered on Sat Mar 28 23:41:03 PDT 2009
Log file size of 1572 blocks is too large -- probable runaway
Halting backend
--
Problem encountered on Sat Mar 28 23:51:08 PDT 2009
Log file size of 1572 blocks is too large -- probable runaway
Halting backend
--
Problem encountered on Sun May 17 06:25:56 PDT 2009
Unable to access mythweb/settings lstat=1 gstat=1
Halting backend
--
Problem encountered on Tue Jul 21 10:01:51 PDT 2009
Myth backend process is missing
Halting backend
--
Problem encountered on Thu Sep 3 23:16:49 PDT 2009
Myth backend process is missing
Halting backend
--
Problem encountered on Sun Nov 22 06:26:31 PST 2009
Unable to access mythweb/settings lstat=1 gstat=1
Halting backend
--
Problem encountered on Mon Nov 23 23:00:00 PST 2009
Myth backend process is missing
Halting backend

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The views expressed are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 05, 2009 11:16 am 
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Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2005 10:48 am
Posts: 852
Location: London, UK
I'm of the opinion most issues encountered with myth are a result of the box being on for extended periods. Though KnoppMyth / LinHES is pretty reliable, there are a number of reasons your box can crash / perform in an unexpected way. These could be almost anything - over heating, memory leaks, spike in powersupply or cozmic particles changing a 0 to a 1 and not using EEC memory. Marc's example above gives you an idea of the randomness of it all.

I would suggest therefore to use Mythwelcome. The power up/down cycle should alliviate most if not all issues. (Though nothing is foolproof).

My experience of R6 was really good. It's slightly less reliable with .22 installed, but that's what you get for cutting edge.

HTH and doesn't muddy the waters too much.
Regards
Chris

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 10:08 am 
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Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 11:50 am
Posts: 102
This is a wealth of excellent information. Thank you.

Based on these replies I plan to take the following actions:

1. Research MythWelcome.
2. Convince marc to share some of his cron table and scripts with me, if he's got them readily available. If nothing else I can make my own machine more user friendly.
3. Research windows media. I hadn't previously considered this.

I'll post back here with reasons once I make the final decision for my parents' machine. Of course, the biggest reason I use knoppmyth (linhes) myself is because of this most excellent community.


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PostPosted: Sun May 09, 2010 8:43 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2005 2:07 am
Posts: 1530
Location: California
pilesofspam wrote:
This is a wealth of excellent information. Thank you.

Based on these replies I plan to take the following actions:

2. Convince marc to share some of his cron table and scripts with me, if he's got them readily available. If nothing else I can make my own machine more user friendly.

I'll post back here with reasons once I make the final decision for my parents' machine. Of course, the biggest reason I use knoppmyth (linhes) myself is because of this most excellent community.


OK -- I know it's been a long time, but I finally got around to documenting those utilities. You can find them here.

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