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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 2:02 am 
Joined: Sun Sep 30, 2007 5:32 pm
Posts: 1
Okay, I wrote this up when I installed my knoppmyth box almost a year and a half ago with the intent to post it here after I cleaned up a couple of details. Well, that was a long time ago, and I don't really remember what the details were offhand. So I'm posting this as I found it, but feel free to ask me if anything doesn't make sense...


When the idea to build a mythtv box started, I had enough spare parts sitting around that all I needed was a tuner/encoder card and a hard drive, so it was possible to put this together quite cheaply (<$200). However, the motherboard had an Intel 440BX chipset, so not only was it PATA, the hard drive size was limited to 137GB. A quick look around found 120GB PATA drives to be pretty elusive, and 80GB didn't seem like it would last too long before being filled up. So the search was on to find a cheap, relatively modern hardware platform on which to build a system.

It used to be that I stayed away from AMD processors because they had melting issues. But the Prescott era Pentium 4s suffered much leakage current, and my P4 processor, which regularly runs around 70C, has a fan that sounds like a vacuum cleaner; I certainly don't want that sitting in the living room while I'm trying to watch TV. Checking out my local computer shop, the cheapest processor options were the AMD Sempron 3400+ or the Intel Dual Core E2160 (since I was giving the whole heater core generation of Intels a miss). The Intel costs a bit more since it's actually one generation ahead, and the AMD motherboards came in variants that had TV outputs, so the bias was towards the AMD. But then I stumbled upon this article: and that pretty much answered the question for me. The drawback with motherboards for Intel processors is that none of them have TV output from the onboard video, so you would need some sort of an adaptor to connect it to a non-monitor.

This howto describes, in detail, the installation of KnoppMyth R5F27 on the hardware listed below.

The following cost around $450 (Sept. 2007):
    Intel E2160
    Asus P5GC-MX
    1GB DDR2 667MHz
    WD 500GB AAKS
    Hauppauge PVR150 (1047-Canada)
The following I had kicking around:
    Plextor PX-2410A
    Enermax 350W
    Generic 17" tower case

The case is rather overbearing in a living room, and that will have to change at some point. The only problem is that there aren't many cases that I think look decent enough to have a place in the living room, and the cheapest of them (the Antec Fusion, silver because the black one isn't currently supported by mythtv even though it matches my other components better) costs around $200. But as I've already gone over budget with the parts listed above, the case will have to wait for another day.

The other thing that will be added at some point in the future is a DVD drive. Good quality burners like the Samsung SH-S203B (see the review at can be had for under $40. But again, the budget did not allow for it at this time.


The purpose of this howto is to document the steps required in installing KnoppMyth on the hardware, so I will leave out the details of the assembly of the hardware components. Hardware assembly is less component specific, as the process is pretty much the same whatever hardware you choose. There should already be sufficient sources of information available on that topic on the internet, but feel free to contact me if you are having specific problems.

KnoppMyth (part 1)

First, disable the onboard sound on the P5GC-MX, otherwise the loading of modules during boot will cause a kernel oops. This is done through the BIOS setup which can be accessed by hitting Delete after the system beeps at power on.
Advanced -> Onboard Devices Configuration -> HD Audio Controller -> Disabled

While in the BIOS setup, change the boot order so that the CD is checked before the hard drive. This isn't strictly necessary if the hard drive is empty, but I had done a trial install to figure all the steps out so my hard drive was bootable at this point.

Put the KnoppMyth CD in the CD drive. Save and exit the BIOS Setup. The system should restart and boot off the CD.

The bootloader should pause for a while waiting for optional kernel options. Because the hard drive is SATA and the CD drive is PATA, we need to add an option to the loading of the install kernel so that it can find the hard drive. At the prompt, enter:
knoppmyth ide=reverse

KnoppMyth should now boot to a menu. Select "Auto Install" to install this machine as both the backend and the frontend.

Next, it will ask you to set the timezone and the current date/time.

It should now warn that the script will auto-install to disk; agree with the warning to proceed. This WILL overwrite everything on your hard drive!

Input whole name.
Input user name (just a user name to log in to the box).
Input password. Again.
Input administration password. Again.
Input hostname (whatever you want the box to be named).
The entered names are shown; select "Next" to proceed with these parameters.
Agree to warning that ALL of sda will be overwritten.
Agree to another warning that ALL of sda will be overwritten.

The installer will then partition the hard drive, add swap space, format the partitions, and copy files. It should say that KnoppMyth was successfully installed to sda1, and prompt to reboot the system. Select Reboot. Remove the CD when prompted, then hit return.

The system will boot, then prompt for the root (administration) password to begin configuration. At this point, it prompts with a warning that mythtv is still early in development. Don't proceed yet; it's time to install the network driver.

Network driver

At this point, switch to another terminal (Ctrl-Alt-F2). Login as root. Copy the lan, audio, and video drivers from the P5GC-MX Chipset Support CD:
# mkdir ~/drivers
# cd ~/drivers
# mount /cdrom
# cp -r /cdrom/LinuxDrivers/Lan .
# cp -r /cdrom/LinuxDrivers/Audio .
# cp -r /cdrom/LinuxDrivers/VGA .

Build and install the network drivers:
# cd Lan/Attansic/AtL2Linux_v0.2.40.0/src
# make install

Load the newly compiled driver:
# insmod /lib/modules/2.6.18-chw-13/kernel/drivers/net/atl2/atl2.ko

KnoppMyth (part 2)

Now switch back to the configuration program (Ctrl-Alt-F7). Agree to the warning from before the lan digression. It will now attempt to configure the network. If you want to use MythWeb (which, among other things, lets you schedule your programming via a web browser), you'll want to assign a static IP address instead of using DHCP. I plan to connect this box to my router on the subnet, arbitrarily choosing the address for the box.

Say no to DHCP.
Enter IP address for eth0 (
Enter network mask for eth0 (
Enter broadcast address for eth0 (
Enter default gateway (
Enter nameserver (

The installer will then search for patches, install packages and the updates, then launch mythtv-setup.

Audio driver

This is a good time for another digression and build the audio drivers. Switch back to the terminal (Ctrl-Alt-F2).

The combination of the audio drivers as shipped and the installed header files on the system do not compile (but the auto installer of the driver does not output any errors so it appears as if the drivers were installed successfully). The problem is that one of the files that gets compiled tries to include <linux/videodev.h> and <linux/videodev2.h>, but the files are just unresolved symbolic links. I have a Debian (3.1 Sarge) system which has actual copies of these files, but using them caused more compile errors (function redefinitons) so two functions need to be commented out in videodev.h: video_get_drvdata and video_set_drvdata; my modified working copies of these files have been posted to

First, move these files out of the way and replace them with working copies:
# cd /usr/include/linux
# mv videodev.h videodev.h.backup
# mv videodev2.h videodev2.h.backup
# wget
# wget

Now, compile the audio drivers:
# cd ~/drivers/Audio
# ./install

It will compile ALSA then start alsaconf. Select OK, then it will attempt to find all sound devices and fail (since the onboard sound is still disabled). Say No to the prompt asking to probe legacy ISA devices, and exit to the shell prompt.

At this point, remove the old audio drivers (since they will attempt to load and cause the kernel oops if the onboard sound is enabled), and replace them with symbolic links to the newly compiled ones:
# cd /lib/modules/2.6.18-chw-13/updates/alsa/pci/hda
# rm -f snd-hda-intel.ko
# rm -f snd-hda-codec.ko
# ln -s /lib/modules/2.6.18-chw-13/kernel/sound/pci/hda/snd-hda-intel.ko .
# ln -s /lib/modules/2.6.18-chw-13/kernel/sound/pci/hda/snd-hda-codec.ko .

KnoppMyth (part 3)

Now return to the mythtv setup (Ctrl-Alt-F7).

Select "Capture cards".
Select "New capture card".
Change card type: MPEG-2 encoder card (PVR-x50, PVR-500).
Leave the rest at default values and select Finish.
Then press Esc to return to the Home page.

Select "Video sources".
Select "New video source".
Enter video source name (Listings).
Enter SchedulesDirect userid/password.
Select Finish.
Press Esc to return to the Home page.

Select "Input connections".
Select "[MPEG:/dev/video0] Tuner 1"
Change Video source: Listings.
Select Finish.
Press Esc to return to the Home page.

Press Esc to exit mythtv-setup.

The backend should now start up.

The installer will configure MythWeather. Enter zip code or locale code. For those of us not in the US, this was a bit tricky to figure out. First, go to Enter the city and select Go. It should show the weather for the selected city. Look at the URL, it should look like: ... c:AAXXNNNN - the AAXXNNNN should be your locale code. So if you look up the weather for Vancouver, BC, the link ends in wc:CAXX0518; CAXX0518 is the locale code for Vancouver.

It then asks if you wish to enable Bootsplash? Say Yes.
Say "OK" to the message saying You should now see the BootSplash.

It then asks if you wish to enable rrd (which create graphs of hardware activity on a periodic basis). Say Yes. It will give a list of hardware, unselect UPS then continue.

Next it prompts for your remote. The remote that came with my PVR150 says A415 under the battery cover, so answer Hauppauge_Silver_remote_A415-HPG. then asks if you have a serial port IR blaster. The PVR150 comes with one, but I'm not using it to control anything. Say No.

Choose to load RomDB, the database that categorises games for MythGame. This will take a while as the database is rather large.

After that's done, it asks for a password for mythtv in realm MythTV (for MythWeb access).

Finally, it asks if you wish to donate spare CPU cycles to Folding@Home. As much as this is a worthy cause, the fan that comes with the Intel heat sinks are not known for their quietness, so in the interest of keeping the fan speed to a minimum, I an opting to minimise CPU processing. Say No.

Now reboot the system to reenable the onboard audio. Go to KnoppMyth, Reboot. Hit Del to enter the BIOS setup.
Advanced -> Onboard Devices Configuration -> HD Audio Controller -> Enabled
Restore the boot order to place the CD drive last. Save and exit.

The system should now boot to a (more or less) fully functional MythTV system.

Video driver

Now, we want to compile the video driver so we can use a higher resolution.
% tar -xvf Intel-3.4.3006-20051209.i386.tar\[1\]


Well, that's where my document left off. I don't remember right now if I ran into any problems with the video driver, but if I did, it was much easier to solve than the problems with the audio driver.

I did get my hands on a Sharp Aquos LCD to test out HD output, but could not get 1080p working. I think the best I managed was maybe 1600x1200 which the TV scaled.

Here is the Device section from my /etc/X11/xorg.conf in case it's useful:
Section "Device"
        Identifier      "Generic Video Card"
        Driver          "i810"

To do

Although the system works, there are a few things that would make it better:

1. The program guide does not work while watching TV. This appears to be a bug in mythtv ( This is not a big deal for me though because I don't expect to watch much live TV through the mythtv box.

2. Add DVD drive.

3. Smaller, more stylish case.

4. Add another tuner card.

5. Add dvi/hdmi output.

6. Figure out 1080p.


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