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Old 05-25-2006, 05:27 PM   #1
e_james
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Linux tutor needed (multimedia)


I have recently obtained a barebones Shuttle XPC which I would like to set up as a Linux based multimedia PC. From what I have read about it, MythTV seems a very attractive option.

The things I want to do are:
- Convert VHS (PAL) video tapes to digital recordings in DivX / Xvid / Mpeg4 format.
- Sort, catalogue and archive these recordings on DVD.
- Make digital recordings from analog TV (both manual start / stop and sheduled start /stop) in DivX / Xvid / Mpeg4 format.
- Playback the digital recordings on any of my PCs (Windows or Linux); connected in a partly wired and partly wireless network.

Unfortunately, while I have years of user experience from MSDOS 3.3 to Windows XP SP2, I can just about install a standard Linux distribution. Anything that requires a bit of tweaking is beyond my current knowledge / understanding. Installing MythTV seems to be simple enough if you really understand Linux, which I don't.

It seems to me that this new PC is an ideal opportunity to learn how to build a Linux system. Is there someone out there who would willing to assist with advice and answers to stupid questions.

Example questions:
- What would be a good TV tuner card?
- Which distribution seems an appropriate starting point? (I don't mind starting from scratch more than once, this is part of the learning process.)
- What does "make install" mean?
- Is there a Linux distribution which can reliably read from and write to an NTFS partition.

I know that this is a good idea and I want to go ahead as soon as possible, but there are many other projects trying to get my attention, so I don't expect to work flat out and do everything in a few days. Perhaps 2 weeks for the foundations and another 2 or 3 months for the main tweaks and then I really start to learn about Linux.
 
Old 05-25-2006, 06:31 PM   #2
cs-cam
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You don't want a tutor, just ask questions here we're all pretty nice.

1) I'm in the process of building a MythTV box at the moment so lucky us. I'm using a FusionHDTV card I already had lying around but I'll be getting a Hauppauge PVR-350 soon which I understand is an exceptionally good card. From what I've been reading lately all the Hauppauge cards are nice and very well supported.

2) Any distrobution but check the quality of their documentation. It's not good if a distro looks nice but their docs suck, especially for a newbie. Arch has a reasonable MythTV guide in their wiki as does Gentoo, Frugalware will also once I've got mine set up and I write about it but make sure you check docs.

3) "make install" is a command. All source packages (should!) come with a Makefile, it contains instructions for make to use. "make install" just tells make to grab the Makefile, head over to the install section and run that. It will install everything to where it should go, the location usually defaults to /usr/local although this can be changed at configure time and you can install to an alternative root using the DESTDIR variable, ie.
Code:
./configure --prefix=/opt/mythtv # changing at configure time
make
make DESTDIR=/opt/mythtv install # install to alternate root, mostly you should not be doing both these at once
4) Any distro running a kernel newer than 2.6.15 can safely do it using the kernel driver. There is a userspace driver as well but is marginally safer, supports more features but is considerably slower. If it were me I'd use the kernel driver but you'll hear mixed opinions on that.
 
Old 05-25-2006, 06:42 PM   #3
marozsas
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There is a distro named Dyne:bolic which is focused on Multimedia.
Quote:
Originally Posted by from distrowatch site
dyne:bolic is a GNU/Linux distribution running from a CD and able to recognise most of your devices and peripherals: sound, video, TV, network cards, firewire, USB devices and more. It is shaped on the needs of media activists, artists and creative individuals, a practical tool for multimedia production. You can manipulate and broadcast both sound and video with tools to record, edit, encode and stream, all using free software!
http://www.dynebolic.org

good luck !
 
Old 05-26-2006, 09:14 AM   #4
m_yates
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The Hauppauge WINTV-PVR-150 is probably a better option for a tuner card. You can get the retail package from Newegg for $90. It is much less expensive than the PVR 350 and comes with a remote control and IR blaster for controlling a satellite box. The PVR-150 also has a hardware mpeg2 encoder, so CPU usage is minimized.
 
Old 05-26-2006, 04:18 PM   #5
e_james
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I think I need to clarify some of my requirements.

First, I have hundreds of videotapes. At the present rate of progress it will take at least another 2 years to digitise all the recordings. In 2 years time it is likely that it will be very difficult to buy a new VCR and repairs will be a problem too. That's one reason to work as fast as possible. In addition my experience so far is that MPEG2 quality is not acceptable below about 4 hours per DVD (4.5GB), while DivX quality is acceptable at 14 hours per DVD. With my present working strategy I estimate that it takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to complete each hour burned to DVD, (including recording, cutting and cataloging), and I am always on the look-out for faster ways to do it. Most people seem to produce DivX files by converting MPEG2 recordings using a multi-pass strategy for maximum quality, but I estimate this would add at least 1.5 hours to the process for each hour recorded. I can't afford that much time, so I record DivX in 1 pass and cut without recompression. One of the tricks is to set a short interval between key frames.

When it comes to capture devices, especially TV tuners, there are 2 more big problems. Most of the time I use VirtualDub for the capture process. I find that a 2Ghz processor works at about 50 to 60% capacity while recording DivX in real time (this includes simultaneous MP3 audio compression). Curiously the manufacturer's software with the Winfast hardware pushes the workload up to 80 to 90%. So far, I have found that Winfast is the only hardware / software combination which will allow me to make scheduled recordings in any format other than MPEG1 or MPEG2. Hauppauge software will record in DivX, but only with a manual start. The second problem is the audio sampling rate. All the manufacturer's software and most of the generic software that I tested assumes that the audio sampling rate is 44.1 khz or a sub-multiple. I have found that this causes major audio sync problems, both with computers and with DivX compatible DVD players. If I record MP3 audio with 48khz (or sub-multiple), sampling rate or convert to 48khz, there seems to be no problem. I have seen comments that suggest that standard DVD movies in PAL format use 48khz.

So I am continally looking for a hardware software combination which will make scheduled recordings in DivX and MP3 (at 48khz). It would be really nice if I could do this in a Linux environment. I'm hoping MythTV covers all the software requirements. The TV tuner has to be analog because we can't receive digital where I live until 2008. (Now if we had internet TV on demand, who needs to record anything?)

I tried dyne:bolic last night and either the audio hardware is too new to be recognised or it is broken. Since the computer currently has no installed operating system, I will need to try a few more live distributions to test the audio.

P.S.

I have just been looking at the Hauppauge UK website and it appears that their latest and cheapest PCI cards are designed with DivX recording in mind.

Last edited by e_james; 05-26-2006 at 05:13 PM.
 
Old 06-22-2006, 07:28 AM   #6
ncsuapex
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My appologies for hijacking this thread. But I have a question for m_yates, Did you have any trouble getting you Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-150 to work with Linux? I am running Slackware 10.2 and am interested in getting this card. But I didn't want to buy it till I knew I could get it to work. Any advice is appreciated.

Thanks
 
Old 06-22-2006, 08:16 AM   #7
m_yates
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Sorry, the PVR-150 is on my wish list. It is what I would buy if I had the extra cash. However, it seems like it works: http://www.ubuntuforums.org/archive/...p/t-77389.html http://www.blushingpenguin.com/mark/blog/?p=24
 
Old 06-22-2006, 10:10 AM   #8
tkedwards
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Quote:
- What would be a good TV tuner card?
Any with good Linux support google around

Quote:
- Which distribution seems an appropriate starting point? (I don't mind starting from scratch more than once, this is part of the learning process.)
I'd suggest Mandriva, OpenSuse or Ubuntu. They're all among the most popular distros and they all have large package repositories and they're all designed to be user/newbie-friendly.

Quote:
- What does "make install" mean?
It installs the files you've just build from source to the right directories on your system. Its the last stage of the typical configure, make, make install process of building software from source.

Most distros, including the ones above, have packages of prebuilt software to save you the pain and trouble of building stuff from source like that. However since each distro is different and there is no packaging standard most websites for Linux programs will only have instructions to download the source code and build it manually - they don't want to maintain 20 different packages for 20 different distros.

Quote:
- Is there a Linux distribution which can reliably read from and write to an NTFS partition.
Not really. Even in Kernel 2.6.15 and above NTFS write is still severely limited - it doesn't allow creation or deletion of files or folders for eg. http://www.mjmwired.net/linux/2006/0...th-ntfs-write/

Usually I'd just suggest you create a FAT32 partition for sharing files between the 2 OSes but that's probably no good because of its 4GB file size limit. <rant>Windows really is total crap isn't it? The only usable filesystem is kept secret by a neurotic Microsoft to prevent interoperability. Leaving FAT, a hopelessly outdated piece of 1980's technology as the only cross-platform filesystem that Windows supports.</rant>

Anyway I'd suggest just creating the whole thing as a Linux ext3 partition and using http://www.fs-driver.org/ if you need to have Windows on the same machine access the files.
 
Old 06-22-2006, 12:30 PM   #9
e_james
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Thanks for the info.

I'm making slow but steady progress in learning about Linux. Unfortunately, the way things are organised, testing with the Shuttle is a significant diversion from other activities, so I can only do it when I think I have a continuous period of at least 2 hours free.

So far I have found that most of the latest live cd distributions won't boot up in the Shuttle (Ubuntu 6.06, Suse 10.0 and others). Suse 9.3 works quite well. I'm still waiting for the Shuttle wireless adapter before I make any decisions but Linux and USB wireless adapters doesn't seem to be a viable option at this time.
Currently I am experimenting with Ubuntu 6.06 installed on my Toshiba Tecra S1 notebook. I replaced Ubuntu 5.10 with some strange results. 6.06 installed with no users defined and, while I now have a user established, I keep getting error messages about not having permissions or authority to change things!! The first thing I have to study is how to use "sudo".

I have bought a Hauppauge "WinTV PCI FM" tv card, but it has yet to be tested. For this purpose and others, I have reluctantly installed Windows XP Pro on the Shuttle after suitable partitioning for dual boot.

I have been working with the 4GB limit for the last 3 years and, for my purposes, it is not much of a problem. 4GB represents 9 to 12 hours recording time, depending on the compression setting. With FAT32 I'm thinking that the cluster size issue is trivial when typical file size is 200 to 800MB. My main problem with FAT32 is that Microsoft doesn't want you to use it. I have to use Partition Magic or Linux to create FAT32 partitions greater than 32GB.

One solution to the filesystem problem is to put a network connection between the OS and the storage, but here I have another problem with Linux. I discovered the hard way that Linux reformats the filenames and alters the "modified" date by default (I like the way Windows doesn't.). I expect there's a setting somewhere to "fix" this but I haven't found it yet. Most likely it's something to do with the difference between a GUI and a command line.

Last edited by e_james; 06-22-2006 at 12:35 PM.
 
Old 06-22-2006, 01:05 PM   #10
tkedwards
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Quote:
One solution to the filesystem problem is to put a network connection between the OS and the storage, but here I have another problem with Linux. I discovered the hard way that Linux reformats the filenames and alters the "modified" date by default (I like the way Windows doesn't.). I expect there's a setting somewhere to "fix" this but I haven't found it yet. Most likely it's something to do with the difference between a GUI and a command line.
Don't quite understand what you mean here - how are you sharing the files? samba? In what way does Linux reformat the filenames? Also what do you mean by setting the modified date, if the file is modified then the modified date should be set. Both Windows and Linux update the modified time anytime you write to a file, whether its local or on a remote share.
 
Old 06-22-2006, 05:52 PM   #11
e_james
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The hdd in my Toshiba portable was failing and Windows wouldn't boot. I think it was Suse 9.3 live CD I used or Mandriva Free 2006 (installed). One of them was able to read my data drive and connect via ethernet to another Windows machine (using Samba I think). I hurriedly copied files I wanted to keep to the other PC. When I looked at them later I found that many filenames of the form "CLIENT.db" had been altered to "client.db" and the modified date was stored as "9/1/2006" (the date of the copy process). I later read somewhere that this is standard Linux behaviour i.e. filenames which are completely upper case are converted to lower case. In my own file management strategy the upper case is useful and so is the retention of the original "modified" date even when the file is copied or moved from one directory to another or one PC to another.
 
Old 06-22-2006, 07:21 PM   #12
tkedwards
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Quote:
and the modified date was stored as "9/1/2006" (the date of the copy process)
Ah ok. Yeah there seems to be a difference between Linux and Windows here - Linux updates the mod time on copy, Windows doesn't.

Quote:
When I looked at them later I found that many filenames of the form "CLIENT.db" had been altered to "client.db"..I later read somewhere that this is standard Linux behaviour i.e. filenames which are completely upper case are converted to lower case. In my own file management strategy the upper case is useful
Its the other way around, its standard *Windows* behaviour to ignore case in filenames. If you're using filename case as part of your file organisation strategy in Windows you're making a mistake as Windows filesystems don't store case info - sooner or later you'd have got bitten by this. The upside is that now your files are on Linux (assuming they're on a Linux filesystem such as ext2/3 or reiser that is) you can safely set the case to what you want and have it stick.
 
  


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