This is the tale of my attempts, eventually successful, to setup Mythbuntu on a newly purchased HP slimline desktop s5280t.
This is the decription of the machine: it's HP Slimline s5300. It comes with a quad-core CPU, 6GB of RAM and 640GB, but that doesn't matter for MythTV. What matters is the following list of devices:
- Tuner card: Hauppauge WinTV-HVR1255
- Remote control: TSGH-IR01 (the IR receiver plugs into the tuner card in what looks like a simple jack)
- Video Card: Nvidia G210 with HDMI
- Samsung LCD TV with DVI input (among others)
The initial Mythbuntu setup was uneventful. I installed Karmic from scratch without issue.
During installation, a few MythTV setup screens are proposed to do the initial configuration (tuner card, SchedulesDirect subsciption, channel lineup, ...). That went equally well except for the remote control: none of the devices in the list matched mine.
Anyways, the setup completed and I could start MythTV. I must say I was pleasantly surprised, the UI came up and using the keyboard, I could actually "watch TV". There were a few annoying details, like the size of the UI that doesn't exactly match the size of the TV screen and a very slim noise band at the top of the image on 4:3 channels. But the major issues were of different kind:
- no sound
- no remote
The image comes from the video card through the HDMI port and I was hoping the sound would come out of the analog sound output of the computer and to the analog sound input of the TV. That's how it was working on my previous MythTV installation (Gentoo + Acer machine). The DVI input of the TV is supposed to work in concert with the analog sound input right next to it, but in this case it didn't: strangely, sound is coming out of the analog sound port but the TV ignores it.
After a little digging, I found that the TV can actually receive sound through HDMI. At least that's what it tells the video card when it sends its firmware signature (EDID) to the video card. The video card, naive as it is, believes it and replies to the TV that it's going to do just that. The TV is happy, it turns off the analog sound input and listens on HDMI.
Unfortunately, that's all too sophisticated for the Nvidia driver of the video card (version 185 by default by I also tried 190 to no avail). The nvidia driver doesn't know how to process sound coming from the motherboard. But it does know how to send sound to the TV and that's what it does, it sends an all blank soundtrack to the TV.
The solution is on this page: Converting analog sound to HDMI. It consists in modifying the EDID information submitted by the TV and remove the bits about receiving sound through HDMI. The updated EDID must then be saved into xorg.conf. The video card will subsequently read the EDID from there instead of getting it from the TV and will stop telling the TV that sound is coming through HDMI which will cause the TV to listen on the analog input.
That worked like a charm for me (after a couple of reboots).
Hauppauge 1250 IR receiver
The remote control that HP sent with the computer is designed for Windows Media Center Edition which led me to believe it fell into the "mceusb" category of remotes that can be used with LIRC and MythTV. But I was mistaken, the IR receiver is not a USB device, instead it plugs in directly into the tuner card (Hauppauge 1250).
Again, the issue here is with too recent hardware and outdated drivers: the driver for the Hauppauge tuner card doesn't recognize the IR receiver and completely ignores it. There's no fix as of yet. That's too bad because this remote control looked pretty solid compared to all the remotes that can be bought online.
The full explanation can be found on MythTV wiki.
USB Remote Control
I then went to buy that wireless PC remote I found on Amazon. It seemed standard enough and I was hoping I could use the other remote described above on the new IR receiver. It didn't work as planned. The first thing that is supposed to happen when plugging in a USB IR receiver is to have LIRC detect the device (should show up in dmesg) and that should be immediately followed by the device appearing under /dev with the name /dev/lirc0.
I got LIRC to detect something:
Nov 22 14:18:35 ibiza kernel: [ 15.507820] lirc_dev: IR Remote Control driver registered, major 61 Nov 22 14:18:35 ibiza kernel: [ 15.592792] lirc_mceusb: Windows Media Center Edition USB IR Transceiver driver for LIRC 1.90 Nov 22 14:18:35 ibiza kernel: [ 15.592826] usbcore: registered new interface driver lirc_mceusb
but nothing showed up as /dev/lirc0. The testing LIRC tool 'irw' was not mute, some garbage got printed but not at all what's supposed to be printed.
In fact, even though LIRC didn't recognize the IR receiver, I could use the remote to do some basic operations: the up, down, left and right keys were doing exactly what is expected from the arrow keys of a regular keyboard. So I could use it to do the most basic navigation operations on the MythTV menus. Interesting but not good enough.
After lots of googling, I finally realized that the remote was in fact recognized as a keyboard and a mouse by the system. That's bad news because that means I won't be able to use the other remote with that receiver. Anyways, this is called an HID remote and LIRC has a driver for that, it's called "devinput". That Archlinux wiki page has the lircd.conf file to be used with such a device. I found only later that dmesg was showing the HID device:
Nov 22 16:48:42 ibiza kernel: [ 3.247892] input: HID 073a:2230 as /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1d.1/usb7/7-1/7-1:1.0/input/input3 Nov 22 16:48:42 ibiza kernel: [ 3.247957] generic-usb 0003:073A:2230.0001: input,hidraw0: USB HID v1.10 Keyboard [HID 073a:2230] on usb-0000:00:1d.1-1/input0 Nov 22 16:48:42 ibiza kernel: [ 3.247968] usbcore: registered new interface driver usbhid Nov 22 16:48:42 ibiza kernel: [ 3.247970] usbhid: v2.6:USB HID core driver
First you have to find under which name the device was mapped:
# ll /dev/input/by-id/ 0 lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 9 Nov 22 14:18 usb-073a_2230-event-mouse -> ../event6 0 lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 9 Nov 22 14:18 usb-073a_2230-mouse -> ../mouse2
Or you can just list all the "event" devices:
# cat /proc/bus/input/devices ... I: Bus=0003 Vendor=073a Product=2230 Version=0110 N: Name="HID 073a:2230" P: Phys=usb-0000:00:1d.1-1/input0 S: Sysfs=/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1d.1/usb7/7-1/7-1:1.0/input/input6 U: Uniq= H: Handlers=kbd mouse1 event6 B: EV=10001f B: KEY=837fff002c3027 bf00444400000000 fffffffffffff 10c040a27c007 ffa67bfad941dfff febeffdfffefffff fffffffffffffffe B: REL=343 B: ABS=100030000 B: MSC=10 ...
Knowing the /dev/input /event number you can then test it with:
lircd -n -d /dev/input/event6 -H dev/input lircd.conf
Create a /usr/share/lirc/remotes/hid/lircd.conf.hid file with the data from the Archlinux page and update /etc/lirc/lircd.conf with that patch. Also update /etc/lirc/hardware.conf with the device name (/dev/input/event6) and driver name (devinput).
MythTV will now work with the remote.
Arbor Domains (arbordomains.com) DNS servers were hijacked last night redirecting all requests to an amateurish Italian website (Portachiave Albatros - Milano). Some domains I owned were affected and I only realized the issue at 9PM PST on Sunday but according to the web server logs, I stopped receiving visitors around 5PM. At the time of this writing (11/9 7AM PST) the problem has not been fixed.
Arbor Domains has not responded yet to my support emails, but this morning, this note is displayed on their website:
Mon Nov 9 02:24:05 EST 2009
To All Customers: it has come to our attention that a security breach just occurred with our upstream registrar, causing all domains to be redirected to an illegitimate site.
We are currently working to resolve this problem and restore all domains to their proper settings. We estimate that domains will start to function properly around 9am Eastern time. Until then, all domains have been locked. You will not be able to manage your domain until settings have been restored.
We truly apologize for the trouble this has caused.
No post in a long time but it's not that I've been lazy. In fact, I've been working hard. Here's what I have been doing, hopefully, some of you will find this useful.
For a long time, I have been updating my ubuntu machines through the update-manager or aptitude. Both tools naturally show the list of packages that are updated and I immediately proceed to start the update. But an hour later, I would ask myself, what the hell just got updated? And I know of no tools that can give me a straight answer to that question.
So I decided to take things into my own hands and I developed a website to track changes in Ubuntu distributions. This website is called www.ubuntuupdates.org.
The main page has the list of all package updates per release, most recent first, the emergency level of the change, the repository where it was released and the description of what changed. That list is updated hourly.
Each package also has its own page that includes
- description of the package
- version history
- bugs fixes for each new version
If you're interested in finding stats on the number of updates per day, check out the dashboard.
You can also search for any package and see what the latest version available in each release and what repository it's leaving in (main, universe, multiverse, backports).
Again it's www.ubuntuupdates.org. Enjoy!
I got myself a MyTouch phone yesterday. It's has been available since Thursday at T-Mobile and it features Android 1.5 Cupcake. I have been a user of an iPod Touch for almost a year but the lack of anywhere data access was increasingly frustrating. The choice was between an iPhone and the new Android phone.
I like the iPod Touch a lot, it works with a fluidity and an ease of use that is extremely impressive. However, I find it has a few weaknesses that keep it more than a few inches away from perfection. But, the real annoyance with the iPhone is the proprietary nature the iPhone OS and the need to go through iTunes to transfer music, files and updates. I don't care for Apple arbitrarily choosing what applications are acceptable and which ones are not. And finally the T-Mobile data plan is also cheaper than the ATT one and I suspect that although the T-Mobile coverage is not as extensive, its existing 3G network is less crowded than ATT's.
The MyTouch looks very attractive, good plastics, it appears solid. The case and screen are slightly smaller than the iPhone's but with the same screen resolution. It's also a tad thicker. 7 buttons on the from instead just one for the iPhone, that's the most striking difference at first. I find this to be to the advantage of the MyTouch as I'll explain later.
The most annoying weakness of the iPhone in my opinion is the lack of shortcut between applications. To go from the web browser to the email application for example, you always have to go through the main menu. No need for that with the MyTouch as it features a 'back' button. So if you click on a URL in the email client, it takes you to the web browser and once you're done with the page, you just have hit the 'back' key and it gets you back straight to the message you were reading.
Now, the major strengths of the iPhone are fluidity and responsiveness. As soon as the finger starts sliding on the screen the web page or the list starts rolling, there's no delay (except when browsing complex web pages as they're being loaded). The MyTouch can't compete on this front, it often takes a few tenths of a second before the screen starts moving. It's quite tolerable though. I blame the ability of Android to multitask vs the foreground applications only in the iPhone for the difference.
Again, this is a strong point of the iPhone. A web page appears in full width at first, and a simple double tap on a text column or a pinch over the area that you want to enlarge shows you the desired area with the right zoom level. I find it very intuitive and effective.
The Android approach is different, Android doesn't have multitouch. So here is how it works: the initial view of the page is zoomed in on the top left of the page at a level where the text is readable. Whenever you slide the screen, the zoom +/- button will appear. The zoom step is quite small and it might take many taps to get an overview of the full page. Tapping on the piece of text you're interested in has no effect.
Another major difference is that once the focus is on a text column, the Android browser will reformat it to fit in the width of the screen, you can then zoom in or zoom out and the screen and the text still occupies the full width and no more than the width of the screen.
It takes some getting used to, and it's only been a day but I can now find my way around different areas on a page quite easily.
The web browser is another part of the interface where the back button is greatly appreciated. It's also very easy to access the the address bar as there is a key for that on the phone: that's the very versatile search key which changes purpose depending on the application.
Another useful key is the menu key that gives easy access to settings and bookmarks. In the end all those keys at the bottom of the phone save a lot of screen real estate and that's major plus for the MyTouch.
Final advantage of the Android browser over the iPhone's: better caching. The iPhone is quite bad at managing it's graphic memory. When scrolling up and down, it's very common for the content to stay invisible for several seconds while being hidden behind a frustrating grey and white grid. No such thing on the MyTouch.
The iPhone and Android email readers have a lot in common including flaws. One missing feature in the iPhone email app is the ability to zoom on message the same way it can be done on a web page. Well, this flaw is unfortunately shared by Android.
Okay, it's not entirely true, there are actually no less than 3 email applications in Android, one for Gmail, one for MS Exchange and one for your other IMAP or POP accounts. Oh wait, 4 if you count the gmail web application. This is definitely silly and I hope Google will consolidate all those apps in a future version.
Anyways, out of those 4 application, only the Exchange one allows you to zoom in and out. In the other 3, you might have to scroll left and right for every line of the email you are tediously trying to read.
The Android front page is a breath of fresh air compared to the iPhone, you can setup the background the way you like, organize your applications icons on any page or maybe in a folder with the name of your choice. The apps that are less often used can be left out of the front pages and stay in the full app list if you want to.
There is a notification bar at the top of the front page that shows not only the usual mobile phone indicators (signal bars, time...) but it also shows icons whenever emails are received, downloads complete or wifi networks are available. Where it gets interesting is that you can drag that bar down, and then it show a detailed list of the new events that you can select to go directly to the appropriate application. Very neat.
Okay, I admit it, I'm thrilled with my new phone. Besides everything I already mentioned, the screen quality is excellent, the camera takes great pictures, Google Maps coupled with the GPS is terrific. I should really mention the Amazon app where it's possible to scan barcodes wherever you are and immediately see the item in the Amazon website, this feature is just amazing.