Building a home media center with MythTV


Article from Issue 71/2006

MythTV and its extensive ecosystem of add-ons let you turn your Linux computer into a full-featured home media center.

MythTV is a collection of software tools for TV in Linux. The MythTV website [1] calls MythTV “a GPL-licensed suite of programs that allow you to build a mythical home media convergence box on your own using Open Source software and operating systems.” MythTV provides an interface from your computer to your cable or satellite television service. You can use MythTV to pause, rewind, or fast forward television programs. MythTV with a video capture card lets you record TV programs. And MythTV runs on a network-ready Linux system, so you can configure several front-end devices in your house to view and access a common set of video resources. At first glance, MythTV looks like nothing more than a Open Source clone of Tivo – a hard-disk-based video recorder that’s basically a digital version of a VCR. But MythTV offers much more functionality than Tivo. Yes, it can record, pause, and playback your favorite TV shows, but it also offers a huge suite of add-on applications that can do much more. Also, because MythTV is an Open Source project, it is not feature-encumbered like many of the commercial DVR systems. For example, MythTV provides automatic commercial skipping. On the other hand, although you used to be able to hack your Tivo to skip commercials, Tivo is now implementing flash-based pop-up advertisements that will display when the user is fast forwarding.

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