Select Page

If building your own DVR using linux was so easy, more people would do it

Before we move into the “step by step by step” instructions, I feel I need to give yawl a little pep talk. Because stuff is going to get confusing, it may go wrong and you need motivation, context and understanding to solve problems and succeed.

Most people just want stuff to work and do what it’s supposed to do, without a lot fuss. Apple has cashed in on this truth … because the world does not know, or care that Apple’s MacOS is based upon the Unix:BSD operating system, which traces it roots back to … boring. They just use their Macs to do do stuff. For most people, The Tivo Bolt is probably a better solution than the Mythtv DVR I’ve been writing about. HOWEVER, Apple and Tivo have added value by figuring things out. And that is what you pay them for. Now it’s your turn to add value.

tux_pI believe we’re reached saturation on the expensive devices and monthly fees — and people are starting to push back. My family has a huge monthly data plan for their phones. My car has a data plan, a satellite radio subscription and also requires monthly financing payments. And as the internet of things gets bigger, there will be more. Companies don’t want to just sell products — they want revenue straws tucked into your current accounts so they can sip your cash for years upon years. If we could buck this trend without learning anything about Linux, we should do it. Mythbuntu, does a pretty good job of delivering linux as a tv recording appliance. But it is not a “whole product solution” — the cost of it being free is that the user must invest in learning enough to complete the “last mile” and get to a complete solution that they can maintain over time,

Jargon and geek speak is a serious problem

Here we are trying to teach people, and half the time we’re speaking gibberish. The linux people, and computer geeks in general, share a sense of community, even fraternity. Our secret hand shake: the opaque jabberwocky we throw around. It’s a foreign language to most folks, almost as if we want to keep muggles in the dark. That’s probably not the case, but it sure seems like it. Take a look at the home page for Mythbuntu: screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-12-02-49-am

What they are saying is, mythbuntu is dependent on two other independent software programs (the Ubuntu “flavor” of Linux, and Mythtv) and one information service (Schedules Direct). The bar chart is trying to tell you that the version of mythbuntu you have (.27, .28 or .29) can continue to get software updates depending on the version of Ubuntu your Mythbuntu rig is based upon (from 16.10 to 14.04). Most people will just leave this home page, because this might as well be hieroglyphics or something. Yes, it will get worse.

Seemingly endless amounts of “You gotta learn X before you can do Y …”

This is how it feels to climb the learning curve. So if you feel this way, you are doing it right, stashing new skills in your wheelhouse. On the mythbuntu download page, you’ll be asked to download via torrent or zsync. Huh? Skip zsync for now, super geeky. Torrent you may know of. Most often, it’s great for exposing your computer to nefarious hacker types while you try and leech an illegal copy of “Sausage Party” or worse. It’s also a very cheap and efficient way for non-profits to distribute their legitimate software. Take a side trip and learn how to both use a torrent client to download the mythbuntu ISO file (a file ready to burn to a disc or a USB stick) and then create a bootable USB stick.

Next, Sign up for a free trial of Schedule Direct

The DVR needs schedule info. So you gotta sign up for They have a 7-day free trial … and even a cheap 2 month plan if you can’t commit.

In the next post, we will finally install the operating system and begin to configure your Linux DVR.