The Easy Way: Installing MythBuntu

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This chapter is a published version, which means it can only be changed by editors. If you find an error, or want to expand this chapter, then please do that by editing The Easy Way: Installing MythBuntuBeta. If you have questions, please contact the editors.



When Stewart Smith and Michael Still wrote the first edition of Practical MythTV, building a MythTV system with Ubuntu wasn't as simple as it is now. Back then you needed to install a standard version of Ubuntu, configure it, and then build MythTV from source code. Whilst this is still a great approach for people with specific needs, there is now a MythTV specific derivative of Ubuntu called MythBuntu for those who have a spare machine and only want to use it for MythTV. MythBuntu is a great way to get started with MythTV, especially if you are new to Linux. Because it's based on the full version of Ubuntu, it's also easy to move on from MythBuntu if your needs become more specific than what MythBuntu is intended for.

If you want to install MythTV on an existing machine without reinstalling, or want the machine to perform other tasks apart from being your MythTV system, then MythBuntu probably isn't the right choice for you. In those cases, you should read The Hard Way: Installing Ubuntu if you haven't installed Ubuntu yet, and The Hard Way: Installing MythTV From Source for details of how to install MythTV. You should also have read the Selecting Hardware chapter before this one, to ensure that you are using a machine suitable for MythTV.

Downloading MythBuntu

The first step to giving MythBuntu a try is to download the CD ROM image (called an ISO image, after the ISO 9660 format that is used on the disks). If you want to try MythBuntu without rebooting your machine, you might also give one of our Virtual Machine Images a try. The MythBuntu download page offers a variety of hardware and disk options, but a good rule of thumb is if you're using a modern machine you'll need the 64 bit version, although a 32 bit version should work as well.

Once you've downloaded the ISO image, you need to burn it to CD. Exactly how you do that will vary depending on your operating system, and is left as an exercise for the reader.

Running the LiveCD MythBuntu

When you boot your computer using the Live CD, you will be presented with a list of boot options as shown in Figure 1. Select the "MythBuntu live environment". Depending on the timing of the bootup sequence, a language menu like that shown in Figure 2 may be on top of the boot options menu, just select your language and continue. If you ignore these menus for long enough, MythBuntu will automatically boot into the English version of the live environment. Once you've selected to boot into the live environment, MythBuntu will boot up, showing a progress bar like that shown in Figure 3.

Figure 1. The MythBuntu boot menu
Figure 2. Selecting your language
Figure 3. MythBuntu booting

If Only We Already Had a Backend

Now that you've booted into the live environment, you can give MythBuntu a try. The live environment is a full working MythTV frontend, which isn't very useful to us at the moment because we haven't yet installed a MythTV backend. In fact, if you had a machine with just a CD ROM drive and no hard disk that you wanted to use as a MythTV frontend, then you can use the MythBuntu live environment permanently. Unfortunately, using MythBuntu can't store any settings between boots (there is no writable storage on a CD ROM), so you would need to configure such a frontend every time it was booted. MythBuntu can save these settings to a flash drive or hard disk if one is present.

If you don't have a backend, then you can use the one provided by the live CD for demonstration purposes, but to have a useful MythTV system for any other use you have to install MythBuntu onto your machine.

The live environment will display the desktop shown in Figure 4 when it is ready for use.

Figure 4. The MythBuntu desktop

To configure the live environment as a MythTV frontend, double click on the "Live CD Frontend" icon on the desktop. You'll be presented with the frontend configuration screen, as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5. Live Environment Frontend Configuration

You can see here that there are six configuration tabs. If you had an existing MythTV backend you could use the live CD as a frontend using these configuration options. Given that this chapter is about installing your first MythTV system, I'll assume you don't have a backend and skip over this for now. You can find a more complete description of how to use a MythBuntu live CD as a frontend in Expanding MythTV.

Installing MythBuntu

Let's go ahead and install MythBuntu. This is going to change the contents of the hard disk in the machine, so be sure that you're really sure you want to do this. There are two options when it comes to the hard disk -- MythBuntu can completely overwrite the current contents, or it can use free space on the disk and leave what is currently installed alone. I'll discuss these options more when we get to the right place in the install process, but just want to make sure that you're aware of the risks to your existing data if you make a mistake in this section.

To install MythBuntu, double click the "Install MythBuntu" icon on the desktop. You can see an example icon in Figure 4 above. This will launch an installation wizard, which walks you through the process. The first screen on the wizard (Figure 6) asks if you're sure you want to install MythBuntu, and asks you to select a language for the installation. Select a language and click "Forward". If you regret launching the installer, just click the "Quit" button. At this point no change has been made to the hard disk, so it is safe to quit the installer. I'll let you know when it is no longer safe to leave the installer.

Figure 6. The first screen of the installation wizard

Next we need to set the timezone that you are in, as shown in Figure 7. This is important for MythTV because accurate time is needed to start recordings on time. You'll be annoyed if you miss a recording you particularly want because the timezone is wrong! My current timezone is "Los Angeles", as I live near San Francisco, so I'll set that in this example and then click "Forward".

Figure 7. Setting the timezone for the install

Now we need to tell MythBuntu what type of keyboard we're using (Figure 8). Because I am using a standard American QWERTY keyboard, the default is fine for me. If you're using something different, then browse the options until you find something which matches what you have. If you need to test the keyboard, then you can type into the box at the bottom of the screen. A successful test is one where what you type is what actually appears in the box.

Figure 8. Choosing a keyboard layout

Now the installer will start the partitioner. To do this the machine's disks need to be scanned for information like size and current partition layout. Depending on how many disks you have this can take a little while, so a progress dialog like that shown in Figure 9 is displayed. Its possible that this will be very fast on a newish machine with only a few disks, so if this progress dialog flashes up so quickly that you can't read it, don't worry.

Figure 9. Scanning the disk layout

You need to setup the hard disk before the install can run (Figure 10). Once you click the "Forward" button, you've reached the point of no return, as the installer will need to write the new partition layout to the hard disk. While it is theoretically possible to recover from accidentally overwriting a hard disk's partition layout, it is not practically possible. Be very sure before you click the "Forward" button on this dialog that you've made the right choices and don't need any of the data on the hard disk if you are overwriting it.

Figure 10. Configuring disk partitions

In my sample of the partitioner, you can see that I am reusing a disk which already has something on it. If your disk is completely unused, then then the display will be less cluttered for you. The simplest install method is just to replace the entire contents of the hard disk with the MythBuntu installation. In fact, in many cases this is what you'll want to do anyway, as you wont want to do word processing on your TV. To do this, select the "Guided - use entire disk" option. If you want to use only a portion of the disk (either because you want to keep some of the data already on the disk, or because you want to have more than one operating system on the machine), then select the "Guided - resize and use freed space" option. Guided partitioning is an advanced topic and outside the scope of this book.

Once you've setup the disk to your satisfaction, click the "Forward" button. The next screen, as shown in Figures 11 and 12 prompts you for information about the initial user of the system. This is the user that MythBuntu will automatically log in at startup, so make sure that you're comfortable with anyone who uses your TV having access to data owned by this user. The difference between Figures 11 and 12 is that Figure 7 shows sample entries, which are the ones I will use for the rest of this book.

Figure 11. Enter information about the default MythBuntu user
Figure 12. A sample default user

Finally, select a "standard installation" as shown in Figure 13. Advanced installations are discussed in Advanced MythBuntu Installations. You'll next get asked if you have a remote control or IR transmitter as shown in Figure 14. Remote controls are useful for obvious reasons, and are further discussed in the Configuration chapter. An infrared (IR) blaster is useful if you want to control an external device like a set top box. This is also discussed more in the Configuration chapter.

Figure 13. Select a standard install

The default remote control support with MythBuntu is via lirc, so if you have a remote control supported by lirc, you should enable it on the next screen. There is an extensive discussion of lirc in The Hard Way: Installing MythTV From Source. Similarly, MythBuntu supports lirc based IR transmitters quite well. If you are using one of those, configure it here as well.

Figure 14. Configuring remote controls and IR blasters in MythBuntu

Next you are asked to configure additional drivers for your system. You'll need additional drivers if you have a video card which requires proprietary drivers, or if you are using a HDHomeRun network HD tuner. To configure these drivers, you will of course need to know what video card you're using and whether it needs proprietary drivers.

Figure 15. Configuring additional drivers

The installer now summarizes what it is going to do:

Figure 16. Install summary

Next the installer will build the specified system, providing progress along the way:

Figure 17. Install progress

Finally, the installer will ask the user to configure Schedules Direct guide data, which only works in the United States, as well as launching MythTV setup, which is used to configure MythTV itself. Guide data is covered in Recording TV, and MythTV configuration using mythtv-setup is covered in Configuration, so I wont discuss them here.

Figure 18. Final configuration of MythBuntu


In this chapter we've tried out the MythBuntu live CD, including discussing how to use it as a frontend to an existing MythTV installation. Next we walked through installing MythBuntu onto your machine, and briefly described the configuration options available. Next we need to configure MythTV, which is discussed in Configuration, before we can record TV as discussed in Recording TV.

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