MythTV with HDMI on Mythbuntu

My new build server doubles as a media front end running MythTV. Because the machine has plenty of disk space and CPU power, it can play high-definition video stutter free even with eight threads compiling Linux, Android, etc in the background. MythTV itself isn’t perfect, but after you get used to its quirks you start to love it.

The stock interface themes aren’t all that great, but the mythtv-themes package from the Mythbuntu repos has a wider selection. I like the Arclight theme, shown below with Season 1 of Boardwalk Empire:

One hiccup I ran into during setup was that sound wasn’t working over HDMI. After a bit of googling around I figured out that all I needed to do was tell ALSA which audio device to use; a simple fix, but I’ll write it down here just in case I forget. 😉

Just in case you’re in the same boat, here’s how I fixed it…

Find your preferred audio device

Use aplay to find the correct sound device:

aplay -l
**** List of PLAYBACK Hardware Devices ****
card 0: PCH [HDA Intel PCH], device 0: ALC889 Analog [ALC889 Analog]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 0: PCH [HDA Intel PCH], device 1: ALC889 Digital [ALC889 Digital]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 0: PCH [HDA Intel PCH], device 3: HDMI 0 [HDMI 0]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0

As I’m using HDMI to my LG LED TV, I need device 3.

Configure /etc/asound.conf

Tell ALSA to use this device by default; create or edit /etc/asound.conf as follows:

pcm.!default {
        type hw
        card 0
        device 3

Bingo! Once you log out or restart, you’ll be good to go.

7 thoughts on “MythTV with HDMI on Mythbuntu

  1. With mythTV, are there online movie streaming services to subscribe to? I am used to getting movies, loading them on my machine and watching on VLC or ubuntu 11.10 movie player, just downloading files and watching them locally. I would like to know of the advantages of getting mythTV, then maybe i’d be interested to try it out. I have seen features like record and pause/rewind live TV. have u tested these features? I got DStv but not using it, was thinking of considering it…

    1. Well I have a TV, so I like MythTV (though the more I see XBMC the more I wanna try it!). If my series and movies were just on my laptop I’d just watch ’em there I guess. But it’s kinda lame for me and my girlfriend to squeeze on the couch to watch on a tiny computer. 🙂

      Actually, I built my server for experimenting with a few things: having a sweet LAN at home, compiling CyanogenMod, and for playing with virtualization, learning about HDMI, building RAID storage, video streaming via DLNA/UPnP with mediatomb, etc.

      So basically, you probably don’t need MythTV, but it’s useful in my situation. 🙂

  2. Say, how about setting up RSS or something as well as email so we can auto consume your wisdom. THX.

    1. Just cuz I don’t have a big snazzy button doesn’t mean I don’t have RSS ;). This is WordPress… just put my URL in your client and it’ll discover it automagically. But I suppose I should put up a big snazzy button, eh?

  3. Hello Allan,

    MythTV stutters when playing back 1080p video on the laptop (Powered by an Arrandale Intel Core i3 370M @2.4GHz), yet VLC and other media players seem to play it flawlessly.

    The problem is also reproducible in XBMC.

    Current setup:

    Fedora 17 64 bit.
    Intel Core 13 370M
    6GB DDR3 RAM.

    What could be the issue here? Help!

    1. Not sure, dude. Maybe MythTV and XBMC have some overhead due to their OpenGL zestiness? If I log into my XBMC server I generally see the xbmc.bin using ~20% CPU when it is completely idle! Maybe check #xbmc on Freenode. :\

  4. Hello Alan,

    This problem was solved after compiling XBMC with the –enable-vaapi switch on runtime at ./configure script.
    This build enables VAAPI hardware acceleration to be baked in to XBMC, so long as you have the appropriate driver installed on your linux distro. For intel GPUs, use the i965 driver.

    Hope this helps someone else experiencing the same problem.

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