Installing Mythbuntu 7.10

Mythbuntu is “an Ubuntu derivative focused upon setting up a standalone MythTV system similar to Knoppmyth or Mythdora”. The last time I installed MythTV I did it on a standard Ubuntu desktop installation. The problem with this is that as well as ending up with a load of software you don’t really need you have to go through the pain of installing and configuring your TV card, graphics card, remote control and so on. Mythbuntu on the other hand takes care of absolutely everything. I won’t go into the details of the installation (because it’s pretty much next, next, next…) but suffice to say, Mythbuntu makes the whole process extremely simple. There were just two areas I had problems with, configuring XMLTV and configuring my wireless card.

The last time I installed MythTV I had the same problem with XMLTV. I don’t know if it’s something that I keep missing but after the installation mythfilldatabase never seems to works properly. The problem is that the XMLTV file containing the list of channels to fetch program information for never gets created. Luckily it’s easy enough to fix. What you do is take the name of the Video Source you setup in the MythTV Backend Setup program (in my case NTL) and then create a file in the directory $HOME/.mythtv called <video source name>.xmltv (e.g. NTL.xmltv in my case). When I refer to $HOME here I’m referring to the home directory of the user that you’re asked to create during the Mythbuntu installation. Within that file you list the XMLTV channel ids you want to retrieve program information for. Here’s what I have…

channel northern-ireland.bbc1.bbc.co.uk
channel northern-ireland.bbc2.bbc.co.uk
channel channel4.com
channel discoveryeurope.com
channel e4.channel4.com
channel livingtv.co.uk
channel mtv.co.uk
channel paramountcomedy.com
channel rte-1.rte.ie
channel rte2.rte.ie
channel 1.setanta.com
channel sky-news.sky.com
channel sky-one.sky.com
channel tg4.ie
channel tv3.ie
channel utvlive.com
channel nickelodeon.co.uk

This is the program listing for NTL’s analogue network in Dublin. Unfortunately (I suppose) Channel 6 isn’t available from the Radio Times XMLTV feed.

The second problem I had was configuring my wireless network card. The card I have is a Linksys WMP54G (version 4, PCI id 1814:0201). What I did was follow the instructions on this page https://help.ubuntu.com/community/WifiDocs/Driver/Ndiswrapper. When it comes to installing the windows drivers I used the files from the directory /Drivers/WMP54Gv4/2KXP on the installation CD that I got with the card. At the end of the process the card still wasn’t working. The problem was that a kernel module shipped with Ubuntu, namely rt2500pci, was getting loaded before (and hence interfering with) the module I wanted to load, i.e. ndiswrapper. To fix the problem I blacklisted rt2500pci and rebooted. The line I added to /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist was blacklist rt2500pci.

That’s it, a relatively easy install and nowhere near as timeconsuming or complicated as perfoming a MythTV installation from scratch.

P.S. another useful resource if you’re stuck is https://help.ubuntu.com/community/WifiDocs/WirelessTroubleShootingGuide.

Mashup Camp 5 – Dublin

Mashup Camp Dublin is coming up and IBM are running a Business Mashup Challenge.

Amazon’s Web Services are very appealing so I was thinking of putting together a mashup that shows you the price of a book from each of Amazon’s international sites in your own local currency and with postage included. Unfortunately (well for me anyway) after a bit of searching on ProgrammableWeb.com I found that it’s already been done, Pricenoia – and very nicely too.

Anyone got any ideas for a mashup that would be interesting/fun/useful/all three?

Meteor WebSMS

As a Java5/JUnit4/Maven2 learning exercise I’ve written a simple little SMS command line utility called Meteor WebSMS. It allows you to bypass Meteor’s website and send the free web SMS messages they offer from your command line (you have to be a Meteor customer of course).

The API is completely separate from the the command line tool so it’s available if you want to use it in your own Java programs. Javadocs are here.

Since this is a learning exercise full source code and Maven pom.xml are included in the distribution. The URL is http://www.17od.com/meteor-websms.