Automatic Multimedia Installation Configuration Utility System (A.M.I.C.U.S.)
The purpose of the A.M.I.C.U.S. project is to help users quickly and easily install and configure MythTV on generic PC hardware. It is an installation and configuration script based on publicly available information in MythTV on Debian guides (see references and links section). This document borrows heavily from those guides and will continue to use them during script development.
A.M.I.C.U.S. uses previously developed products such as the Debian Netinst CD to install GNU/Linux and just the required packages for MythTV. A primary goal of the project is to install a minimal but functional MythTV on low end hardware while leveraging the benefits of the excellent stability and quality of the Debian GNU/Linux operating system. Debian GNU/Linux retains its full capability as a premier general purpose operating system and is not limited by running MythTV.
The A.M.I.C.U.S. project is independent of Debian which should allow the installed MythTV system to benefit from continuing Debian development. One of the many advantages of using Debian GNU/Linux as an underlying operating system for a MythTV system is it can be updated easily to incorporate security fixes and system improvements with a simple "apt-get update && apt-get upgrade" from the root prompt.
Currently, the project has released version 0.04 is in development. At the present time, using the instructions on this web page, an A.M.I.C.U.S. user can install Debian Netinst, download, install, and configure MythTV with related packages. A.M.I.C.U.S. includes MythTV related hardware configuration such as BT8x8, Zoran, and ivtv tuner cards, LIRC, ATI, and NVidia video cards.
To my knowledge, a few brave souls have used the A.M.I.C.U.S. process -- turning their dull and lifeless PCs into a vibrant MythTV multimedia centers. Hopefully others will join soon. The project will be adding many more features in future releases. If you would like to request support for specific features, please join the mailing lists and/or forums on the A.M.I.C.U.S. Sourceforge.net. The currently released script is available at the Sourceforge.net project page file download for review:
Sourceforge is graciously hosting this Free/Open Source development project. As A.M.I.C.U.S. is released under the GPL v2, anyone is free to join, test, and submit changes to the script. All users, testers, and developers are welcome to comment and join in on the fun of developing A.M.I.C.U.S.! I'd like to say a big "THANK YOU" to the nice people at Sourceforge.net. Here is the Sourceforge A.M.I.C.U.S. project page:
I would like to say a big "THANK YOU" as well to the developers of Debian, MythTV, and the whole Free/Open Source community for their great contributions.
Users, Testers, and Developers are all welcome to join in the A.M.I.C.U.S. project. I am sure you are experienced and have great ideas to implement. Please send post them on the mailing list. Of course, patches are welcome to! There are two mailing lists to help in the discussion:
https://lists.sourceforge.net/mailman/listinfo/amicus-users (For A.M.I.C.U.S. users)
https://lists.sourceforge.net/mailman/listinfo/amicus-devel (For A.M.I.C.U.S. developers)
Regarding the name A.M.I.C.U.S., "amicus" is a latin term for "friend". Hopefully A.M.I.C.U.S. will be your friend to help you set up your MythTV system. I believe many new MythTV experimenters could use a little help from a knowledgeable friend to get their PVR systems working. This script is intended to help bring some of the hard earned knowledge of the MythTV community into an easy to understand HOWTO and menu format.
Download and burn a CD of Debian Netinst or the Debian Business Card image
Either Debian Netinst or Business Card will work, just select one you prefer. I haven't tried the install floppies recently but I suspect they would work as well.
IMPORTANT:If you find you are having compatibility issues with the Debian Stable Netinst supporting your particular hardware, I recommend you use the most recent Debian Testing Netinst CD found at:
The AMICUS Bootable CD Installer
There is a bootable CD ISO image available of Debian Testing and all packages necessary to install MythTV. Just download the CD ISO from the A.M.I.C.U.S. Sourceforge.net project page file download section and burn it to a blank CD. Then insert the CD into the target PC, turn it on, and follow the menus for Mondo Rescue Restore. No additional packages are required for downloading.
IMPORTANT: Debian Testing requires a full "reboot cycle" upon successful installation to recognise and configure your system. Just reboot your computer TWICE when Mondo Rescue is complete.
IMPORTANT: The root account default password is "root" and the amicus user account default password is "amicus". I strongly recommend you change the passwords to these accounts immediately upon installation for security reasons. DO NOT CONNECT TO THE INTERNET WITHOUT CHANGING PASSWORDS!I recommend using the automatic restore mode or "nuke" however this REQUIRES a blank hard drive to install to. In theory you can use the "interactive" mode to install to almost any hard drive partition. If you are able to get the CD image to install successfully to a hard drive partition, please post on the mailing list. IMPORTANT: the AMICUS CD ISO contains a version of the AMICUS script which will almost certainly require updating. Once you install it, the script can be updated as documented below. Thank you.
The PC must
- be connected to the internet.
- have sound card supported by ALSA. See http://www.alsa-project.org/ for more details.
- have a processor fast enough and enough RAM to run full screen video.
- have sufficient disk space to install Debian Netinst, MythTV and related packages, the database, and user data.
- have a Linux compatible TV tuner card
- have an information source for xmltv channel information suitable for your location. In the US or Canada this probably means an account with labs.zap2it.com (see MythTV.org docs on how to set up)
- have a CD/DVD drive and be able to boot from it
- have a floppy disk for storing the amicus script downloaded from Sourceforge's download servers.
Step 1: Debian Installation (I recommend accepting defaults and/or supply your own information. Critical info is in bold)
- Turn on target PC
- Configure the target PC to boot from CD/DVD drive
- Insert the Debian CD in the CD/DVD drive
- Reboot the target PC by pressing its reset button
- IMPORTANT: At the Debian Boot Screen, type the command for the Linux 2.6 Kernel option: linux26
- Choose language: English
- Country or Region: United States
- Keyboard Layout: American English
- Choose a servername and domain.
- Accept automatic partition changes or manually change your own. I recommend a single large partition for the first install and to accept defaults.
- If using the Business Card image, select an apt-get package source
- Install GRUB to the MBR
- Debian start its post install configuration routine
- For Time Zone, I chose Eastern
- IMPORTANT: do not use the username "mythtv". The user "mythtv" is reserved for use by mythtv
- Enter your new root password and a new user account,
- Select "CDROM" as a package source for apt. I recommend NOT adding other sources as to prevent you from unnecessary downloading of several megabytes of obsolete packages.
- Apt will try to update some packages necessary for configuration.
- Do not select any options when the Debian Software Selection menu appears. Just leave it blank.
- Apt will try again to download and update even more obsolete packages. Let it complete its task without interruption. It may say that it cannot complete but that is OK.
- Configure the Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) by accepting the default settings
- The Debian Netinst installer should now leave you with a login screen.
Step 2: Run amicus script
- Login as user root with your root password. The amicus script can be run from almost any directory but these instructions assume you have the script in the /root directory.
- IMPORTANT: The amicus script is designed for console mode only. Make sure that X is not running in the background! The amicus script will start X automatically as required in menu option 5.
- IMPORTANT: Help information (this webpage and links in it) are available while running the amicus script. Just select menu option h.
- Download the amicus script (Using wget to view the script is for educational, public awareness, and full disclosure of source code purposes only. Please don't abuse Sourceforge.net)
- $wget http://osdn.dl.sourceforge.net/sourceforge/amicus/amicus-0.04.tar.gz (or the appropriate filename)
- $chmod 666 amicus-0.04.tar.gz (or the appropriate filename)
- $tar xzf amicus-0.04.tar.gz
- Review the script to make sure it does not do anything bad. If you find anything illegal, objectionable, or just plain wrong, please post on the mailing list ASAP. REALLY, I DO WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
- $more amicus
- Insert the floppy disk with the amicus script on it
- Copy the amicus script from your floppy disk. See paragraph "Accessing the A.M.I.C.U.S. script from a floppy drive" below
- Change amicus script file permissions to allow root execution
- $chmod 744 amicus
- Run the amicus script
- initially, the script will ask you if you just installed from the AMICUS CD ISO image. If you did, it will run Debian Testing base-config and prompt you to change the passwords for the root and amicus users.
- amicus will attempt to autodetect your tuner card and help you configure. I recommend configuring your tuner card prior to installing MythTV if possible.
- Select menu option i "Install MythTV"
- note: advanced users can select the "one step" menu option p which combines menu options 1 through 5.
- Select menu option 1 "Update apt-get sources"
- When you select the above option, you can choose either menu option t for Debian "testing" or menu option u for "unstable" packages. Either will work but I recommend "testing" as it is more dependable for new installations. You can also select what kernel extra option you would like with option "k". Only change the kernel extra option if you know specifically what you are doing and why.
- Select menu option 2 "Build MythTV Dependencies Packages"
- Accept the default configuration for packages as much as possible. Accept installing packages without verification. There will be configuration choices specific to your hardware. Caution, every Debian system has its own unique properties. YMMV!
- Select menu option 3 "Add Required MythTV Packages"
- Accept the default configuration for packages as much as possible. However, there will be configuration choices specific to your hardware. When configuring the Xorg X Windows packages pick conservative display values such as 640x480 or 800x600 at 60 Hz and 24 bit color. You must have a working X for MythTV to function. If your video card is not autodetected correctly, I recommend specifying the "vesa" video driver as a temporary measure.
- The ALSA configuration program will also run. Make sure your audio hardware is set up properly. The default settings are suitable for MythTV with BT8x8 tuners and most applications.
- IMPORTANT: Next the ALSA mixer control will run. Press F5 to see all the controls, playback AND capture.
I had to set:
o Master to about 70
o PCM to about 70
o Line to 0, capture, and MUTED
o Capture to about 70 and CAPTURE
o Set everything else to 0 level and/or MUTED you can
- Select menu option 4 "Configure MySQL".
- Follow the prompts. It will ask you to assign a password to the MySQL root user. Assign one and remember this password as you will need it again soon!
- The amicus script should return you to the main menu.
- Select menu option 5 "Install MythTV Packages".
- Set the password for the new user "mythtv". Remember the password for later.
- If this applies to you, have your labs.zap2it.com account information ready.
- The amicus script will then launch the MythTV Setup program.
- Configure MythTV as you normally would then exit by pressing "esc" key. See paragraph "Configure MythTV and Add Channels" below.
- The amicus script will launch mythfilldatabase. It will take several minutes to download all the information so please be patient.
- Finally, amicus will launch the MythTV Frontend program.
- Continue to configure MythTV as you normally would. For compatibility purposes, the amicus script uses the Xvesa X server to run the MythTV Frontend for configuration purposes only. It is NOT suitable for watching TV or video! I recommend accepting the defaults as much as possible. When you are complete you can exit by pressing "esc" key.
- Note that when you exit the amicus script will return to the command prompt. If you would like to continue using the amicus script restart it as normal.
- IMPORTANT: MythTV may work just fine for you without additional configuration but if your TV video is a green screen or all static you probably need to configure your tuner card.
- Select menu option c "Configure System"
- If you have a BT8x8 tuner card, select menu option 6 "Configure BT8x8 Cards". Currently, this supports generic BT8x8 tuner cards which do not require any specific install options with the exception of the "ATI TV Wonder VE".
- If you have a Zoran tuner card, select menu option o "Configure Zoran Tuner Cards". Currently, this supports specifically the DC10 and all the Zoran tuner cards which do not require any specific install options.
- If you have an HD-3000 tuner card, select menu option l "Configure HD-3000 Tuner Cards". This MAY also work for the HD-2000 but is untested.
- If you have a Hauppauge PVR-150/250/350/500 tuner ivtv tuner card, select menu option 8 "Configure PVR-150/250/350/500 ivtv Cards". The amicus script has special support for the PVR-350 including accelerated video playback on TV-out and also X for framebuffer on TV-out. A sample PVR-350 X for framebuffer on TV-out /etc/X11/xorg.conf is available here:
IMPORTANT: if your tuner card requires special configuration and you cannot find it in the list, please request support for your tuner on the mailing list!
- Select menu option x to exit amicus script.
Step 3: Setting up MythTV for its first run!
- Reboot the target PC with the reboot command
- After it reboots, it should present a normal login screen. Log in as the root and test MythTV.
- Right click on the background and select "Apps -> Graphics -> MythTV" to launch the MythTV Frontend
- Press "esc" key to exit.
- Did MythTV work? Yes? Congratulations! Enjoy MythTV! What? It didn't work? Well, better join up on the mailing lists and help me figure out what is broken so we can fix it.
Requesting help for debugging A.M.I.C.U.S. on the mailing lists: The A.M.I.C.U.S. script contains instrumentation for debugging purposes. All install information is logged into the "amicus_debug.txt" file stored in the same directory as the amicus script. Please post this file as part of your message so I can see what is happening with your system and attempt to debug.
Configure MythTV and Add Channels
- MythTV specific configuration documentation is found at http://mythtv.org/docs/mythtv-HOWTO.html
- IMPORTANT: Go through all the setup steps at least once, even if you do not change anything
- Have mythtv-setup delete your card settings and your channel information
- Review and set as appropriate the General options based on your intentions
- Add your Capture Cards
- Add your Video Source
- Link your Input Connections to your new Video Source
- IMPORTANT: If you require location specific configuration of the xmltv grabber, press ALT-X to start an xterm as user "mythtv" and enter the appropriate command (ie, tv_grab_uk_rt, tv_grab_fr, etc). Type exit to close the xterm or ALT-TAB to return to the mythtv-setup program.
- Examine your Channels and change if needed
- Press "esc" key to exit
IMPORTANT Note about the "Configure NVidia Video Card" and "Configure ATI Video Card" menu options: You can select these menu options but save these for absolute last - AFTER YOU HAVE REBOOTED! Try to get all the steps above working first because in order for this to work, the default Debian Linux kernel MUST be updated from the default version. You need finish the above steps and then reboot your PC to make the new kernel active. Just accept the defaults for the NVidia or ATI configuration programs. When it is done installing the NVidia or ATI proprietary drivers modules the amicus script will run the xserver reconfiguration program. IMPORTANT: The ATI proprietary drivers only support relatively recent ATI video cards such as the Radeon 8500 or later. If you have an older ATI video card you will likely receive your best support from the default Xorg X ATI video driver "ati".
How to get MythTV to work after you reboot
- Login as usual as the user during the Debian Netinst Install you set up earlier.
- Start Xorg X Windowing System
- Right click on the background and select "Apps -> Graphics -> MythTV" to launch the MythTV Frontend
- Press "esc" key to exit.
Accessing the A.M.I.C.U.S. script from a floppy drive
- On a different PC than the intended target, format a blank 3 1/2" floppy
- download the A.M.I.C.U.S. tar.gz file and save it on the floppy
- Extract the A.M.I.C.U.S. tar.gz file and leave all of the files in the root directory of the floppy
- Once Debian Netinst or Business Card image is installed on the target PC, log in as root per the directions above and copy the amicus script to the root directory with:
- $mount -t vfat /dev/fd0 /cdrom
- $cp /cdrom/amicus amicus
- $umount /cdrom
- Just ignore that you are using the /cdrom directory to access a floppy disk. To the "mount" command the name of the directory doesn't matter.
My hardware (also doubles as my basement MythTV frontend system):
eMachines T2692 2.6GHz Celeron (Northwood)
512 MB PC2100 DDR RAM
NVidia GeForce 440SE PCI video card with TV-out
ATI TV Wonder VE tuner card
40 GB IDE hard disk (A.M.I.C.U.S. is on a 32 GB hda4 partition)
ATI Remote Wonder
TO DO list
Replace the User Interface with something much better
Add support for more tuner cards (in work)
Add the MythBrowser MythPlugin (in work)
Add support for LIRC (in work)
Many other things I cannot recall right now.
Figure out how to start X and run mythtv-setup as user mythtv while staying in console mode exclusively. (fixed 0.01)
Fix the extra klunky "configure MySQL" portion of the script. (fixed 0.01)
Add online Help and About (fixed 0.01)
Add feature to build MythTV from source (fixed 0.02)
Add support for MPlayer from CVS (fixed 0.02)
Add support for x264 codec (fixed 0.02)
Add online clock synchronization function (fixed 0.02)
Add ability to automatically start MythTV on boot (fixed 0.02)
Add ability to configure MythTV Frontend Only system (fixed 0.02)
Add support for ivtv cards (Hauppauge PVR-150/250/350/500) (fixed 0.03)
Add support for multiple tuner cards (fixed 0.03)
Add MythPlugins support, all except MythBrowser (fixed 0.03)
Add support for MythTV Backend Network Server (fixed 0.04)
Add ALSA configuration improvements (fixed 0.04)
Add Xvesa X server during configuration (fixed 0.04)
Add HD-3000 detection and support (fixed 0.04)
Add PVR-350 TV-out video playback support (fixed 0.04)
Add ATI video card support (fixed 0.04)
Add PVR-350 X on TV-out support (fixed 0.04)
Add Zoran tuner support (fixed 0.04)
Many little bugs and annoyances
Links and references:
PS, Donations do not have to be money. Hardware, even used, is appreciated as well. It is very difficult to support hardware I cannot access! In particular, I temporarily need a pcHDTV HD-2000 HD tuner (and others) to add support to AMICUS. I also need a decent ATX CPU/MB/RAM (500 MHz or faster) to repair a test station for AMICUS development. Please contact me for details.
Donate at least $10 (or equivalent) and I will mail you a personalized copy of the AMICUS CD. Please include your mailing address.