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Raspberry Pi frontend via Raspbmc - first try report

 

 

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nick.rout at gmail

Nov 30, 2012, 9:41 PM

Post #1 of 12 (2560 views)
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Raspberry Pi frontend via Raspbmc - first try report

I have a Raspberry Pi (RPi) with 256M Ram (the subsequent model comes with
512M)

There has been considerable debate about whether this device can act as a
mythtv frontend. The various pros, cons and debates seem to be:

1. Generally underpowered;

2. No hardware MPEG2 decoding (now fixable for a paltry sum);

3. Very active development of XBMC on it (2 or 3 distros specialising in
this);

4. No mythtv support for OpenMAX video decoding (which is what you need to
use to get hardware accelerated video on the RPi), but XBMC supports this;

5. Probably insufficient RAM for most myth themes, so XBMC with the new PVR
plugins is possibly a better bet.;

My situation is mythtv-0.25 backend on an x86 box, 2 HDHR dual tuners
recording DVB-T broadcast in h.264 at 1080i and 576i resolutions.
(Therefore I don't strictly need the mpeg2 decoder licence for this
purpose).

Being a curious soul I installed the latest Raspbmc version a few nights
ago and today configured the PVR client for mythtv. I haven't used it
extensively but can say this (these points are in no particular order):

1. It works for the most part, but there is clearly not enough RAM and
Raspbmc doesn't enable any swap by default. I will enable a swap file when
I remember how and see if it makes a difference. Swap will be pretty slow
on an SD card though I think. It would be interesting to get my hands on a
512M Rpi for comparison.

2. Deinterlacing is not flash. I believe the raspbmc developer is working
on this.

3. It crashes out of xbmc every now and then, usually when trying to play
back a 1080i programme.

4. Moving around the mythtv pvr plugin screens is painfully slow;

5. I managed to generate fairly reliable crashes by entering the pvr mythtv
plugin screens before the plugin had properly initialised (which takes some
time and seems to get quite a bit of epg and other info from the backend.

6. Although not directly related to myth, the HDMI-CEC hardware on the RPI
seems to work with my panasonic tv and it's remote. Hell the whole Rpi is
cheaper than the Pulse Eight HDMI-CEC adaptor!

7. When it doesn't crash it renders the recorded TV files well enough and
without significant breaking of sweat, subject to the need to improve the
deinterlacing as mentioned above.

All in all I would have to say "shows promise, needs work".

I am not trying to start a huge debate or advocate for low power low memory
arm frontends to be a universal solution, but there has been regular
discussions on here about whether it could work as a frontend, so I wanted
to post this report. I would give a qualified "yes".

There has been a convergence here of the maturity of the XBMC PVR addon,
the release of MPEG2 decoding licenses by RPi, and the hard work of
developers of both mythtv and XBMC.


tylernt at gmail

Dec 2, 2012, 10:53 AM

Post #2 of 12 (2372 views)
Permalink
Re: Raspberry Pi frontend via Raspbmc - first try report [In reply to]

> 4. Moving around the mythtv pvr plugin screens is painfully slow;

I had the same experience, however XBMC has native myth:// protocol
support so you can bypass the plugin slowness and just use the normal
media browser interface to watch recordings. XBMC apparently doesn't
support my old 0.23 BE but if you want to try it with your newer BE,
I'd love to hear if it works.

> 7. When it doesn't crash it renders the recorded TV files well enough and
> without significant breaking of sweat,

I used analog audio and got some loud audio pops when
starting/stopping/skipping playback. You using analog or digital?
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http://www.mythtv.org/mailman/listinfo/mythtv-users


nick.rout at gmail

Dec 4, 2012, 11:59 AM

Post #3 of 12 (2344 views)
Permalink
Re: Raspberry Pi frontend via Raspbmc - first try report [In reply to]

On Mon, Dec 3, 2012 at 7:53 AM, Tyler T <tylernt [at] gmail> wrote:

> > 4. Moving around the mythtv pvr plugin screens is painfully slow;
>
> I had the same experience, however XBMC has native myth:// protocol
> support so you can bypass the plugin slowness and just use the normal
> media browser interface to watch recordings. XBMC apparently doesn't
> support my old 0.23 BE but if you want to try it with your newer BE,
> I'd love to hear if it works.
>

I have not tried that yet, although I have used it on x86 machines and it
works but i don't like the interface much. Wouldn't be nice enough to throw
out my mythfrontend.

Of all of them I think mythbox has the nicest interface, I don't much like
the XBMC PVR interface either.


>
> > 7. When it doesn't crash it renders the recorded TV files well enough and
> > without significant breaking of sweat,
>
> I used analog audio and got some loud audio pops when
> starting/stopping/skipping playback. You using analog or digital?
>

I am using HDMI, so digital. I have heard the analogue output from RPi is
pretty hairy in other software as well.

One option might be an external USB sound card. Not all work though
apparently.


jheizermythtv at gmail

Dec 10, 2012, 2:58 PM

Post #4 of 12 (2238 views)
Permalink
Re: Raspberry Pi frontend via Raspbmc - first try report [In reply to]

On Tue, Dec 4, 2012 at 1:59 PM, Nick Rout <nick.rout [at] gmail> wrote:

>
>
> On Mon, Dec 3, 2012 at 7:53 AM, Tyler T <tylernt [at] gmail> wrote:
>
>> > 4. Moving around the mythtv pvr plugin screens is painfully slow;
>>
>> I had the same experience, however XBMC has native myth:// protocol
>> support so you can bypass the plugin slowness and just use the normal
>> media browser interface to watch recordings. XBMC apparently doesn't
>> support my old 0.23 BE but if you want to try it with your newer BE,
>> I'd love to hear if it works.
>>
>
> I have not tried that yet, although I have used it on x86 machines and it
> works but i don't like the interface much. Wouldn't be nice enough to throw
> out my mythfrontend.
>
> Of all of them I think mythbox has the nicest interface, I don't much like
> the XBMC PVR interface either.
>
>
>>
>> > 7. When it doesn't crash it renders the recorded TV files well enough
>> and
>> > without significant breaking of sweat,
>>
>> I used analog audio and got some loud audio pops when
>> starting/stopping/skipping playback. You using analog or digital?
>>
>
> I am using HDMI, so digital. I have heard the analogue output from RPi is
> pretty hairy in other software as well.
>
> One option might be an external USB sound card. Not all work though
> apparently.
>
>
>
I decided to pull my RPi back out this weekend and give this a try again on
a rarely used TV. I was able to get everything working using the myth://
and the standard xbmc browser. With the mpeg2 license I can play both my
OTA and HDPVR recordings. I do get some buffering lag. It doesn't seem
like the network can keep up. I know there are USB NIC issues and I have
an older board so maybe I am one. Haven't researched it all yet. Besides
that HDMI audio worked, WM Remote worked. Did you guys get yours to work
w/o lag? Did you use myth:// or NFS?

Jon


nick.rout at gmail

Dec 10, 2012, 3:34 PM

Post #5 of 12 (2293 views)
Permalink
Re: Raspberry Pi frontend via Raspbmc - first try report [In reply to]

On Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 11:58 AM, Jon Heizer <jheizermythtv [at] gmail>wrote:

>
> On Tue, Dec 4, 2012 at 1:59 PM, Nick Rout <nick.rout [at] gmail> wrote:
>
>>
>>
>> On Mon, Dec 3, 2012 at 7:53 AM, Tyler T <tylernt [at] gmail> wrote:
>>
>>> > 4. Moving around the mythtv pvr plugin screens is painfully slow;
>>>
>>> I had the same experience, however XBMC has native myth:// protocol
>>> support so you can bypass the plugin slowness and just use the normal
>>> media browser interface to watch recordings. XBMC apparently doesn't
>>> support my old 0.23 BE but if you want to try it with your newer BE,
>>> I'd love to hear if it works.
>>>
>>
>> I have not tried that yet, although I have used it on x86 machines and it
>> works but i don't like the interface much. Wouldn't be nice enough to throw
>> out my mythfrontend.
>>
>> Of all of them I think mythbox has the nicest interface, I don't much
>> like the XBMC PVR interface either.
>>
>>
>>>
>>> > 7. When it doesn't crash it renders the recorded TV files well enough
>>> and
>>> > without significant breaking of sweat,
>>>
>>> I used analog audio and got some loud audio pops when
>>> starting/stopping/skipping playback. You using analog or digital?
>>>
>>
>> I am using HDMI, so digital. I have heard the analogue output from RPi is
>> pretty hairy in other software as well.
>>
>> One option might be an external USB sound card. Not all work though
>> apparently.
>>
>>
>>
> I decided to pull my RPi back out this weekend and give this a try again
> on a rarely used TV. I was able to get everything working using the
> myth:// and the standard xbmc browser. With the mpeg2 license I can play
> both my OTA and HDPVR recordings. I do get some buffering lag. It doesn't
> seem like the network can keep up. I know there are USB NIC issues and I
> have an older board so maybe I am one. Haven't researched it all yet.
> Besides that HDMI audio worked, WM Remote worked. Did you guys get yours
> to work w/o lag? Did you use myth:// or NFS?
>

I used the new myth pvr plugin which is part of the new pvr part of xbmc.


>
> Jon
>
> _______________________________________________
> mythtv-users mailing list
> mythtv-users [at] mythtv
> http://www.mythtv.org/mailman/listinfo/mythtv-users
>
>


jheizermythtv at gmail

Dec 10, 2012, 7:15 PM

Post #6 of 12 (2218 views)
Permalink
Re: Raspberry Pi frontend via Raspbmc - first try report [In reply to]

>
>
>>
> I used the new myth pvr plugin which is part of the new pvr part of xbmc.
>
>

Bah I missed that the build I was using had the pvr built in now. Live TV
feature is nice and starts fast. I only watched a little while but it
seems to skip a lot less. Do you have a 512mb version? Curious if the
menus are any faster with it. That is the only real stink about it right
now. Almost a workable super cheap frontend setup.

Jon


nick.rout at gmail

Dec 10, 2012, 7:42 PM

Post #7 of 12 (2218 views)
Permalink
Re: Raspberry Pi frontend via Raspbmc - first try report [In reply to]

On Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 4:15 PM, Jon Heizer <jheizermythtv [at] gmail> wrote:

>
>>>
>> I used the new myth pvr plugin which is part of the new pvr part of
>> xbmc.
>>
>>
>
> Bah I missed that the build I was using had the pvr built in now. Live TV
> feature is nice and starts fast. I only watched a little while but it
> seems to skip a lot less. Do you have a 512mb version? Curious if the
> menus are any faster with it. That is the only real stink about it right
> now. Almost a workable super cheap frontend setup.
>

I think I possibly bought mine just at the end of the 256MB phase :(

Which distro are you using? I have only tried raspbmc.


jheizermythtv at gmail

Dec 10, 2012, 9:17 PM

Post #8 of 12 (2215 views)
Permalink
Re: Raspberry Pi frontend via Raspbmc - first try report [In reply to]

On Mon, Dec 10, 2012 at 9:42 PM, Nick Rout <nick.rout [at] gmail> wrote:

>
>
> On Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 4:15 PM, Jon Heizer <jheizermythtv [at] gmail>wrote:
>
>>
>>>>
>>> I used the new myth pvr plugin which is part of the new pvr part of
>>> xbmc.
>>>
>>>
>>
>> Bah I missed that the build I was using had the pvr built in now. Live
>> TV feature is nice and starts fast. I only watched a little while but it
>> seems to skip a lot less. Do you have a 512mb version? Curious if the
>> menus are any faster with it. That is the only real stink about it right
>> now. Almost a workable super cheap frontend setup.
>>
>
> I think I possibly bought mine just at the end of the 256MB phase :(
>
> Which distro are you using? I have only tried raspbmc.
>

Before I had been using raspbian and installing the different debs people
have made. This time I was also using raspbmc (I have to slowly type that
every time). They did a nice job packaging a very functional image.

Jon


brian at interlinx

Dec 11, 2012, 2:54 AM

Post #9 of 12 (2200 views)
Permalink
Re: Raspberry Pi frontend via Raspbmc - first try report [In reply to]

On 12-12-10 06:34 PM, Nick Rout wrote:
>
> I used the new myth pvr plugin which is part of the new pvr part of xbmc.

Interesting. I have been looking at XBMC and even tried the upcoming
stable (could be stable by now) version. It's very nice, to be sure.

The PVR bits are still too lacking though. Biggest gripe I guess is
with commercial skipping. AFAICT, the only mode of commercial skipping
they support is "automatic" -- that is XBMC automatically skips past
commercials per the commskip markers in MythTV.

My experience is that mythcommflag is still far too inaccurate to be
handing control of commercial skipping over to the computer for me to
do. Using mythfrontend even, I frequently have to correct after using
the commskip buttons on my remote.

The other nice feature -- although I suppose I wouldn't need it if
commskip was accurate is the sticky keys. That is, by default FF skips
30 secs at a time and REW skips 5 seconds at a time but after using REW
to skip back, FF then only skips 5 seconds forward at a time. All very
handy for fixing up mythtv's inaccurate commskipping.

On the subject of commskipping inaccuracies though, it seems really odd
to me. There are lots of times that the commflagger flags beyond the
end of the commercial break even when there is a very clear set of
"black frames" at the end of the break. I suspect something fundamental
has gone funky in the commskipping code. Maybe it's better on 0.26
(although I'm not holding my breath). I'm still on 0.25-fixes.

Without accurate commercial flagging and/or manual commercial skipping
in XBMC, I can't see a switch having very high FAF (Family Acceptance
Factor) around here. Although we don't really do anything other than
watch recorded TV, but I wonder if that's just simply because the
existing tools for doing anything other have just not been up to sharing
them with the family. XMBC's tools for "other than" watching PVR TV on
the other hand look pretty good.

b.
Attachments: signature.asc (0.25 KB)


newmank1 at asme

Dec 11, 2012, 8:47 AM

Post #10 of 12 (2185 views)
Permalink
Re: Raspberry Pi frontend via Raspbmc - first try report [In reply to]

On Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 2:54 AM, Brian J. Murrell <brian [at] interlinx>wrote:

>
> On the subject of commskipping inaccuracies though, it seems really odd
> to me. There are lots of times that the commflagger flags beyond the
> end of the commercial break even when there is a very clear set of
> "black frames" at the end of the break. I suspect something fundamental
> has gone funky in the commskipping code. Maybe it's better on 0.26
> (although I'm not holding my breath). I'm still on 0.25-fixes.
>

I doubt 0.26+ has fixed anything--I haven't heard about any progress in
that regard. commflagging got completely broken in 0.25. It used to work
nearly perfectly in 0.24, but something changed in 0.25 and now I'm lucky
if it catches 1 out of 5 breaks. I also had to prevent it from running
while the recording was occurring, otherwise it errored out with an
end-of-file, apparently some old latent race condition that has only now
manifested itself. There is reason for hope, though. Somebody (Stuart M?)
was collecting samples of shows from mythtv users around the world to test
the commflagger. But that's been 6 months or so ago. I don't know what's
going on with it now.

Karl


jheizermythtv at gmail

Dec 11, 2012, 10:40 AM

Post #11 of 12 (2185 views)
Permalink
Re: Raspberry Pi frontend via Raspbmc - first try report [In reply to]

On Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 10:47 AM, Karl Newman <newmank1 [at] asme> wrote:

> On Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 2:54 AM, Brian J. Murrell <brian [at] interlinx>wrote:
>
>>
>> On the subject of commskipping inaccuracies though, it seems really odd
>> to me. There are lots of times that the commflagger flags beyond the
>> end of the commercial break even when there is a very clear set of
>> "black frames" at the end of the break. I suspect something fundamental
>> has gone funky in the commskipping code. Maybe it's better on 0.26
>> (although I'm not holding my breath). I'm still on 0.25-fixes.
>>
>
> I doubt 0.26+ has fixed anything--I haven't heard about any progress in
> that regard. commflagging got completely broken in 0.25. It used to work
> nearly perfectly in 0.24, but something changed in 0.25 and now I'm lucky
> if it catches 1 out of 5 breaks. I also had to prevent it from running
> while the recording was occurring, otherwise it errored out with an
> end-of-file, apparently some old latent race condition that has only now
> manifested itself. There is reason for hope, though. Somebody (Stuart M?)
> was collecting samples of shows from mythtv users around the world to test
> the commflagger. But that's been 6 months or so ago. I don't know what's
> going on with it now.
>
> Karl
>
> I was just happy that I could now view live TV on it. Sucks explaining to
some one that this particular tv can only view OTA stuff. With just the
two of us (well now 3 but she doesn't care about tv yet) I am short
frontends since cable digital switch at which time I converted to Dish.
This was before cable card tuners were out and I am still tempted to
switch back. Hard to justify any more full frontends or renting more sat
boxes. But $35... even if they are not perfect as long as they eventually
play back something I am ahead of where I was.

Jon


moores.martin at gmail

Dec 11, 2012, 11:34 AM

Post #12 of 12 (2181 views)
Permalink
Re: Raspberry Pi frontend via Raspbmc - first try report [In reply to]

On 11 December 2012 16:47, Karl Newman <newmank1 [at] asme> wrote:

> On Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 2:54 AM, Brian J. Murrell <brian [at] interlinx>wrote:
>
>>
>> On the subject of commskipping inaccuracies though, it seems really odd
>> to me. There are lots of times that the commflagger flags beyond the
>> end of the commercial break even when there is a very clear set of
>> "black frames" at the end of the break. I suspect something fundamental
>> has gone funky in the commskipping code. Maybe it's better on 0.26
>> (although I'm not holding my breath). I'm still on 0.25-fixes.
>>
>
> I doubt 0.26+ has fixed anything--I haven't heard about any progress in
> that regard. commflagging got completely broken in 0.25. It used to work
> nearly perfectly in 0.24, but something changed in 0.25 and now I'm lucky
> if it catches 1 out of 5 breaks. I also had to prevent it from running
> while the recording was occurring, otherwise it errored out with an
> end-of-file, apparently some old latent race condition that has only now
> manifested itself. There is reason for hope, though. Somebody (Stuart M?)
> was collecting samples of shows from mythtv users around the world to test
> the commflagger. But that's been 6 months or so ago. I don't know what's
> going on with it now.
>
> Karl
>

It was Gavin Hurlbut, I'm just about to send my samples over, not sure if
anyone else has done the same

Cheers

Martin

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