Having got ArchLinux up and running on the TonidoPlug 2 it was a trivial matter in the extreme to get a functioning MythTV backed up and running. Installing the packages was straightforward and simply done via the standard package manager - pacman.

mythtvsetup

The only minor problem with the setup and configuration is how on earth you run the setup without a display. Thankfully it's easy and you can simply rely on X11 forwarding.

Simply ssh over to the box with the -x option enabled and get the GUI locally. If you're trying to do this under Windows you should be able to achieve the same results with putty and Xming.

Performance

Recording a single SD show results in an ~30% CPU usage load, which I am more than happy with for now. I've not ventured into trying to record HD signals yet so the plug may not be up to the job, but we shall see.

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A while ago the KuroBox got replaced with a Atom based Zotac machine, which is performing fantastically as a XBMC machine. I still wanted something really low power to leave on all the time as a network storage/media storage device.

After some reading I settled on getting a TonidoPlug 2 - it's barely bigger than a 2.5" drive, draws 1.2 watts of power and it's a full ARM based Linux machine! The perfect home server and hopefully plenty of scope for poking around and experimenting.

Goals

There are a few goals for this box:

  1. Always on media server
  2. NAS for backups and other general file sharing
  3. MythTV backend if possible

Out of the box

Out of the box pretty much all of the goals listed above are achievable, but everything including the kernel was a bit out of date. For general file sharing this doesn't present too much of a headache, but for MythTV I've found it's generally better to be able to keep up to date. After a few attempts at compiling my own kernels (a project I intend to revisit soon) I found that ArchLinux had recently announced official support for the Tonodio Plug 2. So ArchLinux step up to the stage - http://archlinuxarm.org/platforms/armv5/tonidoplug-2!

Installation went like a breeze and it was simply case case of following through the documented install process. In no time at all I was up and running in a shiny new stock ArchLinux install.

Concerns

I've not used ArchLinux before, but everything seems pretty familiar. The notes on upgrading packages (here) scare me slightly and remind me far too much of my experiences with Gentoo, but I'll reserve judgement until I've done a few system upgrades as and when necessary.

MythTV

Getting MythTV up and running was pretty simply and has been running pretty well, bar one or two very small niggles. I've dedicated a separate post to my experiences.

The KuroBox finally gave up the ghost and wouldn't boot after a recent Debian update. I didn't have the will to go through rebuilding it from scratch again, so invested in something a bit more modern. Something that has a GUI output even when you screw up a kernel upgrade! I'd had my eye on a Atom/ION system for a while and ended up getting a Zotac HD-ID11.

It was a very simple to get up and running with Ubuntu, XBMC and Mythtv.

NB - you could fry both your television and your PC doing any of this. Be careful, check, check and triple check everything before plugging it in. That said I haven't had any problems for several months now, but check all your connections and soldering for shorts before plugging it all together.

Update 17/10/2012: some more details in a follow up post.

HDMI into SCART doesn't go

Only having an old CRT TV means that connection options are pretty limited, with the only useful once being SCART. The TV does accept RGB, which makes life easier. You may think that the easy option would be to get a new TV, but that's not nearly as much fun 😉

All the Atom/ION boxes have generally HDMI and DVI/VGA outputs. In the case of the HD-ID11, it has HDMI and DVI connections.
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MythTV

MythTV is an exceptional linux based PVR. It has an interesting and very configurable split frontend/backend architecture.

One traditional use for this split architecture is to put all the mass storage and recording hardware in a box under the stairs and then have a lightweight (and silent) machine plugged into the TV. Encoding video in realtime requires either some pretty powerful CPUs or alternatively dedicated hardware.

Enter DVB-T and a USB dongle to capture DVB mpeg streams.
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