Frequently Asked Questions

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Revision as of 19:52, 4 February 2006 by Baylink (talk | contribs) (Q: Is MythTV development dead? Where is the next stable release?)

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(Note that there are many collections of Questions and Answers. Two are linked from the sidebar: Robert Kulagowski's Official FAQ/Install Guide, and Gavin Hurlbert's IRC FAQ site. You might want to check those before adding a question -- or answer -- here.)

Q: What is MythTV?

See User Manual:Introduction

Q: I can't get insert component here working. Help!

A tried and true rule: Get it working outside of MythTV before you try to get it working inside.

MythTV isn't an operating system. It requires working components to work. You would never try installing a PVR application on Windows before you got your video card, capture card, and audio system working perfectly. Don't try to do it on Linux.

Confirm that all of your hardware is working with an application outside of MythTV before attempting to run MythTV. It will save you innumerable hours of barking up the wrong tree and generally make your MythTV experience better.

Q: I upgraded X, Y, and Z and now everything is broken. Help!

The one piece of advice I can most often give Myth users is to keep it simple. Distribution packages, automatic installers, and many other Linux packaging features have made it very easy to get a MythTV system installed by even the most novice MythTV user. This does not mean that you should arbitrarily run apt-get/yum upgrade on a whim and install every package update that is available to you.

MythTV is designed as a PVR appliance, first and foremost. Once it is working, it should be hands off, even for what seems the most innocent of upgrades. As tinkerers, most of us can't resist installing the lastest this, or the newest that. But more often than not, a mass upgrade of every component on your system leads to trouble.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it

It may sound simple and foolish, but many people will tell you that once you have your MythTV system working, don't upgrade anything other than the MythTV application unless you absolutely have to. If you want to tinker with the latest of everything, build a slave backend and mess with it there.

Q: How do I import recordings from other sources into Myth?

In the contrib folder of the MythTV sources, there is a script named which takes an "--ext" command-line option followed by a file extension. This will prompt the script to search for those files that match the extension and prompt you for information about them to import them into the database along-side your existing recordings.

Q: Can I temporarily keep MythTV from attempting to record my scheduled programs?

If you're going to, for example, have your cable TV feed temporarily disconnected, and you don't want to record static, but you don't want to lose your schedules, modify whatever starts your machine's backend to add the --nosched flag, like this:

mythbackend --nosched

This will cause the backend to run normally, but not execute scheduled recordings. When your problem has been cleared up, remove or comment out that switch. (Note that this is not a perfect solution; this switch wasn't actually designed for this, and will break LiveTV at the moment, among other side-effects. The person who wrote this code notes on the mailing list that he expects he might clean it up some after 0.19 comes out. So exercise caution.)

Q: Are there any Debian (Sid) packages for MythTV?

Yes! Add this to your /etc/apt/sources.conf [1] (chapter 2 has config howto)

deb sid main

Then run (as root) apt-get update and then apt-get install mythtv

Q: Where do I get my TV guide data outside the US?


  1. (AU$3 per week subscription)
  2. (Free)
  3. (Free, requires registration?)



Q: Can I use MythTV without using my cable / satellite companies provided cable box?

United States:

  • Normal Analog Cable: Yes, you can usually use MythTV without their provided cable box
  • Digital Cable: In rare cases you can get analog cable off the same line, but typically no, you will need to continue to use the cable box
  • Satellite: No, you will need the satellite box

Q: Since I need to keep using my Cable/Sat box, how can I control it with MythTV?

A few different ways, and it depends on your specific hardware and the provider. Possibilities include Serial Control, USB Control, Firewire Control, and IR Blaster (using the PC as a programmable IR Remote Control). See the HOWTO for details

Q: Is MythTV development dead? Where is the next stable release?

No, the mythtv developers have been working hard.

It is ready when it is ready :).

Editor's note: But that will probably be in the first week or two of February 2006, unless something goes horribly, horribly wrong. --Baylink 19:52, 4 February 2006 (UTC)