mythv: a love-hate-hate-hate-hate-hate-hate-love relationship

This hasn’t been my week. I finally figured out the problem with MythTV last night — it is complaining that my recordings are 48000khz, and it wants to send them through to SPDIF at 32000khz. That’s all fine and good, and I don’t mind and all … but it illustrates the main problem that I have with myth that drives me out of my freaking mind: No matter what you do to set it up, there is always something, somewhere outside of mythtv that you have to tweak just to get it to even work.

Case in point, my ALSA settings. The solution I found on the mailing list was to setup my .asoundrc in my home directory so that it would re-rate the audio files to be processed at 32k. What the freaking crap? I have an idea, why don’t you get it working like every other audio player out there that doesn’t require third-party config hacks just to get my sound working. I upgraded mplayer. That worked perfectly fine from the transition to new kernel and ALSA libraries. It didn’t complain about it not liking my kHz levels of the audio I was playing. That addresses another fundamental issue I have about myth: it tries to be “smarter” than everything else, and so instead it can’t do simple things.

While I’m ranting, here’s my laundry list of things about myth that really bug me. Now, I’ll admit, take this all with a grain of salt, because I’m not a myth developer and I don’t know if there’s a good reason behind some of these decisions. However, as a user, it sure bugs me:

  • Doesn’t record to any standard wrapper. They could use Matroska and cram everything in there, but instead they use a hacked NUV export format which everyone else has to patch their players so they can read it.
  • Doesn’t use a standard media player. It’s not enough that we have VLC, MPlayer and Xine that will already play everything under the sun, they have to have their own media player that to configure you have to go through a maze of configuration menus just to setup right.
  • Sucky configuration UI. First of all, it’s extremely confusing. mythtv-setup and then mythfronted both have places to configure stuff. Why not put it all in one place and then password protect the hardware setup? Even then, the configuration options are confusing as well. Just look at the General Setup for sound. If you flip through the options, it doesn’t even give you the choice of “ALSA:default” so you have no way of knowing how to even set that up — instead you get to google the mailing list on how to use MythTV with ALSA.

Okay, actually, that’s my only really big beefs. On the flip side, I absolutely *love* mythtv. That’s why I keep coming back to it. In all fariness, these are some of the things that I think are extremely cool, well-done, and keep me coming back for more:

  • Development and stable subversion branches. How freaking cool is that? They have a 0.19 bugfix subversion repository that you can checkout. That is awesome.
  • Commercial flagging. I absolutely love it. Works perfect about 95% of the time — other times it just skips a few seconds too much ahead. Seriously, no complaints there.
  • Scheduling engine. This thing never ceases to amaze me and probably keeps me staying with myth more than anything else (yes, including commercial flagging). I love how it knows which ones I’ve already seen. Seems simple enough, I know, but I wouldn’t want to have to code something like that.
  • MythWeb. I love it. Web programming done right. There’s a few things I’d tweak to fix it if I had the time, but by all means, just minor nags.
  • MythVideo. It lets you use any external player you want — hallelujah. It also has three display menu options, and one of them is just the way I like it.

Anyway, I really love MythTV. But I really hate it at the same time. A lot of the configuration needs to be tweaked to explain stuff in more detail, I think, and the player needs to be less anal. Then I’d be really happy.

Oh, one more bonus thing — I did end up upgrading my mythtv version (latest development snapshot), and I must say, it’s looking really nice. It’s getting better all the time.

Leave a Reply