Painless MythTV Channel Configuration

MythTV – a brilliant homebrew digital video recorder system. Killer features include being able to play content over the LAN at home, scheduling recordings via the web, and generally poke it to integrate with all kinds of devices (e.g. see my previous posts on H.264 transcoding). Even better, Mythbuntu makes installation a doddle.

However the most hated part for me is configuring TV sources and channels – digital terrestrial via an aerial, and digital via satellite. MythTV’s built-in scanner works at best intermittently (for me), and when it does, comes up with 1,000 shopping and adult channels which drown out the 20 or so I’m really interested in.

Then there’s TV listings. All credit to the folks working on XMLTV and the Radio Times listings grabber – that’s some impressive work. But stitching it into MythTV usually ends up with hand-editing the database to insert XMLTV IDs. User friendly? I think not.

Partly this is because these tools are used internationally and nothing is standardised between countries. Even in the UK there are three ways to get TV listings (EIT over the air, Bleb, and Radio Times).

Finally I snapped, and wrote a Perl program to do all this work. It feels so nice now to have a simple, lightweight, repeatable process to configure sources and channels. That’s what good automation is all about.

The code will only work in the UK, but might be a starting point for those elsewhere. It configures XMLTV IDs, but that doesn’t mean you have to use the Radio Times grabber. You still have to go through MythTV’s setup program to tell it about tuner cards (before running the import program) but that’s not hard work.

The code and instructions are hosted on GitHub. Let me know if you use it, and how you get on. Don’t forget to back up your database (using MythTV’s mythconverg_* scripts) before starting!

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