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PVR For Linux 297

amix writes "After two years of hard work the final 1.0 of VDR (Video Disk Recorder) has been released under the GPL. VDR is Linux based VCR software for digital TV cards (DVB, the Linux driver supports cable, sat and terrestrial cards), the new TV standard in Europe and also in use at several places in the United States. VDR is a fully networkable digital video recorder (implemented as daemon on port 2001) with optional MP3, DVD and 'MPlayer' based video-codec replay plus much more. It features "timeshifting", an incredibly comfortable OSD, functions to make editing/cleaning-up the streams easier and is controllable by LIRC, keyboard, telnet/ssh, WWW (cgi) or dedicated utilities. It can be used natively on a TV, with standard v4l tools or the KVDR KDE frontend.. You have an old PC? Add one (up to four) DVB card and you got a cheap multimedia center. Here are the screenshots. " A very impressive project indeed.
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PVR For Linux

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  • how long... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    ... until this gets canned by mpaa/riaa/tv industry because it permits easy sharing of shows?
    • Re:how long... (Score:2, Insightful)

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't VCRs permit easy sharing of shows?

      Sure they're not the same quality as the original broadcast (if you have better than grainy reception), but at least you can watch video tape on your TV without much hassle...
      • Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't VCRs permit easy sharing of shows?

        Yes, so long as you have the magic protocol which can transmit a video tape across fiber.
        • Re:how long... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by JabberWokky ( 19442 ) <slashdot.com@timewarp.org> on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @06:34PM (#3312774) Homepage Journal
          Yes, so long as you have the magic protocol which can transmit a video tape across fiber.

          Well, if you count a postal employee's uniform as being made of fibers...

          Seriously - if you want rare or hard to find stuff, you can get into the taper networks which give stuff away for just the cost of a SASE. If you want easy to find stuff, it's on DVD, which is a few clicks away from Gnutella.

          This is not, in reality, a terrifying technology. It may, however, be a semi-killer app for Linux... "Can you do this under Windows? Oh, yeah, well can you write it out to VCD or DVD?"

          --
          Evan

  • No DirecTV or Dish (Score:5, Informative)

    by nvrrobx ( 71970 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @04:29PM (#3311987) Homepage
    Unfortunately, in the US, there is no card that works for DirecTV or Dish like that Siemens card. :(
    • by Cramer ( 69040 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @04:32PM (#3312010) Homepage
      DirectTV: NEVER (proprietary DSS system)

      Dish: Maybe. It's at least the DVB standard.
    • by Kerry ( 25166 )
      Well, you might be able to get the PPV preview channels and a few other in-the-clear Dish Network channels with the Siemens card, since Dish uses DVB.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @04:54PM (#3312156)
      Broadlogic ABA-1020 cards will do the trick. Linux drivers exists in at least 2 labs for them.
    • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @05:43PM (#3312444) Homepage Journal
      Just to be clear, what I'm about to talk about is a PVR, not a DVR, so the signal turns analog and then gets compressed again along the way. So this particular solution may be a little off topic, at first:

      Ever hear of snapstream? (http://www.snapstream.com) If you have a TV Tuner card, this program turns your computer into a Tivo-Like device allowing one to capture TV Shows as .ASF files.

      One of the features this software has is it can control your Satellite Dish or Digital Cable via Infa Red. It has a little cable or something connected to an IR emitter so it can set the channel for you. Theoretically, with this device, and IR controlled device could be tuned.

      The problem is, as I mentioned above, is that you're going analog and then going digital again with the associated Degredation. (To be fair, I don't think it'd be bad.)

      I imagine somebody COULD find a way to do a similar thing with Linux. If they were to take their satellite reciever apart, figure out which cable has the digital data (if that's possible... I'm not claiming to know what really goes on inside of these devices and imagine I'll be told it's not possible), and funnel it off to the computer, it wouldn't be that much bigger of step to add infa-red capability too.

      Anybody wanna donate their reciever to experiment on? Heh
  • BetaMax (Score:2, Funny)

    by Yoda2 ( 522522 )
    But does it support BetaMax & LaserDisc?
  • by qurob ( 543434 )

    I did just pay $49 for this 4 head VCR over at Circuit City...
    • the peer-to-peer network of distributing the recorded material is a little more "peer"-to-"peer" in that case though. you actually have to take the tape and give it to someone else if you're spreading the recorded material.

      those archeic units are still nice for the kids play room where you can pop in a tape for um. VCR tapes don't get all scratched up and all as easy as those DVD's that are a royal pain to backup.
      • VCR tapes don't get all scratched up and all as easy as those DVD's that are a royal pain to backup.

        DVDs aren't difficult to copy at all...with a DVD-ROM drive, the right software, and a reasonably fast computer, you can rip, reencode, and burn a DVD in a few hours (most of the time is spent reencoding, so you can start that and go do something else). Some software titles to seek out are SmartRipper, DVD2AVI, VFAPIConv, TMPGEnc, VCDImager, and FireBurner...they'll do what you want, and all of them (except FireBurner) are free (as in beer and/or speech). (You might be able to substitute cdrdao for FireBurner.) About the only other software you might need would be something to add subtitles to foreign-language flicks...VirtualDub has a subtitler filter available, and there are some programs whose names I don't recall that rip subtitles from VOBs and convert them to a form that you can mix into the video.

        • it's not that it's difficult (after spending hours reading the manuals and figuring out the software packages), it's that it's not quite like: cp -r /dev/dvd1 /dev/dvd1
          i know cdrw drives don't quite work like that either, but copying an audio/digital cd quite elementary. for me, the 4-5 hours to get a copy of a dvd, isn't quite what i'm after.

          point being, that to me it's a pain. i've learned the process, and can do it if i want to, but i think there's some room for process improvement there.
  • bye bye tivo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mark_lybarger ( 199098 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @04:34PM (#3312017)
    finally, a great build yourself TIVO setup. i didn't see if there's a project to build a public database of showtimes/channels for people to get. shouldn't be that challenging.

    i'm sure a decent setup HDD, video card, and processor is near the price of a tivo, but this lends it self to much much more.

    i can't see any DMCA implications, as the intent of the software isn't to distribute copies (that have been unencrypted via breaking a digital encryption method) to other users.

    • Except... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by NetJunkie ( 56134 ) <[jason.nash] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @04:43PM (#3312086)
      The TiVo works better. Looks like it belongs in a A/V rack. Has a much better interface. More features. Integrates amazingly well in almost any setup.

      So far all these do-it-yourself PVR "solutions" have fallen way short of being a TiVo killer. Anyone that actively uses a TiVo can tell you that.
      • The primary problem with Tivo is that it is a not worth its money if you do not have a listing service. Which is the common case on "pirate style" eastern european cable and SAT networks. So yes it will look nice in a media rack in the middle of nowhere. But it will be more useful out of the rack, being used as a paperweight.

        My mom (who leaves in a country with this kind of pesky cable with no Tivo listings) has been pestering me for a while now for a replacement for the ageing VCR and I just could not be arsed into buying a new one. This looks like a nice solution for the problem.

      • Re:Except... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @05:30PM (#3312359) Homepage Journal

        The TiVo works better.

        Yes, for now. The problem with these do-it-yourself PVR solutions is that there are technical hurdles. Every few months, I get the latest Video4Linux driver for my Matrox Rainbow Runner, and try to get them to do something. After an hour, I give up in frustration. I guess I'm just too old or stupid or something for this shit.

        But once this stuff gets mature, then some day, someone is going to make it super easy to build apps on top of the tuner/capture functionality. Maybe they'll write some Python classes to encapsulate it all. (Have you seen what happens when a library gets Python wrappers? The productivity that follows is almost scary!) The point is, it'll leak outside the realm of the chipset and kernel hackers. And when that happens, stand back, because, apps will appear that are as good as Tivo, and even better.

        This is one of the few apps where the "open source" dudes really have good odds of beating the commercial guys, because they'll be free to simply make things as good as they can imagine -- whereas Tivo thinks they have to keep a good relationship with the networks. So Tivo deliberatly omits stuff like 30-second skip, makes it inconvenient to archive stuff long-term, occasionally includes some pointless promotion menu item, doesn't integrate well with your network and fileserver(s), etc. There are no corporate pressures in the "longhair linus" camp to hold people back. Free Tivo clones are going to rock!

        • Re:Except... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by tswinzig ( 210999 )
          So Tivo deliberatly omits stuff like 30-second skip

          Easily enabled with a backdoor code that you can easily enter with your remote. I have it, and it works great. TiVo feels, and many people agree, that the three-step FF/RW functionality is easier to use than 30-second skips, especially for people with slow reflexes... (FF/RW have built-in 'jump back' features that pretty accurately measure most people's ability to NOT stop the fast-forwarding soon enough after they see their show come back on.)

          makes it inconvenient to archive stuff long-term

          Yeah, like that very inconvenient "dump to tape" feature which includes a nice screen at the beginning telling you the program name and air date before starting the program. Or the fact that they've allowed all the networking add-on hardware and software, even though they could have pretty easily come down on those guys, or made it EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to hack. Or the fact that TiVolution (a guy that regularly posts to TiVo forums and is an employee of TiVo) has come out to say that there will be some sort of networking enhancements made to TiVo's via a coming upgrade.

          occasionally includes some pointless promotion menu item

          Which I usually don't bother viewing ... they aren't in the way at all, say, like a huge slashdot ad appearing before the replies. And they are often timely, like the Oscar-related video ads available a couple nights before the Oscar broadcast.

          doesn't integrate well with your network and fileserver(s), etc.

          Huh? You are apparantly not familiar with the very nice TiVo networking hacks. I especially like accessing my TiVo via the webserver I put inside it so I can schedule shows I find out about at work.

          There are no corporate pressures in the "longhair linus" camp to hold people back. Free Tivo clones are going to rock!

          Just as much as Linux does, sure. But no normal people I know use Linux. No normal people I know think Linux "rocks." Yes it is cool that people can put together a PVR if they want. Some cool projects will come of it. But TiVo killer, it isn't. By the time they get something to compete with the current TiVo, TiVo will have Series 2 and assorted upgrades ready. It does exactly what I want it to do.
          • Re:Except... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @07:28PM (#3313026) Homepage Journal

            It looks like I somehow got you into Tivo-defender mode. I really didn't mean to do that... I'm not saying Tivo sucks, I'm just saying that it's intentionally less than it could be.

            [30 sec skip]

            Easily enabled with a backdoor code that you can easily enter with your remote.

            Then I lose my skip-to-end button. :( C'mon, if they were really trying to maximize Tivo's ease-of-use, this would be configured somewhere under "my preferences", instead of this select-play-select-9-select silliness. Or better yet, there would have been an extra button on the remote (they were custom-made for Tivo anyway) so that people could do whatever they like best. The Tivo president admitted that this was a consession to the networks.

            Yeah, like that very inconvenient "dump to tape" feature which includes a nice screen at the beginning telling you the program name and air date before starting the program.

            That ain't nearly as easy to use as "cp". ;-)

            doesn't integrate well with your network and fileserver(s), etc.
            Huh? You are apparantly not familiar with the very nice TiVo networking hacks. I especially like accessing my TiVo via the webserver I put inside it so I can schedule shows I find out about at work.

            I've seen the networking hacks (been too cowardly/lazy to try 'em, though), and I gotta admit that what you did with webserver sounds pretty cool. But that's what they are: hacks. And someday you'll get an update and then you'll have to set things up again. Compare the effort you put into this with what it takes to do the same on a PC.

            But TiVo killer, it isn't. By the time they get something to compete with the current TiVo, TiVo will have Series 2 and assorted upgrades ready

            Well, I guess time will tell. I don't think Tivo has the balls to implement certain ideas, such as

            • collaborative suggestions databases. Imagine if the database of all the thumbing up and down you've done over the last couple of years, could be shared, and someone did the "computer dating" game to find other people that like/hate the same stuff as you... You'll learn about TV shows (which you'll probably like) that you otherwise never would have looked at.
            • p2p sharing of "sed for video" scripts so that people can share little scripts to automatically playback shows w/out commercials
            • Save an hour-long show to CDR in one minute instead of having to play a show in real time for a vcr to record
            Someday, some Python programmer is going to think of putting these things into his do-it-yourself PC PVR, and then we'll see who's playing catch-up.
          • Tivo deliberatly omits stuff like 30-second skip

            Easily enabled with a backdoor code that you can easily enter with your remote. I have it, and it works great. TiVo feels, and many people agree, that the three-step FF/RW functionality is easier to use than 30-second skips, especially for people with slow reflexes...

            I have to say, I agree. I didn't think I would, but I do. I enabled the 30-second-skip feature via the easter egg (please don't ask me what it was because I don't remember -- but it's easy to find.) And I definitely find it easier to get past the commercials by just doing FFx3 than by doing a number of 30-second-skips. When I try to do it the 30 second way, I always seem to end up 20-30 seconds into the program, and then I have to scan back... With all the zipping back and forth, it ends up being easier to have just done the FF trick initially.

            • When I try to do it the 30 second way, I always seem to end up 20-30 seconds into the program, and then I have to scan back... With all the zipping back and forth, it ends up being easier to have just done the FF trick initially.

              What I do is 30-second skips, and then the 'instant replay' button (which goes back 5 seconds at a time) a few times until I don't see my show anymore. I've found this is MUCH* faster than the old way.

              * MUCH == approximately 1 second faster.
        • As far as 30-sec skip, I like the fast forward, then when you hit play it jumps back a couple seconds better (as do most tivo owners, if you read the tivo forums).

          I find that you tend to skip into a program with 30sec skip and have to rewind a bit, while with tivo you watch the commercials super-duper fast, as soon as you see the program hit play, and it jumps back to right when the program starts.

      • Yeah, maybe, but I got a TV card for helping a friend debug a linux problem. A TIVO costs $399 + $200 (?) for a permanat subscription.

        It may not be as good as TIVO, but I don't really wanna pay $600 for a TIVO. Maybe eventually. But as long as this software exists, I can emulate the functionality using existing hardware. Recognize that? It's the Linux way: Save money by leveraging existing hardware.
    • Re:bye bye tivo (Score:4, Insightful)

      by curunir ( 98273 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @04:49PM (#3312137) Homepage Journal
      Ummm...This shouldn't really hurt TiVo too much. For the average user, it's just too complicated. The overhead of building your own linux box is a signifcant one. When you add in that it doesn't come in a pretty package like the TiVo.

      I also wouldn't discount the effort necessary to build a public database of showtimes. I would doubt that entertainment companies would just give open source developers an easy way to pull this information automatically. It probably wouldn't be too hard to screen scrape from some other source, but there are legal issues with that, not to mention the hassle whenever the format of those sources changes.

      In the unlikely event that this does start to threaten TiVo's business, TiVo has plenty of patents on timeshifting video and the like that could probably kill off this product.

      TiVo's not going anywhere...
      • Well, the equvilant of a TiVO in Denmark (actually I've only seen one), labeled as a Hard Drive Recorder, costs around 1,500 US$ (no, there are supposed to be two zeros in that price, that's why I put the komma in as well).

        I'm not sure what the mentioned setup would cost, but even paying your local geek 100 US$ to set it up for you, you'd still have 1,400 US$ to go. Of course, the end result wouldn't have the same "nice" design, but still.
      • In the unlikely event that this does start to threaten TiVo's business, TiVo has plenty of patents on timeshifting video and the like that could probably kill off this product.

        God, I love the patent system.

    • "i didn't see if there's a project to build a public database of showtimes/channels for people to get."

      I see that as an issue too. I am not sure what hoops one has to jump through to get more than what TV Guide offers. I don't know if services like TIVO and pubs like TV Guide have to pay for that. Big burden on someone if it's not automated in some way. Cool project, though.

    • Re:bye bye tivo (Score:3, Informative)

      by ryanvm ( 247662 )
      bye bye tivo

      Yeah right. Unless your grandma can build one of these, I wouldn't count on them replacing TiVos or Replays anytime soon.

      i didn't see if there's a project to build a public database of showtimes/channels for people to get. shouldn't be that challenging.

      There's probably 3000+ different cable lineups in the U.S. alone. I wouldn't count on a reliable source of this guide data just magically appearing from the open source community. However, you might be able to use the Guide+ data that gets broadcasted on PBS stations in the middle of the night. For that matter, I can't figure out why nobody has hacked TiVo to use it.
      • Re:bye bye tivo (Score:3, Interesting)

        by macinslak ( 41252 )
        Or you could just parse the listings from tvguide.com, they already have the cable listing thing down quite nicely.

        There are already scripts floating around on Freshmeat that do it, and given their readership is obscenely large, I doubt they would notice the traffic.

        Of course it's only good for two weeks, but with proper scripting, two week's advance knowledge is probably all most people will need.
      • Re:bye bye tivo (Score:2, Informative)

        by protactin ( 206817 )
        XMLTV [ic.ac.uk] works reliably well for retrieving, parsing and sorting TV guide data, at least in the UK.
        As you can guess, it stores listings in XML, with a well documented DTD..

        I know they also now have new backends for grabbing TV listings for the USA and Canada which I have quickly tried successfully.

      • Yeah right. Unless your grandma can build one of these, I wouldn't count on them replacing TiVos or Replays anytime soon.


        Well, she probably can't. But I (or some other bored Slashdotter) could, and then I/he can turn around and sell it to Grandma for a small markup. (barring any swarming lawyer attacks, of course)

    • I seem to recall that there are various patents, both on PVRs and on downloading TV program information over the Internet. Stupid, yes. But they may stand up in court.
  • Sure this is a really kewl thing to pull off. On the other hand how big is it's market?

    Anyone know of a bake-off between one of these and a TiVo or a Replay?

    Image quality, integration, "intelligence", listings, UI, ease-of-use, remote-control support, etc?

    Frankly I want a no-brainer to handle my TV recording; not to have to put together a perl script just to record "Naked Chef [foodtv.com]".

  • Did anybody manage to mirror the screenshots before they got /.ed?

  • Google cache version (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CaptainPhong ( 83963 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @04:37PM (#3312043) Homepage
    Here's google's cache [216.239.37.100] of the page since it looks slashdotted.
  • Congrats (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mosch ( 204 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @04:38PM (#3312050) Homepage
    Extremely cool! Now I just need to find a way to buy a personal data feed from Tribune Media Services, and there's a networkable, build-your-own TiVo! I wonder if they'd be willing to sell feeds to individuals...

    Sounds like I either need to start porting, or install Leenooks!

    • Re:Congrats (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tmhsiao ( 47750 )
      "I wonder if they'd be willing to sell feeds to individuals..."

      You could always try to buy said information from TiVo at 10-15 dollars a month :)

    • Re:Congrats (Score:3, Informative)

      by gwernol ( 167574 )
      Now I just need to find a way to buy a personal data feed from Tribune Media Services, and there's a networkable, build-your-own TiVo! I wonder if they'd be willing to sell feeds to individuals...

      In a former life I worked for a company that worked closely with TMS using their data feeds. I doubt they'd have the slightest interest in selling feeds to individuals. They don't have the infrastructure to support that kind of program and I can't imagine a model that would make sense for them. They sell the feeds for a great deal on money and its a primary business for them.

      I think a better model is an open source database a la freedb [freedb.org] where users contribute schedule information. However because of the time sensitive nature of schedules this might not work too well.
      • Re:Congrats (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mosch ( 204 )
        I don't know what you were doing, but I also worked for a company that dealt closely with TMS, using their data feeds. To be specific, we used the big build, and the latin big build, and the cost was rediculously minimal. I believe it was well under a couple hundred bucks per month for a database which contained all the guide data for latin america, and the united states and that's with the rights to redistribute the data to a large number of servers that were under our control.

        Perhaps setting up a small company to purchase from TMS, and resell to users would be viable, though I'm betting that I have a non-compete that wouldn't let me start that company for another year or so.

        I don't think the open source database has a shot in hell of working, to be honest. Hell, I doubt you could even get the channel lineups setup, let alone anything resembling accurate program data.


  • Does anyone know if this application support BTTV cards? If not, then it's not much use for us North Americans.

    There are TONS of DVB channels watchable. But you need a large Satellite Dish. In Europe it's mainly Ku sattellite band.

    • Actually there are a fair number of FTA mpeg2 streams on Ku band over here.. though C band isn't quite devoid of FTA mpeg2.

      I know of no DVB cards that would take an authorization card for pay sat. around the USA though.

      ALSO, I was going to make a comment like this.. If this project is going to support 'regular' analog tv cards as well.. like my wintv-dbx.. then I'll have to set up a box dedicated to this sometime or another. It would help if it could do the serial port control thingy, 'cause I intend on getting sat. when I move out of my apartment :P
  • Interesting.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DCram ( 459805 )
    I wonder if anyone has thought to put some of these features onto their tivo or something. If it would be as easy as a package install of a mp3 player and some other stuff why not use the hardware that was created to do this stuff. Im sure you could even smb to another larger server for stuff and have a web cgi and whatnot.

    The more I think about it the more I like it. I wish I had half the knowledge it would take to pull something like that off.

    once again just my ramblings.
  • by Larry_Z ( 139184 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @04:39PM (#3312057)
    Looks like they have really thought this one through. There are several really cool features which push the DVR market forward and have been long overdue

    - What's on next? button
    - The ability to create an edited version of a recording
    - Directories to hold recordings
    - How much space is left on my hard drive indicator
    - And I don't even want to get into network functionality.

    Note to Tivo, please add these functionalites to the next system upgrade
    • - What's on next? button

      What do you mean? Surely, hitting the Guide button to see what's on next isn't difficult, so you must mean something else...
    • There are several really cool features which push the DVR market forward and have been long overdue

      - What's on next? button


      Easy to get this information now - its one button push on TiVO. Not to mention that most DVR users don't watch live TV anyway. The only live TV I've watched in the last six months was the Superbowl and the Oscars. Once you start to use a DVR you don't care what's on next.

      - The ability to create an edited version of a recording

      This would be cool but is probably beyond what most consumers want. I could see this growing in the future though. It will be interesting to see if this takes off

      - Directories to hold recordings

      Actually until I have much larger disc capacity on a DVR I don't see a pressing need for this. Until I have more than 100 hours (approx. 100 gigs) of shows, having them in a single directory isn't a big deal.

      - How much space is left on my hard drive indicator

      Why should I care? I haven't ever needed this. Its not a computer, its a bunch of TV shows. My TiVO actually does a reasonable job of space management: I tell it to keep shows I want to keep and it fills the rest of the disk with "nice to have" shows. This is far simpler than a disk management (space free and directories) and UI arrangement and it does what I want.

      - And I don't even want to get into network functionality.

      Yeah this would be nice. Of course the Series 2 [tivo.com] TiVO has this.
    • Note to Tivo, please add these functionalites to the next system upgrade

      - A "Keep Watching" option, for when you tape multiple shows (i.e., the 8:00, 8:30, 9:00, 9:30, of Fox, Fox, NBC, and NBC (THU)), it shows all four in succession.

      - ReplayTV's "Strip the Commercials" feature.

  • Cases (Score:2, Interesting)

    With this sort of project in mind, I've been searching for a desktop-style case for a PC that would blend in well with a stack of modern stereo components. So far I've come up empty, and the case this guy is using is no longer being sold.

    Anyone know of a good source for A/V-component-style PC cases?

    • Re:Cases (Score:3, Interesting)

      by modus ( 122983 )
      This looks tasty:

      home theater case [digitalconnection.com]

      No doubt there are others.

    • CSO [computersu...outlet.com] has a ton of rackmount AT cases (empty...no motherboard, power supply, etc.) available. They're not on the company's website, but the guy who built the toolbox PC [slashdot.org] said he bought one of these dirt-cheap. If you email CSO and ask about the FoxBox cases, you should be able to get prices and specs from them. I don't think adapting them to ATX would be too difficult (you'd need a big rectangular cutout for the back-panel stuff). They have no drive bays open to the front, but I'd imagine you could punch a hole for a CD burner or whatever and clean it up in a manner similar to what was done with the toolbox PC.
  • Mirror site (Score:5, Informative)

    by WankersRevenge ( 452399 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @04:46PM (#3312108)
    I managed to get a peek at the site before it got slashdotted. I only got to view one page but here it is on my own server:

    http://www.jezner.com/slashdot/vdrs.html [jezner.com]
  • Unfortunately, the page is slashdotted, so I can only comment on what the writeup said. This looks like what Snapstream [snapstream.com] did, and I'm thrilled to see this. I've been at the mercy of windoze box, and the only format snapstream outputs is .wmv, which really stinks in that I'm tied to MS media player. So, if this thing will put out good .mpgs or something like that (whatever is the best, open video format), I'll gladly embrace it. I'm currently recording about six hours of stuff per day and burning it onto CD (can't watch nearly that much, and no, I have not yet been diagnosed as obsessive-compulsive). I'd particularly like it if I could burn the output files as VCDs, so they weren't tied to my computer (though my computer is my TV at the moment).

    Now if only their web server would recover...
  • according to the site [216.239.51.100] I see 3 words that grab my attention as interesting (and also threatening). ON-DISK EDITING. For one, i think this will be a great feature, however I can see where MPAA or broadcasters could see this in a not-so-brilliant light. Download it soon fellas, before the MAN gets it.
    • While maybe european broadcasters and media companies not really like this, i don't know of any european country where a software like this could face legal problems. VCR manufactures uin europe never faced legal problems like the BetaMax Case. [virtualrecordings.com]
  • by -tji ( 139690 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @04:53PM (#3312151) Journal
    This is a great project.. a fully open sourced PVR. If I lived in Europe, I would be all over it.

    For use in the U.S. a Digital TV receiver card such as the HiPix [digitalconnection.com] or the AccessDTV [accessdtv.com].

    Depending on how the hardware interfaces with the control software, it would be excellent if it could be made to work with U.S. cards.
  • Modest HW (Score:2, Informative)

    by cholokoy ( 265199 )
    From a description on the site:

    PC Hardware

    The PC hardware I have chosen to build the Video Disk Recorder consists of the following components:

    Motherboard ASUS P5A
    BIOS version 1.009
    HDD 37.5GB IBM DPTA353750 U-DMA-66 9ms (running with on-board EIDE
    controller, so I'm not using the full U-DMA-66 speed)
    AMD K6-II 450MHz
    128 MB RAM
    simple VGA card (no X running on this system)
    Longshine LCS-8038TX network card (using the RTL8139)
    3.5" floppy drive
    3 Siemens PCI-DVB Sat (digital satellite receiver card)
  • Hey, check this out: Creative Lab's Video Blaster Digital VCR [creative.com].

    One of the things which makes the Linux VDR project slightly easier (?) to implement is that the DVB card they're using as a tuner outputs MPEG-2 to the system. Thus, no messy (and cpu intensive) video input and number crunching. This Digital VCR product from Creative has an MPEG-2 encoder chip on-board, and outputs MPEG-2. It can either use it's own tuner OR it will control your cable box/sat receiver via IR commands. And it's only $99. That's not a typo. I'm not claiming it's output will be as good as a Tivo/DVB/whatever, but at 640x480 resolution, it's a step in the right direction.

    And it's no longer vaporware -- I picked one up at CompUSA last week (in NYC - 38th & 5th location).

    Now, who's up for tearing this thing apart and creating some linux drivers?!

  • sweet... (Score:3, Funny)

    by graveyhead ( 210996 ) <fletch@fletchtronic[ ]et ['s.n' in gap]> on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @05:10PM (#3312240)
    This is exactly what I've been looking for for my massive media closet project.

    The idea is to build a tivo-like device for rich people with terrabytes of storage, so you don't have to delete shows when you are done if you don't want to. It would be attached to 200 DVD and 200 CD changers. When the user buys a new CD or DVD, they pop it in the media closet.

    Each individual TV would have a dumb terminal machine that connects to the closet server via bluetooth networking. Video would be streamed on demand from the server closet to any one of the remote terminals.

    The remote control would be a Palm V, also with bluetooth networking. A unified interface would control access to all media including recorded TV shows, all DVDs and all CDs.

    The audio component would be similar to what many people have in their homes currently, with speaker wire running through the walls.

    Now, anyone have about $50000 venture capitol for me so I can build the prototype? :-)
  • by bbum ( 28021 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @05:11PM (#3312244) Homepage
    To put things in a bit of perspective: This is an awesome achievement and these guys should be congratulated many times over for the achievement. It is *way* cool!!

    However, it is *not* competition to TiVo outside of the handful of geeks that may choose to do it themselves over buying the off the shelf solution provided by TiVo and ReplayTV.

    First, the Linux VDR based solution is not a no-brainer installation. Not by any stretch of the imagination. You have to deal with obtaining the correct hardware configuration, install all the software correctly, etc,etc,etc. Even if someone were to pick it up and sell it as an off the shelf, preconfigured unit it will still have significant maintenance issues above and beyond, say, a TiVo.

    This is not a criticism-- just a recognition that the market for a TiVo and the primary market for this software is very different.

    Most of the folks I know with a TiVo do not have the knowledge or the time to deal with such a solution.

    Frankly, even with the knowledge an awful lot of folks aren't going to have the time or aren't going to see blowing the time on building out such a thing as being a useful investment.

    Personally, I would rather pay $500 to TiVo and be done with it than have to screw around with getting all of the different random bits inline to make the Linux VDR solution work!

    Finally, the TiVo provides a level of seamless integration that will not be achieved in the GPL VDR solution for a long time. A lot of the channel and scheduling information isn't available via public channels without doing a boatload of parsing and screen scraping. Even then, it'll change over time and break often. TiVo and Replay have the distinct advantage of having paid the big $$$ for data feeds that provide this data in a machine readable format.

    Paying the $$$ to TiVo/Replay buys a lot more than just some software and hardware. It buys a service, a data feed, and a company to back the whole package. For a lot of the market, all of that must be included before something can be considered competition!

    • I think you're overlooking one small tidbit; this software PVR is available for use by europeans, now!. TiVo isn't, and probably never will. Therefore, this software doesn't really have any competition in europe, yet.
      • Absolutely and for Europeans this stuff kicks butt. But there is a big chunk of potential PVR market that'll never touch it (or even be aware that it exists). Not a criticism, just market realities.
    • However, it is *not* competition to TiVo outside of the handful of geeks that may choose to do it themselves over buying the off the shelf solution provided by TiVo and ReplayTV. First, the Linux VDR based solution is not a no-brainer installation.

      But hardware vendors could make pre-installed low-cost, no-subscription-required boxes. Of, they could in fact offer a subscription to their own service. This lowers the cost of entry and time-to-market for competing with TiVo and ReplayTV. I suspect, however, that a number of bogus patents stand in the way.

      • But hardware vendors could make pre-installed low-cost, no-subscription-required boxes. Of, they could in fact offer a subscription to their own service. This lowers the cost of entry and time-to-market for competing with TiVo and ReplayTV. I suspect, however, that a number of bogus patents stand in the way.

        For a PVR to be attractive to most of the market-- the folks that couldn't care less what Linux is or what the GPL means-- the solution needs to have all that wonderful point and click scheduling features that can only be had by feeding it with complete, localized, schedules!

        As far as lowering the cost-- think again! The TiVo and ReplayTV are basically embedded PCs with a few specalized chips and a big hard drive. They are cheap to make, cheap to test, cheap to maintain... not something that an off the shelf PC can achieve.

        Someone *could* go the right of building a custom, embedded type solution that could approach the low cost of a TiVo/Replay, but that would require a significant up front investment.
    • Personally, I would rather pay $500 to TiVo and be done with it than have to screw around with getting all of the different random bits inline to make the Linux VDR solution work!

      I own a ReplayTV, recently upgraded from 20 to 80 GB because I was going to be out of town. A couple days ago, the local phone monopoly changed the rules (went to 10-digit dialing, area code is not optional now) and my machine couldn't keep up.

      I missed "That 70's Show" tonight, and if I hadn't caught the machine at 8:15, I would have missed "24" as well. The punchline is it had data up to 7:30!

      The hateful part is there was no "dial now" option. I had to pretend the input was "Nothing" and accept the changes, then reset it to the proper cable network to get it to call in and get updates.

      An Open Source solution would have a distributed "channel" to communicate important "overriding" information like this, with obvious security around it. So my machine, which still had 6 hours of space, would have know how to update its knowledge.

      As another poster said, I'd like to see an Open Source "update" to the TiVo/ReplayTV software which gives it our own UI. Complete control over what the buttons do. The ability to teach it new controllers so you can re-use controllers from old machines, for families with more than one kid. That'll teach them how to share! ;-)

      For developers, the ability to create Perl and Python bindings to the buttons on-screen. Editing would be a little difficult, but could be (slowly) achieved with the 2 = "ABC2", 3 = "DEF3", etc., where hitting it once is the first, twice is the second, etc., and it wraps around. Or the user could program in macros, in "Edit Mode", for each button. One button could be "last function called" and could keep going back each time it was pressed, again wrapping around.

      Now, with these things to help out fellow developers, imagine what a marketing-minded contibutor could add to the polish of the finished product? I think there's a serious competitor, and like Microsoft's Windows Update [windowsupdate.com] site, if a product can be auto-updated it can hijacked.

      Imagine creating a distrubtion of Linux with a "perfect" WINE, which completely mimicked the Windows interface, except the Help screen had different credits.

      Then imagine hijacking the Windows Update machines (which must run IIS, though I'm not certain), and distributing this update. An update which can cross-polinate, and get in through various cracks like IIS holes, Exchange exploits, etc. It tries to be silent, but it'll stop at nothing to replace the closed-source mess that's eating your productivity.

      The TiVo's not eating your productivity; it's just not giving you the full potential of the device, and the company wants to be friends with the old dinosaur companies. So it restricts features. That's what forces people to write their own versions, because they want new features. They want to improve what they paid for. And that (I must assume) applies to everybody, with any piece of merchandise -- especially if it can be done at no cost.

      But that also means it damn well better be tested good, for it to be accepted by the general public.

      You'd think ReplayTV would have been notified by my albatross of a phone company, and then been given ample opportunity to update its devices' software, so they continue to dial correctly. There should be a law -- because the telephone company is a monopoly. Otherwise it should be free competition, but since infrastructure is expensive we gave them a monopoly.

      These days a wireless network with the same bandwidth would cost a lot less to set up, and wouldn't have to be regulated. And it could be as simple as an extra "layer" in TCP/IP that took advantage of the fact that wireless cards are approaching the cost of LAN cards. So instead of wiring your house, you can wireless your house.

      The benefit is you're getting the ability to talk to your neighbors, too. If they have a card, then it creates a secure network among them, on which commication can be passed -- creating a "separate" Internet, similar to the Gnutella clouds model, each piece connected to a few neighbors, forming a large cloud. Like the original BBS email, as well -- which kept all calls to local calls to keep operational costs down.

      And it would of course have "Internet Entry Points" where it would reach other clouds by using the Internet. So if every tenth house had DSL, it would be able to communicate very effectively.

      Hated by the providers, of course, since they invested in a technology that's being evolved on top of, and they haven't made back their money yet. But not every investment is (or should be) a profitable one, and legislation isn't going to stop it (but they'll try, I'm sure -- in all the cases above).

  • by mocm ( 141920 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @05:15PM (#3312267) Homepage
    VDR is for DVB cards only. DVB is the European standard for digital satellite, cable and terrestial
    reception. The drivers for DVB cards can be found at www.linuxtv.org.
    There are mainly two types of cards available paired with the respective tuner for DVB-S, DVB-C or DVB-T. One is a full featured card containing an MPEG2 decoder and the other a budget card which only delivers the transport stream from the respective transmitter. The latter are very good for Internet via sat, cable or terrestial sources because they can deliver a full transport stream.
    The DVB standard provides an electonic program guide (EPG) which allows VDR to get information about the programming and transmission times.
    So it differs from Tivo because it doesn't need to encode the programs and gets the programming information directly from the respective providers. Replay is done via the MPEG decoders of the full featured cards, so you always need one to
    have the full benefit of VDR, it also uses the TV out of the DVB card so no graphics card is required. Of course, you can use a software decoder to decode the transport stream that comes from the card, but that is not yet implemented in VDR.
    There is also the possibility to add a common interface (CI) to the DVB card, so that you can use a common acces module (CAM) to decode encrypted channels using the smartcard you get from your provider.

    • and to add one last part...

      It is damn hard getting a DVB card in the states that will work for the states analog channels. (cince 99% of all cable TV and off-air tv in the USA is still analog for a portion of the channel selection.. Yes kids, the channels that are low in number are still analog even with your digital cable.)

      So this project is pretty much 100% useless inthe USA... which sucks as they have it flat out awesome....

      to do this with US equipment you need a Hollywood+ mpeg decoder card that put out raw video to a TV and a bttv878 card with nuppelvideo.

      a bit better than VHS quality in a tivoesque way by using mplayer to play it. (yes fullscreen in mono or stereo, no not 1080i with full 30 channel surround sound for the video-freaks)

      slap a simple web based interface to set record times. (I know it is horribly difficult to enter day of the week and time and name of show into a text form and causes hemmorages in most people.. but the few of us that have mutated to the point where this doesn't cause death, it works for well)

      I just hope that someone makes a DVB card that works in the states with the analog stuff we have and will probably have for the next 15 years.
  • Does anyone know if this siemens cards have smart card conditional access capabilities?

    I am thinking about chanel plus(Spain, France, etc...) access cards.
  • Once upon a time it was the Video toaster, now who says it can't be used for skin.... uh err home security?

    DMCA? Naw, they just want to see what you do in the privacy of your home....as has been found out about what's
    popular with the anti crime cameras in London.

    Or maybe I'm all mixed up. Is the device/program only usable for broadcasted channels?
  • by mocm ( 141920 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @05:30PM (#3312358) Homepage
    Of course, VDR won't have any problems with the DMCA because it is a German project and there are very few DVB transmissions in the US. Still, it could be adapted to the ATSC standard provided there will be any cards for PC and information for the drivers available. This seems to be highly doubtful since there is currently talk about preventing any unauthorized recording of ATSC transmissions. I think there is more information about that on the EFF's web site.
    The driver for the Linux cards support NTSC and there have been reports by people on the linux-dvb mailing list at www.linuxtv.org that they work for the few US DVB satellite transmissions. Although it seems to be hard to get the hardware in the US.
  • If there were a USB (or preferably Firewire) based DVB solution, this could make Linux on the Playstation 2 all that much more scrumptious...

  • This will not kill the tivo, or be something you'll be able to setup to replace a tivo.

    First of all, afaik, satellite transmissions are already mpeg encoded, so all this thing does is dump the mpeg to the hd, no need to encode. That's why he's able to list an AMD k6-450 in the system requirements. I'm sure it could get by on less if it also had a comparable mpeg decoder.

    The tivo must encode to mpeg using hardware. I know of no hardware that can do this in Linux. (If you know of any, please let me know). The tivo also has a dedicated mpeg decoder. This is how the Tivo is able to get by using a 50Mhz PPC processor.

    So, as soon as there's a tuner card with on board mpeg encoding (In Linux), and the availability of TV listings that can be downloaded for free, and is brain dead simple to setup, I don't see the tivo going away any time soon.
  • Wouldn't Gnunet [freshmeat.net] make a dandy medium for spreading TV Listing updates around? One person enters a listing item, and the whole TV coverage area can get the update.

    Vik :v)
  • Ordinary DVB in Europe isn't encrypted at all is it? If that is so, perhaps our legislators should be made aware of this as an example that broadcast television really doesn't need copy controls. That'd be sweet if we US folk could get raw MPEG-2 streams of all our programming. Let the broadcasters pay by commercial time as par tradition and get rid of this privacy invading subscription crap.
  • It like the remote control board [cadsoft.de] the best. I assume it can be easily programed to flash 12:00am all the time.

    SD

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