Okay, so it's a given that I'm not giving up my PVR soon. So, which ones work best? And why?

So far, all of mine have been homebrew, thanks mostly to ATI video cap / tuner cards. I've never owned a ?TiVO, although I've lusted over them. But my current setup seems serviceable. I managed to record the entire run of the third season of Buffy in rerun onto VCDs with the ATI Multimedia Center software. (No cracks on the Buffster. If you don't like it, try s/Buffy/Babylon 5/ or maybe s/Buffy/Nova/ in your head.)

Now, I'm looking to replace the Windows this runs on with a Linux install. I already record radio shows under Linux with a PCI radio tuner, and under OS X sometimes with a USB FM tuner. So now I see this VCR HOWTO which claims:

This is a guide to setting up your GNU/Linux workstation as a digital VCR using the video4linux driver and a supported tuner card. A section has been added for creating VCD's that can be played in any DVD/VCD player as well.
Sounds precisely like what I'm doing right now. And I think that my ATI All-in-Wonder Radeon card can be supported under Linux. If not, I have a backup BT848-based Zoltrix TV tuner that works for sure, but that one only seems to have mono audio, unfortunately.

Has anyone put together a working Linux setup as described in the HOWTO? If so, how do you like it?

On the other hand... Should I still think of getting a ?TiVo? What's so special about it, other than dead simple ease of use? I'd want to immediately crack it open and start hacking more HD space into it, as well as TiVo ?AirNET Ethernet Adapter Board. But I think my Linux box will do this, and more. Though, I'm not sure if Linux supports the TV-out for my ATI card. I've also heard that ?TiVo captures closed captioning. Eh, neat, but I don't need it. Not at the moment, anyway. Then I hear about things like SonicBlue being ordered to spy on PVR users, and I feel much safer having a home-cobbled PVR.

What d'you think?


Archived Comments

  • I don't have any experience in setting up a PVR under linux, but i'll be keeping an eye here to see what you find out. I have mine setup on Win2K. I think its better than stand alone Tivo's are replays for a couple of reasons. 1. I spend most of my time on my computer, so its easier to watch shows there. 2. I like to created VCD's out of lots of stuff. My card lets me choose the format to encode to, so if i choose VCD. It takes about 2 minutes with VCD cutter and all the commercials are gone, then things can be burned to disc. 3. My wife and i have laptops with wireless connections. We can view the files from anywhere with out any problems. A couple of disadvantages: 1. Win2K does crash on occasion, i don't know if that happens with the Tivo. 2. I have Direct TV so i have to have an external way to change the channels, i use a X10 enable IR box todo that. Which means that for each thing i want to record i have to schedule twice. If you have cable this isn't an issue. 3. You have to manually schedule things, not like Tivo's season pass.
  • Yeah, have you had to manually record everything? That seems to be one of the big wins of the commercial PVRs, that you can say "record me this show" and it will. I remember seeing an Internet tv schedule service or two, though, so maybe you aren't... Between the SonicBlue privacy thing and the Series2 TiVos getting AIM, there'll probably be more practical geek interest in homebrewed PVRs (as opposed to the not inconsiderable geek geek interest).
  • I am on a similar search (see my Wiki at [http://www.justobjects.org]). The Hauppage WinTV PVR 350 seemed promising at first, but the Linux driver project on SF [http://sourcefore.net/projects/pvr] is quiet. Any suggestions welcome. You may even add to my Wiki. I'll also keep an eye on what you find out.