ETV personal video recorder

Why, What, Where and How?

Frequently Asked Questions

Although the answers to all of the FAQs below can be found in the documentation, this shortlist might help you overcome ETV's most famous hurdles.

  • How do I use it all?
    - MySQL must be running.
    - First follow all doc/INSTALL.TXT instructions. Then start the backend, master and frontend all in a separate console.
    - Start them with --? to show commandline options.
    - Alt-h in the frontend, and h+enter in master and backend show some debugging options on the console.
    - The frontend can be controlled with the keyboard. Read doc/KEYS.TXT, and for the full explanation preferable read the manual :-)
    - With the scripts in ./utils you can import stations from xawtv, and programdata from an xmltv compatible listing (for these scripts to function the master must be running).
Building problems
  • SDL_AudioDelayMsec undeclared
    You did not patch SDL, or ETV uses a wrong (unpatched) copy of the SDL library. ETV needs a few special patches to SDL. Read doc/INSTALL.TXT.
  • Can't find ffmpeg/avcodec.h
    This file shoud be in /usr/include/ffmpeg. If it is not there you probably build ffmpeg using "./configure" instead of "./configure --enable-shared". Read doc/INSTALL.TXT.
Frontend usage
  • I don't understand how (something) works
    First read the doc/*.TXT files. Then read the Frontend User Manual. It is a separate download in Open Office format, but there is a PDF version as well. It might be the manual is not updated for the latest ETV version, in that case just download the most recent version available.
  • How do I change profiles, backends, and kill or recover recordings?
    Become the superuser.
  • How do I become 'superuser'?
    Either start the frontend using the --superuser switch, or press Alt-s at any time in the frontend. If you are superuser all form & list titles will have a '+' after them to indicate the superuser-mode.
  • Why doesn't my mouse work? Why can't the window be resized? Why is everything so big and ugly?
    The ETV frontend is primarily designed to be used on a television with a normal VCR remote, everything GUI related stems from that. (Except maybe for the ugly bit: I'm a programmer, not a GUI-artist. If you can do better: please show me :-)
Video problems
  • Why does my image flicker?
    Although you have Xv support, it seems your destination colorkey (=chromakey) does not work. The output from xvinfo should have an attribute called XV_COLORKEY. If it doesn't, you will have to use the software scaling version of the frontend (--noaccel option). Do contact me, I'd like to find out how to detect/workaround these cases.
  • I keep getting 'frame dropped' warnings
    If this happens once a while, no problem. If it happens while your CPU usage is 100%, use a lower quality profile. If it happens multiple times per second and your CPU load is not that high, I'd like to know more about it.
  • My video is not smooth but no frames are dropped
    Even if your CPU is nowhere near 100%, linux still has problems keeping a constant framerate due to its course (10 ms) scheduling.
    A few solutions are known to me:
    1 - Switch from a 2.4 to a 2.6 kernel, the scheduler is much better with multimedia applications. This is the cleanest solution and the reason why I will not put any effort in fixing this any other way.
    2 - Recompile your current 2.4 kernel with Hz=1000 (if you don't know what I'm talking about and can't Google for it yourself this is not for you).
    3 - Run X and/or the ETV-frontend with higher priority (nice -10).
    4 - ETV could be modified to keep the framerate constant with all sorts of tricks and handcoded delays. This would eat up 100% CPU, and a lot of my time coding, which is why I will only 'support' solution 1.
  • The image is blue, I don't see any video
    Your colorkey value is wrong. Read doc/HWACCEL.TXT.
  • When OSD interface elements disappear they leave blue rectangles behind
    Your colorkey value is wrong. Read doc/HWACCEL.TXT.
  • My image is very 'blocky', and CPU use is high
    ETV probably is running in software scaling mode. Read doc/HWACCEL.TXT
  • LiveTV only runs with a few frames per second after a reboot
    Known bug on some systems. ETV still does not initialize the videocard 100% correctly after a cold start. Consequetive uses of LiveTV run normal.
Audio problems
  • The sound echos with LiveTV
    This might be a matter of setting up your mixer correctly (see doc/INSTALL.TXT). If this does not help your soundcard might not support full-duplex, if not this is very often a linux-driver issue and not a hardware limitation.
  • I do not hear any sound at all
    This might be a matter of setting up your mixer correctly (see doc/INSTALL.TXT). But a known bug at the moment is that ETV does not initialize the TV-card sound-output with some hardware, this is being worked upon.
Supported hardware
  • What hardware do I need for ETV?
    CPU: Everything from a 800MHz Athon/Pentium onwards makes ETV at least usable with a moderate profile.
    TV: All feedback I received from users is about BT8x8 based TV-cards, but theoretically all video4linux compatible cards should work.
    Video: Your card must preferably support hardware YUV->RGB conversion and scaling, in other words XV support. For XV support to be usable by ETV chroma-key support is also needed, see doc/HWACCELL.TXT for more info. There is a software fallback mode working on any card (if your PC is fast enough).
    Sound: Any sound card will work, but you need a full-duplex one to be able to use LiveTV or record and play at the same time. ALSA (possibly in OSS compatibility mode) is your best guess to get everything working.
  • Is NTSC supported?
    Not yet. The 25Hz for PAL/SECAM is hardcoded. I'd like to get it supported, but I don't have any beta-tester yet able to receive any NTSC station.
  • Does ETV support hardware codecs like Hauppage PVR-250/350?
    No, it doesn't. And it is not something planned either, I have spend my money on a fast CPU instead. (But I'm not against it, so feel free to send in a patch.)
  • Does ETV support DVB-t or DVB-s?
    Not yet. DBV-t is being worked on, if that is finished I will probably buy a DVB-s card and start implementing satellite support. But count on a timeframe of months, not weeks.
  • Does ETV support cable-company decoders or external sat-receivers?
    Not yet. The theoretical groundwork is in place, but as I don't know anybody owning such a beast I have not implemented anything specific. If you want to beta-test it I'll implement it.