Kubuntu: WinTV PVR-150 adventures

Watching TV under Kubuntu with kaffeine and xawtvAfter praising (K)Ubuntu for the last year or so, trying to install a common WinTV PVR-150 TV card was a major setback. Ironically, Ubuntu got the hardest part right all by itself: the TV card got autodetected, and an initial test with mythtv was successful. I could even capture TV with cat /dev/video0 > /tmp/tv.mpg. Very cool – but! There seems to be no reliable way of tuning the TV card. kdetv freezes after scanning about 50% of all channels and requires a reboot to get TV working again. tvtime doesn’t seem to support MPEG-2 cards. Kaffeine or mplayer can render the MPEG-2 stream, but cannot use the tuner. xawtv renders empty black windows (current NVidia drivers don’t support DGA any more, but -nodga gives me only black windows). Mythtv works, but it’s way too bloated for a simple TV viewer.

So I…

  1. Create a channel listing using xawtv’s scantv:
    scantv -c /dev/video0 -C /dev/vbi0 -o ~/.xawtv
  2. Start up xawtv, maximize the window, open channel listing (E).
  3. Start up kaffeine, opening the URL pvr:/
  4. Minimize the xawtv main window
  5. Voila!

Admittedly this might be just a minor problem with my installation, but the fact that it’s virtually impossible to find an application that can render the TV image and supports tuning and is not mythtv when the hardware apparently works is slightly embarrassing. Getting this setup up and running on Windows XP took 15 minutes at most, and it works without a glitch ever since.

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