Perfect MythTV Frontend on Windows 7 / Vista or Mac Using XBMC

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This is incredible! XBMC+MythTV rock!! I have been trying all kinds of crazy solutions to be able to stream Live TV over the LAN. MythTV does offer an easy way out, but then you are stuck with Ubuntu at all times. Not that I have any issues with that, but I do indulge myself in a bit of photography which involves some photo editing, using tools which run best in Windows 7, and my better half  prefers Windows 7. Why won’t she, as Win 7  is a great OS (best Windows ever without any doubt). So, I have been trying to find a solution to be able to stream live TV from my MythTV Ubuntu box to Windows 7 machine. I even went as far as virtualizing Mythbuntu using VMware Player (that wasn’t either practical or elegant).

It turns out I was this close to the perfect solution, but didn’t really realize. Solution lies in XBMC, which being platform independent really opens up the possibility of creating a MythTV frontend on any platform. Here are the steps you need to take to make XBMC work as MythTV frontend on a Windows 7 machine (should work on other Windows as well as Snow Leopard with a minor tweak or two). I am assuming that you already have a working MythTV backend-frontend setup, if you need any help regarding that, then checkout the posts with tag “mythtv“.  There are two approaches possible for this:

Approach 1

Step 1: Install XBMC on your Windows 7 or Vista or Snow Leopard machine, this is trivial, visit XBMC.org to download the setup file.

Step 2: Download and install the MythBox plugin for XBMC. Installation is simple, you just need to extract the folder and its contents to the correct folder as per your OS listed below

Linux   : ~/.xbmc/scripts
Mac     : ~/Library/Application Support/XBMC/scripts
Windows : C:/Documents and Settings/[user]/Application Data/XBMC/scripts
Vista   : C:/Users/[user]/AppData/Roaming/XBMC/scripts

Step 3: Now before we launch and configure XBMC MythBox plugin to communicate with MythTV we need to add the hostname of the backend server to “hosts” file located in C:/Windows/System32/drivers/etc folder, without this XBMC would throw error when you try playing Live TV.

192.168.2.101 mythbackend_hostname

Step 4: Now launch XBMC, from the main XBMC screen, select Scripts, from the Scripts screen, select MythBox.

Step 5: You’ll be sent straight to the Settings screen (with an error message). Fill in all the settings and click on the ‘Test Settings’ button until you get a ‘Settings OK’ message. You need to enter the address for Backend Hostname, the directory for recordings is actually the mounted MythTV share. If you haven’t mounted it already then just specify any local directory on your machine. This won’t interfere with the LiveTV setup, but you won’t be able to play MythTV recordings. I have a easy work around for it and would come back to it later.

On the next screen, enter the details of your MythTV backend server. Then go to the Test Settings tab and it should be able to test and confirm that the connection is working correctly.

Now exit the settings screen and you should be able to enjoy LiveTV!

To watch the MythTV recordings using XBMC, you just need to enable UPnP server on the MythTV backend, and then use XBMC UPnP client capability to access them. I would try to cover the mounting of MythTV share using smb or NFS in another post soon.

Approach 2:

In this approach you don’t need to install any scripts or external programs. Once you have XBMC installed, launch it and select Video from the main screen. Now choose Add source, on the window that pops up click on the location where it is written <None> and enter the following text:

myth://mythtv:password@ip_of_mythtv_backend

You would need to replace ip_of_mythtv_backend with the correct ip and use your mythtv user password instead of the password, next enter the name for the Video source, you can choose any name you please, and then select OK to add this new mythtv source. Before you try to watch live tv and stuff you would still have to add the hostname for the MythTV backend as decribed in Step 3 above. Now you can watch live tv and browse for your recording etc. I felt watching live TV using this approach was a bit sluggish in response. But you may want to give both approaches a try to see what works best for you.

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About the Author

has written 346 posts on this blog.

Meditating towards his "nerdvana", lifehacker is a teacher by the day and a nerdy blogger by the night. He lives to learn and yearns to learn living.

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