HDTV and Kodi in your living room - based on Nvidia VDPAU, VDR and Ubuntu Linux

May 10, 2011
01:30 AM CEST

It's time to talk about upcoming yaVDR 0.4

yaVDR 0.4 is slowly taking shape: We would like to give you an overview about all important changes and new features that we plan to put into yaVDR 0.4. This will happen in a series of blog postings, starting off today with focus on the cornerstones of yaVDR 0.4.

To make it more exciting to read, I'm pretending that somebody is conducting an interview with the yaVDR developers. (There should be an open source software that automatically comes up with the right interview questions to make it easier to write such stuff.)

yaVDR 0.4 Questions & Answers: The virtual interview


Q: yaVDR 0.3 has been released in the second half of October 2010 and yaVDR 0.4 seems to be in reach. What have you been working on over the last six months?


A: This is not easy to summarize. For yaVDR 0.4 we have made more than one thousand changes to our source code repository (only SVN, not counting the commits that only went to our new git repositories). And this is only the source code of the yavdr-distro-packages that care for booting up, providing the web-frontend and the templating engine and such. It doesn't include the work done on packaging new versions of VDR core and plugins.

Q: What were your goals for yaVDR 0.4?


A: Our goals for yaVDR 0.4 were: Simplifying configuration, less hassle with manual configuration. More stability. Up-to-date Ubuntu base.

Q: Can you try to summarize the new features of upcoming yaVDR 0.4 in one sentence?


A: Well, we will try to do that, but only because we know that we will discuss the features in detail within upcoming blog postings.

The new features of yaVDR 0.4 will most likely be:

  • A completely redesigned, friendlier yaVDR web-frontend with more useful settings to play with, including a comfortable channel list editor with an online connection to our new yaVDR Channelpedia service (an online database for different channel lists),
  • A modern approach to handle remote controls via eventlircd (some remote controls should even work out-of-the-box),
  • Simplified sound configuration (we promise sound after first boot),
  • DVB-Device Hotplugging and unplugging without the need to restart VDR core,
  • An alternative way to communicate with VDR to overcome the limitations of SVDRP,
  • An updated VDR core (1.7.18) and updated VDR plugins, VDR addons and yaVDR addons plus updated DVB-driver-branches,
  • Experimental support for FullFeatured DVB cards including the brand new TechnoTrend Premium S2-6400 Twin DVB-S2.
  • Updated PVR-enabled XBMC version
  • ...

Not everything might make it into the stable version of yaVDR 0.4, but this is basically what we have been working on and what we are currently still fiddling with.


Q: Will yaVDR 0.4 still be based on Ubuntu Linux? If so, on what version?


A: Yes, all yaVDR versions ever released have been based on Ubuntu Linux. There are no plans to change that. yaVDR 0.4 will be based on the currently latest Ubuntu release 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) with Linux kernel 2.6.38. The release notes of Natty can be found within the Ubuntu wiki: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/NattyNarwhal/ReleaseNotes

Q: Will you still offer VDR in form of Ubuntu packages on Launchpad.net?


A: Yes. Natty packages (32bit and 64bit) will be available on Launchpad too. At the point where we decide to publish yaVDR 0.4 as a stable release, the Natty VDR packages will turn up in our stable PPAs (stable-vdr, stable-xbmc, ...). The existing packages for Ubuntu Lucid Lynx will also stay there next to the Natty packages.

Q: Until now, you have offered yaVDR ISO images only for the 32bit platform although you always offered 64bit packages within your PPAs. Is this going to change?


A: Yes, this is going to change with yaVDR 0.4: We will switch over to the 64bit platform. That means we will release a 64bit ISO image. At the same time we will stop to offer a 32bit ISO image. There aren't any reasons any more to stick to 32bit in 2011. The hardware that people are recommended to use with yaVDR is ready for 64bit. Looking at the VDR Livebuffer patch that we are trying to integrate in yaVDR 0.4, there is a first serious use case for more than 4 GB of RAM in a HTPC. A 64bit kernel offers access to the full memory and makes switching over to a PAE kernel unnecessary. A PAE kernel also only offers a maximum of 4 GB per process.

Q: Why don't you offer ISO images for both platforms instead of just for the 64bit platform?


A: One important reason for the fact that we only offered one ISO image per release are our own time limitations: Offering two ISO images increases the amount of testing, bugfixing and support for us exponentially. The developers of the yaVDR team invest an substantial amount of their spare time in this project, but there are limits: We have to sleep, we have to work and we need to have time to spend with our families. That's why we have decided to keep it that way: For yaVDR 0.4, there will only be one ISO image - but from now on based on the 64bit platform. Users that are forced to stick to a 32bit Linux due to ancient hardware are welcome to install our packages manually on their 32bit Ubuntu installation.

Q: How do you decide which Ubuntu versions to use for new yaVDR versions? Do you throw a dice?


A: Well, the release rhythm of Ubuntu is twice a year. Although we seem to put out yaVDR releases more than once a year, we don't synchronize our release dates with the Ubuntu release dates. Our development team is too small for organizing this kind of thing and too focussed on solving PVR related issues that are more important for us and our users. For yaVDR 0.2 we choose Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx (LTS) and we stayed with that version for yaVDR 0.3. The reasons we tried to explain in our blog posting "Is Maverick our cup of tea?". Because of this decision we "skipped" Ubuntu 10.10 and we didn't even offer packages for Ubuntu 10.10 in our PPAs.

But from our perspective it makes sense now to move on and use the latest Ubuntu release to benefit from more current versions of essential software packages that are important for a Linux PVR. For example, a new Linux kernel version usually offers improved DVB driver support, a new ALSA version will save users with certain modern soundchips a lot of hassle (no need to rely on backports), also a new upstart version allows us to make use of new upstart features.

Q: Is there a relation between the yaVDR release numbers used and Ubuntu release numbers?


A: Well, not really. Our users simply have to look at this table to see what is going on:

yaVDR releases and underlying Ubuntu versions
yaVDR versionUbuntu version
yaVDR 0.1.xUbuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala
yaVDR 0.2, yaVDR 0.3.x Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx
yaVDR 0.4Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal


Q: If the yaVDR developer team is too small to follow the Ubuntu release cycle: Why don't you just extend the team?


A: The yaVDR team has already grown since we started founding the team in autumn 2009. Gerald, the founder of yaVDR has recruted 5 other team members in late 2009 (the two Holgers, Steffen, Henning, Arno) from the German language VDR portal. During 2010, four more people have joined the team (Volker, Marco, Kersten, Lars). Besides the developers, we have a very reliable and growing group of helping hands around the core team that help us with testing and support. This is very valuable for us.

Extending the team should always be a very slow process so that there is time to get used to each other. Good cooperation is very important and as we rarely have meetings with all team members in real life due to the fact that we live in different locations, we can't just double the number of team members to become more productive. It wouldn't work. The development process can be very dynamic and chaotic at times. But this mixture is what makes the work within the team very exciting and motivating for us.

Q: If the Ubuntu release cycle is too fast for you: Why don't you use Debian as a basis for yaVDR?


A: TomG and e-tobi have been offering excellent VDR Debian packages for many years now (see our download page for more information). So there are already very experienced people working on packages for Debian. We chose Ubuntu because many software components (like the Linux kernel, ALSA, drivers, multimedia libs, etc) are being updated more often and we therefore have less work with offering backported packages for certain components. Also, the Launchpad.net platform that Canonical offers is an excellent platform for simplifying our package related work. Sadly, Launchpad.net doesn't offer to also build Debian packages yet.

The Debian project as such also has the big advantage that packages for the ARM platform are easily available from official repositories so that special hardware like the Dockstar, Pogoplug, Sheevaplug and so on can also act as a miniature VDR. This also adds to the importance of VDR Debian packages.

Q: How can the users of yaVDR 0.3 upgrade to yaVDR 0.4, once it is released?


A: Users of yaVDR 0.3 won't be able to automatically upgrade to yaVDR 0.4. They have to install yaVDR 0.4 from scratch. We know that this will cause frustration with many of our users with yaVDR 0.3. But a fresh installation is necessary.

Q: Why is that? Why don't you invest in a smooth upgrade experience?


A: There are three reasons:

  • The lack of yaVDR packages for Ubuntu Maverick (10.10) which are needed to fill the gap between yaVDR 0.3 and yaVDR 0.4.
  • For the ISO image, we have decided to make 64bit the default and we will only offer the yaVDR 0.4 ISO image for the 64bit platform. There is no upgrade path from 32bit to 64 bit.
  • There were essential changes in several areas between yaVDR 0.3 and yaVDR 0.4.


Q: How can you afford to not offer a smooth upgrade experience?

A: We are aware that our users might expect a VDR distribution based on Ubuntu to be upgradable as smooth as it would be with an ordinary Ubuntu. But like we have tried to explain above, our time is limited and we decided to invest our time to fix other substantial problems. So there was no time to make sure that an update from yaVDR 0.3 (Lucid) via Ubunutu Maverick (no yaVDR packages exist) to yaVDR 0.4 (Ubuntu Natty) works. Until now, we focus on offering a good quality product for one modern platform and not average quality on all possible platforms. This may change in the future: yaVDR may become more popular and there may be more helping hands available with the right knowledge. Please keep in mind that yaVDR is a relatively young project (founded in autumn 2009) and that we are only talking about version 0.4.

Q: By the way: How popular is yaVDR now?

A: We can only guess. There have been more than 13.000 downloads of the yaVDR 0.3 ISO image now, and more than 18.000 downloads of all earlier yaVDR ISO images. The Launchpad PPA download statistics indicates that there are more than 6.000 installations of yaVDR 0.3 out there worldwide that obtain package updates from our PPAs via apt-get.

Q: So people have to reinstall. How will the yaVDR installer look in yaVDR 0.4? Which options does the installer offer?

A: We have always relied on the text based installer provided by Ubuntu with very small modifications and we will again for yaVDR 0.4. If you want to get familiar with the installer that will be used by yaVDR 0.4 please download the ubuntu-11.04-alternate ISO and check its installer:
http://www.ubuntu.com/download/ubuntu/a ... e-download
On the Ubuntu wiki you can find information about some known installation issues:
https://wiki.ubuntu.com/NattyNarwhal/Re ... st-install

Q: Do you expect all these users to move to yaVDR 0.4 quickly even if they have to reinstall?

A: Many of our users like to experiment and are happy to take small risks. Or, to put in some irony: Some of our users seem to be very experienced with reinstalling yaVDR . There is a trend towards reinstall-on-first-problem-discovered, and that goes of course without bothering to look at the log files which are also conveniently accessible from the yaVDR web frontend. It depends if the new features can convince our users.

Q: Will there be bug fixes for yaVDR 0.3 for users who don't want to install yaVDR 0.4? Will there be a yaVDR 0.3.1 maintainance release?

A: This is unclear at the moment. It depends on our available resources and our motivation after the release of yaVDR 0.4. Experience shows that we like to move forward and don't like to look back. There has never been a maintaince release of yaVDR after a new version was released.

Q: Are there ways to make sure yaVDR stable releases are better tested before they are published?

A: For yaVDR 0.4 we have decided to publish at least one ISO image as an official public alpha version. So users who don't want to test this alpha version can wait until the yaVDR 0.4 stable release is being published. the alpha version is also important for our voluntary translators: They can use the alpha version to translate the web frontend labels to different languages.

But we never claimed that our releases are perfect and without bugs. Most of the software components in the VDR universe (including drivers) are not tagged as stable versions. We always present a compilation  of unstable software components. This situation can't be changed easily. Maybe it will change over time.

Q: When is yaVDR 0.4 being released?


A: After we have got all big issues fixed within the alpha and beta releases we will publish.


Q: Well, when is yaVDR 0.4 alpha1 being released?


A: If things go as we expect them to go, 0.4 alpha1 is being released in May 2011.

 

More detailed information regarding the new features of yaVDR 0.4 will be available for you within the next blog postings that we will release soon.

hepiPermalinkViews: 649887
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  • 37 Comment(s)
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Gfunk
May 10, 2011
11:18 AM CEST
Tester/Developer

I can't wait for the alpha to test! Great work on the move to 64bit! I can't wait to test the new Live Buffer in Natty!

Michal Neugebauer
May 10, 2011
01:25 PM CEST
Awesome

Tha Thanks for all your hard work on this project yavdr team!

Diablo
May 10, 2011
01:40 PM CEST
User

Just as expected. Go on with your great work guys. I'm really excited of the new version and I hope to get the possibility to join the alpha test.

aelo
May 10, 2011
03:28 PM CEST
JSON Plugin

Hi, This sounds really nice! I already saw the json-plugin in your repository. How far developed is it? Can it already be used? Does VDR need any patches to work with this plugin? nice regards aelo

hepi
May 10, 2011
03:35 PM CEST
JSON plugin - only a draft ATM

@all: Thanks for the nice feedback so far! Hi aelo, for the JSON plugin please see this discussion: http://www.vdr-portal.de/board16-video-disk-recorder/board90-vdradmin-xxv-live/105132-itouchvdr-playin-around-with-sencha-touch/ But the question is what kind of infos you need to be available in JSON format. Cheers, hepi

urknall
May 10, 2011
07:14 PM CEST
Great Work!

Hi there! Thank you very much for the detailed blog about what's going on at the development side. A big thanks to the whole yavdr team for their hard and good work. I changed at the beginning of this year to yavdr and even in that early state (0.3) and the short time the project exists, its the best vdr/pvr distribution ever. Keep going on, i like very much that the distri and its packages are up to date and new concepts and methods are implemented to make this distribution what it is. Regards Urknall

urknall
May 10, 2011
07:17 PM CEST
Forgot!

Donation system plz, i want to spend some money! I am sure others also want to...

Carsten
May 10, 2011
09:06 PM CEST
eventlircd

It looks like eventlircd might actually be something that plain ubuntu could make use of as well. Do you have any plans on transitioning your packages to upstream somewhen?

hepi
May 12, 2011
10:59 AM CEST
eventlircd

We think that eventlircd (written by Paul Bender who is the maintainer of MiniMyth) is a very interesting approach and if we can contribute to it becoming available in Debian/Ubuntu we'd be happy. But I guess we need to test it "in the wild" first.

portio
May 10, 2011
09:55 PM CEST
Great Work!!!

I would like to thank all the participants of the project for their great work. Please install a donation possibility, e.g. via paypal. Not to make money, but to found the next developer meeting/party. I'm very excited whats coming up.

italoc
May 11, 2011
11:49 AM CEST
i'm waiting

i'm waiting for the alpha... great job... and i'm think to donation... i'm a web developer... if i can i'd like to help you...

hoplo
May 11, 2011
02:10 PM CEST
languages

we still need help with translations : https://svn.origo.ethz.ch/yavdr/trunk/i18n/yavdr-i18n/yavdr.pot

Multi
May 17, 2011
06:46 PM CEST
translation

Russian translation is here http://www.forum.free-x.de/wbb/index.php?page=Thread&postID=21197#post21197

Valdemras Pipiras
May 20, 2011
08:03 PM CEST
lt translation

I have sent lt.po file to yavdr teams email, have you received it?

hepi
May 20, 2011
11:34 PM CEST
Lituanian Translation

Hi, Yes we have received the translation. Thank you! We will add the translation soon. Cheers, hepi

nasuh
May 12, 2011
10:48 AM CEST
Cam support

Is there a support for cam?

hepi
May 12, 2011
10:54 AM CEST
VDR supports CAM modules

Hi, VDR as such supports CAM modules of DVB hardware if the drivers for the DVB hardware include CAM support. There are some DVB cards with built-in CAM modules where the drivers don't contain CAM support. Cheers, hepi

Markus
May 12, 2011
03:40 PM CEST
So, that's the end of yaVDR for me?

Hi, I'm a friend of small computing devices such as PCs bases on the AMD Geode, as far as I know these are not working on 64 bit. But as a Server on a Client/Server enviroment the Geode works very well...

xbmcmediacenter.com
May 13, 2011
12:24 AM CEST
Great news, guys!

Finally a PVR distribution embraces 64bits natively. Good for you, guys! And all the best! h.udo

chessplayer
May 19, 2011
09:43 AM CEST
This is just great!

I have been experimenting with different TV setups for my little ION nettops and Dockstars lately and must say that yaVDR seems to be the best there is. Thank you very much for that and thank you also, Gerald, for maintaining the Dockstar repositories. With respect to updates/backports for older versions: In my opinion, whoever thinks that they have a well running system should just switch off the updater and keep that. If not, I think it is good to help the team with adequate bug reports (something I myself am only beginning to learn ...) and thus help yaVDR to become the state of the art. If we all want to gon on benefitting from the teams great work, I believe it is essential that they focus on going forward. Keep up the great work and pleas DO get the alpha out to us (can't be too long anyway, as May only has 12 days left ;-) ) Cheers, chessplayer

Timo Aaltonen
May 21, 2011
12:47 PM CEST
barrier for entry

For me the greatest barrier for entering the yavdr development is that there is no IRC channel that I know of, and that the forum _and_ bugtracker seem to be full of posts in German. If you wish to attract more (non-German) developers, then maybe you should make it more clear that the development language is english.. Btw, why don't you use launchpad as the bugtracker? It's not perfect, but it would also allow you to link to open ubuntu bugs that affect yavdr too.

hepi
May 22, 2011
07:24 PM CEST
Regarding barrier

Timo, AFAIK yaVDR is one of the first VDR distributions (and there have been quite a lot so far) that decided to use the English language for the projects' presentation (on this website). Whenever we start a new service related to yaVDR (bugs.yavdr.com, forum.yavdr.org) I encourage the use of English language there. But with the majority of our users being German and used to getting support in German language a strict switch-over to English language seems very hard to enforce. Why don't you become active on bugs.yavdr.com and demand for strictly English language bug reports whenever German is used? Cheers, hepi

Gfunk
May 21, 2011
06:09 PM CEST
Tester/Developer

So where will we see a download link for the yavdr 0.4.0 alpha? Will it be in the downloads section or located over at vdr-portal?

hepi
May 22, 2011
07:27 PM CEST
Download

Hi, Like all our ISO-images, it will definetly be listed on the download page of this website and we will announce it here with a blog posting (subscribe to our RSS or follow me on Twitter: hepi_yavdr).

dbuser
May 24, 2011
09:30 AM CEST
Gr8

Hi folks, congrats - your strategy to move to 64bit architecture, to push on 0.4 and only consider to maintain 0.3 is excellent. I fully agree - we all love to experiment (but need to maintain the WAF), a new installation is not a miracle - so you made the absolute right decision. Proceed to be focussed on 1 (one) great package rather many versions and subversions which cannot be maintained ! I love you, team !

May 25, 2011
10:41 AM CEST

in 6 Days, May has past and there is no 0.4 :-(

DBUSER
May 28, 2011
03:43 PM CEST
Mr.

Where is your problem ? I prefer to wait a couple of days rather wasting my time with bugs that are known to the team and need fixes. They are working FOR US FOR FREE - if you are part of the team you know anyway. Otherwise please contribute by showing patience.

KlausiHH
May 25, 2011
03:49 PM CEST
64 Bit

Will yaVDR 0.4 still run on my old Pentium 4, or do I need special 64 Bit hardware? "Looking at the VDR Livebuffer patch that we are trying to integrate in yaVDR 0.4" If this works as good as in vdr 1.6, I need no other xmas gifts this year. ;-)

Gfunk
June 01, 2011
10:55 PM CEST
Tester/Developer

So when in June can we expect the alpha yavdr 0.4? I am anxiously waiting to test it out ;)

Sami
June 06, 2011
02:13 PM CEST
Excited

Thank you guys for the great project. I am very excited to try the new live buffer on VDR. When the alpha going to be released? Any ETA please? Thanks and best regards, Sami

fatez
June 07, 2011
11:36 PM CEST
No news?

No news? is so silence here...

hepi
June 07, 2011
11:41 PM CEST
We are still alive

A lot of work and time currently goes into our move of our sourcecode to GitHub. https://github.com/yavdr Please bare with us. It will take us longer than expected to publish 0.4-alpha1. Thanks for your patience! ;-) Cheers, hepi

Steve
June 14, 2011
09:26 PM CEST
Any Eta?

Hi ! is there any ETA? :D

Frank
June 18, 2011
04:40 PM CEST
JSON API

hi, i've been playing around with the upcoming restful plugin which is working good so far. can cxxtools also be used for a client to convert a json result from the plugin, back to the plugins structs? i'd be glad if someonce could give me a hint or code sample. thanks!

lalala
June 27, 2011
03:49 PM CEST
-

"It's time to talk about upcoming yaVDR 0.4" how long shall we talk bout it?

stefano
June 27, 2011
08:45 PM CEST
:(

:(

matt
July 11, 2011
12:45 PM CEST
How is 0.4 pre iso?

So, how does this pre-iso version works? Do we have sound just after installation (especiallym when you have sound card on MOBO built-in and GPU with HDMI out and you want to have sound on that cable)? How baout TBS DVB-S/S2 cards?

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