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

October 25, 2011
12:03 AM CEST

Finally: Announcing yaVDR 0.4

We are proud to announce yaVDR 0.4 after 12 months of hard work and two pre-releases.

Some basic facts about yaVDR 0.4 have been around for a while and are discussed in detail in some of our previous blog postings. A short summary should be sufficient:

  • yaVDR 0.4 is based on Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal).
  • The ISO image is only available in 64bit flavour. However, our packages are also available as 32bit versions within our Launchpad repositories.
  • If you want to upgrade from an earlier yaVDR release to yaVDR 0.4 you will need to do a complete reinstall from scratch. You have to migrate your settings manually. This is often easier than it sounds.
  • You can download the yaVDR 0.4 ISO image from our downloads page.

But these were just the boring basics. Let's have a look at all the interesting details...

One of the new features causing the most confusion for VDR veterans should be discussed first:

Zero-Conf for remote controls / receivers via eventlircd

The eventlircd daemon (which is being developed by Paul Bender for the MiniMyth distro) offers a modern approach to handle IR receivers and remote controls. With eventlircd it is for example possible to plug-in an USB infrared receiver into your HTPC at any time and instantly use the matching remote control. This goes without the need to restart either LIRC, VDR or the VDR-Frontend. If there is a configuration for the specific IR receiver available in our package yavdr-remote, it just works. In theory, you can also add more than one USB receiver and use two or more remote controls at the same time (please decide yourself how useful this is in real life).

eventlircd enables us to offer Zero-Conf in the area of remote controls whenever the receivers are detectable via udev: This applies to all USB receivers. Only receivers connected to the serial port are not detectable and in those cases LIRC can still be enabled in the yaVDR web frontend in addition to eventlircd (that is always running anyway).

The new approach means changing an old habit: It is not necessary and not recommended any more to change VDRs mapping file remote.conf! Instead, other files have to be changed. This is documented in the eventlircd chapter of seahawks brand-new and very nice yaVDR documentation (that is currently only available in German language yet).

Updated VDR core and new VDR plugins

yaVDR ships with the currently latest VDR developer version 1.7.21 and includes patches to enable some additional features like Livebuffer and Unicable support (also known as Satellite Channel Routing (SCR) or Single cable distribution: SCR will most likely be implemented in one of the next VDR developer versions by Klaus Schmidinger). It also includes a couple of new VDR plugins that were developed by our team members.

Introducing the dynamite plugin (aka vdr-plugin-dynamite)

Dynamite makes it possible to add or remove DVB devices while VDR core is running. Before unplugging a device, it has to be detached in the plugins settings via the VDR OSD. Dynamite can be very convenient in different ways:

  • During boot time: If one of your DVB devices is slower than others and gets initialized later than the rest, the start of VDR core doesn't have to be delayed until all DVB devices are present. Instead, VDR core is started at the earliest possible time and the DVB devices may turn up a little later if they like. Once a DVB device is initialized, it will automatically be added to the list of usable devices. Before we had Dynamite in the days of yaVDR 0.3, we used a tool called dvbmon to delay the start of VDR core until all expected DVB devices were initialized. This tool is now obsolete.
  • During runtime: Let's say you have a couple of USB DVB devices. In case you want to record more TV shows than usual in parallel, you can plug-in an additional USB DVB device to increase the number of concurrently recordable transponders. In the opposite way, you can configure a DVB device that is not needed to be "detached" and use it with a different HTPC without stopping VDR (these scenarios might be more likely in a developer or tester environment where you have more than one HTPC in one room). Even if devices are still physically connected to the system they were "detached" from, they are no longer used by VDR until they are (manually or by udev) re-attached.
  • In scenarios where the DVB devices are in a different room from the HTPC running yaVDR: You have a DVB device in room A with network streaming capability (for example a Sundtek stick connected to a broadband router running Linux or a HDHomeRun device). In theory, it is now possible to add those devices to a running yaVDR HTPC in room B as soon as they are being switched on / made available. (For Sundtek devices, this is already being done using Avahi.)
  • Power saving: It is possible to automatically set unused devices to an "idle" mode after a (configurable) timeout. This means, that the underlying cDvbDevice class of VDR closes all open handles so the driver can shutdown the device or initiate power saving mechanisms. If the user switches to a channel (or a recording starts) for which the device is needed it will be reactivated automatically by VDR.

Talking to the VDR via dbus plugins - An alternative to SVDRP

Two new VDR plugins developed by yaVDR team members (vdr-plugin-dbus2vdr, vdr-plugin-dbus) allow the communication with VDR without using the old and limited way of SVDRP - and more.

What else is new? Zero-Conf wherever possible...

One of our development goals for yaVDR 0.4 was: Introduce Zero-Conf (meaning automated configuration) where it makes sense. 

  • Automated sound settings configuration: Promised sound on first boot. All sound outputs should have sound (analog, S/PDIF, HDMI)
  • Automatic detection of DVB-hardware on installation. When starting the yaVDR installation, it is no longer necessary to decide which driver package to install. It is done automatically in case your DVB hardware is in the list of devices we have created. Just make sure your device is connected during installation.
  • The Avahi Mounter organizes zero-conf media shares in the local area network based on NFS: With yaVDR 0.4, Avahi Mounter is installed by default. If you have more than one VDR, the recordings of each VDR will be accessible on the other VDR. Avahi Mounter will automatically mount NFS shares from a machine that was just booted up and it will also automatically unmount NFS shares from machines that were told to shut down. More information on this topic can be found in this blog posting and this tutorial.

Updated DVB driver packages

s2-liplianin-dkms and v4l-dvb-dkms are still available as alternatives to the standard v4l-dvb modules shipped with the Linux kernel provided by Ubuntu Natty.

Experimental support for FullFeatured DVB cards

This also includes the brand new TechnoTrend Premium S2-6400 Twin DVB-S2. Big limitation: GPU rendered applications like XBMC or Firefox (basically everything that runs on top of Xorg) is inaccessible when running yaVDR with a FullFeatured frontend. This is how far we can and want to support FullFeatured DVB devices that represent a completely different approach to our GPU based VDPAU "philosophy".

What's new in yaVDRs web frontend?

yaVDR 0.4 ships with a completely redesigned, friendlier 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. The web frontend includes a couple of new features like a Wake On LAN (WOL) client that makes it possible to start other PCs in the local network using the VDR OSD and your remote control.

New boot and shutdown animations, new default OSD theme

It also includes a newly designed plymouth-based boot animation and shutdown animation. The default OSD theme is set to the theme "NarrowHD".

Behind the scenes

We reorganized our daily project work in different ways to become quicker and more efficient and have more fun:

  • End of over-templating: In yaVDR 0.3, we used the yaVDR templating system for a vast number of configuration files. This has been reduced to a necessary minimum. All configuration files that we need to change once and never again are now part of package yavdr-base.
  • New package structure of yaVDR packages (before, we only had yavdr-essential, yavdr-starup and yavdr-utils. Now, we have many more packages that represent the backbone of the distribution.)
  • Refactored upstart scripts.
  • yaVDR's own sourcecode was moved from SVN (origo) to GitHub (https://github.com/yavdr)
  • Additionaly, our improved buildscripts help us to quickly upload new source packages to Launchpad - suddenly we have the feeling that it would be - in theory - possible to provide packages for each new Ubuntu release. The six month release cycle of Ubuntu is always always seem to cause productive stress within our team. Last year, we skipped Ubuntu Maverick due to the workload. Now, we are already looking forward to move to a predecessor of Natty.
  • vdr-plugin-restfulapi opens the door to new attractive state-of-the-art HTML5 web applications. This plugin will be covered in an own blog posting at some point in the future.

Countless other things

A high number of updated packages including XBMC, VDR plugins, Nvidia driver, etc.

Where we are not completely satisfied

There is always something that is not perfect. Let's just name it and get it out of the way:

  • XBMC PVR development status: Since we have released yaVDR 0.1 in early 2010, we always made sure to advertise that XBMC is part of our distribution. And that we ship an experimental PVR enabled version. But we always shipped an experimental and unstable version. We also started to offer the setting "XBMC as a TV frontend" in the yaVDR web frontend. But we are still far away from a stable PVR enabled XBMC version in yaVDR. This is nobody's fault - it is just the way how software development works. One day, there will be a nice stable XBMC with PVR features.
  • Boot-up duration: Boot times are still very good but not as good as with yaVDR 0.3. With dynamite there should be nothing in the way for a quick boot, but Ubuntu Natty seems to boot slower than its predecessors or successors. This motivates us to move on and experiment with the successors.
hepiPermalinkViews: 31528
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Barnaby Fry
October 25, 2011
02:16 AM CEST
Fantastic

Install took around an hour. No problems. The new look interface looks superb and my Gyration 3101EU remote works out of the box. Channelpedia works perfectly on Freesat here in the UK. Thank you all developers and testers for this release. Barney

Tor
October 25, 2011
06:13 AM CEST
Howto for 32bit?

For 32bit, I guess the procedure would be to install a minimal ubuntu install, then add yavdr repositories and install the correct packages? Is there a howto for this, or a list of which packages recommended to get it similar to a vanilla install from the ISO image?

fnu
October 25, 2011
10:57 AM CEST

Are your sure that your CPU doesn't support 64-bit? Hardware used for VDPAU machines is usally to 99% 64-bit capable, even an Intel Atom D330. There are a lot advantages in stability and speed due to the wider memory transfers, you would miss them. There's no howto for 32-bit, this is a quite huge cut for the older 32-bit installations. It's possible to install a 32-bit VDR from our repositories, but you won't get an exact yaVDR like from ISO. For further questions regarding an installation of 32-bit VDR from yaVDR PPAs please open a thread in www.vdr-portal.de at yavdr section and don't worry just post in english language.

Tor
October 29, 2011
02:06 PM CEST
penitum M

I'm running with a pentium M 1.77GHz on a i915Ga-HFs mainboard. root@ubuntu:~# cat /proc/cpuinfo processor : 0 vendor_id : GenuineIntel cpu family : 6 model : 13 model name : Intel(R) Pentium(R) M processor 1.73GHz stepping : 8 cpu MHz : 133.000 cache size : 2048 KB fdiv_bug : no hlt_bug : no f00f_bug : no coma_bug : no fpu : yes fpu_exception : yes cpuid level : 2 wp : yes flags : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 mtrr pge mca cmov clflush dts acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss tm pbe nx up bts est tm2 bogomips : 266.05 clflush size : 64 cache_alignment : 64 address sizes : 32 bits physical, 32 bits virtual power management:

MJ
October 31, 2011
01:29 AM CET
32bit:(

Hi, I'm using intel atom platform with ion support - and will also having problems to install newest version - could you help with this?

hepi
October 31, 2011
09:06 AM CET
64bit on Intel Atom

Intel Atom + 64bit = works

h.udo
October 25, 2011
06:31 PM CEST
Congrats guys!

Finally! I was waiting this one for a while. Now for the testing. Regards h.udo

Agusti
October 25, 2011
08:01 PM CEST
Upgrading from 0.4.0-pre2

First of all, Thanks for the great job!!! I would like to know if either is it possible to do an upgrade from the 0.4.0-pre2 version or I need to do an installation from the scratch? Best Regards.

hepi
October 27, 2011
06:02 PM CEST
Update from 0.4.0-pre2 to 0.4.0 release

I guess you will not need to install from scratch if you were on 0.4.0-pre2 before. Package updates should be sufficient. EDIT: I forgot, you have to change the PPAs listed in/etc/apt/sources.list.d/yavdr.list from testing to stable. Cheers, hepi

Pickitup
October 26, 2011
05:18 PM CEST
Great job, but why remove ttxtsubs?

I have waited long time for this. But why have you removed ttxtsubs? Its kind a show stoper for all of us in scandinavia and some other contrys. VDR has to be patch so its not easy to compile my self. Also, is there some way to turn of timeshift?? The lag in the system is killing me... Thx again, and keep up the nice work! /Pickitup

hepi
October 27, 2011
06:05 PM CEST
vdr-plugin-ttxtsubs

If you look into our PPAs you will see that vdr-plugin-ttxtsubs is part of the PPAs, but failed to build: https://launchpad.net/~yavdr/+archive/unstable-vdr/+build/2854539 Cheers, hepi

borkie
October 26, 2011
05:21 PM CEST
Thank you

Thank you very much for all your work!!!

HaPe
October 26, 2011
08:41 PM CEST
eventlirc

Please, update also information how to remove eventlirc if it is not compatible with all hardwares... I mean howto switch to use only normal LIRC. My MCE compatible remote with nuvoton "build in" receiver works very very odd. Pressing same button several times everything works fine... but pressing first button "One" and then button "Two"... eventlirc do the correct action for button "One" but when pressing button "Two" firstly eventlirc repeat the action for button "One" and if you press button "Two" again you got the correct action for button "Two".

hepi
October 27, 2011
06:06 PM CEST
nuvoton driver

Problems with nuvoton driver are currently being discussed at www.vdr-portal.de. Please follow the discussion there.

mushroom
October 26, 2011
09:06 PM CEST
hmm

Thank you very much.Best release ever.Everything runs out of the box.

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