Upgrading Mythbuntu from 10.04 to 11.10

matthew's picture

I have been using MythTV for several years at home. My family loves the DVR; it's easy-to-use, mostly bug-free, and has allowed us to enjoy television at our leisure rather than at the broadcaster's schedule.

In late 2011, I upgraded from a rather long-in-the-tooth but reliable Mythbuntu 10.04 LTS to Mythbuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot. The transition was far from seamless. I'd been using the fglrx driver for my on-board ATI card, and found that although I could use it, I had better (and more stable) results using a software-only rendering path to my 720P 50" Plasma TV. I also found that, by default, HDMI audio is disabled in Oneiric, resulting in no-sound, fast-moving video. The quick fix to this was:

* vi /etc/default/grub
* Change this line:
into this:
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash radeon.audio=1"

And all was well.

The cool part about this upgrade was that I got a lot of improvements "for free".

  • The Mythfrontend viewer had always had difficulties reading certain transcodes of x.264 1080p content. Typically, it was just extremely slow doing so. Now that content plays perfectly without having to invoke an external player (I'd previously used mplayer for certain titles in my library to get around this).
  • DVD playback "just works" now without tweaking command-lines in the player. It's pretty sweet, and you get all the menus and options you expect when viewing recordings.
  • DVD ripping has been removed from the GUI. It never worked consistently anyway, so I see why I was removed. However, I'll probably put something homebrewed back in so that I can do automated injects & rips in the future.
  • Live TV still doesn't work for me. Never has. It works fine if I use a detached front-end, but it's never worked on my combined mythbackend/mythfrontend box using a couple of Hauppauge 1600-series tuners.
  • No patches to the PVR 1600 driver required for glitch-free recording. Yay!
  • ZFS support "just works" on the upgrade. I'd converted one of my disks to ZFS, and plan to shortly convert the rest of my media disks from XFS & EXT3 to ZFS. I really like knowing that what I've committed to disk is what was actually in RAM, and being made aware of any errors on the platters (or in a mirrored or RAIDZ pool, having those errors automatically corrected). Also the built-in compression is pretty slick, and I use it extensively for storing my collections of eBooks and other highly-compressible data.
  • Commercial skipping seems to be greatly improved. It used to incorrectly flag the last 30-second bites of certain shows (Castle and The Big Bang Theory come to mind) as commercials. That seems to be fixed.

The one downside of my upgrade, though, was that transcoding stopped working correctly for me. I had hobbled together a set of scripts that mostly worked well for permanently archiving content we really enjoyed. Some of it was automatic, but most of it was manual. I like to verify that commercial skips are properly placed before permanently deleting them in an archival file!

So I decided to put together a new transcoding toolchain. While the myth stuff is excellent for re-transcoding almost-lossless copies of your videos with commercials removed, it doesn't save you much space without a really giant reduction in quality, and remains MPEG2 with all the size limitations that implies. Ultimately what I want is a great 720P x.264 copy of my videos tucked away on one of my ZFS archival drives. I want to automatically detect whether the video is formatted widescreen or 4:3, and crop away the excess if it's 4:3. And if I'm not 100% certain it's 4:3, just transcode widescreen and we'll live with the black bars being baked into the video.

Quite a job! And it starts with Handbrake not being available for Ubuntu Oneiric Ocelot yet. I attempted to add the PPA like usual, and received a few errors.

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:stebbins/handbrake-releases
$ sudo apt-get update
Err http://ppa.launchpad.net oneiric/main Sources
  404  Not Found
Err http://ppa.launchpad.net oneiric/main amd64 Packages
  404  Not Found
Err http://ppa.launchpad.net oneiric/main i386 Packages
  404  Not Found
W: Failed to fetch http://ppa.launchpad.net/stebbins/handbrake-releases/ubuntu/dists/oneiri...  404  Not Found

W: Failed to fetch http://ppa.launchpad.net/stebbins/handbrake-releases/ubuntu/dists/oneiri...  404  Not Found

W: Failed to fetch http://ppa.launchpad.net/stebbins/handbrake-releases/ubuntu/dists/oneiri...  404  Not Found

E: Some index files failed to download. They have been ignored, or old ones used instead.

Dang. Looks as if I get to build it!

Will provide more details on that process at a later date. I tried building it, but kept getting this error that has me stumped:
ass_shaper.h:24:29: fatal error: fribidi/fribidi.h: No such file or directory

Funny error, but a show-stopper at present! Guess I'll stick with the old built-in Myth transcode stuff for a bit until I can figure this out.