|MythTV wiki's User Manual: Daily Use
Once I got in the DVR "way" I pretty much left live TV behind. I did try watching some sports live with Picture-in-Picture but I thought "What for?" I can record both and watch them in sequence, skipping the dull parts if I have to. There's really little need to watch any television live anymore, despite what the networks want you to do. Perhaps "Breaking News", but I'm not likely to know it's breaking when it is. And with a body of recordings I requested in the first place, there's no need to channel surf to find something interesting to watch.
I do not have the usual TV-in-the-living-room setup. In fact I don't have a TV, but a combined MythFrontend/MythBackend computer with a 23" computer monitor that sits on the corner of my desk next to my desktop computer monitor. For an audience that's usually just me.
Computer Dekstop: My MythTV computer is 99.9% used to run MythTV, so it doesn't need the overhead of much of a desktop environment because I boot the machine, and start the MythFrontend and that runs until I need to do something else but watch recordings or listen to music. With my old setup I used Fluxbox, and continue with that today. A right-click menu on a grey desktop with no icons or panels gives me a simple menu to start the Frontend, do MythBackend setup, or a handful of other functions I thought I might need.
Scheduling, Browsing, and Searching: I use MythWeb, a browser-based interface to MythTV, to do all my scheduling, from my desktop computer. A set of basic rules select programs I want based on certain search terms, other programs daily or weekly, or at any time they can be found, like some movies I want to see some day. Since the available schedule is available to 2 weeks out, I check in every 12 days to look ahead for the next 2 weeks. MythTV takes all that and figures out how to keep my 3 tuners busy. Really, if I miss anything, I have plenty more.
Schedules Direct is the only subscription service I use other than my cable provider. It provides better scheduling information than what I've seen from the EPG data on other PVR boxes.
With my own web server I can even use MythWeb over the Internet, which I've done a few times when on my way home from being away for the winter and want to set up NHL playoff games to record for my return.
Videos: I only have a few videos, mostly for golf instruction, ripped to disk and played with MythVideo.
Music: I have 10,000+ music tracks. I really like MythMusic set to shuffle through my collection. Even though MythTV can do it (I've never tried), I rip CDs from my desktop using abcde and then rsync them to my MythTV box and use the Services API to have the MythFrontend re-scan them.
Slideshows: I have a large collection of images of various sorts, shot by me or collected from other sources of interest. MythGallery plays various slideshows to keep the screen busy sometimes.
Help!: The vast MythTV Wiki has LOTS of info and a "Maze of twisty little passages" with more. The MythTV Users Mailing List is invaluable when Googling doesn't answer. There are vast resources out there, and lots of questions can be answered by "reading the Internet" (always do that first), but then there are questions that haven't been asked yet.
Maintenance: As for any server-like computer, maintenance is important, if not nerdly fun. I use some portions of MythTV's Periodic Maintenance docs.
- MythTV depends on a database. It would be a real hassle to recreate all my scheduling rules and configuration. I use the mythconverg_backup.pl script and rsync to maintain the latest copies of my database and all system files on other machines, one in another part of the city. Recordings are too large for me to back up and it's metadata like recording rules and all the shows I've seen already that are most important.
- Tuning the MythTV database server on the MythBackend keeps it using system resources optimally, which keeps MythFrontend running snappily. Every Monday morning (weekends are usually a busy recording/playback time for me) I run mysqltuner.pl, a Perl script to make database tuning recommendations so I can tweak accordingly.
- Optimizing the MythTV database keeps it running quickly and checking for errors and attempting repairs. I run the optimize_mythdb.pl script weekly, on Friday before weekend scheduling, which is usually the busiest.
- I'm a big fan of monitoring, and with GKrellm I can tell what my MythTV box is doing, from my main computer. Handy to see that a recording or commercial flagging is in progress, or to watch disk space.
phpMyAdmin from my desktop lets me browse the MythTV database and very occasionally fix something very very carefully.
Programming: I also do a little MythTV programming, using Perl and a couple of the programming interfaces MythTV provides: the Frontend Control Socket, Perl bindings, and lately the Services API. .