Returning to DVB, which software to use these days?

  • It's a long message, thanks in advance for those who take the time to read it.

    I'm considering coming back to running a Linux-based DVB setup after being away for two years. I live in Finland, I studied German in high school and have basic understanding of the language. That's enough to mostly understand the titles on this forum and deciding which threads to read with Google Translate.

    It seems like the "Linux DVB scene" is a bit inactive these days. Which software should I spend my efforts on to get a usable setup? Or should I go for a Vu+ box? A Vu+ Uno 4K SE would cost about 280 euros here, so that's the baseline and I would not want to use more money than that on this setup. Some people seem to say that also the Vu+ stuff does not see that much development.

    We moved from a DVB-T flat to a DVB-C flat two years ago and that was when I stopped using my old HTPC. I took a two year subscription of an Arris streaming box from my ISP (Telia), but I do not like that thing. To keep using it now, they would charge me 20 euros per month, so with the cost of one year of that subscription I could get some new hardware to do this myself and actually own my recordings.

    I have a NAS running Proxmox in our home office, so I could run basically anything as a VM on it, but I can't get an antenna there. I don't want to run the NAS in the living room where the only antenna socket in the whole flat is. I also have a very old HTPC that I used to run two years ago, it has an nVidia GT 610 card and one PCIe 1x slot which I guess I could use for a Hauppauge WinTV QuadHD card, but that costs 150 euros here. I actually found my old full-featured DVB-C card that I used back when I lived in a student apartment. I was able to install tvheadend on the outdated Fedora I have on the HTPC and I can see the HD channels from our cable. So that's a success.

    I have used Plex running in a VM on my NAS to watch recordings that I'm able to download from the Finnish public broadcasting company (Yle) website (Areena). The Plex VM even has HW transcoding with the Intel integrated GPU that the NAS CPU has. I like it, but I've read online that the PVR functionality in Plex is not that great. For using tvheadend as a backend for Plex, LiveTVH.bundle and Antennas have gotten their last serious updates in 2018. However, there's a fork of tvhProxy in which seems to be maintained at the moment.

    I could run Kodi in a VM on my NAS and use either VDR or tvheadend as the backend. But I'm not sure how to actually get the picture from a Kodi instance to my TV. Maybe that would require an nVidia Shield, which costs about 220 euros and I would still need to run something else for the DVB tuner in the living room.

    Some ideas:

    • If I bought a Raspberry Pi 4 with 8 GB of RAM, a case for it and a Hauppauge WinTV dualHD USB tuner for it, that would cost about 210 euros. I'm guessing that would not use too much electricity. Then I could run Kodi and tvheadend on that. But it would only have two tuners, which should mostly be enough, though. USB tuners were not too realiable back in the day, but maybe it's better now?
    • If I bought a Hauppauge WinTV QuadHD for my old HTPC, I could run tvheadend or VDR on it, maybe even Kodi, but the system only has 2 GB of RAM ( ! ). That system would probably use more electricity, but I've used ACPI wakeup on it before and it would only need to be running when we actually need it.

    I used to be one of the maintainers for the Fedora VDR packages back in the golden days of VDR, so I'm not a total Linux or VDR newbie. I would probably run the yavdr ansible stuff on Ubuntu today, if I were to choose VDR.

    Any help or ideas? What are you using and what would the best option in your opinion?

  • Try your old HTPC.

    If it doesn't work, you can still try something else.

    Raspberry Pi 4 with 8 GB of RAM should also work, but has some challenges as client.

    Client1: ASUS P5QC, Dual Core 3G, Cine S2, Ext. Board von TBE, Xubuntu 20.04, VDR 2.6x

    Client2: RPI3

    Server: RPI4, Sundtek SkyTV Dual 2x

  • Hi,

    If RPi you should use a 3B instead of the not really working 4. As server the 4 is good, as I read, but as client not because of the lack of Hw codec support.

    You can use your GT610 and the FF-SD as tuner for it.

    For Kodi you dont need a shield. Just a Nvidia graphics card or new Intel GPU.

    TvH and VU+ users are not really in this forum btw.

    Regards Stefan

    Test-VDR1: HP rp5700 Fertigsystem, Core2Duo E6400, 2GB RAM, FF-SD C-2300, nvidia Slim-GT218 x1 | easyVDR 2.0 64Bit
    VDR3: in Rente

    VDR4: MSI G31M2 v2, Digitainer2-Geh., t6963c 6" gLCD, E5200, 2GB, 3TB WD Red, GT730, 2x TT S2-3200; easyVDR 3.5 64bit
    VDR5: Gigabyte
    GA-G31M-S2L, Intel E2140, Zotac GT730 passiv, Digitainer2-Geh., t6963c 6 " gLCD, 2 TB WD Red, 2x TT S2-3200 (an 1 Kabel) easyVDR 3.5 64bit
    Intel E5200, GT630 passiv, F1 750 GB, t6963c gLCD, 2x TT S2-3200 | easyVDR 3.5 64bit
    VDR-User #1068

  • If you don‘t need h265 (don‘t know what they are using in Finland) your Gt610-based machine is fully sufficient. Use vdr + softhddevice for TV and switch to Kodi from menu for other media playback. The FF card can be a little tricky. Do you receive all channels, also QAM256, without faults? Anyway, a Hauppauge WinTV dualHD is a good choice to add two tuners to the system. I am using two of them and they work more reliable than internal devices.
    If your HTPC doesn‘t have an SSD as boot disc already I strongly recommend to invest in this upgrade.

    VDR1: ACT-620, Asus P8B75-M LX, Intel Core i3-3240, 4 GB DDR3 RAM 1600 MHz, passive Geforce GT1030 von MSI, Sandisk 2TB SSD, 2xWinTV DualHD, Atric-IR-Einschalter. SW: Xubuntu 20.04 auf 64GB Sandisk SSD.

    VDR2: Odroid N2+ mit CoreELEC und Ubuntu in chroot, WinTV DualHD

    VDR3: Tanix TX3 mit CoreELEC und Ubuntu in chroot, WinTV DualHD

  • Thank you for the good answers! I was motivated by what you wrote and bought a new SSD for the old HTPC and installed Ubuntu 20.04 on it. I then added the yavdr ansible stuff. The VDR setup itself was quite easy, though I had to google how to get softhddevice to be the primary output. Then I hit some issues with NFS etc. which are not directly VDR-related. I spent about three evenings during the week to set this thing up. Pretty much everything works now, picture from VDPAU, acpi wakeup and such things.

    As per Dr. Seltsam recommendation I ordered a WinTV dualHD, as it's less than half the price of a quadHD and I think I would rarely need to record from three muxes at the same time. It hasn't arrived yet, ordering from a Danish store was about 25 euros cheaper than buying from a Finnish shop.

    I've seen some issues with a distorted picture with the FF card but in general it works quite well, also with QAM256. I'll be able to use it for testing until the dualHD arrives. We still have H264 for HD channels here in Finland and I have not heard anything about H265. So the old HTPC works quite well.

    Also, thank you Dr. Seltsam for the hint that you can switch from VDR to Kodi with yavdr. I did not know it's that easy. I might still test Kodi with TvH, that should be easy.

    I haven't yet figured out which remote to get, my old MCE remote is quite worn out. Also with whatever menu changes yavdr does, quite a lot of the texts are in English, which is not a real problem but having two languages in the menus is a bit irritating.

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