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A Linux PVR?

My wife and I were discussing missing 10pm shows the other night (mostly because that’s the “new bedtime” for my son on weeknights now). The 10pm shows are the “better” shows, but they aren’t worth setting up the VCR to tape. We discussed personal video records like Tivo at one time, but the big sticking point is the monthly fees. Knowing full well that Tivo and ReplayTV are Linux-based boxes, I had to believe someone out there had written an open-source PVR software package. I found two: Freevo and MythTV.

Aside from these software packages, I would need:

  • A TV tuner-type card, preferably with MPEG-2 hardware. The best one that can be used in the open-source PVRs seems to be the WinTV-PVR-350, though at $199, it’s a little steep. The alternative is a cheaper tuner with a beefier CPU processor, so it might be worth the dough for the nice card.
  • A motherboard with a semi-decent CPU, video, network, audio, etc. If I go with the Hauppauge card, then the CPU requirements are much lower. I’ve got a couple of Mini-ITX motherboards that would be perfect for this. Problem solved.
  • A bookshelf-sized case with infrared ports on the front. This might be a harder one to do…
  • A new hard drive. Costco had 160gb drives for about $130. They’re getting really cheap, though I might have to worry about the physical size of the drive if I go with a Mini-ITX motherboard…
The question is: is it worth the time/energy to build one versus buy one?

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