6 Oct 2005 bwh   » (Master)

MythTV Saga...

Hit a bit of a hitch with mythtv... Since I got the hardware a couple weeks back I've been working off and on to set it up. Got the hardware all put together, drives partitioned, and this weekend got the mythtv software installed. So far so good...

However for some reason the pvr250 isn't quite working; it only displays static. You can change channels and such, and it *is* able to get one channel tuned in (just the Hallmark channel, unfortunately). My guess is that it's some sort of kernel setting. Kees even came over and looked at it yesterday and he couldn't figure it out either. Looks like it'll take some research...

Anyway, this reinforces my feeling that hardware drivers in Linux need better testing. One of the reasons we picked the pvr250 was because of all the mythtv cards, it's far and away the most common; in theory, that should have enable us to entirely avoid these incompatibilities.

Having said that, I suspect the issue is going to turn out not to be a lack of kernel support for the card, but rather the need to know exactly which options to pass in for the module. Or maybe I just need to manually upgrade the knoppmyth kernel... In either case, this is serving as a pretty clear example of the hardware driver usability problem that people are always complaining about. I do think that open drivers are very important, and I've no problem rebuilding kernels and such (I do so pretty much every day), but for your average user who probably doesn't even know what a "kernel" *is*, this is asking a lot.

This is what I want to be able to do:

 0.  Plug all the hardware together, including my new wizbang doohicky card
 1.  Power it on
 2.  Boot my desired Linux distro installation CD
 3.  Notice that dohicky card ain't working.  Drat!
 4.  Pull out my trusty dusty "Distributed Driver Test Farm" CD and put it in the machine and reboot it
 5.  After going through startup, it asks me some questions.  I answer them, then go to bed
 6.  The next day, I receive an email that the card has been tested
     and verified to work in kernels starting with $version
 7.  I go back to step #2, this time knowing that I can upgrade the kernel and everything will now work
 8.  Profit!

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