Replacing SageTV

So in the light of the fact that SageTV has been bought by Google, and essentially dropped from the map…I decided it is time to start restructuring our home media system to make it clean and more stable than it previously was.

The previous setup was a Windows Home Server setup running SageTV with 2GB of RAM and 4 1TB hard disks and a 250GB disk for the OS.  The 1TB disks were not raided however they did make use of the Windows Drive Extender which let you basically duplicate files to multiple drives for redundancy (something close to raid-1, but debatable).

We also had two set-top boxes that connected directly to Sage capable of playing all of our live tv, recorded tv, as well as all of our videos, music, and photos that were stored on the server (in just about every format from iso to dvd rips to xvid).

So for the new system, I needed something comparable, capable of storing precious photos, documents, videos, as well as interfacing with my HD-PVR for capturing our TV.

After searching the net, my best choice at this point appears to be MythTV.  So I have dug into that.

As of this point, I have setup a backend MythTV server using Ubuntu and loading the mythtv packages on to that.  That backend is the same hardware server now running software raid-10.  It seems to be fairly stable at this point.

I have been able to get my HD-PVR recording from our Dish Network receiver as well as using the ir blaster to successfully change the channels as needed (using lirc).

I have also gotten two replacement “set-top” boxes running.  One is a spare small form factor pc that I had spare (nothing special, core 2 duo 2.0ghz with 2gb ram, onboard intel video).  The other I just picked up at Fry’s a few weeks back.  It is an Acer Aspire Revo AR3700 (http://www.frys.com/product/6440722).  Intel Atom D525 1.8GHz with 2GB ram, but the key feature is the onboard Nvidia ION chipset.  With Linux there is now a VDPAU driver that lets you flawlessly stream full HD content using the onboard ION chip and it requires little to no processing power from the atom proc onboard.

Both of these frontends are running Mythbuntu, and so far perform rather flawlessly.  Both are using Windows Media Center-compatible remotes and Ir receivers.  The only issue that has to be solved with those yet is the fact that they can’t be shutdown or woken up with just the power button of the remote.  I have done some reading and research but haven’t figured out how to get that quite working yet.

Overall, it has been running pretty smoothly and a few issues we had with channel changing getting frozen aren’t seeming to happen anymore.

More to come.

2 comments

  1. So it’s been quite some time since this undertaking, what is the final verdict. I myself am looking into a SageTV alternative now that I am starting to have some issues with my setup. It’s lasted a long time but the time has come.

    Good thing now is there are a whole ton of minPC platforms out there that Mythbuntu can be run on while I run a Windows Backend. Looking at the Zotac offerings for the frontends, I only need two.

    1. Apologies for the delay in this….I am sure you have moved on, but here is my thoughts anyways….

      We used MythTV for a while, and it worked ok. Was never entirely happy with it for quite a few different reasons.

      Recently I have been on a kick to simplify and consolidate. As part of that I have slimmed down to only running a Synology DS1813+ and then a tower server loaded with ESXi. I then purchased a Simple.TV device that I am hoping to receive on Monday. I will have more to review on that when I unbox it, but it looks promising in that it will allow me to use simple media players like Roku’s or such where we want access to TV and then with the Synology apps and the ability to run Plex on it, we have access to all stored content as well.

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