MythTV Reloaded – Day 1

Earlier this summer my MythTV server died.  After spending a bit of time getting the basics back up and running I’ve decided that it was time to also get things up to date again.  Thus far my plans have been limited to only software upgrades but I may do some hardware upgrading along the way as well.  With this in mind, I have decided to do a series of blogs detailing my plans for the upgrade as well as progress made and bumps that I’ve hit along the way.

This first entry will describe my current setup as well as my migration plan.  Some of this has already been accomplished but I want to get it all written down.  So here goes.

First, let’s get an idea of my MythTV setup.  To start with, I had an AMD Athlon X2 based system running the MythTV server.  This system ran on a motherboard with onboard Nvidia 6100 graphics and included two Hauppauge PVR-150 and one PVR-350 analog tuners and one Dvico FusionHDTV 5 RT Lite HD tuner.  This system had two 1.5TB hard drives for recording shows on, three 400GB drives in a RAID5 configuration for holding home movies and pictures (never actually used, but that was the purpose), and a 10GB drive for the OS.  This is the system that died earlier this summer.  All of this hardware except for the motherboard and processor were transferred into my development system that will be described next.  This system is running Fedora Core 7.

Next up is my MythTV development system.  This system is running an MSI Nvidia-based 6150 motherboard and an AMD Athlon X2 CPU.  As noted previously, most of the hardware from the old server were transferred here with the following exceptions.  Since this motherboard has only two PCI slots, the two PVR-150s were swapped out for a PVR-500.  Also, I left off the 400GB drives for now since they were not used.  Expect a short article describing the hoops that I jumped through to get the system to boot without those drives… :/  This system is running Fedora 14 at the moment but changes often.

Next up is my primary MythTV frontend.  This system is running on an AMD-based 780G motherboard from Gigabyte.  It’s currently hooked up via HDMI at the PC to DVI at the TV and audio is coming from the optical jack to my receiver.  This system is running Mythbuntu 8.04.

Finally, we also have two Intel-based Dell laptops running Windows 7.  These connect to the MythTV server via Mythtv Player.

All of the setups listed above are running MythTV 0.21.  Since everything has been running stably for so long, I have not wanted to touch anything.  All of my past experiences doing upgrades have resulted in at least a day or two of downtime before things are running properly again.  This time around I want to avoid this so I’ve got a plan.  Over the course of a few days/weeks I plan to upgrade all of these systems.  The basic idea is to take one system at a time offline for upgrades, but since it is all software only I will just unplug the old hard drive, plug in a new hard drive and then upgrade it.  That way, I can plug in the old hard drive in each system until all of the systems have been upgraded and do the final change over in one fell swoop.

The plan this time around is to use CentOS 6 on all of the systems.  I’ve decided to go with CentOS because major versions of CentOS do not come out often.  In the past I have used Fedora, but a new version comes out every few months.  Since the repository that I use to get my MythTV install from only supports the current version of the OS as well as the most recent and the next one in development this basically means that I’m forced to upgrade my systems every time a new release comes out or else I will not be able to upgrade MythTV ever again.  That is how I got stuck with MythTV 0.21 on Fedora Core 7.  The current version of Fedora is 16 at the time of this writing.  I would have had to step through 9 versions of Fedora in order to keep my current setup going.  That is just asking for trouble.  Would anyone seriously consider taking a Windows 95 installation and use only upgrades to get to Windows 7?  I wouldn’t.  There comes a point in time to cut the cord and start fresh.

As I was saying, I decided this time to go with CentOS.  CentOS is currently at version 6 and tends to put out upgrades every couple of years.  I could probably go 5 years without having to worry about an upgrade this time.  This should work for me because past experience has taught me that I do not upgrade my hardware all that often and that is the major reason I see to need the latest and greatest.  As long as my current setup does everything that I need I’m happy.  I can still do upgrades to MythTV whenever new code comes out.

So there you have it.  That’s my current setup and how I plan to upgrade it.  We’ll see how well it works out for me as I go though it.  Remember, the goal is to keep WAF up so I’m trying to get it done with no major interruptions.  Check back often and feel free to leave a comment in the forum if you have any suggestions for me.