8 reviews


Released January, 2009

Product Shot 1 The Pros:Free, open-source alternative to TiVO. Support for multiple simultaneous TV tuners. Live TV functionality. pause/rewind/fast forward live TV.

The Cons:Complicated setup geared towards more techie people. Difficult working with digital broadcasts and HDTV. Doesn't interact with digital cable/satellite directly but instead requires an IR blaster.

MythTV is an open-source digital video recorder and media streamer software for Linux and Mac OS X. It is most often used in PCs as a free alternative to the popular TiVo service. It also has many of the network media streaming capabilities in Xbox Media Center.

Product Shot 2 MythTV has almost all PVR functionality found with TiVo, including "Live TV" that allows you to pause, rewind, and fast forward live TV. It supports multiple TV tuners for multiple simultaneous recordings. Video is compressed using rtjpeg (from Nuppelvideo) or mpeg4 (from libavcodec). It is available as a free download, and is very often bundled with an Linux-based operating system for easy setup. One of the more popular MythTV bundles is Mythbuntu, a combination of MythTV and the popular Linux distro Ubuntu. The current release is version 0.21 released on March 8th, 2008.


  • Supports ATSC, QAM, and DVB high-definition television.
  • Pause, skip, and rewind live TV shows.
  • Intelligently schedules recordings to avoid conflicts.
  • Interfaces with free TV listing sources such as XMLTV or PSIP.
  • Interfaces with subscription listings service Schedules Direct in the United States and Canada.
  • Schedule and administer various system functions using a web browser-based interface.
  • A backend server and frontend client architecture, allowing multiple frontend client machines to be remotely served content from one or more backend servers. A single computer can perform as both the frontend client and the backend server.
  • Analyzes recorded shows for optional commercial skipping
  • Plays recordings at an accelerated or decelerated rate, adjusting the audio pitch as necessary.
  • Controls a decoder/STB using an infrared remote (Irblaster)
  • Web interface for setting up recordings remotely
  • Customizable, skinnable menu


MythTV should be installed on a PC (or Mac) with a compatible video tuner card. MythTV continues to support more tuner cards as they are released, but it currently supports Hauppauge WinTV-PVR 150/250/350/500 series of tuner cards. The combination of PC + MythTV now can be used as a HTPC. The tuner card can be hooked up to your (1) analog OTA or cable directly, or (2) can be connected to your cable or satellite set-top box which can then be controlled using an IR blaster connected to the HTPC. The MythTV interface has an EPG (powered by XMLTV) that should be configured to your TV programming setup. A unique feature to MythTV is its distributed architecture allowing for multiple recording machines and multiple playback machines on the same network for a transparent experience to the user. For example, you could have MythTV connected to your digital cable in the living room, and have a second MythTV box in your bedroom that connects seamlessly to the digital cable and access the recorded shows remotely.

User Reviews (9)

Add Pros & Cons
  • 6

    Free, open-source alternative to TiVO

  • 6

    Support for multiple simultaneous TV tuners

  • 6

    Live TV functionality. pause/rewind/fast forward live TV

  • 6

    Commercial detection/skipping

  • 6

    Web-based interface for remote recording

  • 6

    Customizable menus

  • 6

    Built-in DVD importer for "backing up" DVDs

  • 6

    Includes many other apps including weather, web-browser, gallery, music player

  • 4

    Web-powered electronic program guide

  • 4

    Control your set-top box with an IR blaster

  • 4

    Distributed architecture supporting multiple clients and multiple servers for a more advanced setup

  • 3

    HDTV support

  • 4

    Complicated setup geared towards more techie people

  • 2

    Difficult working with digital broadcasts and HDTV

  • 2

    Doesn't interact with digital cable/satellite directly but instead requires an IR blaster

Comments (5)

What's on your mind? See more ProductWiki Talk
rabidpotatochip: #mythtv I have to throw one more comment in here. In some cases it is possible for a MythTV system to interact directly with a satellite/cable set top box via a serial port, but it's rare that there is one and even rarer that it accepts input. However, if you are one of the lucky few that has this functionality you'll save a lot of headaches configuring your channel change script. Jun 7, 08
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rabidpotatochip: #mythtv I run a MythTV system in my living room; it's been in use since about February. You can record to any shared drive on your network (it's good to have Samba installed) and you can record over-the-air transmissions without problems, but you'll still need a tuner card.

My favorite part of the setup is the automatic commercial skip; you don't even have time to blink before the show starts again. It's not perfect, but I can confidently say at least 90% of the commercials are detected. I also use the web interface a lot. If I hear about a show at work I SSH into my mythbox and find it in the guide.

The only problem I ran into is that serial IR blasters don't work with version 7.10 of Ubuntu. May 30, 08
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shavenwarthog: #mythtv Just installed MythTV (actually Mythbuntu) last night on a spare laptop. It's quite incredible how easy it was to navigate around and do stuff. To insert a DVD and be prompted "Rip this? It'll take 20 minutes" was awesome.

But, I'd stay it's firmly in the "geek" camp at the moment. The "import MP3 collection" feature was pretty bad. May 21, 08
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dialupinternetuser: #mythtv Can I use MythTV as a PVR for over-the-air transmissions? I don't have cable/satellite. I like how the MythTV can be used as a second cable box if you already have one, I definitely have a few of these if I had cable. I'd really like to create one, but will probably have to make that home server first. I assume MythTV can record on to a networked server, not just an HTPC's hard drive? May 5, 08
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Erik: #mythtv

I've never had a MythTV setup, but from doing all the research it seems to be a pretty powerful platform. The real test is could it supplant my current commercial HD-PVR setup from Rogers Canada. If anyone has any links to any amazing MythTV setups, please post them.

May 5, 08
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