We like to think of MythTV as the ultimate Digital Video Recorder and home media center hub. Think of it as a Free and Open Source alternative to Tivo and Windows Media Center. It started out in 2002 as a way for Isaac Richards to produce a better TV-viewing environment than his cable company’s digital cable box could provide, and through the help of the open source community quickly grew into a powerful tool for watching and recording television. With its plugin architecture, it has been transformed from a mere TV viewing application into a full home media center suite, capable of managing your personal photo, video, and music collections, as well as keep you up to date with the weather, a ZoneMinder home security system, and much, much more.
- Watch and record analog and/or digital TV, including HDTV.
- Pause, skip, and rewind live TV shows.
- Completely automatic commercial detection/skipping, with manual correction via an intuitive cutlist editor.
- Intelligently schedules recordings to avoid conflicts.
- Parental controls to keep your kids out of the good shows.
- Watch and archive DVDs.
- Listen to your digital music collection.
- Schedule and administer many functions remotely via a web browser.
- Flexible client/server architecture allows multiple frontend client machines to access content served by one or more backend servers (although the most common installation consists of a single computer running both the client and server together).
- Many more…
Though MythTV was initially written to run only on the Linux operating system, BSD and MacOS X are also well supported, and it has recently become possible to build a version that can run on Microsoft Windows. We are constantly working to bring MythTV to as many users as possible, regardless of your preferred operating system.
The backend server application runs the core “behind the scenes” functionality for MythTV. The bulk of this is taken up by scheduling and recording your TV shows, but also includes keeping your TV listings up to date, managing the database, and performing routine maintenance on any files generated in the recording process. Backend servers are also responsible for streaming recording files to any remote frontends that do not have direct access to them.Having a separate backend application allows ambitious users to split their MythTV setup between different locations best suited to each task. For instance, a powerful (i.e. large and noisy) server to host recording files and hardware, hidden away in a closet, and a minimal (i.e. small and quiet) frontend machine kept next to the TV.
The frontend client is the human interface to MythTV. This is where you watch TV, listen to music, etc. Each frontend communicates with one or more backend servers in order to determine which recorded shows are available to be watched, or which TV tuners are available to watch live TV.In addition to this, the frontend also provides access to system status, the TV listings guide (so you can schedule new recordings), upcoming shows that will be recorded, and much more. If you install plugins like MythMusic and MythVideo (so you can watch a DVD or listen to music), you will also see these listed in the frontend. As you can see from the table of contents for this guide, there are many plugins to choose from.
MythTV is maintained by Isaac Richards, who maintains loose leadership and guidance over the dozens of other developers who each work on one or more pieces that make up the software suite.