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Waiting for Xawtv 4 - DVB & mpeg2

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I got brave and updated my beloved gentoo's xorg from 6.8.2-rsomething to the modular 7.0 this morning. Among many others, I tested my gimp, openoffice, mozilla, and my games. Nothing seemed broken. In fact, things seemed just fine. ...Until I fired up my trusted xawtv-3.95. It had problems.

The problems it had was that my overlay was now broken. I could get video with grabdisplay, but it would drop frames. ...badly. If I started per commandline, it complained about not finding the framebuffer device and that v4l wasn't compiled with dga support. I'd seen these errors before and the usual (and even more creative) fixes didn't help. I was desperate enough to download the cvs snapshot of xawtv4 from February. This code is so new that they haven't even released an alpha for testing yet.

Compiling was easy of the snapshot, the only problem I had was errors with compiling for aalibs. So, I pulled the --enable-aa option and it compiled just fine after that. For those of you interested, I think the biggest draw of xawtv 4 is that it's primarily for digital decoders and it includes mpeg2 support. So, if you download the cvs snapshot and untar.gz it, you'll find no configure script. One must run the script first. Then you can run configure. Do a ./configure --help first and pick out the options you'd like, but for me I did a: ./configure --enable-alsa --enable-xvideo --enable-quicktime --enable-mpeg2 --enable-gl --enable-mmx

Upon starting xawtv4 I find that none of the stations in my ~/.xawtv file were being read. Right clicking on the tv screen opened a nice new configuration screen. All the usual options are still there, (except overlay/grapdisplay), it's just more graphical. It will automagically scan your channels for you, but if you have cable in a big city, the next step can be time consuming. It won't just save the list it finds. You must click Edit > Add Stations and input some info and save each one. What a drag!


I kept looking and noticing my ~/.xawtv wasn't being updated or overwritten, but if I saved a few stations, closed xawtv, and reopened it - they were saved. I knew this joker was saving those files somewhere. Indeed it was. Xawtv 4 now uses a ~/.tv directory with an "options" file and a "stations" file. My options were pretty much in place the way I picked them from the gui configuration, and my 3 stations were in the stations file. Upon closer inspection one finds that it is still the same format as the old .xawtv file with the exception of the missing options at the top. Lazy me copies my ~/.xawtv to ~/.tv/stations and edits it to take out the options at the top. Yes! All my stations are now showing up in the new xawtv 4 without having to setup 100 of 'em manually. They are gonna have to add a way to save the scan before this takes off.

One of the things missing is changing channels with my mouse wheel. Perhaps there is a compile option I missed or a start-time option to explore, but the keyboard spacebar advances the stations and backspace decreases the stations. A isn't mute anymore, the keypad enter is. Fortunately F is still fullscreen. A left mouse click still brings up the list of stations to choose from. And of course you can do any of this from their new gui.


The xawtv4 gui still may not be quite as fancy as some of the other tv applications graphical tools, but at least xawtv works. I don't know how your experiences have gone, but I've never had any luck with any of those other tv apps. If they even work, then they eat up cpu cycles and leak memory. Xawtv is the only tv app for me and has been for over 5 years now.


Bearing in mind this is a cvs snapshot, I still have to say this application is rock solid so far. It opens without issue and tunes my tv card without complaints. Changing channels is faster than before and the osd presents in much prettier fonts. I experienced no noticeable cpu or memory usage and other running applications weren't effected. No dropped frames!!! I was fixed up. The author claims support for analogue isn't implemented as well in version 4 as version 3, but if this is a pre-alpha - I can't wait for the beta!


New features and major changes:

  • MPEG2 software decoding.
  • Support for DVB cards, including budget cards.
  • Reworked configuration framework.

Dropped features:

  • Overlay without Xvideo extention.
  • Switching display resolution.

*xawtv homepage*

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