by March 10, 2007 0 comments

Last week I bought a new PC. It was a Pentium-D 2.80GHz with 1GB of RAM,
256MB Dedicated NVIDIA Geforce GPU and a Pinnacle PCTV Stereo tuner card. I
bought the PC for two specific reasons. One, my old PC was not able to support
Vista with its full glory (Aero theme and all). And two, I was planning to build
a Media Center for my home.

So, my primary plan was to get a decent machine and install Vista Ultimate,
which comes bundled with Media Center; and then attach my pre-existing TV and
the DTH box to the computer. After spending a good amount of time searching
various shops, I got a couple of 15 mtr long A/V cables to connect my PC to the
TV and DTH box.

Anindya Roy
Issue Editor for this month

I fixed all hardware in an hour or so and started installing Vista. This took
another hour. When the OS loaded for the first time, it detected all the
hardware in minutes. It very swiftly detected the Pinnacle PCTV Tuner card and
installed its driver. With everything else done, all I needed was to connect my
TV and DTH box to the PC and fire up the Media Center. But the moment I asked
Media Center to scan for TV channels, an error message popped up. It said there
was no tuner card installed on my PC. This was quite bemusing as Vista had
earlier detected the Tuner device in minutes. I tried a couple of simple tricks
to get Media Center to detect my Tuner card. I even tried to install the driver
from the CD that came along with the card. But that was not a feasible option as
the driver was meant for Windows XP and can’t run on Vista. I got very
disheartened and searched Google for some answers. After some search I was
directed to the Pinnacles website which said that Vista Media Center support for
my tuner would be available only next month.

So, suddenly I found that my Media Center dream just got shattered. But I was
so desperate that I searched for a copy of Windows XP Media Center in my MSDN
subscription and installed it on my PC as a dual boot with Vista. I also
installed all drivers and patches available for my Tuner card to run with
Windows XP Media Center. This time my Media Center detected the tuner card. But
know what? When I searched for channels, it gave an error-not able to decrypt
data. This made me completely frustrated as it seemed that my investment on
hardware had gone for a toss. And I cursed myself for not checking the tuner
card for Vista support.

But an idea struck me. In the office I saw my colleague Sanjay building a
Media Center on PCQLinux 2007 with MythTV. I asked him whether it will support
my Pinnacle Tuner card.He told me,’Not Sure, but you can try.’ I found that
there are around 50 text-based commands you have to run to make MythTV work. I
doubted whether it will detect my Tuner Card or not. I thought that even if it
detects my card, it will at least ask me for a Kernel recompile or something
like that.

I went ahead and installed PCQ Linux 2007 on my new PC. It took me around
thrice the time it took to install Vista. Simply because PCQLinux 2007 installs
12GB of content on your machine. But I waited. After the installation was over,
my machine had a triple boot with Windows Vista, XP Media Center and PCQLinux
2007. I booted PCQLinux and started a small tool called TvTime to check whether
it had detected my card or not. I started it and changed the Input Preference to
Composite and Wow! The TV show started. Forget about Kernel compile, it did the
whole thing automatically! I was so surprised! Then I quickly ran all the
required set of commands to make MythTV work. It took me around 20 more minutes
and MythTV was up and running with all the cool features such as Play Pause Live
TV, recording, RSS Feeds, News, Weather Forecast, Photo Browser, Media Library,
etc. Now I have three Oses running on my PC.Vista, XP Media Center and PCQ Linux
2007. Down the line sometime I will uninstall XP Media Center. I can’t do this
with Vista ‘coz it has some very good features and I still hope that someday my
Tuner Card will be detected by Vista Media Center as well. But of course, PCQ
Linux 2007 will always be there in my machine and I am going to use it as my
Media Center.

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