Originally Published: Monday, 18 June 2001 Author: Dave Madeley
Published to: develop_articles/Development Articles Page: 1/4 - [Printable]

Using Your Brooktree Chipset TV Card in Linux

This week Linux.com contributor Dave Madeley looks at what it takes to watch TV on your Linux box equipped with a TV capture card. We take a look at kernel compilation, video devices and configuration. Finally Dave takes a look at some applications you can use to watch TV, listen to the radio or even check out Teletext.

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The Brooktree chipsets TV cards (BT848 and BT787) are fully supported under Linux using the bttv drivers. Many popular TV cards are supported under bttv including: Lifeview Flyvideo cards, Hauppauge cards, Micro Cards and any other Brooktree based cards. In this article we'll take a look at what it takes to turn your Linux box into a fully functional television. My Linux distribution is RedHat 6.1 running on a P200MMX with a Lifeview FlyVideo 98FM

The bttv driver can be downloaded as compile-able modules from http://bytesex.org/bttv/. These can be plugged into any kernel (I originally tried with the 2.2.12-20 and 2.3.3 kernels). You could go that route too, but it is not the easy way to go. Due to new kernel features (such as the I2C interface) it is much easier to download the latest kernel and that way everything is compatible. Currently the latest kernel is 2.4.4 that can be downloaded (if you haven't got it already) from the Kernel Archives. You will also require the new modutils-2.4.4, also available at the archive.

If you are new to compiling kernel source then you might check out the Kernel HOWTO. If you're fairly confident then the README and the included documentation should be sufficient. When configuring the options for your kernel the following are required in order for your TV card to work (it is easier in the long run to compile these as modules, therefore make sure you include modular code support and the kernel auto loader).

Ensure these options are compiled as modules (m):

  • I2C Core
  • I2C Devices
  • I2C Algorithms (this should be all I2C items)
  • Video4Linux (v4l) API driver
  • Bttv drivers (this includes all the required modules for TV, radio and teletext)
  • Bttv mixer device (from the sound section)

Compile your kernel, the modules and install the lot ready for booting. If you upgraded from an earlier kernel and were told to rename conf.modules to modules.conf then do so. After doing this you will have to edit your SysV scripts:

# kwrite /etc/rc.d/rc.sysinit

Find the lines referring to any modules that are loaded on boot (usually sound and midi) and change all references to conf.modules to modules.conf. Reboot your machine.

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