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 Use Utilite for Over The Air Television Reception in Ubuntu 
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Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:16 am
Posts: 351
Post Use Utilite for Over The Air Television Reception in Ubuntu

Over the Air (OTA) television reception has become less popular over time as newer technologies such as CATV, satellite television, and on-demand streaming have emerged. Although OTA TV doesn't offer the variety of content available using other systems, it does offer good video quality via the new digital standards. It also provides reliability in times of emergency such as severe weather. Plus, OTA TV does not have high network bandwidth requirements as does streaming.

The prevalent digital television standards by region are:

1. ATSC (North America)
2. DVB-T (Asia, Africa, Australia, and Europe)
3. DTMB (China)
4. ISDB-T (Central and South America)

Since I live in North America, this demonstration will focus on the ATSC standard.

Important Resource is the preeminent resource for implementing tv reception in Linux. I recommend starting there for any tv project.

Another good resource is Kernel Labs found here:


Relatively inexpensive USB digital television receivers are readily available for all of the standards. For this project, I am using the Hauppauge WinTV-HVR 850 which is based on the Xceive XC5000 tuner. This unit performs well and offers NTSC analog reception in addition to ATSC digital reception.

TVHardware.jpeg [ 22.25 KiB | Viewed 2385 times ]


A wide variety of Linux packages which support television reception are available. They vary greatly in complexity and features. The available software includes packages such as Kaffeine, MeTV, MythTV, VLC, VDR, and Xine. For a more complete list see:

I chose MeTV for this project because it is relatively uncomplicated and offers good features including channel tuning and video recording. You can easily install MeTV using the command line (sudo apt-get install me-tv) or your package manager.

Driver and Firmware Support

Linux provides good driver and firmware support for many receivers. Later kernels typically include what is needed. However, if your device is not supported natively, you will likely be able to find and install the required drivers and firmware. You can often find what you require here:

As an alternative, Kernel Labs has some of the needed firmware which is found here:

I installed the required receiver control frimware/library using the following command:

~$ sudo wget ... 1.6.114.fw -O /lib/firmware/dvb-fe-xc5000-1.6.114.fw

Verfying The Setup

Once you have installed the necessary drivers, firmware, and software, you should verify Utilite is properly recognizing your tv recevier.

1. Execute lsusb in the terminal

Look for your device.

utilite@utilite-desktop:~$ lsusb
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 002 Device 002: ID 0424:2514 Standard Microsystems Corp. USB 2.0 Hub
Bus 002 Device 003: ID 046d:c52b Logitech, Inc. Unifying Receiver
Bus 002 Device 005: ID 2040:7240 Hauppauge WinTV HVR-850

2. Execute lsmod

Look for the kernel modules which apply to your receiver.

utilite@utilite-desktop:~$ lsmod
Module Size Used by
snd_usb_audio 86005 1
snd_hwdep 4661 1 snd_usb_audio
snd_usbmidi_lib 23608 1 snd_usb_audio
snd_seq_midi 3863 0
snd_seq_midi_event 4698 1 snd_seq_midi
snd_seq 52264 2 snd_seq_midi,snd_seq_midi_event
snd_rawmidi 15388 2 snd_usbmidi_lib,snd_seq_midi
snd_seq_device 4479 3 snd_seq_midi,snd_seq,snd_rawmidi
tuner 12014 1
tea5767 5375 1 tuner
tda8290 12457 1 tuner
tda827x 8993 1 tda8290
tuner_xc2028 18330 1 tuner
tda9887 8329 1 tuner
tuner_simple 12804 1 tuner
tuner_types 7849 1 tuner_simple
mt20xx 14336 1 tuner
tea5761 3474 1 tuner
au0828 37698 117
dvb_core 83756 1 au0828
tda18271 49454 3 tuner,tda8290,au0828
mxl5007t 7828 1 au0828
xc5000 12082 2 tuner,au0828
videobuf_vmalloc 3909 1 au0828
tveeprom 11179 1 au0828
au8522 14755 2 au0828
fuse 60783 2
vivante 943 1
drm 155276 2 vivante
mwifiex_sdio 12220 0
mwifiex 112958 1 mwifiex_sdio
btmrvl_sdio 10257 0
btmrvl 10753 3 btmrvl_sdio
pwm_bl 2190 0
backlight 3519 1 pwm_bl
joydev 10432 0
ads7846 8880 0
igb 173451 0
nfsd 64373 0
exportfs 3142 1 nfsd

3. Look for the firmware

utilite@utilite-desktop:~$ sudo dir /lib/firmware
[sudo] password for utilite:
3.0.35-cm-fx6-6.3 hp sd8686.bin sd8688.bin vpu
dvb-fe-xc5000-1.6.114.fw mrvl sd8686_helper.bin sd8688_helper.bin

4. Make sure the receiver is available in the system

a. Check for digital (ATSC)

Use the command ~ $ sudo dir /dev - You are looking for the device video0

b. Check for analog (NTSC)

Use the command ~ $ sudo dir /dev/dvb - You are looking for adapter0

Launch the MeTV Software

1. Scan for Channels

ChannelScan.jpeg [ 202.47 KiB | Viewed 2385 times ]

2. Select a channel and watch tv

MeTV.png [ 182.32 KiB | Viewed 2385 times ]

Results and Conclusions

1. A good antenna is a must for OTA reception.

2. Utilite easily handles television reception and performs quite well.

Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:16 am
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