Friday, July 20, 2007

upgrading to Mythdora from Fedora Core 4

My Linux installation was not aging gracefully. I had installed Fedora Core 4 a couple years ago, and had intermittently added packages as needed to keep current compiled versions of MythTV running; if just barely. For instance, the DVD player didn't know what to do with DTS tracks, there was no overlay interface on playback (although this might be because I had a bad OSD theme selected). I wanted to try the new tickless kernel to see if it helped with using less energy and making less noise, but nobody is keeping the yum database up to date for Core 4 and a yum updage did nothing. So time to upgrade.

The Myth(TV)ology page recommends installing the Mythdora specialized distribution. This is Fedora Core 6 with pre-installed MythTV all on a DVD image. Also, I wanted to take the opportunity to bump up my boot disks capacity a bit, and also not destroy my initial installation, so I ordered a 400 GB from Frys.

Before I did anything, I backed up my MythTV database via:
$ mysqldump -u mythtv -pmythtv mythconverg -c > mythtv_backup.sql

I have a fairly uncommon configuration in that my master PATA (hda) drive is a Windows XP boot volume, while the slave (hdb) is my Linux disk. I replaced my hdb drive with the new 400GB drive, and booted off the Mythdora DVD. Now, I had to be very careful not to wipe out my XP installation; choosing to install on the hdb drive, and using the boot installer advanced options to install a boot installer on hdb. Experience told me that installing a boot installer on the XP disk would be bad. Then after installing Mythdora, I had to boot off a Knoppix LiveCD, and in the terminal make a copy of the first 512 bytes of the hdb1 volume:
dd if=/dev/hdb1 of=mydora_bs.bin bs=512 count=1
I mailed the resulting file to myself via a webmail account. I booted into Windows XP and followed the instructions for editing the boot.ini file to make my Linux installation an option for the Windows boot manager.

At this point, I could boot into Linux. I put my old Linux boot hard drive into a Firewire case, and attached it the computer, allowing me to recover the old database via:
$mysql -u mythtv -pmythtv mythconverg < mythtv_backup.sql
and to copy the contents of my recordings folder, the contents of my .mythtv folder, and anything else onto the new disk. My old recordings had been in a /video volume, but mythdora had created a /storage volume, so I created a symbolic link to point /video into the new partition.

After doing this, the overlay display disappeared, which caused me to discover that I had been using an invalid OSD theme (who names these things?) which came back after setting it to a valid theme, it took me a while to find the proper audio device settings to allow TOSLink pass through on my Chaintech AV-710 audio card (it's /dev/adsp), and of course there is always the nonsense in dealing with my complicated xorg.conf file.

And now I've upgraded, and everything seems to be working OK. I can play DVDs with DTS tracks. I have my overlay display. I'm getting used to Gnome instead of KDE.

Oh, and the energy use has not improved. If anything, it's using a few more Watts. Still worth the upgrade.