DEBIAN Configuring VDR

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It is assumed that you have already installed a Debian VDR package either from the standard repositories, or by compiling a source package yourself.

Warning
Warning
  • Before continuing, please read the following documents carefully:
richard@vito:~$ less /usr/share/doc/vdr/README
richard@vito:~$ less /usr/share/doc/vdr/README.Debian.gz
richard@vito:~$ less /usr/share/doc/vdr/INSTALL.gz

Also read, and have open the two VDR man pages:

richard@vito:~$ man vdr
richard@vito:~$ man 5 vdr


Having read all of those, you are now ready to continue:

  • Try running vdr. The default Video directory is not writable by my user so while we are testing vdr we ask it to use /tmp for video files. You may see a message "please turn off UTF-8 before starting VDR". If so try defining the LANG environment variable:
richard@vito:~$ LANG=c vdr -v /tmp
vdr: error while reading '/var/lib/vdr/channels.conf'

You may see this error (at least I did) and it means that the channels.conf file is somehow corrupt. You need to update the channels.conf anyway; it must be tailored to your DVB type (ie DVB-C, DVB-S, DVB-T) and if you are using DVB-T the frequencies depend on your local transmitter. To make a channels.conf use the 'scan' commandline tool, which is part of the dvb-utils package. In my case (DVB-T in the Midlands, UK). In my case I use:

richard@vito:~$ scan -o vdr /usr/share/doc/dvb-utils/examples/scan/dvb-t/uk-SuttonColdfield > /tmp/channels.conf
richard@vito:~$ sudo mv /tmp/channels.conf ./

...replace dvb-t/uk-SuttonColdfield with whatever is appropriate for your area.


Having done that, you should be able to run vdr from the command line.

richard@vito:~$ LANG="c" vdr -v /tmp
vdr: no primary device found - using first device!

...well it runs, but if you're using a budget card, it has no way of displaying the picture.

Before moving on, and now that we know that vdr is able to run, lets set it up to run as a service at startup. Open /etc/default/vdr in your editor of choice and add 'export LANG="c"' at the top and set ENABLED=1. Mine looks like this:

richard@vito:~$ sudo nano -w /etc/default/vdr
# /etc/default/vdr
#
# See also /usr/share/doc/README.Debian
#

export LANG="c"

# Change to 1 to enable vdr's init-script
ENABLED=1

# Change this to 1 if you want vdr to be able to shutdown the
# computer
ENABLE_SHUTDOWN=0

# Options that will be passed to vdr's commandline
# for example: OPTIONS="-w 15"
OPTIONS="-w 60"

VIDEO_DIR="/srv/vdr"

If you choose to use a different video directory than the one recommended at installation, you'll have to create it and change its owner to vdr:vdr.

richard@vito:~/src/debian-vdr/build-area$ sudo mkdir -p /srv/vdr
richard@vito:~/src/debian-vdr/build-area$ sudo chown -R vdr:vdr /srv/vdr

Now try starting the service...

richard@vito:~$ sudo invoke-rc.d vdr start Starting Linux Video Disk Recorder: vdr
Searching for plugins (VDR 1.4.1/1.4.1):.

Use the 'ps' command to check it's running and look at the syslog to see if there were any errors...

richard@vito:~$ ps fax | tail | less -S
 8563 ?        Ss     0:00 /bin/bash /usr/sbin/runvdr -v /srv/vdr -c /var/lib/vd
 8574 ?        S      0:00  \_ /usr/bin/vdr-kbd -v /srv/vdr -c /var/lib/vdr -L /
 8575 ?        S      0:00      \_ /usr/bin/vdr-kbd -v /srv/vdr -c /var/lib/vdr
 8578 ?        S      0:02          \_ /usr/bin/vdr-kbd -v /srv/vdr -c /var/lib/
 8579 ?        RN     0:02          \_ /usr/bin/vdr-kbd -v /srv/vdr -c /var/lib/
richard@vito:~$ tail /var/log/syslog | less -S
Jul 19 16:10:34 vito vdr: [8739] found 1 video device
Jul 19 16:10:34 vito vdr: [8739] ERROR: invalid primary device number: 2
Jul 19 16:10:34 vito vdr: [8739] ERROR: no primary device found - using first de
Jul 19 16:10:34 vito vdr: [8739] setting primary device to 1
Jul 19 16:10:34 vito vdr: [8739] SVDRP listening on port 2001
Jul 19 16:10:34 vito vdr: [8739] setting current skin to "classic"
Jul 19 16:10:34 vito vdr: [8739] loading /var/lib/vdr/themes/classic-default.the
Jul 19 16:10:34 vito vdr: [8739] switching to channel 19
Jul 19 16:10:34 vito vdr: [8739] setting watchdog timer to 60 seconds
Jul 19 16:10:34 vito vdr: [8739] ERROR: no OSD provider available - using dummy
(END)

There are some errors reported but nothing fatal.

From the 'ps' output you can see that the vdr daemon is being launched from another script called 'runvdr'. Amongst other things, runvdr:

  • searches for configuration data from /etc/default/vdr.
  • searches for VDR plugins and related config data from /etc/vdr/plugins.
  • periodically checks that the vdr daemon is still running and tries to restart it if it has crashed.
  • tries to load necessary DVB kernel modules.

If there is a problem with VDR running as a service, you will notice repeated entries in the syslog that say "restarting VDR". In this case double check that vdr will run directly from the command line and check that it will run as the "vdr" user by passing the -u vdr commandline option.

richard@vito:~$ sudo su
root@vito:/home/richard# LANG="c" vdr -v /srv/vdr -u vdr

...note, you must be logged in as root for it to be able to switch to the vdr user.

TODO: more debugging tips.

Configuring VDR Plugins on Debian

  • First read the README files.
richard@vito:~$ less /usr/share/doc/vdr-plugin-*/README

All the information you need to configure the plugin is usually in that README and in the configuration files.

Debian VDR Plugin configurations live in /etc/vdr/plugins. For example:

richard@vito:~$ sudo nano -w /etc/vdr/plugins/plugin.xineliboutput.conf

For general information on installing and configuring this plugin see Xineliboutput-plugin.