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Install and Configure VDR on Ubuntu

This article contains tips and advice for setting up VDR and plugins on Ubuntu. Ubuntu releases are based on snapshots of Debian Unstable; therefore the following may be of use to Debian users too. Indeed, later in this article we show how to compile bleading edge versions of the VDR packages from the Debian VDR and DVB Packaging Project.

Installing from Binary Packages

VDR has been available in the Ubuntu Universe repository since Warty.

This article assumes that you have installed Ubuntu Dapper and have installed and confirmed to be working a Linux compatible DVB device.

Before you can install VDR packages, you must first add the Universe repository to your Apt sources list. Now you can use Aptitude or Synaptic to search for available vdr packages.

Installing from Debian Package Sources

  • You will need to install svn-buildpackage, which lives in the Ubuntu Universe repository, so if you haven't already done so, add Universe to your sources.lst
  • Continue to DEBIAN_Compiling_VDR_Source_Packages

Configuring VDR

Install and Configure VDR Plugins on Ubuntu

If you have chosen to compile packages from source (as described above) you may now want to compile some of the plugin packages in the same way. You will already have checked out all the original tarballs, so all that remains is to checkout the debian build scripts for each plugin that you are interested, compile with svn-buildpackage and install with dpkg.

You can see which plugins are available for compiling by listing the tarball folder or by browsing the websvn interface.

Having installed the plugin package you can configure it according to the generic information available in the README files in /usr/share/doc/vdr-plugin-* or elsewhere on this wiki.

I will give details of compiling the Xineliboutput plugin because it is one that I have some experience with and one that anyone using a budget DVB card should try. Other options for budget card users are:

  • vdr-plugin-dxr3: See Dxr3-plugin (If you have a DXR3 hardware MPEG decoder card)
  • vdr-plugin-softdevice: See Softdevice-plugin
  • vdr-plugin-streamdev: See Streamdev-plugin
  • vdr-plugin-xine: See Xine-plugin (note this different to the xineliboutput plugin below, although similar idea)

Compile and Install Xineliboutput Plugin

The Xineliboutput plugin allows you to render both DVB MPEG stream and the VDR OSD using libxine and processing power of your CPU. If you have a budget DVB card and your computer is powerful enough Xinelibout may be ideal for you. Additionally, it can stream the video and OSD across a LAN which allows you to setup a headless VDR server (using modest hardware) while the picture is displayed on and control is handled by one or more client machines elsewhere on the LAN.

Xineliboutput is not available in any of the Ubuntu repositories so we compile it from the latest Debian Package Sources as described above in the section Installing from Debian Package Sources. Briefly:

richard@vito:~/src/debian-vdr$ svn co svn://svn.debian.org/svn/pkg-vdr-dvb/vdr/vdr-plugin-xineliboutput/trunk vdr/vdr-plugin-xineliboutput
richard@vito:~/src/debian-vdr$ cd vdr/vdr-plugin-xineliboutput/
richard@vito:~/src/debian-vdr/vdr/vdr-plugin-xineliboutput$ svn-buildpackage -rfakeroot -uc -us
richard@vito:~/src/debian-vdr/vdr/vdr-plugin-xineliboutput$ cd ../../build-area/
richard@vito:~/src/debian-vdr/build-area$ ls *.deb
richard@vito:~/src/debian-vdr/build-area$ sudo dpkg -i *xine*.deb

This will install the vdr plugin plus the lightweight client apps for X11 and fb, plus a xine plugin which allows you to connect to the VDR stream from standard xine-ui.

Configure Xineliboutput Plugin and Player

If Xinelibout installed without problems, you now have to configure it.

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

All the information you need to configure the plugin is in that README and in the configuration file its self. Debian VDR Plugin configurations live in /etc/vdr/plugins. In this case:

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

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

Compile the Xine-ui Source Package to Enable VDR Keys

Using xine-ui gives you many features which are not available in the lightweight clients eg Zooming and allows you to easily switch to DVD playback with full menus.

Unfortunately the stock Ubuntu Dapper xine-ui is not compiled with the necessary --enable-vdr-keys flag which enables full control of VDR. But it is not difficult to recompile xine-ui from the source packages. First glance at this guide to recompiling Debian packages then follow these steps:

  • Install all build dependencies
richard@lazar:~/src/debian-xine/xine-ui-0.99.4$ sudo apt-get build-dep xine-ui
  • Download the xine-ui source package
richard@lazar:~/src/debian-xine/xine-ui-0.99.4$ apt-get source xine-ui
  • Update the debian/rules file
richard@lazar:~/src/debian-xine/xine-ui-0.99.4$ nano -w debian/rules
configure: configure-stamp
        ./configure --prefix=/usr --mandir=\$${prefix}/share/man \
                        --enable-vdr-keys \
  • Update the changelog file
richard@lazar:~/src/debian-xine/xine-ui-0.99.4$ dch --nmu
xine-ui (0.99.4-0ubuntu6.1) dapper; urgency=low

  * Non-maintainer upload.
  * Added --enable-vdr-keys
  • Build the package.
richard@lazar:~/src/debian-xine/xine-ui-0.99.4$ debuild -us -uc
  • And install
richard@lazar:~/src/debian-xine/xine-ui-0.99.4$ sudo dpkg -i ../xine-ui_0.99.4-0ubuntu6.1_i386.deb