As my last couple of posts have indicated, my little pet project is the conversion of a refurbished PC as a Ubuntu-based PVR. I’ve gotten pretty far, using MythTV as the centrepiece for watchin and recording TV shows, DVDs and other media activities. The thing is, I have never actually tried connecting the box to a TV (via the on-board S-Video output) and viewing anything – till now.
As one would expect, (given my record), the TV displayed everything correctly, EXCEPT Linux.

I was able to view the booting process, right up until Ubuntu actually gives the login screen. Then, the TV displayed a scrambled, wiggly brown colour – completely unviewable. So, what’s going on?

My research (Google, of course), took me to the following site (HOWTO: NVIDIA TV-OUT for Newbies), which gave a hint as to the problem. My refurbished IBM Netvista, carries an integrated NVidia GL card. Apparently there is a known issue with Nvidia cards displaying on TV – it is necessary to reconfigure the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file (for XWindows) to create dual screens (one for a CRT monitor, the other for TV). In addition, I had to modify the default frequency for the TV to 50 MHz. It was originally at 30-60 Mz, which for some reason, caused a problem with my TV. Yours may differ, so be prepared to experiment. I’ve uploaded my own xorg.conf, so you can use/modify for your setup (at your own risk).

At this point, I now have two displays, virtually side-by-side, with the CRT on the left; moving the mouse to the far right flows onto the second screen shown on the TV. So things are looking up. Hol’ on – how come I can’t play any videos?!
Seems like I have more work on dis box. Next time.