Amazon Fire TV, Kodi and TVHeadend

I realised recently that, like most people, I am watching more and more content on demand and that it’s actually a pain to do with Windows 10 and a HTPC.  There are apps for Netflix and various UK providers but there isn’t one for Amazon Video or Sky Go.  Controlling them typically requires a keyboard and mouse and use of various browsers too.  Also, for whatever reason the user experience just isn’t as good either.

I’ve been using Kodi on a Windows machine with Mediaportal’s TV server and it does work, Kodi also works in a lot of places though including the Amazon Fire TV…  I bought one last week and I’ve been damn impressed with it, I thought today I’d try setting up Kodi for live TV and it turned out to be a lot easier than last time.  Installing to the Fire was a breeze, I simply installed it to my phone and used Apps2Fire to install it to the Fire TV over the network after enabling remote debugging in the Fire’s Developer menu.  Amazon have got much kudos from me for making sideloading so easy!

A few years back I tried to use tvheadend on my Linux server, I’ve had a HDHomeRun for years too so connecting a tuner isn’t an issue as it’s network based, but either the software has got tighter or I’ve learned more as it was a breeze today.

I installed tvheadend to my server using this guide and the HomeRun tuners were automatically detected.  I had to change the tuner type to DVB-T as it defaults to cable, under Networks I added my local transmitter then under services clicked “map all” and that was that.  It started to scan for the EPG in the background and found it pretty quick too.

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A few changes I’ve made are to point my recorded TV and timeshift folders to larger drives, and I enabled timeshifting as it isn’t by default.  This setting is under Configuration –> Recording.

After that I enabled the TV headend DVR plugin in Kodi and pointed it towards my server and job done!  I’ve a Blackmagic DVB-T2 card to install at some point which will give me a few extra tuners and access to HD channels.  It means running a coax cable though and I can’t be arsed with that at the minute.

One content provider I mentioned above was Sky Go, there is allegedly a way of getting it working on the Fire but I’ve not managed it yet.  For now I’ll just plug my laptop into my AV receiver and have done with it.  I don’t use it often anyhow.

I can now access TV from any device connected to the network so plenty of scope to expand in the future, my upload rate is shocking though so unfortunately I likely wont be able to watch TV remotely.  All in all a fun bit of learning and it frees up the motherboard from my HTPC too.  I’ve a few ideas for a winter project for that but for now it’s on the shelf waiting to be used again.

Ubuntu 16.04 Upgrade, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

So I logged in to my home server recently and found in the MOTD that an upgrade from 14.04 to 16.04 was available.  Being a bit cautious about things I asked a colleague if he’d done the upgrade and he had, the only issue he’d come across was for hardware I don’t use so thought I’d crack on.

That night I got home, ran do-release-upgrade, answered a few questions and left it to it.  It carried on tinkering with one of my programming projects on my desktop PC and several hours later, tired after a satisfying nights hacking, I shutdown my desktop.  Completely forgetting I had an SSH session open…
I promptly logged back on and checked my server, in HTOP there was a process at the top of the list that looked upgrade related so I left it to it overnight.  Turns out that as I didn’t have screen installed there was no way to reconnect to that upgrade session which was an arse to say the least!  I didn’t have a choice, that I know of, but to reboot.  I did so and it kernel panicked on boot, something to do with not being able to mount something.

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BORK BORK BORK BORK ::PANIC:: BORK BORK

::Expletive deleted::

I loaded in to maintenance mode by selecting the advanced option on reboot and looked at what was or wasn’t mounted.  It turns out two of my four disks weren’t being mounted by fstab on boot, I ran blkid and they weren’t listed either.  I managed to find the following command on Ask Ubuntu which showed that the disks we’re still being detected which was a good sign.

sudo lsblk -o NAME,FSTYPE,SIZE,MOUNTPOINT,LABEL

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I managed to manually mount the disks as EXT4 and could access the data so I figure this is a quirk of 16.04 I need to figure out.  So far so good!  I commented the two drives out of fstab and attempted a reboot, I got a bit further but ended up in maintenance mode again.

This time around I did some more digging and found the “apt –configure –a” command which reconfigures all the packages installed, this was recommended for interrupted installations and for me it worked a treat.  I could now boot normally!

As previously mentioned I use Greyhole for file duplication across my disks, for long-time readers of my blog or those familiar with it it’s very similar in concept to Drive Extender on Windows Home Server, Greyhole wasn’t happy.  First off it complained about PHP and MySQL errors so one by one searched for the error line and installed the missing packages.  After that I managed to get Greyhole running against the manually mounted disks and I’m now moving data around so I can reformat the two odd ones out that are listed as zfs_members so I can get them in line with the others.  That’s in progress and I’ll cover it in another post as this one has rambled on long enough.

It has certain been a learning experience and I’ve got nerd points from my colleagues for actually managing to fix a borked upgrade, apparently most people would just reinstall but I figured I’d have a stab at it.  For a certified Windows fanboy I’ve certainly come a long way!