Experiences with TiVo MPEG video under Linux

Revision History

1.3January 25, 2003 Mention that 720x480 might be possible
1.2.1September 8, 2002 Add ui.itcl for TiVoWeb 1.9.4b3
1.2September 6, 2002 Recommend vsplit instead of splitstream
Recommend mfs_stream instead of mfs_extract
Some other tweaks to based on current throughts
1.1.1September 4, 2002 Add warning about TiVoWeb
1.1Feb 2, 2002 Recommend splitstream instead of tyc
1.0Jan 10, 2002 Initial version

I'm providing personal links for many of the programs listed here, such as tyc and splitstream, because their home pages seem to have become obsolete and I can't find replacements. If you know of the proper URL, let me know so I can update this stuff

This page is an attempt to describe my impressions of Linux (or UNIX or BSD or what-have-you) software which I've tried to use when dealing with TiVo video extraction. Most people are using Windows software, which tends to be a bit more mature and straightforward than Linux multimedia software. When looking for information on doing this stuff under Linux, I was only able to find one other person who had documented their experiences, and his descriptions were somewhat sparse. However, I can't believe that there aren't more people who don't want to use Windows for this, so I figured I'd share my experiences. Note that this isn't supposed to be a complete HOW-TO discussion - I just wanted somewhere to record my thoughts on specific software and give a rundown of my experiences. Also, so much of the "knowledge" of the net these days is contained in web-based bulletin board systems. While these have their advantages, it's somewhat aggravating to continually have to troll through month-old threads to try to find the information you're looking for; I've found that lately the amount of condensed information on the net seems to have been decreasing - everyone simply refers to threads on web bboards, most of which are usually at least 75% crud. Before diving into this, I'd also recommend reading up any informational pages on this subject, even if they're for Windows. Many of the steps are similar and the concepts are always the same. The computer I'm working on is a 1.1GHz Athlon with 512MB of ram running Debian unstable.


Many of the steps below recommend the use of TiVoWeb. In recent versions, the authors of TiVoWeb have taken it upon themselves to delete files from your TiVo which belong to hacks they don't approve of. Their current "efforts" have only been directed at people using DirecTiVos but it's impossible to know what they might do in the future - they might detect that you had video extraction software on your TiVo and blank it for you. It seems unlikely that they would get this nasty, but be warned - they have modified TiVos in the past without warning and are making no guarantees that they won't do it again.

Chris Chiappa