Pimp your Linux satellite box & get TV on your PC!

Soup up and network your Linux-based satellite receiver

5. If all's well, your receiver will make an appearance alongside your other networkable devices. Make a note of the receiver's IP address – and enter it into a web browser.

You should now see the receiver's web interface – and, as we'll see, that makes all sorts of interesting things possible.

Project 2: Digital TV on your desktop - streaming to VLC

If you don't want to run to the hassle and expense of installing a tuner card in your PC – an especially moot point if there's no aerial or dish outlet where your computer is installed – then you'll be pleased to know that desktop TV is possible with most Linux satellite receivers.

Basically, what happens here is that video is streamed across the network from the receiver to the PC.

1. The channel you wish to view is selected from the web interface (see Project 1, step 5). Alongside the channel list you'll find an streaming icon (in the case of the DM800HD PVR's Enigma2, this takes the form of a tiny TV-screen logo to the right of the channel name).

If your particular receiver doesn't have anything like this it's possible that the currently installed firmware doesn't support streaming. Under these circumstances our recommendation is to try to update your receiver with a new firmware – whether official or a third-party one.

2. Before going this far you might also want to see if a streaming 'plug-in' is available for your receiver and firmware – check the manufacturer's site, plug-ins download menu or any internet forums dedicated to your particular receiver (Google is a good starting point here).

3. But before we can go any further we need to install a compatible media player. Here, we'll be using the versatile VLC, which can be freely downloaded from www.videolan.org.

VLC is available for different platforms including MacOS, Windows and Linux – choose the version that's appropriate for your computer. We'll make reference to using it under Windows, because that's what most of you will have.

VLC will play many types of file – including MP3 audio and MPEG/DivX video – but it's the 'streamability' that we're interested in here. If you click on Enigma2's streaming icon it will send a playlist file (with a . m3u extension) to your browser. This file contains the information necessary for VLC to start streaming that channel from your receiver.

If your PC has the Winamp media player installed, chances are that it will try to open up this playlist file as it's usually setup as the 'default' application for such files. But Winamp won't know what to do with the stream.

4. Under these circumstances, return to the web interface. Right-click on the item, and choose 'save file as'. Call it 'streaming.m3u', and save it somewhere you can find it. Then open up VLC, and simply drag the file over it.

VLC should then open and start displaying the selected channel.

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Now read The complete guide to Freesat

First published in What Satellite and Digital TV, issue 270.