LinVDR - The VDR Distribution

What in hell is LinVDR

Basically, it's an approach to build a small, cut to the bone, ready and easy to install VDR Linux distribution.
LinVDR is a complete, breathing Linux system smaller than 128 MB with a complete digital Video Disk Recorder (VDR) / Personal Video Recorder (PVR) and several plugins -- listed seperately below.
For easy access we installed additionaly the browser frontend VDR Admin and a Samba share for up- and downloading music or DVD images with Windows clients.

The base system is Debian Woody compatible (only compatible, not Debian Woody itself!) with the DVB driver from Convergence and Klaus Schmidingers unbeated Video Disk Recorder Software VDR.
All this Tom has mixed smoothly together, and I made the install system and installation programme -- suitable for normal users without Linux knowledge.

OK, sounds good. I have a XYZ tv card and a GeForce 10 with TV out. Lets start.

That's nice you have such expensive hardware, but it won't bring you a step closer to a running LinVDR system. We're here at digital TV, you can't use any analog TV cards.

VDR was designed to work with so-called full featured DVB cards. This is a Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) receiver card originally develloped from Technotrend. Hauppauge adopted these cards and labeled them WinTV DVB-s/C or Nexus.

The important point of this cards: Byside the receiving unit, where you can read a MPEG-2-Stream, they're equipped with a DSP chip working as MPEG-2 decoder and OSD creator. This DSP decodes the steam, overlays the menu and put the result to the composite video out of the DVB card.

This means: You don't need a graphic card with TV out, your full featured DVB card already has one (and only this one is used by VDR).

But you need only one of that expensive (> $150) full featured DVB cards. If you want to install a second one, e.g. to enable you to receive more channels at the same time, you can use a so-called budget card.

These buget cards have no TV out and no MPEG-2 decoder, making them a lot cheaper (around $70).

Type Vendor Model Class Price
DVB-S Hauppauge WinTV Nexus-s Full Featured abt. $250
DVB-S TechnoTrend DVB-S Sat PCI
Rev. 1.3, 1.5, 1.6
Full Featured abt. $190
DVB-T TechnoTrend DVB-T Rev. 1.2 Full Featured abt. $250
DVB-C Hauppauge WinTV DVB-C Full Featured abt. $300
DVB-C TechnoTrend DVB-C Rev. 2.1 Full Featured abt. $230
DVB-S Hauppauge WinTV Nova-S Budget abt. $125
DVB-S TechnoTrend Budget DVB-S Budget abt. $90
DVB-T TechnoTrend DVB-T 1300 Budget abt. $110
DVB-C TechnoTrend DVB-C Rev. 1.0 Budget abt. $110

To cut it short: You need one full featured card with MPEG-2 decoder (Technotrend style, supported by the DVB driver of Kernel 2.6) and any number of budget cards (supported by the same drivers). No way to use your graphic adapter or analog TV card, if you're looking for an analog PVR, try e.g. MythTV.

Today, only the card revision 2.3 is still in production, but this card is not supported by the default kernel of LinVDR 0.7. To use a Technotrend DVB Rev. 2.3 you need a kernel update. This is included in the Kernel Update CD along with some other essential packages. You should use the Update CD for the installation instead of the original Install CD, nevertheless you need the original Install CD during the installation process.

VDR Version and Plugins

VDR 1.3.17 with enAIO-Patch and this plugins:
  • Autotimer-Edit 0.1.4 new
  • DVD-Burn 0.0.5 new
  • Clock 0.0.5b1 update
  • Console 0.6 update
  • DVD 0.3.5b06 (without CSS support)
  • EPG-Search 0.0.3 new
  • Femon (signal strength) 0.1.6 update
  • Games 0.6.1 update
  • GraphLCD 0.1.1 update
  • GraphTFT 0.0.8 new
  • Hello 0.1.0
  • Image (Diashow) 0.2.2 update
  • LCD-Proc 0.0.10 update
  • Mailbox 0.3 update
  • Manual 0.0.2 (german only) new
  • Media-MVP 0.1.5 new
  • Media-MVP-Server new
  • M-LCD 0.0.4 update
  • MP3 0.9.8 update
  • MPlayer 0.9.8 update
  • OSD-Demo 0.1.0
  • Osd-PiP Plugin 0.0.7 update
  • OSD-Teletext 0.3.1 update
  • Pilot 0.0.7 new
  • PIM 0.0.3 new
  • Remote 0.3.2 (for IR receiver of Hauppauge Nexus-s cards) update
  • Skin-Curses 0.1.0
  • Sky 0.1.1
  • Sleeptimer 0.6 update
  • Status 0.1.0
  • Stream-Dev 0.3.3 update
  • Taste 0.0.2b new
  • Text2Skin (loadable skins) new
  • Timeline 0.8.1
  • TV-OnScreen 0.6.0 update
  • TVTV 0.1.6
  • VBox (ISDN voice mailbox) 0.5.1 update
  • (S)VCD 0.0.6c
  • VDR-CD (playing audio CDs) 0.0.10 update
  • WAP 0.0.6d new


  • Multi-Language support (currently German and English)
  • Install programm updated
  • Setup programm updated
  • Kernel 2.6.9 with support for (nearly) all chipsets and network cards updated
  • DVB driver CVS 2004-12-03 updated
  • VDR Admin 0.97 supporting VDR 1.3.x updated
  • MPlayer 1.0pre5
  • NoAd 0.4.2
  • FBTV updated
  • Samba 3.0
  • DVD-Author 0.6.10 updated
  • convert.pl
  • vdrsync
  • Editor nano
  • Alsa
  • USB Keyboard support
  • dvd+rw-tools (suitable for DVD+R/W and DVD-R/W)
  • udftools
  • Read-only support for NTFS

Where to get LinVDR

Due to the high hit rates and the resulting traffic we were forced to use several Mirrors.
At http://www.linvdr.org/projects/linvdr/mirrors.php you'll find the complete mirror list for the latest version of LinVDR.

How to install LinVDR on a new computer

LinVDR is distributed as bootable CD image:
  • unpack linvdr-0.7.iso.gz, e.g. with gunzip. Internet Explorer users, watch out! If the file is about 3-5 MB bigger, the Internet Explorer has unpacked it without any notice -- then rename the file to linvdr-0.7.iso
  • burn the ISO image to CD, you can use allmost all burning tools both under Windows and Linux.
  • boot from CD, select the automatic installation and follow the dialogs. Caution! All existing data on your hard drives will be erased!
  • at the first LinVDR system start you can configure your system with the setup assistant -- just follow the messages on the screen.
  • done.

I used VDR before and have some recordings on my harddisk, now I want to migrate to LinVDR

Since version 0.5 it's no longer required to back up all films, but be very careful -- one wrong anwser, and your harddisk will be formatted! So it's still a good idea to have a copy.
  • delete the existing Linux system, only the directories /video* may stay on disk.
  • unpack linvdr-0.7.iso.gz, see preceding paragraph (especially Internet Explorer users)
  • burn the ISO image to CD, you can use allmost all burning tools both under Windows and Linux.
  • boot from CD and do not install automatically. During the process, fdisk will be started, do not change anything and leave fdisk by entering "q".
  • select the partition where LinVDR should be installed
  • do not format the partition
  • follow the dialoges, after reboot the system configuration will start.

I have an older version of LinVDR and want to update

You can only update from the preceding version, to update to LinVDR version 0.5 you must have LinVDR 0.4 installed. Additionaly, you can re-install version 0.5 over an existing 0.5 to get back to initial settings.
The installation programm wil detect itself, wether you have a valid preceding versison on disk or not, you cannot force an update.
  • unpack linvdr-0.7.iso.gz, see preceding paragraph (especially Internet Explorer users)
  • burn the ISO image to CD, you can use allmost all burning tools both under Windows and Linux.
  • boot from CD. The installation programm detects the previous version and offers you to update.
  • if no update is offered but the automatic installation, you cannot update.
  • follow the dialogs
Some configuration files in /etc and /etc/vdr* will not be changed during the update. Other files, e.g. all plugins, will be deleted. So use the update with caution.

Manual installation

  • unpack linvdr-0.7.iso.gz, see preceding paragraph (especially Internet Explorer users)
  • burn the ISO image to CD, you can use allmost all burning tools both under Windows and Linux.
  • boot from CD, stop at language selection
  • break installation (with [Ctrl][C])
  • switch to console 2 with [Alt][F2]
  • log in as "root", password "linvdr"
  • mount the CD, e.g. with "mount /dev/hdc /cdrom"
  • mount the hardisk, e.g. with "mount /dev/hda1 /mnt"
  • delete everything from your disk you don't need, let the video directories remain. It's no good advice to reuse the config files, LinVDR is very different to other distributions
  • unpack /cdrom/linvdr-0.7.tar.gz to the root directory of the harddisk
  • make LinVDR bootable
  • unmount and remove CD, reboot
  • at first system start LinVDR will be configured

Default settings

  • root filesystem is mounted as ext3
  • "root" password is "linvdr"
  • "linvdr" password is "linvdr"
  • VDR reads keyboard events on console 10 (/dev/tty10, LinVDR switches there on every startup), so you can control VDR with keyboard. When activated, the TV screen will be displayed there as well (FBTV)
  • sshd (OpenSSH 3.4p1) runs on port 22 with a default (and therefor absolutely public and vulnerable) key, root login is allowed.
  • Samba: workgroup "workgroup", user "linvdr", password "linvdr", exports "/pub" to public
  • VDR Admin runs on port 80, German is default language, admin account is "linvdr", dassword "linvdr", "guest" login is disabled but has "guest" as pre-set password
  • system time will not be stored as UTC, but as local time in the CMOS, timezone is Europe/Berlin
  • VDR corrects the time according to channel ARD
  • four remote controls are supported by default: SM-Elektronic Skymaster 2416 [TV-1 Code 128], Medion MD-4688 and Tevion MD-6461 [TV Code 183, VCR Code 308] and the gray/silver Hauppauge remote control (via the original Hauppauge IR receiver of the Nexus card)
  • please have a look at the other system settings of LinVDR. The defaults are what we use and think is useful.
  • the recording command menu and commands menu are still german, sorry. Please look at /etc/vdr/reccmd.conf and /etc/vdr/commands.conf to correct this.

What you ABSOLUTELY MUST change

  • root password
  • "linvdr" password
  • Samba password for user "linvdr"
  • SSH keys in /etc/ssh
  • user name and in any case the password of the VDR Admin user

Please, take the time and really do the changes! Or we'll visit you in a dark night and programm "Home Shopping Europe" till your disk is full! I warned you! But more probable, some other bad guy will come around before and do some absolute unspeakable evil things with your video disk recorder.

How LinVDR was compiled (or: How can I compile my own plugins)

You'll find the informations about this topic on the Developer Page -- sorry, currently only in German.
To cut it short: You need a Debian Woody and the same VDR version we used, both installed on a second computer. Then compile the plugin and copy it to your LinVDR system -- but don't miss all the libraries and dependencies!

Where is the complete documentation?

Well, there is not much yet. You'll find informations at http://linvdr.org/doku/, but we're seeking urgently for help!

What about support?

First, you can post a question at the FAQ-Wiki, or at the VDR-Portal, board LinVDR or the international boards. Before you open a new thread, please search if you can find an answer elsewhere. It's very improbable that you're the first having this or that problem. If you fail, you can reach us directly at linvdr@linvdr.org, but it can take some days (depending on the pile-up) till we answer.


Last changed on 01.01.1970