I know things have been pretty quiet on the blog lately, so I wanted to give you all a quick status update on how various projects are going (for better or for worse). We are quite busy, but alot of the stuff we are working on is not currently publicly visible, and many people who read the blog are interested in various things we are doing in the open source community (either out of academic curiosity or because you own some piece of hardware that you are hoping to see better support for).
So, let’s talk about the stuff that we are actively working on first:
em28xx quality fixes – I spent most of this week trying to nail down a significant quality problem in em28xx analog support. I did isolate one problem, but I am seeing other issues that bother me. The current fix is here:
While I was at it, I nailed down a regression that got introduced that resulted in the xc3028 firmware taking nearly five seconds to load (whereas it used to take about 1 second). This is probably most noticeable by users of devices such as the original HVR-950 (em28xx/xc3028) where it resulted in applications like tvtime and MythTV taking *much* longer to startup.
tvtime – Tvtime work has been slower going than I would have liked. I did do some work last week, but the more testing I do the more problems I find. The goal at this point continues to be to get a release where both the audio and VBI support work well with a variety of cards, and then ask the distributions to redistribute this version.
HVR-1600 ALSA support – There were a bunch of cleanups required to get this upstream, but I am happy to announce that it was merged this week. None of the changes asked for were actually necessary for the driver to work – all of them were codingstyle issues.
Now, let’s talk about the things I’m not working on right now. This list is based largely on the comments I receive both on the blog and via email where people ask “When is X going to start working?”. I feel there is some value in telling everybody about this stuff, so that expectations are set properly and in case anyone else wants to contribute (knowing that we are not actively working on it).
HVR-950Q work with MythTV – Ok, so I was the guy who wrote the analog support, and I did do some work a couple of months ago to at least getting it basically working with MythTV (with a few well-documented caveats). But as at least one user has pointed out, there is some sort of race condition where the card gets locked up periodically when switching back and forth between analog and digital. If you use it for digital only then you are fine, or if you use it for analog only then you are fine. But if you try to use it for both then you are in for trouble.
HVR-900R2 and PCTV 330e – I’ve discussed this particular issue various times in previous posts. Basically it boils down to getting an extraction script written for the firmware, and fixing the existing driver to work with the updated firmware (since the firmware that was used to write the original driver can not be found). You can read the blog history for the gory details as to why something that sounds as simple as a firmware extraction script would end up being such a headache.
PCTV 340e/340eSE/801e/801eSE analog support – At this point, I have no plans to be extending the dvb-usb framework to support analog, which is what would be required to get analog support working for any of the dib0700 based devices named above.
saa7164 analog support – This is basically the same situation as with the dib0700 – it requires a *huge* development effort that would amount to hundreds of hours of labor. Sure, we might come out with something at some point if a commercial backer steps up, but I would not expect to see this supported in the immediate future.
I realize that the above list of “stuff we are not working on” can be frustrating if you are a user who was hoping to see one of these things done sooner. Let’s not forget that all of these are projects that KernelLabs developers are doing in their own free time for no compensation. We’ve donated thousands of hours to making LinuxTV better. And when it comes to the stuff we do in our free time, we need to focus on the things that interest *us* personally in order to keep our sanity. Unfortunately, the stuff I may be interested in “playing around” with is often not the stuff certain groups of users would prefer we spend our time on.
It’s probably also worth noting that we do see people who post comments in the blog along the lines of “How about accepting donations? I would donate $10.00 to see XYZ working.” However, at this time we are not accepting donations toward any of these projects. Why? Because there is *nowhere* near enough people who are willing to donate to make it worth our while – and it wouldn’t be fair to accept your donations but not deliver. I do appreciate those people who offer to donate, but unless you can find 1500 more friends like you, you are in an extreme minority. I have had extended conversations with a few individuals who argue that our view is not valid, but ultimately it is our decision what we dedicate our efforts to.
To end this post on a positive note, if you are a PCTV 74e user who has been looking for driver support, keep an eye on the blog since I’ve got a GPL driver and have worked out the firmware redistribution rights with the chipset vendor, so I just need to do some cleanup and testing before we can post a tree for testing.