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Introducing KnoppMyth, a user-friendly Linux set-top box distro

Feb 2, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 11 views

Foreword: Open source project founder Cecil Watson provides some background on KnoppMyth in this brief project history. The project aims to create an easy-to-install-and-use Linux distribution for set-top boxes. Enjoy . . . !

The Genesis of KnoppMyth

I wanted control of my TV. I thought about getting a Tivo, but I wanted more control. I didn't just want to timeshift my programming. I wanted to listen to my music, watch my photos, play Frozen Bubbles, and more. I looked at various options and even used “vcr” for a brief period of time. Then I found MythTV.

At the time, I was running Linux-Mandrake. While I have compiled software in the past, getting MythTV and all its dependencies compiled was a challenge. One, however, that was worth it. But I still wanted something a little easier. Even though I had plenty of experience with Linux, I didn't think it should have been so difficult to simply set up a set-top box.

I'd always wanted to try Debian because of dpkg. At about the same time, I learned of Knoppix. I played around with it and thought it was great! I could even install in it my hard drive! So I did, and I was able to install MythTV using Matt Zimmerman's debs! Way cool, I thought; this was a lot easier than installing it from source. It was about the same time, I learned about remastering Knoppix!

That is it, I thought. This will be my contribution. I'll remaster Knoppix with MythTV.

I read the docs on, and set out to make building a Linux powered set-top box as easy as possible. After a few weeks of trial and error, I had something I was proud of. I first demonstrated KnoppMyth at the Orange County Linux Users Group (OCLUG) on August 9th, 2003. Since that time, a community has developed around it that makes me extremely proud.

I first met R. Dale Thomas at the OCLUG. He offered to host the ISO, and shortly thereafter started to help me develop KnoppMyth. He is currently hard at work on The KnoppMyth Installer, which we'll demo at SCALE (Southern California Linux Expo). We have a core group of volunteers that help to answer questions on the forum. One of the forum members, XSecrets, started a KnoppMyth Wiki on his own accord.

It has been a great two and a half years. I started off by remastering Knoppix; now, R5 is built from scratch. Along the way, we added an auto-install and auto-upgrade process. We added utilities like webmin, MPlayer, Samba, and CyberMediaGate, to name a few. An install can be done in as little as ten minutes! Once you have a functioning backend, the CD can be used as a frontend. Or you can use the terminal server for diskless frontends, or over the network installs!

I don't know where we'll be in the next two years, but we'll keep trying our best to improve KnoppMyth with every release. All that we've accomplished was possible through the power and flexibility of Open Source. When the source is open, the possibilites are endless.

About the author: A self-described lover of technology, Cecil Watson was born in Belize City, Belize. Shortly after his family immigrated, his parents purchased them a Tandy Color Computer 2. He spent seven and a half years in the United Stated Marine Corps, where he learned about a wide range of topics, from rifles to electronics to Unix. Although he misses his Amiga, he strongly believes in Open Source.

This article was originally published on and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

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