My TV set runs Linux!

I bought a new Sony Bravia HD TV today. When I unpacked it, I got a big surprise. The first paper I saw was a copy of the GPL License that included the notification that it includes the Linux kernel, busybox, insmod, and a bunch of libraries.

Because I don’t have a CableCard yet, I’m leaving the old Tivo hooked up. If I had any hair, I would have been tearing it out while trying to get things set up because I confused Composite video with Component Video. I hooked it up using Composite, and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting any picture when I selected Component input. Duh. I eventually noticed that the Composite plugs on the back where labelled “1” and “3”, and the video input settings in the menu were labelled “Video 1” and “Video 3” and “Component 1” and “Component 2”. And that was in spite of the fancy little icons showing the cable configurations beside each setting – I hadn’t realized that both pictures where only showing the video, not the audio, inputs so “Video” (ie Composite) only showed one input and “Component” showed three inputs. I felt like such a tool when I realized what I was doing wrong.

But even with just SD input, it sure looks nice.

6 thoughts on “My TV set runs Linux!”

  1. Does TiVo support HD, and if so, HDMI or DVI?

    When I got my new HD satellite box a month or so back I was surprised to discover that it had a HDMI output – something that my TV supported, but I had never actually had supporting receiver hardware to use it with.

    Even more surprisingly, Motorola had thrown in a HDMI cable in the box along with the receiver.

    I was quick to hook it up and was quite surprised at the improvement in both HD and SD, with HD being a very noticeable improvement over the old component cable setup I had been using.

  2. We bought a new HD Tivo, but I haven’t set it up yet because the new one needs a CableCard and can’t decode normal cable TV. Neither the TV nor the TiVo came with a HDMI cable – we bought the “cheap” $50 cable instead of the $100 Monster cable.

  3. I was also surprised to see GPL notices deeply buried in the menus of the Panasonic 50″ plasma TV we bought. But then I realized that it made sense: Most big-screen televisions have a memory card input to show images from digital cameras and every big-screen television has some form of on-screen display and menus. Linux is perfect for both.

    I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised to see Linux in my television. Where I work, we’re embedding Linux in several of our embedded system designs. Many reasons, but the biggest is a free and robust networking stack and support for USB.

  4. The “Cheap” cable will do just as good as an expensive one when it comes to a digital signal.

    I once had a long (somewhat heated) debate with a big box electronics store salesman one day about how a $5 eBay no-name HDMI cable can do just as good of a job as the $250 fancy-pants brand that he was pushing.

    When he tried to tell me how the cheap cables would cause static in my picture, I just about lost it. When it comes to digital signals, they either work, or they don’t. The $5 cable does the exact same job as the $250 one.

    I had a similar debate with another salesman about how my 3-for-$10 (eBay) TOSlink optical cables were every bit as good as the $60 rip-off version thereof in his store.

    Again, he couldn’t comprehend the argument out of sheer misunderstanding of the underlying technology.

    For analogue signals there’s a difference, although even that can be taken to extremes:

    (In case you missed it..)

  5. Mike, I’m not sure what you mean by “compatible with computers”. The TiVo uses my wifi connection to connect to TiVo headquarters to download new schedules, operating system updates, and some small amount of advertising content. It is also possible to subscribe to RSS feeds and podcasts on your TiVo, although I don’t see the alure myself.

    As far as I know, the ethernet connection doesn’t need to be wifi – you can also get a USB wired ethernet connection. In the past, you could also do it over a phone line, although that wouldn’t work with the RSS feeds and podcasts. I believe that option isn’t in the TiVo-HD.

    Also, the non-HD TiVos could share some content with a PC, although I never explored that option beyond streaming an iPhoto photo album to my TV just to see that it could be done. Again, I didn’t see the point. I’m pretty sure HD ones can’t do that.

Comments are closed.