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Install and Configure VDR on Ubuntu (outdated!)

This article contains tips and advice for setting up VDR and plugins on Ubuntu.


Ubuntu releases are based on snapshots of Debian Unstable so you can mostly refer to the Debian documentation.

Installing from Binary Packages

VDR has been available in the Ubuntu Universe repository since Warty.

This article assumes that you have installed Ubuntu Dapper and have installed and confirmed to be working a Linux compatible DVB device.

Before you can install VDR packages, you must first add the Universe repository to your Apt sources list. Now you can use Aptitude or Synaptic to search for available vdr packages.

Installing from Debian Package Sources

  • You will need to install svn-buildpackage, which lives in the Ubuntu Universe repository, so if you haven't already done so, add Universe to your sources.list
  • Continue to DEBIAN_Compiling_VDR_Source_Packages

Configuring VDR and plugins

Installing VDR from e-tobi.net source packages

* updated 5/2007 (VA, Finland)
* Jul 29. 2007 - updated the deb-src line (NM, Finland)

* this is only recommended if Ubuntu supplied packages are not enough, for example you need extra plugins
* make sure your DVB card works before doing this (I used kaffeine player for testing)
* tested on Ubuntu Edgy/Feisty, recommended only for advanced users!!
* this example includes subtitles patch (needed for DVB subtitles at least in some European countries)
* this process must be done again after dist-upgrades

1. Remove all installed Ubuntu VDR packages.
$ sudo apt-get remove vdr vdr-dev
* NOTE this does not remove configuration files, consider using Synaptic complete removal

2. Add the following to /etc/apt/sources.list.
deb-src http://e-tobi.net/vdr-experimental lenny base addons vdr-multipatch

3. Update packagelist and install compile tools.
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install dpkg-dev build-essential fakeroot

3. Make a directory for source code files.
$ cd ~
$ mkdir vdr-src
$ cd vdr-src

4. Install VDR sourcecode.
 $ apt-get source vdr

5. Try to get depencies automatically.
$ sudo apt-get build-dep vdr

6. Make sure you have some needed packages.
$ sudo apt-get install debhelper linux-headers-generic libjpeg62-dev dpatch libcap-dev libncurses5-dev

7. Activate subtitles patch by editing file vdr-1.4.*/debian/patches/00list.
Do this only if you need DVB subtitles. Remove comments from the following lines.

You can also activate other patches, but be careful as they might conflict each other.

8. Compile VDR and create deb packages.

$ cd ~/vdr-src/vdr-1.4.*
$ fakeroot debian/rules binary After this there should be vdr_1.4.*.deb and vdr-dev_1.4.*.deb packages in ~/vdr-src. 9. Install deb packages. $ cd ~/vdr-src
$ sudo dpkg -i vdr_1.4*.deb vdr-dev_1.4*.deb $ sudo /etc/init.d/vdr stop (stop vdr, plugins need to be activated) DONE! Continue to install plugins below. PLUGINS Browse e-tobi.net selection at http://www.e-tobi.net/repositories/repositories.html Below are a couple of examples to install them. vdr-plugin-subtitles
$ cd ~/vdr-src
$ apt-get source vdr-plugin-subtitles
$ sudo apt-get build-dep vdr-plugin-subtitles
$ cd vdr-plugin-subtitles-*
$ fakeroot debian/rules binary
$ cd ..
$ sudo dpkg -i vdr-plugin-subtitles_*.deb


$ apt-get source vdr-plugin-xineliboutput
$ sudo apt-get build-dep vdr-plugin-xineliboutput
$ cd vdr-plugin-xineliboutput-*
$ fakeroot debian/rules binary
$ cd ..
$ sudo dpkg -i vdr-plugin-xineliboutput_*.deb libxine-xvdr_*.deb libxineliboutput-sxfe_*.deb xineliboutput-sxfe_*.deb


Below are listed a couple of useful plugins. Install the same way as above. 
It can be wise to install these after you are sure vdr is working.
vdr-plugin-remote (remote control support)
vdr-plugin-osdteletext (used at least in europe)
vdradmin-am (control vdr via web)


Starting VDR (started automatically during deb installation)
$ sudo /etc/init.d/vdr start

Config files (if you make changes, remember to restart VDR)

# Enable VDR
# change default path to save recordings
# use this only to configure remote control keys via sxfe, comment out for normal use
# USER=your_username_which_is_running_X_session

--local=none # disable sxfe access, consider enabling if you have a dedicated VDR box
--remote=37890 # add network support in order to access it via xine player
NOTE, first time starting VDR use --local=sxfe --remote=none to configure remote control keys.
Remember to use correct USER above (normally VDR is run as "vdr" user which does not have access to your X session)
Otherwise xine xvdr access does not seem to work because it's waiting for remote control configuration.
Also temporarily "chmod 777 /var/lib/vdr" so that remote.conf can be written.

This is a required file with channel frequency info in your area.
See http://www.linuxtv.org/vdrwiki/index.php/Syntax_of_channels.conf for more info.


You should be able to access VDR via xine-ui (select XVDR). See xineliboutput for more frontends.
If you have later problems to use xine-ui, try the sxfe option (mentioned earlier) to debug.