The announcement of Mythbuntu’s death earlier this month got me thinking about the future of the DVR. Mythbuntu is/was a derivative of the Ubuntu Linux operating system that focused on providing a pre-packaged platform for the open source MythTV DVR system. The Mythbuntu team has apparently shrunk from 10 to 2, which is a pretty small team to manage an entire Linux distribution.
I am not surprised people left the project. People leave projects all the time. I’m also not surprised nobody stepped up. The time of the DVR is drawing to a rapid close.
I never used Mythbuntu, but I did briefly install MythTV on my home server a few years ago. My newborn’s sleep schedule prevented my wife and I from catching the shows we wanted to watch. I had some hardware issues, but MythTV itself was really easy to setup and use.
But shortly after I had everything configured, we canceled our cable TV. We just weren’t watching very much, and a Netflix subscription was much cheaper than a cable bill. Cord-cutting obviates the need for a DVR. But even people who keep their cable subscription often supplement with a streaming service. There’s just less of a need to record TV broadcasts anymore.
That’s not to say there aren’t advantages. I do not worry about something getting yanked from the streaming service if I record it. I can still watch locally-recorded shows if there’s a network outage. But for the most part, anything I’d want to watch I can get on demand without having to store it on my hard drive for a “just in case” that will never come.
I wonder how much longer DVRs will last. They are essentially VCRs without the magnetic tape, and VCRs are dead (Full disclosure: I still have and use a VCR). Open source and proprietary DVRs alike must find a new value proposition in order to survive. Maybe they can help me getting around to digitizing all of those home movies I have on VHS.