Mythbuntu shuts down: is time up for time shifting?

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┬ámy 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┬árecord 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.

3 thoughts on “Mythbuntu shuts down: is time up for time shifting?

  1. Yep, we still have cable but if you don’t count sports I watch streaming services almost exclusively. I only have cable because the way Verizon does package deals it’s stupid cheap as an add on to FIOS. But I don’t have the DVR service. If I miss a show it’ll be available ON-Demand, and if I really care I can find it on a torrent server.

  2. I think Plex is replacing DVRs.

    Basically a private streaming service of content you want.

  3. @gizmo, I don’t think that’s true. Plex doesn’t have native DVR functionality, and only recently added support for some DVR devices. Plex allows users to stream the content they already have, but not to record shows, sports, etc. from OTA/cable broadcasts. If anything, Plex may extend the life of DVRs, since it bridges the timeliness of broadcast with the convenience of streaming services.

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