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Summary help replacing me
Covers the setup and use of DVB-S (sat TV) cards on Arch Linux.
This was only tested with the Pinnacle PCTV Sat, and may not work or will not help you with different cards.
Related articles
MythTV Walkthrough

Load required Modules

You have to lookup the chipset of your specific card; tools like lshwd may help you.

Pinnacle PCTV Sat

This card uses bt878 and cx24110 as chipset.

Load them (under root) with:

# modprobe dvb-bt8xx
# modprobe cx24110

If you want Arch to boot them on startup, add both modules to MODULES in /etc/rc.conf.

Additional modules: S2-liplianin

However, there is not a working kernel module for all (especially newer) devices.

Igor M. Liplianin manages some additional modules at his mercurial repository.


First of all, you have to download and prepare the source code.

$ hg clone http://mercurial.intuxication.org/hg/s2-liplianin/
$ cd s2-liplianin

Unfortunately not all modules of liplianin are compatible with recent kernels and cause some trouble if you want to compile them hence you have to exclude these modules from the build process (if you do not need them). You can choose which modules you want to build by executing:

$ make config

which will create a config file: v4l/.config.

Note: If you want to edit the config file with another interface, take a look at Install under the 'Module selection rules' section.

After that, you have to build the chosen modules:

$ make
Note: It is very likely, that some modules will not compile. Try to exclude them (one step earlier) and run 'make' again.

If all configured modules were compiled successfully, you can install the modules at the kernel's default modules directory by executing:

# make install

After that, reboot your machine.

Setup Permissions

To use your DVB-S card as user add him to the video group:

# gpasswd -a [username] video

Scanning channels

Note: You can skip this part if you use Kaffeine.

Most applications like szap or xine are needing a channel list created by scan, which is part of dvb-utils. You will find the dvb-utils package under the name linuxtv-dvb-apps in the Community-Repo.

Install it with:

# pacman -S linuxtv-dvb-apps

Using scan

scan needs an channel to initialize scanning. In /usr/share/dvb/dvb-s/ are some files which contain these channels; you will need that one that fits the satellite you are watching from.

The following command will scan all channels and save them to channels.conf:

$ scan -x0 -t1 -s1 /usr/share/dvb/dvb-s/[your satellite] | tee channels.conf
Note: The channel file does not have to be called channels.conf but it is more convenient as you will see later.
Note: Depending on your satellite dish setup you may have to try other arguments.

Using w_scan

w_scan allows for automatic scanning of channels without configuration. Install it then issue:

# w_scan -c [your country] > ~/someChannels.conf

Alternatively you can also scan using the satellite position like 19.5E for Astra 1. Scans like that can be done as follows:

# w_scan -fs -s S19E5 > ~/someChannels.conf

You can also add the -X flag to generate tzap/czap/xine output instead of vdr output.

# w_scan -X -c AU > ~/AustraliaChannels.conf

DiSEqC switch scanning (AKA multiple satellite LNB)

If you have a LNB with a DiSEqC switch in it you can manually select that using the -D option like so:

# w_scan -fs -s S23E5 -D 1c > ~/someChannels.conf

The above line should work but not all found channels where actually saved. The line below worked perfectly for me:

# w_scan -fs -s S23E5 -a 0 -D 1c -o 7 -e 2 > ~/someChannels.conf
Warning: I did found out that when using a LNB with a DiSEqC switch it is way more convenient to use -X ouptut which you can use in for example mplayer. Just append "-X" before the ">" that you see above.

Switching channels

Note: szap only works with satellite TV.

By using zap, which comes with dvb-utils, you can switch channels, so you do not have to rely on the abilities of your player.

szap needs the channel file we created earlier; it will try ~/.szap/channels.conf by default. You can move the channels.conf there or you can use the "-c" command-line option.

Switching channels works like this:

$ szap -r [channel]
Note: szap needs to keep running.

You can list all available channels with:

$ szap -q

Now you can watch the stream for example with xine:

$ xine -g stdin://mpeg2 < /dev/dvb/adapter0/dvr0

or with mplayer:

$ mplayer /dev/dvb/adapter0/dvr0

or with mplayer, but using DVB directly:

$ mplayer "dvb://RTL Television"

You can find all the channel names by running szap -q (assuming the channel list is also in ~/.szap/channels.conf).



Kaffeine is a really nice player; it supports EPG, time-shifting, and recording. Additionally Kaffeine has built-in channel-searching.

Install it with:

# pacman -S kaffeine

Importing channel list


Me-tv is a simple but powerfull dvb-viewer, supporting EPG, recording and channel-searching with a light-weight gui.

  • It is in the official repository:
 # pacman -S me-tv


Klear is also a really nice player, but more than 4 years old (last release 2006). It supports EPG, time-shifting, and recording, videotext. Channel-searching is still missing. Install it from AUR:


Copy your channel file to ~/.xine/channels.conf.

Watch a specific channel with following command:

$ xine dvb://[channel]

or use the playlist editor in Xine

Additional Resources

TV Cards in general

Pinnacle Cards