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DVB-S is a satellite television standard. This article describes the setup and use of DVB-S cards on Arch Linux.

Warning: This was only tested with the Pinnacle PCTV Sat, and may not work or will not help you with different cards.

Load required kernel modules

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

Pinnacle PCTV Sat

This card uses bt878 and cx24110 as chipset. These require the dvb-bt8xx and cx24110 kernel modules.

Load them with modprobe:

# modprobe dvb-bt8xx
# modprobe cx24110

You can load the module at boot to automate this step.

Additional modules: S2-liplianin

Some modules not included in the kernel are available from Igor M. Liplianin's git repository


This article or section needs language, wiki syntax or style improvements. See Help:Style for reference.

Reason: This belongs to a PKGBUILD in AUR. (Discuss in Talk:DVB-S)

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

$ git clone https://github.com/crazycat69/szap-s2

To clone the repository will need to install git or alternatively you can download the source code from https://github.com/crazycat69/szap-s2/archive/refs/heads/master.zip and extract it manually.

After obtaining the code, change the working directory to the extracted folder:

$ 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 configuration file: v4l/.config.

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

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.

Additional firmware: LibreELEC DVB-firmware

The LibreELEC project provides additional firmware files for various DVB devices, eg. TechniSat SkyStar S2. To use these firmware files you can install libreelec-dvb-firmware-gitAUR.

Setup permissions

To use your DVB-S card as user add it 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-appsAUR.

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
  • The channel file does not have to be called channels.conf but it is more convenient as you will see later.
  • Depending on your satellite dish setup you may have to try other arguments.

Using w_scan_cpp

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

# w_scan_cpp -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_cpp -fs -s S19E5 > ~/someChannels.conf

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

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

To get a file that can be loaded with VLC use the -L flag

# w_scan_cpp -L > ~/AustraliaChannels.conf

DiSEqC switch scanning (AKA multiple satellite LNB)

This article or section is out of date.

Reason: w_scan has been replaced with w_scan_cppAUR. "-D" flag is not available anymore. (Discuss in Talk:DVB-S)

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 the kaffeine package.

Importing channel list


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

Install Me-tv with the me-tv-bzrAUR package.


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

See also