Last November we had looked at Mythbuntu 7.10 and found it to be an excellent MythTV distribution. With its LiveCD MythTV front-end capabilities and intuitive Mythbuntu Control Center, this distribution is far more than just a re-branded edition of Ubuntu with a couple MythTV packages. Being released in tandem with Ubuntu 8.04 "Hardy Heron" next month will be Mythbuntu 8.04 and today we are taking an early look at this spring refresh using the recently released beta.
Mythbuntu 8.04 is made available for i386 and x86_64 architectures with both LiveCD and alternate install media. One of the new additions to Mythbuntu 8.04 is diskless support and it can be setup by using the Mythbuntu Control Center and installing mythbuntu-diskless-server on the Ubuntu server. This diskless support allows Mythbuntu clients to be booted on a read-only compressed file-system provided by the Mythbuntu (or Ubuntu 8.04 LTS) server over the network and writes to the disk are done to an NFS share using a writeable overlay. Benefits of this new Mythbuntu diskless support include your system running quieter as there is no spinning HDD and it's more cost effective if you're planning on deploying multiple MythTV front-ends on the same local network.
The Mythbuntu 8.04 beta LiveCD hasn't visibly changed much from Mythbuntu 7.10. While most of the time you'll be in the MythTV front-end, the default Xfce theme for Mythbuntu hasn't improved in this release. From our perspective, the theme is rather ugly and lacks any real contrast. The icons could also be improved. Hopefully this area will be improved for Mythbuntu 8.10, as Ubuntu 8.10 "Intrepid Ibex" will be getting a new theme as well.
When installing this distribution using the LiveCD, the Ubiquity installer front-end is modified to handle some of the basic Mythbuntu setup tasks. There are installation types of standard and advanced, with the latter route being required to install Mythbuntu on an existing MythTV network. The extra installation steps are similar to the options found in the Mythbuntu Control Center and that includes setting up any remote controls, IR transmitters, selecting any restricted video driver, whether to enable TV-Out support by default, and enabling other back-end driver utilities (Silicon Dust HDHomeRun, XMLTV, and DVB CLI).