Why open source fails and Integration wins for complex programs

Discussion in 'General' started by Stonebrook, May 16, 2018.

  1. Stonebrook

    Stonebrook New Member

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    I have been looking for a replacement to Windows Media Center for a little over a year.No luck. Now, I'm no Microsoft fanboy, but I can say that WMC certainly works. Period. Install the drivers for your tuner card, run through a guided wizard setup, scan channels. BAM! your finished. Takes 12 minutes tops, start to finish.

    Your probably thinking, what the heck does this have to do with your title?! Well here is the short version. Large and/or complicated open source programs have too many dependancies!!

    Now the long version. I was poking around the net, and a name kept coming up: Mediaportal. I thought I would give it a shot. Right away I was confused because there were two versions. I looked at the graph, but still couldnt figure out why there was a "Mediaportal 1" and "Mediaportal 2". So after taking a couple of minutes to choose "Mediaportal 2" without really knowing why.

    I ran the installer. Install failed. Unknown error.

    Looked around the web a bit, and someone said you need KB3033929-x64 hotfix. Ok, so I got that. Would have been nice if the installer had TOLD me why it failed.

    Started the install again. Install failed. Unknown error. hmm, well being observant I noticed something flashed on the installer before it failed. doka or something. checked
    the log file, ahh, needs this program and cant download it. Now, that computer is not connected to the internet (BY DESIGN) and never will be, but a simple message saying "hey, gotta have this program to function" would have saved me 15 minutes. Then downloaded the I wrong package, my fault. Tried to install that and got a message saying that doka (or whatever its name is) did in fact need the latest VC 2017 runtime libraries. Ok, so I grab those no problem. At least it told me, AND had the web address to download on the error page!

    Install vc 2017 runtime libraries. Install doka (or whatever)

    Finally Mediaportal installs, but I'm totally confused about which flavor I want to install. Server, client, server only, custom, or something. I've spent at least an hour debugging an install already. I install client only.

    Then I cant find any way to configure the TV tuner. Poked around another 20 minutes or so, and decided I must need to install the server aswell. uninstalled then reinstalled server and client.

    so, I go into the program again, and still cant find any way to configure the tuner. Wasted a good 20 minutes doing that. Then I notice several new icons on the desktop. Four?!?! Really?? I need four different Icons to work this program?

    Anyway, I go into TV Config, an its really confusing. Took me probably 20 minutes to find where to scan for channels. Looking under "servers" didnt ever come to mind. I'm not,
    nor will I ever be running a broadcast server. This computer is not even on a local intranet, or ANY network (BY DESIGN).

    Finally the program tunes my channels, but, no audio. So, I spend about the next 40 minutes trying to figure out how to get audio working. Changed the splitter, changed default device, tried my optical out to my Dolby system, I also have analog speakers connected to the PC that I normally use. Couldnt get it figured out.

    Thats not all. My remote didnt work either. Let me guess. I have to install some plugin or program? HA! Thats the whole problem TOO MANY DEPENDENCIES! I spent close to 2 1/2 hours to try and get a program working that does not suit my needs, or if it does, quite frankly is too much trouble to fool with.

    I have tried Kodi, and others. Same problem. Install 'this'. Oh wait! To install 'this' you need 'that', ok. Install 'that', ooops! to install 'that' you need 'who' and so on and so forth, until you have half a dozen splitters, codecs, and plugins in addition to the program you installed. Plus backends, frontends, topends bottomends whatever.

    But wait! Theres more! Wait until new versions of 'this', 'that', and 'who' are released for bugfixes. You are required to check the website of each and every plugin, addon, codec for etc. for new versions. Then download them, and in many cases uninstall the old one first.

    Then there comes compatibility issues version 2.4 of 'this' will only work with 'who' versions 1.5 or lower. the new version 1.7 is incompatible. And on top of everything My tuner is recognised as a Hauppauge 7164, but is in fact a Hauppauge 2250.

    Enough! People have real lives, better things to do than spend 3 hours configuring a program. And yes, I spent the time to write a long post, but its only because I noticed that alot of people put many hours into what could be a fine program. Unfortunately it's grossly overcomplicated.




    And before anyone thinks I'm some 16 yo newbie. I have been working with computers for over 30yrs. I had the first home gaming console. Intellivision. A Tandy 1000, comodore 64 (we wrote our own game code then HA!), Amiga, IBM ps/2 286, 386, and so on and so forth. I have built computers, and run a computer business. In addition I have degrees in Computer Electronics, and Automotive Mechanics.

    I'm not just trying to say how smart I am or whatever. I am trying to illistrate that if someone with my background, and experience has this much trouble, what do think the results of someone with less experience would be?

    Now I could probably get it figured out, but I'm really not sure it's worth the time.

    This is off the forum: Trying MP2 again after 5 years

    And he had the same problem 5 years ago.

    You have a good program, but, and its a big but (HA!) it needs larger integration. support for mouse buttons 4 and 5 (forward/back). Include native support for IR remotes etc.

    BTW I'm not particularly attached to WMC menu style but switching skins to WMC actually helped me navigate. Not just because it's familiar, but because the default menus are... well, awkward.

    Dont get me wrong, I didnt spend all this time just to post a bitchfest. I wanted to give some honest feedback to the devs from a real end-user experience: Long, frustrating, confusing, and complicated

    Oh, and when I got tired of fooling with mediaportal, I hit the green button on my remote, when media center opened I hit ok for live TV and the news was on. Simple. Which is why years after development many people are still using WMC.

    It's time to move on from WMC, but whatever it is has to work, and be simple.

    -Stonebrook
     
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  3. regeszter
    • Team MediaPortal

    regeszter Development Group

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    You saved some hours if you add internet connection to your PC and if you tried MediaPortal 1 ;)
     
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  4. BlueMax1916
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    BlueMax1916 Super User

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    And that's the next problem: a divided (and small) MP developer community :eek:

    Cheers

    Blue Max
     
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  5. Lehmden
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    Hi.
    If you had invested 5 minutes of time to read the manual (aka Wiki) you've had known that you can't install MediaPortal (or any other TV Software I know of, incl WMC) without internet connection, at least part time internet connection always is needed..
    This is a huge error by design. Even WMC can't work or install without any internet connection. At least you had connection while you've installed Windows (and with it WMC) on the system (or someone else did for you). The Media PC needs to download not only dependencies during installation but also metadata for movies, series and music, grabs your weather forecast, your news feeds,... and even the TV guide is downloaded from the internet on a regularly base. WMC downloads the guide from a service hosted by Microsoft. And as Microsoft don't send their data via snail mail you need an internet connection for WMC too...

    A Media PC without internet is a completely no go... It's like using a muscle car without fuel only by pushing it...

    If you only want to watch Live- TV you better buy yourself a Smart- TV or a Tivo or so. A PC is too noisy and power consuming only for watching TV. In modern HTPC software packages watching TV only is a small part of all features. Indeed classical TV is getting less and less important to most users...

    By the way, MediaPortal is the most easy to configure TV software available today excerpt for some tools delivered with TV tuner cards. You may try other tools (like TVHeadend, wish you good luck) but you will find them more complicated to setup, I'm sure...
     
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  6. Stonebrook

    Stonebrook New Member

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    Thank you for all the replies, and since I really dont want to be a troll I probably wont reply again on this topic. Like the other poster I will more than likely wait for mediaportal to mature a bit.

    This particular computer is "airgap" for security. it will never be connected to ANY network. Thank you for the suggestion.

    Hopefully that will change. Were I a programmer possibly I could contribute. Unfortunately my feedback is all I have ATM.

    I really should have invested a few minutes into the wiki. Most software these days take care of their own business, and I must admit that MP did in fact try to download the required dependency. Unfortunately, when it failed it didnt tell me why.

    I disagree no internet on the PC is a huge error by design. The PC has sensitive data that cannot be compromised. WMC does not require an internet connection to function. WMC is fully funtional on Win 7 out of the box (ie no dependencies(well other thatn you tuner card driver). Metadata is not required. I dont use playready.

    I have seriously considered a standalone TV, and may move to that; However the PVR/DVR features are what keep it on my PC. I DO have a TIVO, and use it regularly. It's the TV buffer I'm after. I hate commercials.

    Also I do more on my PC than watch TV. I have a multi-monitor setup whereby I can play games, word process, and many other things while the TV plays.

    I DO really appreciate those who took the time to read my post and reply. But I still feel the same way about complicated open source projects. I have the SAME problem with linux. been trying (on and off) for years to learn/migrate, and I cant even install a package :p

    Guess you cant teach an old dog new tricks. LOL!

    -Stonebrook
     
  7. Lehmden
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    This is not the case. Some of it's functionality probably may work without internet (the same is valid for MP too) but it is no way fully working without internet connection.

    Also not true... On WMC you can not play MKV, and no h265 (HEVC) videos out of the box so you miss the vast majority of videos nowadays. Especially MKV is the most flexible (not to say the best available) and for this the most common video container right now. MKV is not supported in Win7 (and for this not supported in WMC too) without installation of external (Open Source or commercial) software so you ootb can not play about 90% of all video files existing worldwide,... You can't name this "fully functional",

    Using a system with such sensible data for general purpose is somehow not the best decision. PC are not very expensive those days, at least if you only store data or do media playback... A dedicated system with the sensible data that is not used for general purpose would be a much better (and much more secure) solution. I'm no gamer but afaik most games are also need to have an internet connection...

    Many modern TV are able to record to an attached USB drive. If recording and skipping commercials is the only purpose this would be the much easier way to go. You only need to read the manual of your TV...
     
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  8. netexplorer
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    netexplorer MP Donator

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    Have you tried DVBViewer? Maybe this is an alternative for you.
     
  9. Stonebrook

    Stonebrook New Member

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    First let me thank you lehmden, and netexplorer for you feedback. I had intended not to reply again to this thread, but felt some clarification was in order.

    I only use WMC for live TV. That's it. I don't use playready (which is an EPG (requires internet)). No pictures, movies, music, nothing else, so in fact (for MY purposes) WMC is fully functional 'ootb' as you abbreviated :)

    MKV, mp4 etc. are handled by ffdshow and other codec's (ie. AC3) and Videolans' native support, so no worries about videos on that computer. Music is handled by Winamp. Pictures are handled by internal Win7 support.

    Much of your post is simply a misunderstanding about my computing use and needs. This thread was NEVER meant to be an attack on Mediaportal, OR a direct comparison between WMC and Mediaportal.

    BTW I think Mediaportal is a very nice program, albeit not mature.

    Rather, I wished to EXEMPLIFY the differences between large scale commercial integration, and open source. NOT an argument about how I choose to use my computers.

    I have been waiting about 20 years for open source to 'break the barrier' and make things simple enough for regular folks. Let me clarify. I am computer savvy, Windows savvy, ms dos savvy, but waaaay to old to learn nix console language. And, I might add waaay to busy. I banged my head on a desk, 16 hours a day for 20 years. I've done my bid.

    I have wanted for YEARS to kick MS to the curb. Don't get me started.

    The point I was trying to make is that large scale commercial integration, proprietary systems, and such typical software, are less flexible, but 'generally' more stable, reliable, and just plain simple to operate.


    --> LARGE COMPLICATED <-- Open source programs tend to be vastly more flexible, however they tend to be more complicated, less stable, and more difficult to operate.

    I have used VLC for many years, which is open source, but I only use it for video files. nothing else, and I have had many bouts with its functionality, and figuring out ten billion options!! LOL!

    That said, open source has immense potential, and some projects have come to maturity, while many have not.

    KEEP IN MIND I SPEAK FROM A MICROSOFT PERSPECTIVE!!.

    persons who are fluent in nix, I think have much fewer problems with open source. Probably because most open source originates from a nix perspective.

    As far as the games I play, I don't play online multiplayer games, and lets just say that any internet connection required to play said games is relived of duty.

    There have been several suggestions here that I am seriously taking into consideration to remedy my issues, and I thank you all for taking the time to reply. :) I will not be setting up another standalone pc for sensitive data. I have enough pc's. Seriously. Too many.

    A dedicated TV is at the top of my list; However I doubt any USB drive will give me the 2hr buffer I have on WMC. Another $400 TiVO is out of the question.

    If anyone is interested, I really only have '4' issues with WMC, which are relatively minor.

    1) WMC HAS to have focus. God, it steals it every time you close a window. Hitting the window key or alt-tab works but but its really annoying when your working with multiple windows, and you 'x' a window out.

    2) A popup when you insert ANY removable media. USB, Optical, 'virtual drive' etc. Turning off Autoplay DOES NOT work. And if you don't 'x' it out in about 7 seconds, it WILL autoplay! LOL! I Lose my TV buffer that way :(

    3) Channel button on the remote doesn't wont unless WMC has focus. So to change channel, I have to Alt-tab. :p

    4) WMC goes into standby. Would be nice if WMC had -> 'a checkbox' -> 'prevent standby when WMC is running'

    Thats it. Those are the ONLY real problems I have with WMC. I have multi-monitor setup (4), so the TV just runs while I do work, or play games. If I need I can pause/unpause rewind etc without changing window focus.

    So, because its so simple, and functional, you can see why many people, including myself, are still using it.

    Lets not forget that my hardware is accurately detected and implemented.

    Open source will have a hard time competing against an onsite qualified team of paid professionals.

    And BTW I HAVE purchased several commercial packages over the years to replace WMC. The others I forget, but the last was jRiver. Don't remember the problem. Either the tuner wasn't recognized, or the remote didn't work. What I can say is that it was simple and easy to use.

    Anyway, if you want to talk about the benefits/drawbacks of 'open source' .VS Commercial/proprietary software, I would be more than happy to talk.

    However my computing uses/needs are not likely to change.... much. Unless of course I can find a simple effective solution.

    no attacks :) All friendly here.

    -Stonebrook
     
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  10. KayDiefenthal
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    without qoute blow up this that with any result

    but 2 simply question as dev of mcml plugins for mce
    aber 2 einfache fragen als mcml erweiterungs entwickler

    sure i can understood your points,
    but had you the answer why ms had die the wmce ?

    klar kann ich deine standpunkte verstehen,
    aber warum hat dann ms das wmce sterben lassen ?

    Of course, many things come to fruition with the windows mediacenter
    and I say it as mcml plugin writer
    that there were also many hurdles
    which you had to circumnavigate to the desired result comb

    klar klappe vieles mit dem windows mediacenter
    und sage ich ich als mcml plugin schreiber
    das da auch sehr viele hürden waren
    die man umschiffen musste um zum gewüschten ergebniss kamm

    i think sure mediaportal is more complex as wmce as was
    but if you understand that the complexis of an project need more settings that it then work
    is it form my side all ok

    aber wenn du verstehts das mediaportal mehr unterstüzt als wmce je mehr von hause aus konnte
    sollte man auch verstehen das man mehr einstellungen vornehmen muss damit es läuft
    wenn du das auch so siehst ist von meiner seite alles ok

    with another words mediaportal tries to give everyone an good alternative too wmce
    if the user want to use it and his luckieness stands on on another side of paper

    mit anderen worten mediaportal versucht möglichst jedem eine gute alternative zu bieten zu wmce
    wenn der benutzer will und damit zufrieden ist steht auf einem anderen papier
     
  11. Digsy

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    I think I should re-iterate my own experiences here having just moved from WMC to MP2, and I also have some views on how “friendly” the MP2 installer should be, and the relative advantages of integration over open source, and which one wins for me.


    Firstly, I installed MP2 first time (on a connected machine), without errors. The only part of the Wiki I read was the “installing Media Portal 2” section - and I did read it all - so I knew about the required downloads for supporting packages, and the Dokan / Windows update thing. As my machine's OS is regularly updated I didn’t foresee any of this being a problem, and it wasn’t. So as a result I never got to see any of the OP's error messages during install, but in this case I would agree with him: The installer should really be friendly enough to warn you of a problem before an error occurs, and give you a chance to fix it before proceeding.


    As for TV tuning – yes it is confusing, but again I was able to manage it first go simply by reading the relevant section of the Wiki. In fact the longest part of setting up the TV channels was actually waiting for the channel scan to complete. However, my hardware setup is very simple: Just a single DVB-S2 card with two tuners, and no CAMs to worry about. I didn’t change any of the default settings and it’s a good job because at this stage I didn’t understand what any of them actually did. Compare this to the WMC setup, which walks you through each step: 1) Identify your tuner card(s), 2) scan for channels, 3) select which channels you want to display in the EPG, 4) set up your screen / speakersm etc. I think this “wizard” approach has a lot of merit – especially for a first time TV server setup, as being confronted with the entire configuration tool just to set up channels makes it look far more daunting than it actually is.


    The EPG is where I came a bit unstuck. I only use a 7 day EPG which is broadcast over the air, so I expected MP2 to be able to grab this by itself, but I could not make it work. Luckily, I was already used to using EPG Collector with WMC, so I was able to get the EPG data sorted out very quickly using the XMLTV plugin (and again, the relevant section of the Wiki). Also, channel mapping from EPG Collector is FAR simpler in MP2 than it was in WMC.


    After that, I found configuring everything inside MP2 to be very similar to WMC (especially once I had the WMC skin switched on).


    It’s exactly one week ago today that I installed MP2, and as far as I am concerned it is now a fully working system, which has completely taken over from WMC on my HTPC. The next step will be to go multi-room, and I am hoping that will go equally as smoothly.


    I have my own take on “integration versus open source”, especially where WMC and MP2 are concerned. If the OP had been using the EPG on WMC then he would know that support from Microsoft has stopped and WMC users have already been forced to move to third party EPG providers (dependencies!). In fact, I don’t know why the OP uses WMC at all. A set top box would be a much better solution if all you want to do is watch live TV. I though very long and hard about going the HTPC route for precisely the reasons that the OP is stating. I probably took me two years to decide to take the plunge – and when I did, because of WMC’s simplicity, it all went surprisingly smoothly. As the OP said, WMC just works, straight out of the box.


    But: Where has all that “integration” got us WMC users? We ended up with HTPC’s built around software which has been completely disowned by Microsoft. We have nowhere to go for a solution other than back to separate boxes, or solutions like Kodi or MP. Its not just HTPC’s either. I have a Mede8er media player which currently acts as a client for my bedroom TV. This is fine for watching movies and listening to audio from my NAS, but the software on it for viewing online content was already out of date and useless by the time I set it up. There are more ways than ever to view media these days but the diversification is creating significant risk when deciding exactly which player to buy. And the reason is that the item for sale is no longer the player itself, but rather the media content, and the companies who can sign the best deals can and will try to make content exclusive to their own players.


    Personally, I won’t buy a smart TV because I fear that the software platforms and content that is built in to these things is always just one corporate agreement away from being killed off. I used to have a home automation / security system which relied on a subscription service to work. One day the company was bought out and closed down by a competitor. And I literally had £1000 worth of kit reduced to junk overnight.


    So… the HPTC should really be the ultimate solution to all this, and open source software should be the hero in this story. So why isn’t it? And this is where I really do think the OP has a valid point: A lot of this software is written “by geeks, for geeks”. Don’t misunderstand me, I can be the biggest geek on earth when I want, but when I get home I really just want to watch TV or listen to music without endless setups, reboots, having to update configurations, etc, etc. Something which seems simple to a code writer can be impossible for the end-user.


    The OP’s example of having no audio after initial setup is a good one. I had a similar problem – I had audio but no surround sound, as none of the relevant bitstreaming options were selected by default. I made a suggestion that part of the initial setup could be a wizard which asks simple questions about how your HTPC is set up (what kind of interconnect, how many speakers, etc). This suggestion was dismissed because it is "easy enough to ask a question in the forum".


    IMHO this is entirely the wrong approach, and a big part of why HTPC are losing out to smart TVs, the Amazon Fire stick, and so on. As good as they are, the setups dialogues are not friendly enough to be of use to the “average user”. I can understand why this is: Writing robust installers, wizards, and pretty GUIs which will hardly ever be used after the initial install is going to consume a lot of coding resources, which could be better spent on making MP a better product, but after that, where are the dependencies that the OP was referring to? Once the installer has downloaded the necessary packages, I assume that this will never need to be done again. My MP2 install should carry on working for ever. My opinion is that “integration” which ties you to a major provider is the biggest dependency of all, and as we have seen with WMC and we will see in the future with other devices, there are absolutely no guarantees that what “just works” today will work tomorrow.


    So… even though it may be the least sexy part of MP, making the installation and setup as simple and pain free as possible, and making the support forum the LAST place you should have to look for help, really is the key to the future of HTPC for a wider audience.

    For HTPCs, open source wins for me (there aren't any alternatives, anyway). Open source software resurrected my home security system (some of which I had to code myself). And now I have no "dependencies" at all for either.

    All in my opinion, anyway. :)
     
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