Configuring TV out

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The details to configure a computer's TV out port is different based on the type of graphics card you have.

Popular graphics cards

NVIDIA based cards

ATI based cards

  • The xfree86 drivers made by the GATOS project support enabling tv-out for ATI based cards.
  • The closed source drivers by ATI also support tv-out
  • If using a laptop, try simply closing the lid. Many laptop also have a key or key combination (often Fn+F6 or some other F key, check the manual) to switch the output.

3dfx cards

Tv-out of a Voodoo3 can be enabled by installing i2c/lm-sensors kernel drivers/modules called i2c-voodoo3 and bt869. These are included in recent kernel versions or can be downloaded from the lm-sensors website[1]. Loading them will enabled the tv-out. It can be configured by some files in /proc.

For example:

Disabling NTSC/Enabling PAL output:
echo "0" > /proc/sys/dev/sensors/bt869-i2c-0-44/ntsc
Configuring the resolution:
echo "800 600" > /proc/sys/dev/sensors/bt869-i2c-0-44/res

This works in the console. If you want to use it in XFree86, you'll first have to add proper modelines for your TV output type (e.g. PAL or NTSC) to your configuration. And you'll have to re-run the commands to configure the kernel modules after X has been started. (Best to put that stuff in a script and run it in your .xsession).

MATROX cards

Matrox cards have arguably the best quality TV out. It gives you fully TV standards compliant interlaced signal. It allows you to use SCART-RGB cable to connect to TV. To utilise this your choises are:

1) VIDIX
+ DVDMax mode for Linux!!! Picture on your X and TV simultaneously.
+ Low CPU utilization
+ Hardware OSD support

mplayer your_movie.mpg -vo xvidix -vf scale=768:576
(or mplayer your_movie.mpg -vo xvidix:mga_crtc2_vid.so -vf scale=768:576)

(Note: Kernel patch required. Tested with my G550; kernel 2.6.9. Matrox TV-out kernel patches)
(Note2: Your framebuffer shoul be set up with 768x576 resolution)

2) Kernel's Framebuffer (matroxfb) [2]
+ S-Video
- No hardware acceleration
(Note: SCART-RGB requires kernel patch to work - works with my G550; kernel 2.6.9. Matrox TV-out kernel patches)

0) Propriatory Matrox drivers do NOT support TV out on Linux.

Tips for matroxfb on 2.6 kernel:
- do not forget to enable CONFIG_FRAMEBUFFER_CONSOLE into kernel when compiling your kernel[3]. Otherwise you'll end up with blank screen on boot.
- use latest matroxset-0.4 from [4] to edit brightness/contrast/saturation/hue
matroxset -f /dev/fb0 -e for manual tuning
matroxset -f /dev/fb0 -c 0x980901 1023 to set contrast to maximum
- vl4ctl do not work for that purpose anymore as of kernel 2.6.9

SCART-RGB cable pinouts can be found on Matrox site here

See also