3 November 2005
By Don Saunders
This is my second in a series of concise reviews of Linux software. In my first review I looked at CeeMedia, a DVD cataloguing software. It seems sensible for my second review in the series to continue with this multimedia theme, so I will now take the opportunity to review software designed to make it easier to plan your TV viewing.
Rather than reviewing a single application, this time I will be looking at three separate programs. The first to be considered is FreeGuide. This is a Java application and consequently runs on all major operating systems including Linux.
LinuxLinks.com lists 19 software titles for tv guides at http://www.linuxlinks.com/Software/Multimedia/TV/TV_Guide/ which run in Linux. Going through the entries some of them were for console only, or for specific countries. Out of these entries two of them seemed worthy of investigation: GShow TV and Maxemum TV-Guide. The former is a Gnome 2 application, whereas the latter needs QT/KDE installed on your system.
All of the software being reviewed all rely on the same backend software to obtain the programme listings. This is achieved by making use of XMLTV, a set of utilities that allow you to download tv listings. A reasonable number of countries are supported by XMLTV including Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Finland, Spain, the Netherlands, Hungary, Denmark, Japan, Sweden, France, Norway, and Romania. For the curious, XMLTV stores the tv listing in a format which is based on XML.
FreeGuide, GShow TV, and Maxemum TV-Guide are all designed to provide a convenient front-end to XMLTV, and allow you to view television listings with a convenient interface, but as you'll see, there are important differences between them.
The benchmark for tv guide software is the award-winning DigiGuide. Although a Windows program, I have tested DigiGuide with the latest wine beta in Linux, on an Intel Xeon machine, and it functions reasonably well. However, to use DigiGuide requires an annual payment (albeit small), so it would be interesting to see how the free alternatives compare. Let's see!