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HME/VLC video streamer

Author: William McBrine <>
Version: 3.6
Date: July 3, 2010

A simple streaming HME server for the TiVo Series 3+.

Uses ports 9043 and 9044. Tested on Ubuntu Linux 8.04 through 10.04, Mac OS X 10.4, and Windows XP.



  • Unzip
  • (Optional) Edit config.ini to point to your files
  • Run
  • Go to the Music, Photos and Showcases menu on your TiVo


  • Ctrl-C on Linux or Mac; close the window on Windows. (Ctrl-C does an orderly shutdown that removes the app from the menu, but unfortunately this doesn't work in Windows.)

More info

Streams can require VLC to reencode/rebroadcast them, or not. For the TiVo to use a stream directly, without VLC, the stream must be MPEG-1, MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 h.264, and served via http. Entries for new streams, shares, RSS feeds or Shoutcast sources can be created in config.ini.

Only one instance of VLC will be run at a time, but it can support multiple TiVos watching the same stream, with little additional overhead. However, two different TiVos can't simultaneously watch two different streams if they both require VLC.

VLC 0.9 through early 1.x was broken for HME/VLC's purposes.



The latest versions of VLC finally work again, _if_ the frame rate is set to 30 (instead of 29.97) and the codec to mp2v (instead of mp1v). Reported by "Allanon".

Now based on HME for Python version 0.18, which includes e.g. various fixes for Zeroconf.

Support for non-ASCII characters in filenames and description text.

The new HD UI on the TiVo Premiere requires RGB icons; use a standard-def RSS icon when appropriate.

Encode audio at 48 KHz instead of 44.1; default video bitrate is now 4 Mbps instead of 2.

Some broken feeds have enclosures with no types.

Purged some streams and feeds that no longer work, including C-SPAN.


Descriptions for Shoutcast, based on the "name" field. This is actually backwards -- "name" should be the title, and "ct" the description -- but the way the name field is abused, this is the only way that makes sense.

Support for pyTivo .txt files. Currently only the description is used.

Retry with VLC (or show the error message) from handle_error() as well as handle_resource_info().

Tweak the gap between the title and the description -- now six lines fit the info window neatly.

If the only items are either live streams or RSS feeds, skip their folders. (This is similar to what's done for files, but different -- the top-level menu retains its name and background color.)


No more idle timeout during paused video.

If live streams or RSS feeds are three or fewer items each, show the items in the top-level menu instead of a folder; also, if only one item would appear in the top-level menu, and it's a directory, then show the directory's contents instead.

Display description text in the info view. Currently this is only automatic for RSS items, but you can set it for live streams if you like, by adding a "desc=whatever" line.

More internal reorganization.


Added support for "needs_vlc" in file shares. Normally, the extension of the file is used to determine whether VLC should be used; and if playback fails without it, it's retried with VLC. But some files in ostensibly compatible formats don't play, but don't give an error, either, so HME/VLC doesn't know to retry them. Setting "needs_vlc=True" in config.ini for the share will force the use of VLC even for these not-so-compatible files.

RSS Feeds are now kept in a separate top-level folder.

Slightly better error reporting/logging.

Internal reorganization.


Files with the extensions ".tivo", ".m4v", ".mpeg", ".vob", and ".m2v" are now passed through without reencoding (in addition to the old ones ".mpg" and ".mp4"). The supported extension list is now derived from the list of MIME types in

Skip items in RSS feeds with no enclosures, or with enclosures not of type video, since some feeds include mixed media.


Use HD menus when possible.

Wrap text in the "Loading..." screen.

Separate RSS icon.

Support for iTunes-style RSS feeds, and Shoutcast TV. See the included config.ini for configuration examples. Mostly due to Jeff Mossontte, aka "Allanon".

If files or streams fail a pass-through (non-VLC) attempt, try again using VLC, if available. Suggested by TCF user "goodtrips". (Not as helpful as one would expect -- VLC is refusing to transcode some things that it can play perfectly well.)

Added a few more recognized extensions (let me know if there's one you want).

Page Up / Page Down was messed up.

Lists with more than 256 items caused an exception. Reported by "Allanon".


Make sure VLC is shut down even when the HME/VLC session ends abnormally. Suggested by TCF user "texaslabrat".

Use AC3 instead of MPEG audio -- should allow for more channels and higher quality.

Added support for setting audio bitrate via config.ini; default is 384.

Rounded end for the highlight bar; shaded background area now stays in place, as in TiVo's own menus; delay when sliding the menu in is more reliable.


Server port and video bitrate can be set in config.ini; the vlc path is taken from the [hmevlc] section instead of [DEFAULT]. is now identical to the HME for Python version; the port and datapath are set in config.ini. (If you're upgrading from a previous version and have your own, modified config.ini, you should copy the [hmeserver] and [hmevlc] sections from the new one.)

It should no longer be necessary to set the datapath under Windows, unless your videos are on a different drive from HME/VLC. You still can only use shares on one drive at a time, unless all the videos in a share require reencoding.

Paths in config.ini are now validated; shares with invalid paths are skipped.



Allow specifying the location of VLC via "vlc=/path/to/vlc" in the DEFAULTS section of config.ini.

When VLC is missing, don't show items that need it.

Allow the Advance key to skip to the end/beginning of a menu.

Remember the position in lower menus as well as higher. This is closer to the behavior of the TiVo's built-in menus. They're only remembered while the app is running.

Use images for the menu backgrounds. I liked my squares routine, but the TiVo didn't like all those transparent views.

A little more room for text in menus.


No more leaking text resources.

For debugging purposes, I'd disabled the 9.4-TiVo-software-only test, and forgot to reenable it before releasing 2.2. Not for the first time.

Generates fewer views, less cropping in the info bar, and minor tweaks to bring it closer to standard TiVo menu behavior.
Support for local file shares.
Now presents itself as one app, generates its own menu, and uses config.ini to define streams.
Rearranged to use the HME for Python package unmodified (except for the port number and name in, nee

More graceful handling of some error conditions.

Added C-SPAN and ResearchChannel.


Added fps and samplerate to the VLC parameters (the TiVo can only accept certain values for these). Not needed for NASA TV, but for some other files/streams.

The progress bar colors and sounds were not always being updated correctly.


HME/VLC, A simple streaming HME server for the TiVo Series 3+.



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