Watching Internet TV on My TV

Recently, due to our move and lack of willing to pay for a DVR with our cable subscription, my wife has introduced me to how the big networks are offering all their shows online. It’s great. Really.

Unfortunately, this means my wife has been sitting in our bedroom watching her favorite shows on a 19″ computer monitor hooked up to our Apple G5.

Solution: I found an RF modulator at Wal-Mart for $20 (RCA I think) that lets me hook my laptop’s S-Video output up to our old 30″ CRT. I wouldn’t write any letters on it or do lengthy reading, but video and images look pretty good. Using Linux certainly threw a few curve balls into an otherwise simple setup.

So, how can I too enjoy Internet TV on my old CRT Television?

Well, you are in luck, ‘cuz I did all the hunting around for you. At least if you are running Ubuntu Linux 7.10 on a Thinkpad T42.

Here’s how to use the xrandr tools to start your S-Video out: Finally I Got S-Video Working My Thinkpad T42
XStrikeForce: HowToRandR

I took Mr Bernardes’ terminal commands and created custom application shortcuts for each separate step that I use frequently:

  1. Activate S-Video
    xrandr --output S-video --set load_detection 1
  2. Start S-Video OUT
    xrandr --output S-video --auto
  3. Turn LCD OFF
    xrandr --output LVDS --off
  4. Turn LCD ON
    xrandr --output LVDS --auto

Then simply go to, or whatever. Hell, YouTube even.

Another good thing that helps position your video window on the TV for optimal viewing is the ZOOM capabilities of Compiz-Fusion. So look into that. You can get it set just right without too much visual noise around the video.

Wait a second, all my favorite shows are on ABC…

If you haven’t figured it out yet, ABC has a custom video player that is not available for Linux. That’s a deal breaker right there. Especially since that’s my wife’s favorite channel currently.

Luckily, the good folks over at WINE are doing a smash-up job. The trick is to install the Windows version of Firefox over WINE and then watch ABC from Firefox/Windows. Check out the following info for details:


It’s a pretty clever solution. Not too many details there.

What about audio?

The RF Modulator that I bought has inputs for component audio that will then pass to your TV via COAX. I actually have a receiver stereo, so I push the audio through that from my laptop for the full experience.

That was simple!

I don’t guarantee this will work, but I wish you luck if you choose this challenge.