Watching TV on your PC using the Freebox

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This article explains how to configure your PC to watch TV from streams sent by the Freebox. This guide is thus only relevant if you live in France and are a customer of Free (France's best Internet Service Provider).

Note that this guide assumes you use a router. The Freebox can also serve as a router, but this is not what I use, so this guide probably does not apply to that configuration. I use a fully featured router (Linksys WRT54G) connected to the Freebox.

General Configuration

The main problem if you are behind a router is that you must redirect some ports in order to be able to receive the TV streams. Free recommands using VLC as the media player which will handle streams. The problem is that before VLC 0.8.5, the port negotiated between VLC and the Freebox to receive the streams was not static. It could change on every session, thus forcing you to redirect a wide range of ports, which is not acceptable.

So it is mandatory to use VLC version 0.8.5 or later.

In VLC 0.8.5, the port to be used for RTP streaming can be chosen in Preferences->Input/Codecs->Demuxers->RTP/RTSP. You must check the "Advanced options" box in order to be able to enter your chosen port.

Once you have chosen the port, redirect this port to your PC, and this port minus one, in your router configuration. Eg, if you chose port 1601, redirect both 1600 and 1601 to your PC.

Mac OS X Configuration

On Mac OS X, VLC 0.8.5 has a GUI bug in the Preferences interface. The checkbox "Use RTP over RTSP (TCP)" must NOT be checked, even if it is seems as if you cannot choose the port if it left unchecked. This is only a GUI bug.

Gentoo (Linux) Configuration

On Gentoo, here are the requested USE flags for VLC, to be sure that it will be compiled with the right options to be able to handle Free TV streams:

stream live rtsp dvb 

Following flags are also useful for various reasons:

httpd wxwindows vlm

There seems to be a bug with the saving of preferences via the GUI. Thus, the port for RTP streaming should be entered manually in the configuration file (located at ~/.vlc/vlcrc, there is no global configuration file), as shown below.

[livedotcom] # RTP/RTSP/SDP demuxer (using Live555.com)

# Use RTP over RTSP (TCP) (boolean)
#rtsp-tcp=0
# Client port (integer)
rtp-client-port=1601
# Tunnel RTSP and RTP over HTTP (boolean)
#rtsp-http=0
# HTTP tunnel port (integer)
#rtsp-http-port=80
# Caching value (ms) (integer)
#rtsp-caching=1200
# Kasenna RTSP dialect (boolean)
#rtsp-kasenna=0

Opening the channel list

Open in VNC the URL http://mafreebox.freebox.fr/freeboxtv/playlist.m3u.

Recording Streams

  • MyFreeTV is a nice GUI in Java allowing you to record a streams from the Freebox. It just requires VLC. It produces MPEG files. Update: MyFreeTV no longer works with recent versions of VLC (0.9.x).
  • Fricorder seems to do the same. You need to launch the atd daemon prior to recording though (/etc/init.d/atd start).