Linux Mint Tips series is a list of tricks I've picked up after having switched away from Windows for good in 2013, after dabbling for years. I'll do my best to go back and edit posts that contain any erroneous information, but keep in mind that I'm a relative newcomer to the Linux scene. I wrote this tutorial running the MATE desktop environment in Mint 17.1.
I have an older TV capture card in my PC. It still works just fine, but I ran into some problems when I started trying to use it to view TV in Linux Mint 17.1. Namely that the TV watching packages (Myth TV, Me TV, pretty much every linux TV viewer) only work with DVB (digital video broadcast) devices, of which the older PVR series are not. After some time, I gave up searching for a nice looking piece of software and started looking for anything that worked. That's when I found a few useful guides and tips, which I'll distill for you here:
Part 1, Tuning:
Open Package Manager and install the ivtv-utils package (you'll have to enter the password of your elevated account to start package manager. After you've searched and found ivtv-utils, click on the checkbox next to it. Select mark for installation. It'll ask if you want to install dependencies. Choose Mark so they'll be installed also.)
Open VLC player (comes pre-installed on Mint).
Click on the Media menu, then select Open Capture Device.
Click PVR in the Capture Mode dropdown then click the Play button.
If you do not have a PVR option, you will need to close VLC and then open Terminal. Type, or better yet, copy and paste in this command: vlc 'v4l2c://' >/dev/null 2>&1 & and hit enter. This will start VLC in the correct mode for PVR devices.
Open Terminal, if it isn't already open, and enter ivtv-tune -c33 (33 is channel number, so use whatever channel you like)
You should now have a valid signal and you should be able to watch TV. You can use the ivtv-tune terminal command to change the channel at any time.
Part 2, Adjusting the view:
Turn on deinterlacing to reduce the "jaggy" effect. In VLC, click on the Video menu, select Deinterlace, then select On.
For channels that show widescreen inside the 4:3 frame, which is most of them these days, there is a useful zoom function. Click on the Video menu, select Crop, select 16:9.
To show in true fullscreen mode, use the following two options in succession: Click on the View menu, and select Fullscreen Interface. Then click on the View menu again, and select Minimal Interface. You can get out of this mode using the Esc key or by right clicking on the video itself to get the menu options to come up so you can toggle these modes back off.
To enable recording, click on the View menu and select Advanced Controls. This will enable the record icon in the bottom control bar. Videos are recorded to your home/Videos folder.
Thanks very much to the following guides and answers that helped me put together this tutorial: