Using ir-keytable with Mythtv

  • Using ir-keytable with Mythtv is far simpler than using lircd and is the way forward. with ir-keytable there are less files and less configuring to deal with. I use a generic IR remote which is IR6 compatible. It is also a look-a-like for a MCE remote. Similar to the black one on the right but mine is silver 🙂

    I did my testing on a Virtualbox guest running a Minimal Ubuntu Linux 18.04 server and Raspbian Stretch 2018-06-27. Follow that link to see how I did that. The IR sensor is USB so that goes into the host and then when the virtual machine is running use the menu option Devices -> USB -> TopSeed Technology Corp. eHome Infrared Transceiver.

    Since this is going to end up controlling Mythtv you will probably use a convenient front end machine. Make sure you back it up before you start. You did make a backup didn’t you? Please do not use comments to say your production mythtv-frontend got screwed up.

    The receiver will then be visible in your server.

    You can check that out

    Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
    Bus 002 Device 003: ID 1784:0011 TopSeed Technology Corp. eHome Infrared Transceiver
    Bus 002 Device 002: ID 80ee:0021 VirtualBox USB Tablet
    Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub

    The name it returns is a bit of a give away 🙂

    If you have tried to get lircd working on Ubuntu 18.04 and succeed very well done! I gave up and sorted it out this way.

    You do not need lircd or lircd-x installed to get this working, it will not even come in handy later. If you have it installed you can remove it if you like with the following.

    sudo apt update
    sudo apt purge lircd*

    Install the software

    sudo apt install ir-keytable

    We can do some checks without configuring anything. You can run the next command with or without sudo (as root) without root you get less information, You will not see the bus data and extra capabilities.

    sudo ir-keytable
    Found /sys/class/rc/rc0/ (/dev/input/event7) with:
    	Name: Media Center Ed. eHome Infrared Remote Transceiver (1784:0011)
    	Driver: mceusb, table: rc-rc6-mce
    	lirc device: /dev/lirc0
    	Supported protocols: lirc rc-5 rc-5-sz jvc sony nec sanyo mce_kbd rc-6 sharp xmp 
    	Enabled protocols: lirc rc-6 
    	bus: 3, vendor/product: 1784:0011, version: 0x0100
    	Repeat delay = 500 ms, repeat period = 125 ms

    So we now know that the system can see our device, with lsusb and with ir-keytable. You may need to know the device name assigned to the receiver for some of the ir-keytable commands, see below. My device was listed as lirc device as /dev/lirc0. Strange as I definitely do not have lircd installed not even a little bit. On real hardware it will come out like this /dev/input/event7

    You can also see that the output for my remote shows

    • Driver: mceusb
    • Table: rc-rc6-mce
    • Protocol: mce_kbd rc-6

    When your device is not automatically found

    If there was no output you will need to specify the device name. It is possible to find it with one of the following.

    ls -l /dev/input/by-path/*-ir         # for real hardware
    ls -l /dev/lir*                       # for virtual machines / Raspberry Pi

    If you saw a message about not finding your device with the test use the ‘device’ <lirc device> where the <lirc device> comes from the the output from ir-keytable without any arguments.

    Testing you device

    Lets see if we can get some input from the remote to our server and then see that on the screen.

    sudo ir-keytable --test

    Start by pressing a few buttons you should see some output on the screen. Not only that but the output appears to already know what key you are pressing. Far simpler than lircd.

    Testing events. Please, press CTRL-C to abort.
    1434.457281: event type EV_MSC(0x04): scancode = 0x800f0422
    1434.457281: event type EV_KEY(0x01) key_down: KEY_OK(0x0160)
    1434.457281: event type EV_SYN(0x00).
    1434.591229: event type EV_MSC(0x04): scancode = 0x800f0422
    1434.591229: event type EV_SYN(0x00).
    1434.848605: event type EV_KEY(0x01) key_up: KEY_OK(0x0160)
    1434.848605: event type EV_SYN(0x00).
    1435.606259: event type EV_MSC(0x04): scancode = 0x800f0421
    1435.606259: event type EV_KEY(0x01) key_down: KEY_RIGHT(0x006a)
    1435.606259: event type EV_SYN(0x00).
    1435.740992: event type EV_MSC(0x04): scancode = 0x800f0421
    1435.740992: event type EV_SYN(0x00).
    1436.000427: event type EV_KEY(0x01) key_up: KEY_RIGHT(0x006a)
    1436.000427: event type EV_SYN(0x00).

    List all scan codes

    To get a list of scan code your remote may return try the following. This command lists may show code that your remote does not have keys for. It just lists all the scan codes for the protocol.

    sudo ir-keytable --read
    scancode 0x800f0400 = KEY_NUMERIC_0 (0x200)
    scancode 0x800f0401 = KEY_NUMERIC_1 (0x201)
    scancode 0x800f0402 = KEY_NUMERIC_2 (0x202)
    scancode 0x800f0403 = KEY_NUMERIC_3 (0x203)
    scancode 0x800f0404 = KEY_NUMERIC_4 (0x204)
    scancode 0x800f0405 = KEY_NUMERIC_5 (0x205)
    scancode 0x800f0406 = KEY_NUMERIC_6 (0x206)
    scancode 0x800f0407 = KEY_NUMERIC_7 (0x207)
    scancode 0x800f0408 = KEY_NUMERIC_8 (0x208)
    scancode 0x800f0409 = KEY_NUMERIC_9 (0x209)
    scancode 0x800f040a = KEY_DELETE (0x6f)
    scancode 0x800f040b = KEY_ENTER (0x1c)
    scancode 0x800f040c = KEY_SLEEP (0x8e)

    The scancode 0x800…. is the code returned by your remote to ir-keytable. The value KEY_DELETE is the data passed on to the kernel. The hexidecimal number in braces is the keyboard scan code associated with the KEY_FOOBAR value. Do not change the scancode, ever. The KEY_FOOBAR part you can change and that will change the value in brackets.

    Configuring for MythTV

    So far we have only installed the ir-keytable software and not done any configuring at all. The problem we have is that MythTV cannot understand all. Well actually most of the keyboard scan codes coming back to it from our remote.

    You did make a backup you can restore, didn't you?

    To remap a key we need a keymap file. There are a load installed with ir-keytable, in the directory /lib/udev/rc_keymaps. Now remember when you ran ir-keytable as root it output the table, in my case it was rc-rc6-mce. There is a cfg file that holds a list of tables and files map files it will use. To find it just grep the cfg file or look at it with less or cat.

    grep rc-rc6-mce /etc/rc_maps.cfg

    My search found this line

    *	rc-rc6-mce               rc6_mce

    This shows we will be using the map file /lib/udev/rc_keymaps/rc6_mce. If we move it in to /etc/rc_keymaps it will be loaded automatically at boot time.

    sudo cp /lib/udev/rc_keymaps/rc6_mce /etc/rc_keymaps

    The beginning of the file looks like this

    # table rc6_mce, type: RC6
    0x800f0400 KEY_NUMERIC_0
    0x800f0401 KEY_NUMERIC_1
    0x800f0402 KEY_NUMERIC_2
    0x800f0403 KEY_NUMERIC_3
    0x800f0404 KEY_NUMERIC_4
    0x800f0405 KEY_NUMERIC_5
    0x800f0406 KEY_NUMERIC_6
    0x800f0407 KEY_NUMERIC_7
    0x800f0408 KEY_NUMERIC_8
    0x800f0409 KEY_NUMERIC_9
    0x800f040a KEY_DELETE
    0x800f040b KEY_ENTER
    0x800f040c KEY_SLEEP
    Enabled protocols: lirc rc-6 

    Do not touch the first line or the last line. The rest of the file is similar to the output from ir-tables –read. The first column is the scan code returned by your remote, the second column is the KEY_FOOBAR codes that get passed to the kernel.

    We can now edit the new file in /etc/rc_keymaps and it will be reloaded at boot time or when we give the reload command.

    There are a number of keys on the remote that do not automatically work with Mythtv. So by way of example, I will remap the Video key on my remote to go to the Mythtv Jump point Video Default. That is where you have saved all your home videos to.

    First find a key on the keyboard that is not already mapped. This page shows the keybinding for Mythtv. I chose ‘=’ or KEY_EQUAL. Edit the key map file in /etc/rc_keymaps. Change the line

    scancode 0x800f044a = KEY_VIDEO

    I like to put a comment next to any changes I make, so I know what the keys were originally key mapping was.

    scancode 0x800f044a = KEY_EQUAL    # was KEY_VIDEO

    Now reload the keymaps file with the following. We clear out all existing map file data rather than append in some extra data.

    sudo ir-keytable --clear --write /etc/rc_keymaps/rc6_mce

    And you should a see a little bit of output just to let you know what happened.

    Read rc6_mce table
    Old keytable cleared
    Wrote 64 keycode(s) to driver
    Protocols changed to rc-6 

    Now rerun ir-keytable in test mode and you should see that the Video key now output KEY_EQUAL and not KEY_VIDEO.

    sudo ir-keytable --test
    Testing events. Please, press CTRL-C to abort.
    7937.127973: event type EV_MSC(0x04): scancode = 0x800f044a
    7937.127973: event type EV_KEY(0x01) key_down: KEY_EQUAL(0x000d)
    7937.127973: event type EV_SYN(0x00).
    7937.261381: event type EV_MSC(0x04): scancode = 0x800f044a
    7937.261381: event type EV_SYN(0x00).
    7937.538840: event type EV_KEY(0x01) key_up: KEY_EQUAL(0x000d)
    7937.538840: event type EV_SYN(0x00).

    To make that work in Mythtv. From the front end where the remote will be connected into, From the first screen Setting -> Edit Keys. In the left-hand column scroll down to JumpPoints then in the right-hand column scroll down to Video defaults and press Return/Enter twice. You will be prompted to Press A Key. Press the key you chose to remap, Then use the cursor keys to highlight OK, press enter again. If you press escape now you will be asked it you want to Save changes?. Or you could also access the save menu with the ‘m’ or menu key.

    These changes will not take affect until you restart Myth-frontend and X, the display manager. This is a little quick than a reboot.

    To restart X and log you out use the command below.

    When you restart X it will close all GUI based programs without saving and log you out. Please make sure you close all programs before running the command below.
    sudo systemctl restart display-manager

    Now just remap the remaining keys on your remote as you would like and update Mythtv as above.

    Remember after making changes:

    • Save the keymaps file.
    • Reload the keymaps file into ir-keytable
    • Change MythTV key maps.
    • Save the new keymaps
    • Restart myth-frontend

    That is it you remote is now talking Mythtv. Time to change the batteries on the remote 🙂

    Trouble shooting

    I found that sometime the input from the remote was taken twice. You can slow down the remote a little with something like this. experiment until it works for you.

    sudo ir-keytable  -D 500 -P 250
    Repeat delay = 500 ms, repeat period = 125 ms
    Changed Repeat delay to 500 ms and repeat period to 250 ms

    If you remember at the very top when we first looked at ir-keytable output the missing data when you do not run it as root is this line, you may recognize it now.

    	Repeat delay = 500 ms, repeat period = 250 ms
  • 8 thoughts on “Using ir-keytable with Mythtv

    1. Don Brett

      Hi, great guide, just what I was looking for. I have a slightly different rc6_mce file than you show; mine is missing the final line.

      # table rc6_mce, type: RC6
      0x800f0400 KEY_NUMERIC_0
      0x800f0401 KEY_NUMERIC_1
      0x800f0480 KEY_BRIGHTNESSDOWN
      0x800f0481 KEY_PLAYPAUSE

      I checked the source and it looks the same:

      , shall I add “Enabled protocols: lirc rc-6” to my copy in /etc/rc_keymaps?


    2. Don Brett

      Under “Configuring MythTv”, the example changes:

      scancode 0x800f044a = KEY_VIDEO
      scancode 0x800f044a = KEY_EQUAL # was KEY_VIDEO

      , but my copy of /etc/rc_keymaps/rc6_mce is missing the prefix “scancode”. Am I editing the wrong file, or is code in the example from the other listing?

      Mine has:
      0x800f044a KEY_VIDEO

      , and I changed to:
      0x800f044a KEY_EQUAL # was KEY_VIDEO

      , OK?


      1. richard Post author

        You seem to have skipped over some parts. As I say many time a week if not per day to users.
        Read the blog post or instructions.
        All of it.
        In the order it was written.
        Including those you decided to miss off.
        Do not skip over text, read all of it.
        Yes, That does mean you.

        If only I had £1 each time i said it. 🙂

        Just after the heading “Configuring MythTv” see the text that says “”The beginning of the file looks like this”.
        That does not start with “scancode”. You should only see the scancode text in the output from

        sudo ir-keytable --read

    3. Carl

      Couple questions.

      How do you go about using a blaster with ir-keytable? I can’t seem to find any info that matches what I had set up with lirc.

      Is there an irexec equivalent for ir-keytable? Being able to launch a program with the remote?


        1. Carl

          It’s the transmitter part of an IR receiver/transmitter. It’s how mythtv controls a set top box to change the channels. It sticks on the front of the set top box in front of the ir receiver. With lirc mythtv would send the channel numbers to a script which would call irsend with each digit. I can’t seem to find any info on doing this with ir-keytable.

    4. Tony Brown

      Those nice dev people have changed things yet again. Writing this beginning January 2021. I’m using kernel Kernel: 5.8.0-38-lowlatency x86_64 bits: 64 Desktop: KDE Plasma 5.19.5 Ubuntu 20.10 (Groovy Gorilla) Ubuntu Studio.
      They have changed the locations of the remote files and now their locations vary by distribution.
      Mine is: /usr/lib/udev/rc_keymaps/rc6_mce.toml
      They have also changed the files to now only work with a .toml extension.
      So….rc6_mce.toml you need to search for in your system.
      Just do a: $ locate rc6_mce.toml
      Cheers Tony Great guide BTW, but please update it…..

    5. Patrick

      I’d like it if I could scroll through a list by holding down the up or down key. While it appears that ir-keytable has provided for tuning repeat-delay and repeat-period, mythtv only moves once per key press. Is this the case for everyone, or have I configured something wrong?

      I’m baffled by ir-keytable. It seems to be a generic tool. But when I open a text editor on top of mythtv, The remote still operates on mythtv in the background, not in the text editor. Lirc had keymaps for every application. How does ir-keytable interface with applications?


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