hdpvr driver and VIDIOC_G_FMT

Hans Verkuil hverkuil at xs4all.nl
Mon Oct 1 02:09:23 PDT 2012

On Sun September 30 2012 14:51:36 David Röthlisberger wrote:
> I am using the Hauppauge HD PVR video-capture device with a GStreamer
> "v4l2src". The HD PVR has an upstream driver called "hdpvr":
> http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git;a=tree;f=drivers/media/video/hdpvr
> When the HD PVR device does not have any video on its capture input, the
> VIDIOC_G_FMT ioctl fails. GStreamer ignores the error (and doesn't
> report it to my application); the HD PVR fails to start up so even if
> video is later established on the HD PVR's input, the GStreamer pipeline
> never receives video. (Bear with me, linuxtv folks; I have plenty of
> non-GStreamer questions for you.) :-)
> It seems to me that the only reason the hdpvr's vidioc_g_fmt_vid_cap [1]
> fails, is because it doesn't know the video width & height until it
> has video on its input:
>     vid_info = get_video_info(dev);
>     if (!vid_info)
>     	return -EFAULT;
>     f->type = V4L2_BUF_TYPE_VIDEO_CAPTURE;
>     f->fmt.pix.pixelformat	= V4L2_PIX_FMT_MPEG;
>     f->fmt.pix.width	= vid_info->width;
>     f->fmt.pix.height	= vid_info->height;
>     f->fmt.pix.sizeimage	= dev->bulk_in_size;
>     f->fmt.pix.colorspace	= 0;
>     f->fmt.pix.bytesperline	= 0;
>     f->fmt.pix.field	= V4L2_FIELD_ANY;
> Note that the v4l2 documentation for VIDIOC_G_FMT [2] says:
>     Drivers should not return an error code unless the type field is
>     invalid, this is a mechanism to fathom device capabilities and to
>     approach parameters acceptable for both the application and driver.
> The above discusses "device capabilities" whereas what the hdpvr driver
> does in this case describes properties of the input data. The difficulty
> is that the capabilities of the hardware include a whole bunch of
> different resolutions and frame-rates but these modes seem only
> available if they match the incoming signal.
> Question 1: Is this [return -EFAULT] a bug in the hdpvr driver?


> If the
> format is mpeg, why do we need to fill in width & height -- isn't this
> something the container or codec will tell you?

For devices with a hardware scaler width and height represent the scaler
output size. For devices without a scaler width and height are set based
on the selected standard.

> It seems to me that all
> the other fields can be determined even without video on the device's
> capture input, so this function doesn't need to fail.


> Now looking at v4l2_fd_open: [3]
>     /* Get current cam format */
>     fmt.type = V4L2_BUF_TYPE_VIDEO_CAPTURE;
>     if (dev_ops->ioctl(dev_ops_priv, fd, VIDIOC_G_FMT, &fmt)) {
>             int saved_err = errno;
>             V4L2_LOG_ERR("getting pixformat: %s\n", strerror(errno));
>             v4l2_plugin_cleanup(plugin_library, dev_ops_priv, dev_ops);
>             errno = saved_err;
>             return -1;
>     }
> Question 2: Is v4l2 mostly designed towards webcams (as the comment in
> the above code implies)?

libv4l2 is generic, although webcams are the primary use-case. It was initially
developed with a focus on webcams, which is the reason you see them mentioned.
But it works just as well with non-webcams.

> What about capturing a continuous video stream
> from a video-capture device, where I want to continue capturing even
> when the capture device loses video input? (Say, it's connected to a
> set-top box that reboots, and I want to capture the video from the
> set-top box before it reboots and after it reboots, with a blank image
> during the time the video was lost.)

Whether that's possible will depend on the hardware. Some hardware will stop
streaming if sync is lost, although for analog sources (especially composite
and S-Video inputs) this is generally not a problem. You usually receive
static, though, not a blank image.

> Now to GStreamer: gst_v4l2_open [4] ignores the error from v4l2_fd_open:
>     libv4l2_fd = v4l2_fd_open (v4l2object->video_fd,
>     /* Note the v4l2_xxx functions are designed so that if they get passed an
>        unknown fd, the will behave exactly as their regular xxx counterparts, so
>        if v4l2_fd_open fails, we continue as normal (missing the libv4l2 custom
>        cam format to normal formats conversion). Chances are big we will still
>        fail then though, as normally v4l2_fd_open only fails if the device is not
>        a v4l2 device. */
>     if (libv4l2_fd != -1)
>       v4l2object->video_fd = libv4l2_fd;
> Again a comment mentioning "cams".
> Question 3: If "chances are big we will still fail" anyway, could we
> instead report the error up to the GStreamer pipeline/application?

The problem is that there are still drivers like hdpvr that do not conform to
the V4L2 API. While the error really should be reported, the consequence today
might be that it will stop working for drivers like this.

> Thanks for your help, and I hope my ignorance doesn't show through too
> much in my questions. :-) What we haven't tried yet is just removing the
> call to get_video_info from VIDIOC_G_FMT and related calls in the kernel
> to avoid the failure condition, and see what happens; but in parallel
> with that task I thought I'd write to you for some guidance.

The whole driver needs to be seriously cleaned up. There is a v4l2 compliance
tools in the v4l2-utils git repository (http://git.linuxtv.org/v4l-utils.git,
use the master branch) which this driver will fail completely.



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