We do not recommend running Shepherd as root.

Windows users: see here.


  1. [MythTV users only] Install and configure MythTV first. In mythtv-setup -> 3. Video Sources -> (your video source) -> Listings grabber, select No grabber. Perform a channel scan: mythtv-setup -> 5. Channel Editor -> Channel Scanner.

  2. Download Shepherd:
    wget ''
  3. Run it:
    perl shepherd
    If Shepherd won't run because a "mandatory module" is not found, install it (see "Perl Dependencies") and try again. You may have to install several mandatory Perl modules before Shepherd can run.

    Shepherd will now install itself and its components (probably into ~/.shepherd/). Most likely, one or more components will fail due to missing Perl modules, but that's fine: we'll fix that later.

  4. Answer the configuration question to select your region.

  5. When asked if you want Guided Channel Selection, say yes.

  6. Shepherd will step through each of your MythTV channels, asking you to choose appropriate guide data for each one. Some MythTV channels you won't want guide data for (e.g. radio channels, guide channels, duplicate channels); that's fine.

    If you are not a MythTV user, or Shepherd cannot access your MythTV, you will enter Advanced Channel Selection instead to manually enter XMLTV IDs for each channel.

  7. When asked to confirm that you want to create Shepherd's configuration file, say yes.

    Shepherd will test its components. It's fine for now if some fail.

  8. Shepherd will ask if you would like to automatically configure MythTV. If you're a MythTV user, this is a good idea, because otherwise it's quite easy to get wrong. Say yes, and Shepherd will setup a tv_grab_au symlink, register itself as the default grabber for MythTV, and add itself as a cron job so that your system runs it regularly.

  9. Shepherd will ask if you would like to install channel icons into MythTV. This is optional, and you can do it later if you prefer (with "tv_grab_au --set-icons"). If you say yes, Shepherd will step you through a variety of icon galleries to choose from.

  10. Shepherd will exit. For maximum functionality, you should now install any missing Perl modules required by components. How to do this varies depending on your distribution: see the detailed instructions and why this is worth doing. Essentially, you should attempt to install any modules that Shepherd complains are missing when you do this:
    ~/.shepherd/shepherd --check
  11. To avoid confusion, delete the original Shepherd file you downloaded (leaving the newly installed version in ~/.shepherd/).

Shepherd is now installed. This means that when run, it will create a file of TV guide data (by default: ~/.shepherd/output.xmltv). It also creates a log file at ~/.shepherd/log/shepherd.log. Most users want this guide data to be regularly fed to another program: see the relevant section below on integration with MythTV, Freevo, or EyeTV.

Which user?

It's no longer important to choose the "right" user to install Shepherd. (In previous versions, we asked MythTV users to ensure Shepherd's user matched that of MythTV. But this could be tricky to figure out, so we changed it.)

The simplest way to install Shepherd is as whichever user you usually use. If you're concerned about security, you could create a new user specifically for Shepherd, but be aware that Shepherd is user-specific: once installed for a particular user, it will only run for that user. (This prevents permissions problems.) Installing Shepherd as user "alice" then attempting to run it as user "bob" will begin a fresh install in Bob's directory, to avoid interfering with Alice's.

Integration with MythTV


Shepherd now has the ability to auto-configure MythTV for you, which eliminates a few common traps. You are asked whether you want to do this during initial configuration, as described above, but you can also (re-)do it with:

~/.shepherd/shepherd --configure-mythtv

This will register Shepherd as 'tv_grab_au' on your system (by creating a symbolic link, usually in /usr/bin/), register itself with MythTV as the default grabber, and set up a cron job so that your system regularly invokes Shepherd in order to regularly download up-to-date guide data.

Following configuration, MythTV should begin using Shepherd to obtain guide data within a few minutes. (In MythTV frontend -> Information Center -> System Status -> Listings Status, you should see "Mythfilldatabase is currently running.) It can take a while for Shepherd to complete its first run, even two or three hours.

Note: this routine requires sudo be available for the user. It is not required for any further shepherd running, so can be temporarily enabled if preferred. Information on configuring sudo can be found in the sudo manpage or here.

For more information, see the MythTV section of the FAQ.

Manually feeding Shepherd data to MythTV

You might want to manually load Shepherd data into MythTV if you think Shepherd ran successfully but for some reason the data isn't showing up in MythTV--perhaps your channels weren't configured correctly or something. So after changing things, you can reload the data with:

tv_grab_au --reoutput-mythtv

Or if that doesn't work, try:

tv_grab_au --refill-mythtv

... which accomplishes the same thing, only using mythfilldatabase's --file option, rather than sending data directly.

You can also use these commands to modify Shepherd's output file (~/.shepherd/output.xmltv) and see the changes in MythTV, if you ever have the urge to tweak (or test) your guide data.

Running Shepherd on a remote system to MythTV

It is possible to run Shepherd on one system and feed the resulting guide data to your MythTV box. In this case, you should:

  1. Install Shepherd on the remote system. You will be unable to use "Guided" channel selection, and need to make sure that the XMLTV IDs you assign to each channel match those you have specified in MythTV. When Shepherd asks if you want to auto-configure MythTV, say no.
  2. Tell the augment_timezone component to add timezones to your guide data, which it won't do by default if it can't figure out which version of MythTV you have:
    tv_grab_au --component-set augment_timezone:timeoffset=Auto
  3. Periodically run Shepherd. You'll probably want to create a cron job for this, which can simply call "tv_grab_au". This will eventually produce the file ~/.shepherd/output.xmltv. You'll need to copy that to your MythTV box somehow.
  4. Have MythTV read in output.xmltv via mythfilldatabase. The correct format for this command depends on your MythTV version, but currently it is:
    mythfilldatabase --update --file --sourceid 1 --xmlfile ~/.shepherd/output.xmltv.

Multiple sources

If you use multiple sources (e.g. free to air plus cable TV), then you can run auto-configuration as normal, but then modify the mythfilldatabase line (with "crontab -e") to look something like this:

MythTV versions 0.25+

 44 * * * * tv_grab_au && mythfilldatabase --update --file --sourceid 1 --xmlfile ~/.shepherd/output.xmltv && mythfilldatabase --update --file --sourceid 2 --xmlfile ~/.shepherd/output.xmltv

MythTV versions 0.21 to 0.24

 44 * * * * tv_grab_au --quiet && mythfilldatabase --update --file 1 ~/.shepherd/output.xmltv --quiet && mythfilldatabase --update --file 2 ~/.shepherd/output.xmltv --quiet

Here mythfilldatabase is invoked twice, once for each source. The "--update" option prevents MythTV from creating channels on the wrong source.

Note for Ubuntu users: Be aware of this bug, which can cause silent failure of cron jobs on systems with no mail transport installed.

The old method

The alternative to a cron job is to have MythTV automatically run Shepherd, via Utilities/Setup? -> Setup -> General -> Mythfilldatabase -> "Automatically run mythfilldatabase" in mythfrontend.

This is no longer recommended. The main problem is that MythTV may not invoke Shepherd as the user you expect: it might be your own user, it might be mythtv, or it might be root, depending on your system. This can lead to Bad Things, such as root creating files that your regular Shepherd user cannot modify.

Integration with Freevo

Freevo will use the Shepherd data with a little alteration. In set the XMLTV_GRABBER XMLTV_GRABBER = '/home/tv/.shepherd/tv_grab_au --timeoffset=Auto' (or /usr/bin/tv_grab_au if you have set the symlink) If you have existing xmltv channel id set, use the ones you have already set when running

~/.shepherd/shepherd --configure

Otherwise use any channel id you choose. Test your setup with

freevo tv_grab

Integration with EyeTV

Beginning with EyeTV version 3.0.1, EyeTV can use xmltv files as its source for channel and program guide data. However, it is quite picky about how those files must be presented, so it won't quite work "out-of-the-box" with Shepherd. To integrate Shepherd with EyeTV, you need to do the following:

  1. install and configure Shepherd
  2. install and launch EyeTV
  3. in EyeTV's Preferences, select "None" as the TV guide service
  4. download the XMLTV DTD and save it (using the file name "xmltv.dtd") in your .shepherd directory
    cd ~/.shepherd
  5. EyeTV won't recognise the default output file suffix of ".xmltv", so configure Shepherd to produce an output file with the suffix ".xml", e.g.
    ./tv_grab_au --component-set shepherd:output=output.xml
  6. now run (or re-run) Shepherd
  7. open the resulting .xml file with EyeTV, either by dragging and dropping in the finder or using the following command line:
    open -a output.xml
  8. in EyeTV, set up each channel in your list to use the xmltv guide information (in the Channels list, select xmltv, and choose the matching channel name from the list)
  9. you should now see your download xmltv information when you view the Program Guide or your favourite channels list(s) in EyeTV. xmltv information will also be used by any Smart Guides you have set up.

To periodically run Shepherd, set up a sequence of cron jobs, such as the following (these are spaced one hour apart to give Shepherd plenty of time to finish):

01 03 * * * /Users/yourname/.shepherd/tv_grab_au > /dev/null
01 04 * * * open -a /Users/yourname/.shepherd/output.xml

Another possibility would be to use AppleScript?, but that probably makes life harder rather than easier.

Some Useful Commands

A full list of command-line options:

tv_grab_au --help

The status screen:

tv_grab_au --status

What Shepherd's been up to:

tv_grab_au --history

Check your channel mappings:

tv_grab_au --show-channels

Re-configure Shepherd (preserving old settings except where overridden):

tv_grab_au --configure

Check whether any components are missing Perl modules or need to be configured:

tv_grab_au --check

Check your config:

tv_grab_au --show-config

Reload previously-generated data into MythTV

tv_grab_au --refill-mythtv

Perl Dependencies

Shepherd and its components rely on various third-party Perl modules. Some are mandatory, meaning that Shepherd won't run without them. Most, however, are optional, meaning that Shepherd can still operate without them, but some of its components (including grabbers) won't.

You should install all the optional modules if possible, as this increases Shepherd's efficiency, reliability, and possibly the quality of the guide data it delivers. For more information, see the FAQ.

To see which Perl modules you're missing, do this:

~/.shepherd/shepherd --check

If applicable, follow the distribution-specific instructions for Debian-based, Fedora Core 6, and Gentoo. Alternately you can use the general method.

Ubuntu and other Debian-Based Distributions

The following command should install the necessary packages:

sudo apt-get install libxml-simple-perl libalgorithm-diff-perl \
                     libgetopt-mixed-perl libdata-dumper-simple-perl libdate-manip-perl \
                     liblist-compare-perl libdatetime-format-strptime-perl \
                     libhtml-parser-perl libxml-dom-perl libgd-gd2-perl libarchive-zip-perl \
                     libio-string-perl xmltv libdbi-perl libsort-versions-perl libjson-perl

Xubuntu Jaunty alpha: The Shepherd/ module also needs libclass-dbi-mysql-perl

Fedora Core 6 (FC6)

Providing you have your yum/smart system setup for (see, all of the required modules can be installed with:

sudo yum -y install perl-GD perl-Algorithm-Diff perl-XML-Parser perl-TermReadKey \
                    perl-XML-XQL perl-IO-String perl-XML-Simple perl-DateTime-Format-Builder \
                    perl-List-Compare perl-DateTime-Format-Strptime xmltv

Mythdora 4 and 5

The process is very similar to that of the Fedora Core 6:

yum -y install perl-GD perl-Algorithm-Diff perl-XML-Parser perl-TermReadKey \
               perl-XML-XQL perl-IO-String perl-XML-Simple perl-DateTime-Format-Builder \
               perl-List-Compare perl-DateTime-Format-Strptime xmltv gcc

Digest::SHA1 does not come with Mythdora 4 so you will need to install it with cpan. The first time you run cpan you will be asked to configure it, the default options should be fine.

cpan Digest::SHA1

On Mythdora 5 Digest::SHA1 can be installed as an rpm.

yum install perl-Digest-SHA1 -y

Mythdora 10.21

On Mythdora 10.21 the only addition to the above guide is the requirement of perl-Crypt-SSLeay and perl-CPAN which can be installed via yum

yum install -y perl-Crypt-SSLeay perl-CPAN

You may also have to install cpan before using it to install Digest::SHA1,

yum install cpan  
sudo yum -y install perl-GD perl-Algorithm-Diff perl-XML-XQL \
                    perl-DateTime-Format-Builder perl-List-Compare perl-DateTime-Format-Strptime \
                    gcc perl-Digest-SHA1 perl-Digest-SHA perl-Crypt-SSLeay perl-CPAN
sudo cpan YAML

Fedora 14

sudo yum -y install perl-GD perl-Algorithm-Diff js js-devel perl-XML-XQL \
                    perl-DateTime-Format-Builder perl-List-Compare perl-DateTime-Format-Strptime \
                    gcc perl-Digest-SHA1 perl-Digest-SHA perl-Crypt-SSLeay perl-CPAN \


Some (but not all) of the mandatory modules can be installed with:

sudo emerge -av xmltv Algorithm-Diff Digest-SHA1 dev-perl/HTTP-Cache-Transparent dev-perl/XML-DOM Sort-Versions

For the rest, you can use g-cpan (e.g. "sudo g-cpan -i List::Compare"). You may wish to useeix to search for new ebuilds before installing (e.g. "eix -s List::Compare").

Alternately, you can use the non-distribution specific method.


DO NOT USE CPAN to install your dependancies. you are on freebsd now - use the ports...

You should have perl installed as you have probably spent several hours trying to *make it work* but just in case you dont...

cd /usr/ports/lang/perl5.8
make install

now to get shepherd basics working

cd /usr/ports/textproc/p5-xmltv
make install
cd /usr/ports/devel/p5-Algorithm-Diff
make install
cd /usr/ports/misc/p5-List-Compare
make install

this should add all REQUIRED modules

from here you should now be able to type perl shepherd and have shephard tell you where it is about to install

you will still need to install modules such as

XML/ aka XML::DOM aka /usr/ports/textproc/p5-XML-DOM /usr/ports/databases/p5-DBI

there may be others depending on your install

look these up as freebsd ports, again, do not use cpan

NB: freeBSD section added 26 September 2008

Mandriva 2010.0

Starting with a minimal x86_64 or i586 Mandriva 2010.0 installation, the following will install all the Shepherd dependencies.

urpmi --auto perl-Algorithm-Diff perl-Compress-Raw-Zlib perl-Crypt-SSLeay \
             perl-DBD-mysql perl-Digest-SHA1 perl-HTML-Tree perl-HTTP-Cache-Transparent \
             perl-List-Compare perl-XML-DOM perl-XML-Simple wget xmltv


Its simple, Shepherd is in the repo already so its just a matter of issuing the following command and you should be good to go

pacman -S shepherd

Easy, hey!

Redhat Enterprise Linux 6

After the initial install of the system, you need certain perl dependencies to build xmltv:

cpan Term::ReadKey Date::Manip File::Slurp XML::Writer

Then build and install xmltv manually as described below.

Then install the remaining mandatory and optional perl dependencies as described in 'Non-Distribution Specific'.

Apple OS X 10.8

The biggest hassle is the version of XMLTV in CPAN - it's horribly out of date. My previous server is running 0.5.31, CPAN offers 0.5.33 which is from 2004 and doesn't actually compile due to an error in the makefile. Downloading the latest and compiling it manually works fine.

The process is:

  1. CPAN required modules for XMLTV:
    cpan Date::Manip XML::Twig
  2. CPAN recommended modules for XMLTV (I don't know if this helped at all, but I did it while I was attempting to make cpan XMLTV::Ask work):
    cpan Unicode::String Lingua::EN::Numbers::Ordinate Lingua::Preferred Term::ProgressBar YAML
  3. Manually install XMLTV:
    tar jxf xmltv-<version>.tar.bz2
    perl Makefile.PL
    sudo make install
  4. CPAN remaining Shepherd modules:
    cpan List::Compare Net::SSL Sort::Versions HTTP::Cache:Transparent JSON

This is on a fresh 10.8.4 install, default OS perl version 5.12.4. I had earlier installed DBI and DBD::mysql to run MythTV scripts, I'm pretty sure they are required as well.

Non-Distribution Specific

The general method to install Perl modules is to do this (as root):

cpan <module>

For example:

cpan List::Compare

This will install the mandatory Perl modules:

cpan XMLTV::Ask Algorithm::Diff Compress::Zlib Cwd Data::Dumper Date::Manip Getopt::Long \
     List::Compare LWP::UserAgent POSIX Digest::SHA1

And this will install the optional ones:

cpan DateTime::Format::Strptime File::Basename File::Path GD HTML::Entities \
     HTML::TokeParser HTML::TreeBuilder IO::File Storable Time::HiRes XML::DOM \
     XML::DOM::NodeList XML::Simple Storable HTTP::Cookies File::Basename \
     LWP::ConnCache GD Digest::MD5 Archive::Zip IO::String \

(Note: this list may not be up to date. If Shepherd complains about more missing modules, install those with cpan <module> as described above.)

It's safe to run these commands even if you have some modules installed; it will leave any previously-installed modules alone, so long as they're the most recent versions.


XMLTV can also be downloaded from

If you are unsure about whether you have XMLTV installed, run the command perldoc XMLTV and see if there is any documentation on your system. If there is, then it is already installed.

XMLTV version 0.5.44 or later is recommended as it supports HDTV flags.

Optional Software: JavaScript

See the JavaScript section below. Currently JavaScript is not required.

Optional Software: Tor

Some grabbers work faster/better if they can operate using The Onion Router (tor) from Once Tor is installed, shepherd will automatically find it and start using it. No configuration of Tor is necessary.

Tor is available in RPM form from as and

For Debian-based installations, a simple "sudo apt-get install tor" will get things working.


Shepherd automatically checks for new versions of itself and its components, downloads, and executes them. See Security for details and implications.

Using Shepherd with multiple sources

It is possible to use a single installation of Shepherd to grab data for multiple sources (such as FTA & Foxtel in the following example).

You can do this by using the following steps:

  1. Using mythtv-setup create two channel sources, one for FTA and another for Foxtel.
  2. Select tv_grab_au as the grabber for both of these sources
  1. Add cards and channels to the appropriate sources as required
  2. Configure shepherd to grab data for both the FTA and Foxtel channels that you have configured in Myth
  3. From a frontend, select setup -> general. On the last page you can schedule mythfilldatabase to be run automatically. This page also allows you to add parameters to the mythfilldatabase command line, to which you must add '--update'. This prevents Myth from adding the Foxtel channels to the FTA source, and vice-versa.

Whilst Mythfilldatabase will call Shepherd twice (once for each source), data will only be downloaded once for both FTA and Foxtel during the first run, as Shepherd will automatically use cached data when run twice in a short period of time.


For further information, please see the FAQ.


* Currently, no Shepherd component requires JavaScript support. *

As such, we don't recommend you bother trying to install the Perl JavaScript module, because it's such an enormous pain in the butt. However, it is possible that it may be required again by some component in the future, and if this occurs, then Shepherd installations without JavaScript may start receiving data of poorer quality.

You can check whether any Shepherd component is missing a required module with:

tv_grab_au --check

For historical reasons, below are instructions for installing JavaScript on various platforms.

Ubuntu Lucid 10.04 and later

In Lucid, Ubuntu removed the Perl module JavaScript. To enable JavaScript in Ubuntu Lucid 10.04 and later, you must manually install two packages: libmozjs0d and libjavascript-perl.

  1. Visit
  2. Under "Published Versions" click the link that matches your architecture (amd64, i386, etc).
  3. Under "Downloadable files" click the link for the .deb package
  4. Download the .deb file, run it, and click "Install Package." Exit when finished.
  5. Visit
  6. Under "Builds" click the link that matches your architecture (am64, i386, etc).
  7. Under "Built Files" click the link for the .deb package
  8. Download the .deb file, run it, and click "Install Package." Exit when finished. (Ubuntu 11.10 and later: This step may fail due to a missing dependency on 'perlapi-5.10.1'. If so, open a command line, navigate to the directory where you downloaded the libjavascript file, and enter "sudo dpkg -i --force depends <filename>", where <filename> will be something like libjavascript-perl_1.14-1_amd64.deb. This will, however, leave your system unable to 'apt-get upgrade' without Ubuntu complaining about unmet dependencies. I don't know a good solution for this.)
  9. (optional) To confirm you have JavaScript support, run tv_grab_au --update. The grabbers rex and news should install with no errors. You may also wish to tv_grab_au --check.

Suse 11.0

The reason Javascript won't build is because the libjs .h files are in the wrong directory. A simple way of addressing this build issue is to temporarily add a symlink:

cd /usr/include
ln -s js smjs
cpan JavaScript
rm smjs

Suse 10.1, 10.2 and 10.3

After installing libjs and libjs-devel you will still be missing some files to get 'cpan JavaScript' working please be careful with the following it is more of a hack than a fix.

tar zxvf js-1.60.tar.gz
cd js/src
make -f Makefile.ref BUILD_OPT=1
cp js*.h /usr/include/
cp jsopcode.tbl /usr/include/
cd Linux_All_OPT.OBJ
cp js*.h /usr/include/
cp libjs.* /usr/include/

‘cpan JavaScript’ will still have issues but should be about 86% successful, you can now do a force install by

pc:/ # cpan
cpan> force install JavaScript

If the compile complains about missing include files, but they exist on your system in a different directory tree, maybe link the trees: [in my case, one of the directories in the "-I" include-file search path was a non-existant /usr/lib/MozillaFirefox, but they exist under /usr/lib/mozilla-firefox]

cd /usr/lib
ln -s mozilla-firefox MozillaFirefox

This will cause the files to be found under both the 'real' path, and the path that JavaScript thinks they should be, and a re-attempt to install JavaScript worked OK.

Fedora Core 6 (FC6)

An older version of the perl JavaScript module needs to be installed since the newer versions (after 1.04) do not install properly even with the force option. Just take the default answers to the three questions about SpiderMonkey cd /tmp wget tar xvzf js-1.60.tar.gz cd js/src make -f Makefile.ref BUILD_OPT=1 cp jsopcode.tbl /usr/include

cpan -f C/CL/CLAESJAC/JavaScript-1.04.tar.gz

Mythdora 4 and 5

An older version of the perl JavaScript module needs to be installed since the newer versions (after 1.04) do not install properly even with the force option. Just take the default answers to the three questions about SpiderMonkey

cd /tmp
tar xvzf js-1.60.tar.gz
cd js/src
make -f Makefile.ref BUILD_OPT=1
cp jsopcode.tbl /usr/include

cpan -f C/CL/CLAESJAC/JavaScript-1.04.tar.gz

RedHat Fedora

If you're running a RedHat Fedora system, you can verify whether you have the required JavaScript perl module bindings js and js-devel through RPM:

# rpm -q js js-devel

Providing rpm responds with something similar to above, the javascript library files are installed and you can proceed with installing the perl javascript bindings. If rpm indicates the packages are not installed, you will need to install them from a RPM repository. [] can be useful here:


First emerge the supporting libraries:

emerge dev-perl/JavaScript-SpiderMonkey

then install the Javascript perl bindings from CPAN:

perl -MCPAN -e 'install JavaScript'

Mythdora 12.23

On Mythdora 12.23 (based on Fedora 12) you must be very careful to answer Yes to the "Is your SpiderMonkey compiled with JS_THREADSAFE" question, or JavaScript will not install properly. All other questions can be anwered with the defaults.

sudo cpan JavaScript

Fedora 14

Same as Mythdora 12.23 you must be very careful to answer Yes to the "Is your SpiderMonkey compiled with JS_THREADSAFE" question, or JavaScript will not install properly. All other questions can be anwered with the defaults.

Last modified 10 years ago Last modified on Sep 24, 2013, 5:14:08 PM