Klaus Schmidinger's recipe for getting going
1 PC with a large hard drive (at least 10GB) running Linux (kernel 2.4.10 or higher)
1 VDR program from http://www.cadsoft.de/vdr
1 Digital Video Broadcasting driver (from either http://linuxtv.org or http://www.cadsoft.de/vdr)
1 (At least) "full featured" DVB card (either DVB-S, DVB-C, Or DVB-T for satellite, cable, or terrestrial reception, respectively)
1. Install the DVB card in your PC.
2. Download the driver and VDR software and compile the vdr source code.
3. Load the driver and run vdr (as explained in the Install files that come with the software).
4. Connect a TV set to the A/V output of the DVB card. You may have to adjust the channel settings (in VDR/channels.conf) to your local broadcasters.
With this basic setup, you control the VDR via the PC's keyboard. For a more practical setup, you'll need to get yourself a remote control and install the LIRC hardware and software (see lirc.org).