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Archive:HOW-TO:Install XBMC on an ION based machine

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This page or section has not been updated in a long time, no longer applies, refers to features that have been replaced/removed, and/or may not be reliable.

This page is only kept for historical reasons, or in case someone wants to try updating it.

This article is a mash up of HOW-TO threads found on the XBMC Forum. It is primarily geared towards Ubuntu Linux and ASRock ION330 users, however you may find it useful for other ION based systems too.

The initial article was based on the following threads:

At the time of writing, this article is for Ubuntu version 9.10 and upwards only. If you're installing/using an older version of Ubuntu it is recommended you upgrade (since they are unsupported).

Some basic Linux/Ubuntu knowledge is assumed.

If you find errors or have any new tips, please edit the page.


1 Hardware

1.1 BIOS

If you are using an ASRock ION 330 then the following BIOS changes should be made

  • Change shared memory => 512
This will improve video performance.
  • Upgrade BIOS => 1.60 (or the latest version) (Download DOS version, unzip and put on USB => Smart Flash in BIOS)
This step is only necessary if you are encountering problems.
  • Remove the boot logo, if you wish to.
  • Enable "good night LED" if you want all light of on the box.

No other BIOS changes are necessary (ie no overclocking)

2 Installation

It is assumed at this point you have your hardware ready and waiting for the Operating System to be installed.

2.1 Install Ubuntu

There are two basic ways to install Ubuntu - the full Desktop version or the Minimal Install. The easiest method is to install Ubuntu Desktop. It is recommended to install Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (at the time of writing).

You will need to use the username and password combo of xbmc/xbmc. I.E. username is xbmc, password is xbmc.

2.1.1 Minimal Install

If you do the minimal install you will also need to issue the following command to enable the desktop:

sudo apt-get install xorg gdm gnome-core network-manager-gnome gnome-system-tools gnome-utils x11-xserver-utils

2.1.2 After installation

After installation you need to install all updates either using the Update Manager or by using the commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

If you prefer to use the terminal you may install SSH for remote access:

sudo apt-get install ssh

2.2 Install LIRC for remote control

2.2.1 Microsoft MCE Remote

The Microsoft MCE Remote model 1039 does not work in XBMC without LIRC.

In terminal, use the following command:

sudo apt-get install -y lirc

Select Windows MCE Remote (new)

2.2.2 AsRock Remote

  • Install LIRC as above using
sudo apt-get install -y lirc
However select 'none' and 'none' for receiver and transmitter.
  • From the AsRock website [1] download the driver appropriate for your Ubuntu version and kernel (see below).

Double-click on the '.deb' package to install. This time select "Nuvotron Transceivers/Remotes" for receiver, "none" for transmitter. Kernel Version

It is recommended to use kernel 2.6.32-25 since newer versions can cause problems with the remote. You will have to edit your GRUB settings to change kernels.

2.2.3 Test Remote & LIRC

Type: IRW in terminal and press the Home button on your remote. This should return "Home" in terminal

2.3 Install XBMC

The installation of XBMC is a relatively easy part of the process. The easiest way is using the terminal.

For more information see HOW-TO install XBMC for Linux on Ubuntu, a Step-by-Step Guide

2.3.1 Add XBMC to the repository

For versions of Ubuntu greater than 9.10 you can use the add-apt-repository command:

sudo apt-get install python-software-properties
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:team-xbmc/ppa

This will not work in versions of Ubuntu older than 9.10, instead you can manually add the repositories either by using the "Software Sources" graphical tool and selecting "Other Sources" and clicking "Add", or by adding the repositories to /etc/apt/sources.list.d/xbmc-team.list. Both of these methods utilize the same apt lines:


If you wish to add the source repository, you can also add:


NOTE:: Be sure to change YOUR_UBUNTU_VERSION_HERE to the code name of your Ubuntu release, e.g. maverick, hardy, etc.

2.3.2 Download and Install XBMC

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install xbmc xbmc-standalone

sudo apt-get install xbmc-skin-*
sudo apt-get install xbmc-eventclients-*
sudo apt-get install xbmc-scripts-*

And now XBMC is installed!


NOTE: This section needs to be updated for newer versions of Ubuntu.

In order to make 1080p videos work you need to install the Nvidia drivers.


If you are using Ubuntu 10.04 or higher you can install from the Team-XBMC ppa:

sudo apt-get install libvdpau1 nvidia-185-libvdpau

3.2 VDPAU for version 9.10

this has changed - needs updating!

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:nvidia-vdpau/ppa

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install linux-headers-generic nvidia-glx-185

sudo nvidia-xconfig -s --no-logo --force-generate

4 Policy kit to allow Power management

NOTE: This section may be redundant

sudo apt-get install policykit
sudo polkit-auth --user xbmc --grant org.freedesktop.hal.power-management.suspend
sudo polkit-auth --user xbmc --grant org.freedesktop.hal.power-management.hibernate
sudo polkit-auth --user xbmc --grant org.freedesktop.hal.power-management.reboot
sudo polkit-auth --user xbmc --grant org.freedesktop.hal.power-management.shutdown
sudo polkit-auth --user xbmc --grant org.freedesktop.hal.power-management.reboot-multiple-sessions
sudo polkit-auth --user xbmc --grant org.freedesktop.hal.power-management.shutdown-multiple-sessions

4.1 Additional policy settings

sudo apt-get install policykit-1 devicekit-power
sudo gedit /var/lib/polkit-1/localauthority/50-local.d/custom-actions.pkla

(use nano if using SSH)


[Actions for xbmc user]

5 XBMC Config

  1. Start XBMC in Gnome
  2. Change some settings;
    Settings, appearance, screen: Fullscreen
  3. If you want to use sound over HDMI:
    In latest version of XBMC just select HDMI in menu
If sound is playing too fast try with custom
plug:hdmi or plughw:0,3

6 ALSA config

sudo alsamixer
  • Unmute and set volume (MM means muted and OO On)
  • Hit "m" to toggle mute on/off.
  • Do not forget to unmute HDMI if you are going to use that
Store Settings
sudo alsactl store 0
If any problem with store, remove pulse audio and try again
sudo apt-get remove pulseaudio

7 Wifi WPA2 in XBMC session (USB adaptor)

  1. Left click on network icon and select network & Connect
  2. Right click on network icon , edit connections, wireless, select network, Click Always allow, Check Available to all users, check remember authorization & enter password.
  3. Reboot and make sure that no dialog is necessary to connect wifi => Should work fine in the XBMC session.

There is a bug in karmic network-manager. When mking connection available for all users this just causes the connection to disappear


set "managed=true" in [ifupdown] section in /etc/NetworkManager/nm-system-settings.conf

8 XBMC session

To boot directly into the XBMC session:

  1. Logout - F10 - select Session - XBMC
    First time select "just this time" when function verified repeat and set to defalt session
  2. Return to login by exiting XBMC
  3. Back to Gnome
    F10 - Select session - Gnome

9 fixes

9.1 HW cursor fix

sudo sed -i '40i\ Option "HWCursor" "False"' /etc/X11/xorg.conf

9.2 ENABLE 1080p 24Hz (screen section)

sudo sed -i '50i\ Option "DynamicTwinView" "False"' /etc/X11/xorg.conf
sudo sed -i '50i\ Option "FlatPanelProperties" "Scaling = Native"' /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Make sure it ended up in the correct sections (I am not sure that this sed stuff is working):

sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

(use nano if in SSH)

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