Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Step-by-step XBMC ZBOX setup

Here are the step-by-step instructions for configuring the ZBOX HD-ID41 as a media PC running XBMC. There’s still a few issues, like outputting encoded audio over HDMI. I’ll have to do some more experimenting when I have the chance, but I do have a full-functional machine after following these steps:
  1. Get Ubuntu 11.04 ‘Natty Narwhal’
  2. Install Ubuntu
    • Insert the USB drive into one of the USB 2.0 ports (drives don’t seem to boot properly from 3.0 ports)
    • Boot the ZBOX, tapping the F11 button until the boot device menu appears
    • Boot from the flash drive and choose Install Ubuntu from the menu
    • Follow the prompts, selecting the ‘Download updates while installing’ and ‘Install this third-party software’ options
    • When asked to Allocate drive space, choose one of the automatic partitioning options (or if you know what you’re doing you can partition manually)
    • Continue through the installer, filling out the requested information
      • For the greatest convenience, set auto-login for your user. However, unless you use a blank password, Ubuntu will ask for the password if access to the keychain is required.
    • Restart
  3. Disable Unity (optional)
    • If Unity, Ubuntu’s new UI bothers you (as it does, me), it can be disabled by going to the Login Screen page in System Settings.
    • Select “Ubuntu Classic” as default session
    • Logout and back in
  4. Install and Configure Video
    • To get proper video playback, you need to install the proprietary NVIDIA display drivers, vdpau, and the configuration tool for compiz
      • In a terminal window, type:
        • sudo apt-get install nvidia-common libvdpau1 vdpau-va-driver compizconfig-settings-manager
          • Ubuntu will ask for your password then ask you to confirm the installation
      • Restart to activate the driver
    • A few tweeks are needed to prevent tearing artifacts in video playback:
      • Open System > Preferences > CompizConfig Settings Manager
      • Click Composite
      • Disable ‘Detect Refresh Rate’
      • Set ‘Refresh Rate’ to the refresh rate of your display. (Probably 60 Hz, but you can check in the NVIDIA X Server Settings
      • Enable ‘Unredirect Fullscreen Windows’
  5. Audio
      • Open System > Preferences > Sound
      • Click the Hardware tab
      • For HDMI sound:
        • Click High Definition Audio Controller
        • Set Profile to ‘Digital Surround 5.1 (HDMI) nr 2 Output
      • For Optical out:
        • Click Internal Audio
        • Set Profile to ‘Digital Stereo (IEC958) Output + Analog Stereo Input
      • Click Test Speakers
        • If no sound is output, type alsamixer in a Terminal window, and unmute either the S/PDIF outputs or IEC958 outputs with the ‘m’ key
      • Set output parameters
        • Type sudo gedit /etc/pulse/daemon.conf in a Terminal
        • To set the output sample rate, add the line:
          • default-sample-rate = x
            • Where x is the sample frequency in Hz (default 44100)
        • To set the output bit depth, add the line:
          • default-sample-format = 2xle
            • Where x is the bit depth in bits (default 16)
        • These changes will not be made until you restart pulseaudio or the computer:
          • pulseaudio -k
          • pulseaudio --start
      • If there is still no sound with HDMI output, you may need to add the following line to your /etc/pulse/default.pa file:
        • load-module module-alsa-sink device=hw:1,7
  6. XBMC
    • As there is not yet a stable repository for Ubuntu Natty, we will use the one for Maverick
    • Type the following into a terminal window:
      • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:team-xbmc
    • Open System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager
    • Settings > Repositories
    • Click the ‘Other Software’ tab
    • Edit the two lines from team-xbmc, changing the distribution from Natty to Maverick
    • Close Synaptic
    • In a Terminal, type:
      • sudo apt-get update
      • sudo apt-get install xbmc
    • XBMC will then be installed, and can be found in Applications > Sound & Video
    • In XBMC, go to System > System > Audio Output
      • For HDMI out, set Audio Output to analog, Speaker configuration to match your speakers, and set Audio output device to ‘High Definition Audio Controller Digital Surround 5.1 (HDMI) nr 2”
      • For Optical out, set Audio Output to Optical/coax, Audio output device to ‘Internal Audio Digital Stereo (IEC958), and Passthrough output device to ‘HDA Intel iec958’. The other settings should be set depending on your speaker setup.
    • Go to System > Video > Playback
      • Enable VDPAU and ‘Adjust display refresh rate to match video’
If everything is gone right, you should have a fully functioning media centre now.

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