Xubuntu on the Acer Aspire Revo

mini-acer_revo_7
Creative Commons License Photo credit: nDevilTV

In the last post I described how you can use XBMC Live on the Acer Revo but as well as that works it seemed a waste to restrict the Revo to just XBMC so I’ve since installed the 64 bit version of Xubuntu instead and run XBMC on top of that.

I chose Xubuntu as it is a light weight version of Ubuntu using the XFCE window manager instead of the Gnome desktop environment so has the advantage of having all the Ubuntu repositories available without the overhead of running Gnome or KDE (in the case of Kubuntu).

I installed the 64-bit version of Xubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) available here.

As with XBMC Live I used unetbootin to create a bootable image on a USB flash drive (actually an SD card in this case). Once this is done insert the flash drive or SD card into the Revo and turn it on, pressing F12 during boot and selecting the USB drive or SD as the boot device.

I installed it into the unpartitioned space on the Revo drive leaving the factory Linpus install in place. Linpus is added as an option to the Grub boot menu allowing you to choose between it and your new Xubuntu install should you need to (I can’t see why you would).

Once you have installed Xubuntu and booted into it you will see a popup within a few minutes prompting you to install the proprietary Nvidia drivers which you will need to use the Revo’s ION GPU for HD playback (you will also need to change the “Render Method” to VDPAU in the XBMC settings later on as with the Live setup).

If you have an infra red remote control such as a MCE remote control you will need to install LIRC by opening a terminal and typing: sudo apt-get install lirc
Once it has installed it will guide you through choosing what model of remote receiver you have.

Next add the PPA repositry for XBMC:
In a terminal enter: sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list
and copy the following lines at the bottom of the file:

#xbmc
deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/team-xbmc/ppa/ubuntu karmic main
deb-src http://ppa.launchpad.net/team-xbmc/ppa/ubuntu karmic main

Save the file and exit nano (Ctrl-O then Ctrl-X)

Add the key for the PPA repository:
sudo apt-key adv –keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com –recv-keys 91E7EE5E

Then update: sudo apt-get update
Now you can install XBMC with: sudo apt-get install xbmc
XBMC can now be started from the Multimedia menu and will be kept up to date when you install Xubuntu updates.

If you want XBMC to start automatically on boot go to “Settings -> Session and Startup” and on on the Application Autostart tab click Add and enter xbmc -fs as the command. If you didn’t choose automatic login during the installation you can do so now by going to “System -> Login Screen”.

Now when you boot the Revo it will go straight into XBMC. Once in XBMC you can use the key to switch between full screen and windowed mode or quit XBMC to go back to the Xubuntu Desktop.

If you want to turn off the Xubuntu screensaver/blanker go to “Settings -> Screensaver”.

Boxee also works well. Download the 64 bit Ubuntu version from the Boxee web site.

Before installing Boxee you will need to install a few dependencies, from a terminal enter:
sudo apt-get install libcurl4-openssl-dev libsdl-gfx1.2-4 python2.4 python-sqlite libfaad-dev libtre4 libmysqlclient15off libxmlrpc-c3 xsel flashplugin-nonfree

Then from the directory you saved Boxee to install it with:
sudo dpkg -i boxee-0.9.20.10710.x86_64.deb
Changing the filename to reflect the current version you downloaded. Note that Boxee won’t be kept up to date automatically as with XBMC.

Personally I don’t get along with Boxee but it currently has the advantage that the BBC iPlayer still works whilst it has recently been knobbled in XBMC by the BBC‘s latest changes.

Another alternative to Xubuntu is Element OS, another Ubuntu based Linux distribution specifically designed with HTPC use in mind. It’s still in early days but features a “10 foot” user interface which may be better for some. I’ve tried this “Live” booting from a SD card and it works well but I’m quite happy with the Xubuntu setup at the moment.

9 thoughts on “Xubuntu on the Acer Aspire Revo

  1. some really nice info there thanks. just bought an r3610. got it up and running with xubuntu, finding it hard going back to linux after not using it for about 5 or 6 years. still got a long way to go with setting up skins, folders etc but its looking good so far

  2. installed Xubuntu, all works fine after installed nvidia restricted drivers but audio is mute. How can I set hdmi audio to work? Thanks

  3. I’m not using HDMI for audio so can’t test this but try running alsamixer from a terminal and check if any of the IEC958 outputs are muted (MM is muted, 00 is unmuted), if they are try unmuting them. Use arrow keys to move left/right and m to toggle mute. Esc to quit.

  4. I installed normal Ubuntu and had the same issue with hdmi. Your fix using alsamixer works. I needed to reboot to get all options working properly.

  5. to get audio to work over hdmi in xbmc i had to go to system menu-audio output and set

    audio output to digital
    uncheck dolby digital capbale receiver – unless you are running some kind of av receiver or amp i guess
    uncheck dts capable reciever
    set audio output to custom then enter plughw:0,3 in text box
    set passthrough output device to custom and again enter plughw:0,3
    i also have downmix audio to stereo selected

    hope this helps.

  6. also, in xbmc goto audio setup in system menu and set to digital

    uncheck the next two options for ac3 and dts unless you are hooking up to a receiver or amp

    then set output and passthrough to custom and insert text plughw:0,3 (you can input aplay -l from a terminal prompt and you should see hdmi audio output listed as card 0, device 3)

    i also have downmix to stereo on.

    hope this helps (not on my revo just now but from memory and looking at xbmc forum thats what i did)

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