Ubuntu + Boxee

Who needs cable when you’ve got Boxee? I sure don’t, well except for watching some hockey. I love NHL Gamecentre, if only it played local games (well it can but not if they can help it). More on that at a later time, this is about my basic Boxee setup.

I’m going with Ubuntu 10.04 on this setup, I’ve played with 10.10 and had some troubles with it and a few things relating to boxee and my remote, I already had 10.04 installed on other boxee systems so this seemed like a good fit.

Hardware

I’m going with a Zotac Mag that I picked up at Ncix for pretty cheap on a boxing day sale. It’s got HDMI out and runs pretty cool and quiet. It also conveniently mounts to the back of your tv if you haven’t already mounted on to the wall which makes it nice and out of the way. For a remote I’m using a standard Windows Media Center remote circa 2005.

The Zotac doesn’t come pre-installed with any OS on it and there is no optical drives of any sort so you must boot from a USB disk. I have gone and used the Startup Disk Creator in Ubuntu to create a boot disk of Ubuntu 10.04.1 iso, pretty standard follow the instructions.

The Zotac boots from hard disk by default so be sure to press the delete key until you get the bios, set it to boot from the USB and Save & Exit. Because I used the 10.10 disk creator (that’s what I have running on my laptop) with a 10.04 iso there is a bug that doesn’t allow the usb disk to book correctly with the error message “vesamenu.c32: not a com32r image”. All I did was type help at the prompt which sent me to the help screen and then hit enter and it continued along it’s merry little way.

Software

With the live version of the OS up and running just hit the install to disk button and follow the prompts, this should all be pretty self-explanatory. I chose to let Ubuntu use the whole disk as it likes rather than partition it up myself.

With the OS installed a quick sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade to get up to date and then I also installed the Restricted Drivers from Nvidia.

I can then download and install the boxee software itself by downloading the latest version from http://www.boxee.tv/download – at the time of writing it was 0.9.22.13692 for 32bit Ubuntu Linux. Just open the file it will open up in the Ubuntu Software Center and you are good to go.

Issues

First problem I ran into was the sound. Boxee booted up and it didn’t have the typical startup sounds. Because I’m using HDMI I realized I had to enabled the digital output in the System > Preferences > Sound menu on the Hardware tab. This wasn’t quite enough though, it turns out that alsa defaults to muting the Digital outputs. Just run the following in a terminal and use the mouse cursor to scroll over to the digital outputs, press the M key on each of them to unmute the digital outputs and you are good to go.

alsamixer

Next up, I tried out my remote and nothing. Right, I need to install lirc. You can find that in the System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manger or with a:

sudo apt-get install lirc

This will install lirc and then ask you a couple questions, first page you will scroll down and pick your remote. The second page I chose ‘None’ for the IR receiver as I’m not using one and that was it. Remote is now working again.

Now that the remote is working I wanted it to suspend the entire system when I pressed the power button.

Copy keymap file to your home dir.

cp /opt/boxee/system/keymaps/remote.xml ~/.boxee/UserData/keymaps/

and change XBMC.Shutdown() to XBMC.Suspend(). I found this on line 64 at the time of writing. I also updated line 68 XBMC.ActivateWindow(Home) to XBMC.ActivateWindow(10481) which allowed the MyTV button to load the TV page instead of going to the home screen.

Below is my Lircmap.xml file that I used for my MCE Remote

<lircmap>
<remote device="mceusb">
<play>Play</play>
<pause>Pause</pause>
<stop>Stop</stop>
<forward>Forward</forward>
<reverse>Rewind</reverse>
<left>Left</left>
<right>Right</right>
<up>Up</up>
<down>Down</down>
<select>OK</select>
<pageplus>ChanUp</pageplus>
<pageminus>ChanDown</pageminus>
<back>Back</back>
<menu>PreviousMenu</menu>
<title>More</title>
<info>More</info>
<skipplus>Skip</skipplus>
<skipminus>Replay</skipminus>
<display>Teletext</display>
<start>Home</start>
<record>Record</record>
<volumeplus>VolUp</volumeplus>
<volumeminus>VolDown</volumeminus>
<mute>Mute</mute>
<power>Power</power>
<mytv>Videos</mytv>
<mymusic>Music</mymusic>
<mypictures>Pictures</mypictures>
<myvideo>TV</myvideo>
<one>One</one>
<two>Two</two>
<three>Three</three>
<four>Four</four>
<five>Five</five>
<six>Six</six>
<seven>Seven</seven>
<eight>Eight</eight>
<nine>Nine</nine>
<zero>Zero</zero>
<red>Red</red>
<green>Green</green>
<yellow>Yellow</yellow>
<blue>Blue</blue>
</remote>
</lircmap>

In System > Preferences > Power Management turn off the display power down by setting it to Never. Be sure kernel is > 2.6.32-24 as there is a bug in 2.6.32-23 that does not allow to wake from the usb remote correctly.

The remote wasn’t working to wake, you need to enable a USB device to wake the computer. Here is a link suggesting how to find the correct device and set it, you need to try each of the USB devices listed until you find the right one, rebooting between each attempt. http://forum.xbmc.org/showpost.php?p=506509&postcount=11

Disable screen lock in gconf-editor to prevent asking for password when resuming from suspend:

gconftool-2 --type boolean -s /desktop/gnome/lockdown/disable_lock_screen true

(for some reason if you use app indicator it sill locks no matter which setting is used https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/gnome-power-manager/+bug/255228)

Custom Look

Just for fun I decided to make the desktop look as clean and simple as possible and somewhat boxee-esqe. I set the toolbars on top and bottom to auto-hide. Just right-click on each, select Properties… and check Auto-Hide.

I then removed all desktop icons as you can see from http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/ubuntu/hide-removable-drive-icons-from-your-ubuntu-desktop/ and then I set wallpaper to use the boxee wallpaper which I found in here: /opt/boxee/skin/boxee/media/background

Add boxee to startup apps in System > Preferences > Startup Applications and Adding a new app with the command: /opt/boxee/run-boxee-desktop. This should automatically run boxee everytime you boot up your computer.

That’s about it! A nice clean simple custom boxee box that runs through HDMI with a remote and properly suspends. In a later post I’ll describe my setup for automated tv show downloads using transmission-daemon and tvnamer and perhaps some vpn magic to gain access to content you can’t normally view.

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