hama_mce client for XBMC on Ubuntu

Well, I finally switched back to the official builds of XBMC (well, semi-official).

Now, since my previous and my current media center doesn’t come with a remote like, say a Boxee box, I built myself a custom one using a Hama MCE Remote Control and a Logitech Harmony 300. After trying a bunch of things (it actually works like a standard mouse), I stumbled upon this Trac ticket.

After first wrangling the sources into a patch, sometime ago when I switched to a new media center I started using the official builds as I mentioned earlier.

One disadvantage of the official builds is, that I can’t patch in the event client. Eventually I decided to write a small debian package containing everything the event client previously had.

Running XBMC/Ubuntu on Zotac HD-ID34

I recently bought a replacement for my aging Acer Revo R1600. I decided to go with the HD-ID34, since I didn’t wanna fiddle with buying a bunch of components. Installed a copy of Windows 7 on it (just to try it out …. :-P), and downloaded the Ubuntu 11.10 mini.iso. However the mini.iso apparently has issues (no clue which), basically it boots but gets stuck when bringing up the network connectivity (which is fucked up, since the mini.iso needs network connectivity to contiune the installation).

So I went a version back (11.04 – Natty Narwhal) and installed my stuff, however the audio didn’t work. So I kicked of a distribution upgrade, and about half an hour later that was finished. But still no audio …

1) The SPDIF channels were muted (no surprise there)
2) XBMC sent the audio do card 0, device 0 (which is basically /dev/null)

After playing around with the audio output settings (and trying different devices without any luck), I finally found a post for OpenELEC for the ZBOX (for an older version, but non the less, it still applied) describing what I had to configure.

Audio output = HDMI
Speaker configuration = 7.1 (or the what your receiver is capable of)

Audio output device = custom
Custom audio device = plughw:1,7

Passthrough output device = custom
Custom passthrough device = plughw:1,7

What’s just left now, is actually mounting the thing to the wall, since it looks just shabby sitting on my TV wall.

Converting TIVSM RPMs to deb

We received a preinstalled customer server the other day, for which we had declared “as-is” support only, since it is running Lucid Lynx. Now today, I started getting the TSM client to work. Was kinda weird, since at first dsmc was reporting something like this:

# ./dsmc: no such file or directory

After fiddling with it a bit more, here are the control files, as well as the prerm and postinst-scripts for TIVSM-API, TIVSM-API64 and TIVSM-BA:










All that was left to do, was simply adding a -n to the dh_makeshlibs call in each packages debian/rules file, otherwise dh_makeshlibs would overwrite my shiny postinst/prerm actions!

Samsung NC10 Anynet (HAT2DE), Ubuntu Karmic Koala and UMTS

My little brother bought himself this fancy netbook (it’s okay I guess, only the keyboard takes getting used to). A few days after he bought it, he told me he wanted something different on it than the shipped Windows XP.

At first, I favored a normal Ubuntu 9.10 Desktop. While thats okay, it simply isn’t the right thing for a netbook. Why ? For example, if the programs bar is larger than the vertical desktop resolution, it gets kinda tiring to work with this thing.

Took me (and him) a while to notice that, but in the end I put the Netbook Remix of Karmic on this sweet little thing. Only trouble he had, was that while everything worked out of the box (even the Digital Motion Camera at the top end of the screen), his UMTS didn’t. That’s kinda shitty, since he bought this thing, in order to get online, even if he is at a hotel without actual internet connection (that is no DSL or LAN connectivity).

He already bothered the guys at his local T-Mobile shop, which told him he had to send it in to Samsung for repairs, since they don’t do warranty claims (which iirc they have to do, according to the HGB). Anyway, he sent the box my way, for me to take a look at it first, to avoid paying 70โ‚ฌ for a damn quotation for the repair of the defect UMTS modem.

Turns out (as so often), it was just a simple software bug. The guy over at aptgetupdate, was kind enough to document the steps necessary to install a nightly build of NetworkManager (which Karmic uses to connect to any kind of network), which fixes this issue. As a proof, I’m writing this here blog post via the UMTS connection of the netbook!

For myself, here are the exact steps, in case I ever need to repeat them:

That’s it, that enables UMTS connections again.

HOWTO: Installing XBMC on a Acer Revo R3600 with Ubuntu Jaunty/Karmic

Yesterday out of a sudden, the sound on my Acer Revo stopped working. Don’t ask me why, I didn’t update anything in between New Years eve and today. Just no sound. Tried removing my .asoundrc, tried rebooting, tried powering off; but nothing worked.

Since the Revo was running Jaunty Jackalope, I decided to reinstall the box (yeah, yet again) — but this time with Karmic Koala. Took this forums post and this blog entry as pointer (ie what needed to be installed), and started from there. And guess what … after finishing all that, changing the settings in XBMC — tada sound works. After finishing, I turned the box off and then back on, booted to the “old” installation — guess what .. Sound is working again. I really don’t have a single clue as to why the heck the sound stopped working and the started working without any doing, but I’m glad ๐Ÿ˜›

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Linksys WUSB600N on Ubuntu

Since I recently moved, I also needed to make a few changes to my home setup. Up till now, I always had a wall or a border where I could hide the CAT5/CAT6 cable for my boxen. But my new flat has doors everywhere. So I decided to buy two Linksys WUSB600N for my XBMC-box as well as for the NAS-box.

The setup was pretty straight forward, I didn’t have to fiddle with it too long. The only thing I had to do, was setup wpa_supplicant in /etc/network/interfaces, as the router supplied by my provider comes with WPA2 enabled (which is a good thing).

Additionally, I just reinstalled my NAS-box with Karmic Koala. That gave me a bit of trouble, since apparently since Jaunty they included new drivers for the ralink-devices (namely rt2800usb and rt2x00usb). These two sadly don’t work with the WUSB600N, so I had to blacklist them (/etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-ralink.conf in my case).

Setting up a OpenVPN server with DD-WRT

In the past I had toyed with the thought of setting up a VPN-Server at home, so that I could do stuff from elsewhere. Now, I finally got around doing so. First obstacle ? How exactly would I be doing that ?

  1. Get the DD-WRT VPN flavor of course!
  2. Configure the VPN server

Now, the second part seems to be a bit harder. There is a wiki article on how to configure OpenVPN in the DD-WRT wiki, but not for v24 SP1. Lucky me, someone already made himself the work of writing somewhat of a guide down. But, guess according to Murphy’s law, things ain’t ever gonna be easy. As I’m running Ubuntu Karmic on my workbook, the commands ain’t matching the current openvpn package being delivered with Karmic. So here is, intended only as a guide, the list of steps one has to do in order to get the certs …

That’s it … all that’s remaining, is copy & pasting those certs into the Web GUI of your OpenVPN router and setting up your client according to the OpenVPN documentation.

Intel X25-M powering Ubuntu Karmic

I recently ordered a Intel X25-M Solid State Disk as a replacement for the oldish SATA 2,5″ disk powering my Fujitsu Celisus M250 (called workbook). I figured it’d be a bit faster as compared to running from the old hard disk, but I didn’t figure it be that fast!

Since it is blazing fast, my trainee figured he’d install bootchart and see how the disk/the whole notebook performed.

bootchart map of the X25-M
bootchart map of the X25-M

As you can deduce from the bootchart map, the whole system took eight (as in 8 or one 7.5th part of a minute) till GDM was started and prompting for username and password.

XBMC on the Acer Revo

As I wrote a month ago, one of my trainees put up with my stubbornness to put XBMC on said Acer Aspire Revo. Now, initially he put the Live Edition onto it, which didn’t really fly with me. I’m usually the CLI guy, so I needed to install it myself (again). Since I wanted to use the VDPAU features the later GeForce cards offer (and the Revo has such a graphics cad), I had to install the current development builds (you know — I love bleeding edge!)

At first, I was struggling with how to switch the rendering to VDPAU, but after looking through the various settings menus, I figured it out ๐Ÿ˜›

The next things on my list we’re:

  1. Get the TechniSat USB IR receiver/TechniSat IR remote working with XBMC
  2. Get a better looking user interface
  3. Get cross fading working

1. Since there aren’t many USB IR receivers available to purchase, I went ahead an bought a TechniSat USB IR receiver. Shortly afterwards I figured, that I might need the remote too.

After all my stuff arrived I spent about the evenings of one work week and one whole weekend figuring out this damn remote and it’s keys. But nada .. Nothing appeared in the output of irw or mode2. After googling for the problem (and coming up with just stupid answers), I went ahead and installed inputlirc. After that, I simply turned of the box and carried it back to work the next day.

When I initially showed my trainee the box and asked him to figure out why the remote wasn’t working, he was like “WTF ? Are you serious ?“. After about an hour I went back to see what progress he had made, and he was like “Dude, it just works .. don’t ask me how“.

To get this damn remote working, you need the following:

After placing all these files, I can program my Harmony (a bit strangely I admit) to the various keys of the TechniSat remote ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

2. I don’t have anything against the default user interface of XBMC, but it really isn’t all there is .. So I went looking. Looked at about fifteen different skins, until I found Stark. Now, Stark is about everything I’ve been looking for.

3. The next thing on my list was to get simultaneous output working. If you do cross fading (only to name an example), you need the ability to stream two audio tracks through a single device. If you remember back two years, ALSA still wasn’t capable of doing that either way. A short time later, the ALSA developers introduced DMix. Now, after fiddling a bit with it, I think I have that too!

I still need to work out a few flaws in the keymap, but once that is resolved, I’m probably completely happy ๐Ÿ˜€

XBMC: Adding the ppa keys to apt

I recently bought an Acer Aspire Revo and had one of my trainees put XMBC on a SDHC card today. So after a bit of toying earlier, I started looking at the thing (from the command line that is).

One thing, if you enable the PPA (ppa.launchpad.net) sources, apt/aptitude is gonna babble something about an unverified key.

I ended up looking the error up (since I only have an Ubuntu desktop). There’s a simple solution for this:

Alternatively you can also use this: