- Install Ubuntu
- Install 3rd-party drivers
- Verify HDMI audio out
- Setup SSH server
- Setup FTP server
- Setup network file sharing
- Install TeamViewer
- Setup remote control
- Setup external LCD
- Setup streaming services via Google Chrome
- Install XBMC
- Enable automatic login
- Autorun XBMC
- Setup RetroArch
- Setup wired joystick/gamepad
- Install Google Music Manager
- Configure XBMC add-ons
Assuming you have installed your graphics card drivers correctly, you will still want to quickly verify your HDMI audio out is working before any further mucking about in the operating system environment. In Ubuntu 14.04, this is done quite simply from the menu bar.
Click the sound icon in the upper-right corner, then in the context menu that appears, click on “Sound Settings”
In the Sound Settings dialog box, verify that your sound card is activated and click the “Test Sound” button.
Click the test button for each channel and verify the output.
Other derivatives of Ubuntu (particularly the lightweight Lubuntu) do not have the robust GUI that Ubuntu features. In these cases, a little terminal jiggery-pokery will be necessary.
Verify the HDMI audio output with this terminal command:
aplay -D plughw:0,3 /usr/share/sounds/alsa/Front_Center.wav
Use Nano (or another inline text editor) to add the following line to /etc/asound.conf AND/OR ~/.asoundrc (depending on what your distro uses)
pcm.!default = pcm.hdmi
Reboot, and you should be up and running with full HDMI stereo sound!
The motherboard that I picked up for the VCR project provides out-of-the-box full-resolution HDMI video under Linux, but requires an additional proprietary Intel graphics driver to process audio through the HDMI port. Thankfully, this is not a terribly difficult process thanks to the fine folks at Intel providing an easy graphical installer package.
Head over to https://01.org/linuxgraphics/ and download the .deb package for Ubuntu.
Use your preferred package manager to install the .deb package, then run the installed package.
Follow the on-screen instructions to install the drivers.
Need help troubleshooting XBMC sound? Try these helpful hints!
- If external applications launched via Advanced Launcher have no sound, try disabling skin sounds in XBMC. Sometimes there may be a conflict with the device being locked to XBMC (this is especially true in some derivatives of Ubuntu such as Lubuntu) and simply disabling the sounds should solve it. Adjusting the timeout settings in Advanced Launcher may also help, but it is more complicated.
- Having problems with audio in XBMC? Check the device settings and verify the correct output device is selected. Settings>System>Audio Output
So, after taking the time to install the hardware and driver for the nMedia PRO-LCD, we need a source of information to display on the external display. This particular set of instructions deals ONLY with how to set up LCD output for Kodi in Ubuntu. In Kodi for Linux, the XBMCLCDproc add-on provides the information to be displayed on the external LCD. Install this add-on from the Settings>Add-ons>Services menu.
If you’re going to play games using RetroArch, you’re going to need a proper controller. There are a variety of wired, “classic-style” controllers out there that can offer you a variety of retro experiences, but they all need a driver to work. Fortunately, the Ubuntu repositories have you covered!
First, install the Joystick input driver package:
sudo apt-get install joystick
Next, install the Joystick Configuration package:
sudo apt-get install jstest-gtk
Now you can use
jstest-gtk to configure your settings and calibrate the controller. Everything else is ready to go!
RetroArch may be the single greatest contribution to classic gaming emulation since the dawn of Nesticle: a multi-console emulator frontend spanning the history of videogames from the Atari 2600 through Playstation eras. Libretro is the companion to RetroArch that contains all the emulator cores.
Installing RetroArch and Libretro in Windows or OSX is a fairly simple process of downloading the RA binary and the Libretro cores, but in Linux, it takes a little more effort.
First, add the Hunter Kaller repository to Ubuntu and update:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:hunter-kaller/ppa
sudo apt-get update
Install RetroArch and Libretro with a couple of terminal commands:
sudo apt-get install retroarch
sudo apt-get install libretro*
When you run RetroArch, the Libretro cores will be located in /usr/lib/libretro/
To maintain a level of authenticity, the VCR required an external display like the one originally installed to show status, function, channel number, etc. I opted to replace the original 7-segment display module with a USB-powered LCD to put a modern spin on the old look. There aren’t many display modules available, so I did a little research to make sure that the nMedia PRO-LCD would be compatible with Linux drivers. Fortunately, it is, but it took much cursing and gnashing of teeth to get it working.
First, make sure that the USB cord and power supply are plugged in.
Power-on the computer, and the display should show a test pattern with the words “MCE Indicator TM for Media Center” dancing around. Now, it’s time to install drivers!
From the terminal, execute the following:
sudo apt-get install LCDproc
Once LCDproc is installed, configure the daemon by editing /etc/LCDd.conf in Nano or another text editor. Change the following settings to the appropriate values:
Reboot, and your LCD is ready for input! Or is it output?
What HTPC setup would be complete without a remote control to command your rig from across the room? For the VCR, I chose the SIIG Vista MCE Remote for its compatibility and range of functions. It also happened to be reasonably-priced at Micro Center when I bought it.
To get started, plug in your IR receiver USB dongle and install LIRC from the terminal:
sudo apt-get install lirc
During installation, you will be presented with a dialog asking you to select the specific remote control you have.
For the SIIG Vista MCE remote, choose “Windows Media Center Transceivers/Remotes (all)”
Then, choose your brand of IR blaster (if applicable). In this example, I do not have one installed, so I chose “None”.
Allow the installation to finish, then install LIRC X Utilities from the terminal with the following command:
sudo apt-get install lirc-x
Test your remote’s communication with the
irw terminal command.
Point the remote at the receiver and press a few buttons, you should get some coded output on the screen. If so, congratulations! Press C to quit IRW.
If there is no output, verify that the dongle is working (there’s usually a red light that accompanies keypresses) and that the correct remote was selected in setup. You may need to reboot for the computer to recognise the new hardware.
For more on remote control setup, click here.
Sometimes it’s just handy to have a particular application run automatically on boot, especially if your system is not going to have a keyboard or traditional input device attached. In Ubuntu, this is done quite simply by copying the application’s *.desktop file to a dedicated autostart folder.
The *.desktop files for your applications should be located in the /usr/share/applications folder in the file system.
Copy the file for the application you wish to autostart, and paste in /home/.config/autostart (make sure that you are showing hidden files).
If the folder does not already exist, you will have to create it.
Paste the *.desktop file, reboot, and your application will start automatically.