XBMC on Ubuntu vs XBMC Live: Wireless Network and IR Remote
I have seen this question asked in several forums and I personally had to deal with it during my tete-a-tete with XBMC. Usually XBMC live is the way to go, if you are going to run it on a HTPC desktop, especially an old one. XBMC live comes configured with support for most generic Windows Media Center remotes, these can be bought off ebay from Hong Kong based sellers for $10 or less (you can go for ASUS remotes, they work with XBMC or linux out of the box).
But I wanted to recycle on old notebook tablet pc, a Gateway M275, that I received from a benevolent friend who wanted to get rid of it. I intend to use it as a Digital Photo Frame/Casual Music/Video Player. XBMC was quite obvious choice. So I went ahead and tried XBMC live CD, luckily this old Centrino 1.6 GHz 1.25 GB RAM based PC which uses an intel based onboard graphics card worked quite well. XBMC even supported the MCE remote. This encouraged me to install XBMC live on its hard drive. But to my disappointment it won’t support wireless by default. I tried fixing the wireless and kept googling for a couple of days, but none of it worked and I abandoned ship and went back to good old Ubuntu 9.10.
I installed XBMC on Ubuntu by doing this:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:team-xbmc sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install xbmc xbmc-standalone sudo apt-get update
Installed lirc for support for IR remote. Remember installing this before you hook up the remote’s receiver, otherwise something messes up and remote won’t get detected.
sudo apt-get install lirc
During the install you would be asked to select the remote type and receiver type. Choose Windows Media Center Remote from the drop down menu and None for the receiver. Now fire-up XBMC and you should be able to control it via the IR remote. Life seemed all rosy, as now I had wireless access to all my music/movie/picture collection that resides on a Windows machine via uPnP (you can install free TVersity Media Server if you are not too pleased with Windows 7 uPnP capabilities). But then the photo slide show with pan and zoom effect won’t work properly. Images would slide across the scree with a stutter, this was quite annoying. This wasn’t an issue with XBMC live, so I guessed Gnome was consuming too much resource. It turned out that was the case. I installed Xfce desktop system (LXDE is great too, read my post on Lubuntu here) using synaptic, logged out of Gnome and chose Xfce for my session while logging in. The image slide show stutter problem was gone. Hurray…
Bottom-line, the perfect recipe for any laptop based HTPC setup using XBMC is: Ubuntu 10.04+Xfce(or LXDE)+XBMC+Lirc, and you get a perfect setup with least hassle.
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