Minimal install of XBMC on Ubuntu Karmic Koala (9.10)

February 9, 2010 · 2 Comments
Filed under: Featured, Karmic Koala, Ubuntu 

Ok, so I have been building a media centre for about a week now, and I have had a lot of trouble getting it setup and working right, but now XBMC has released version 9.11 alpha 1 version of its popular media centre software which is now compatible with Ubuntu 9.10.

After all the trouble I had, I thought I would share with you how I installed it, and got XBMC to boot on load. I am using an ASUS AT3N7A-I with a 1.6 dual core atom processor and NVidia ION chipset, 2GB of ram and a 1TB hard drive. So I will only be showing you how to use the NVidia drivers for linux, but to be honest NVidia driver support for linux is better than ATI support.

First, download the minimal install of Ubuntu Karmic Koala (12.1mb x86 12.2mb x64)

Download either the x86 or x64 version dependent on your hardware.

Once the disk image has downloaded either burn it to CD or use UNetbootin to boot from a USB pen drive.

Reboot the computer you wish to install xbmc on, and boot from the CD or USB pen drive, you may need to change some settings in your bios to boot from CD or USB.

Start the installation, and follow the onscreen instructions to set your language and keyboard layout. Enter a username and password for your main account, for this I entered xbmc.

The installer will ask you what packages to install, scroll down to OpenSSH Server and press SPACE, then press ENTER to continue.

After the installation has completed, your computer will reboot.

When you get to the login screen, login with the username and password you entered.

Once you have logged in we need to add the PPA for XBMC.

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

And these lines to the end.

deb karmic main
deb-src karmic main
deb karmic main
deb-src karmic main

We will need to add the a key to aptitude to stop it complaining.

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys 64234534 40618B66 CEC06767 318C7509 91E7EE5E

Sometimes the key server will return this error:
gpg: keyserver timed out
gpg: keyserver receive failed: keyserver error

A trick I found was to ping the key server address, after it responded try and run the previous command again:


Now we need to update aptitude.

sudo apt-get update

Now we will install the NVidia drivers:

sudo apt-get install nvidia-glx-190

You will need to enter your password again.

Next, we want sound for our media, so we will install some sound drivers.

sudo apt-get install linux-sound-base alsa-base alsa-utils

Your user needs to be added to the sound group.

sudo usermod -a -G audio xbmc

Change xbmc to the username that you entered.

The sound level will be set to zero, to change the volumes we need to enter the sound mixer.

sudo alsamixer

Use you up and down keys and set the volumes to the maximum they will go. Press the right key until you get to IEC958, EC958 D, EC958 1 and press M on each of them to un-mute them.

Press ESC to quit out of the mixer.

To make alsa save the volumes run.

sudo alsactl store 0

Now we can install XBMC.

sudo apt-get install xbmc xbmc-skin-* xbmc-eventclients-* xbmc-scripts-*

This will install xbmc, all the skins and eventclients.

Now X will need to know about your monitor, so run:

sudo nvidia-xconfig

XBMC will need to control power settings of the computer:

sudo apt-get install pm-utils policykit

And give your user access to these power features:

sudo polkit-auth --user xbmc --grant org.freedesktop.hal.power-management.suspend
sudo polkit-auth --user xbmc --grant org.freedesktop.hal.power-management.hibernate
sudo polkit-auth --user xbmc --grant org.freedesktop.hal.power-management.reboot
sudo polkit-auth --user xbmc --grant org.freedesktop.hal.power-management.shutdown
sudo polkit-auth --user xbmc --grant org.freedesktop.hal.power-management.reboot-multiple-sessions
sudo polkit-auth --user xbmc --grant org.freedesktop.hal.power-management.shutdown-multiple-sessions

Again you will have have to change –user xbmc to the username that you entered in the installation.

Now the last thing to do is make XBMC launch at startup.

sudo nano /etc/init/tty1.conf

Change the line

exec /sbin/getty 38400 tty1


exec /bin/login -f xbmc < /dev/tty1 > /dev/tty1 2>&1

Next we need to get Ubuntu to clear the screen and start X:

nano ~/.bash_profile

And add these lines to the file:

case "`tty`" in
/dev/tty1) clear && startx &>/dev/null;;

Now we need to tell X to start XBMC:

nano ~/.xsessionrc

Add the lines:

exec xbmc --standalone

This next step is OPTIONAL, to hide all the information about what is being loaded, we shall install a usplash boot screen.

sudo apt-get install usplash libusplash-dev usplash-theme-xbmc-*

Once the splash screen installation has completed we need to select a splash screen:

sudo update-alternatives --config

Enter the number of the splash screen you wish to use, find examples below:

Pulsating Logo
Spinner Black
Spinner Blue

All the previews where created by DU-Duke

Next set the screen resolution of your tv in the usplash settings:

sudo nano /etc/usplash.conf

And add these lines:


My TV is 1080p, so the settings above will suite yours if it is full HD, for 720p enter:


To make the new splash screen active run:

sudo update-initramfs -u

Now reboot your computer:

sudo reboot

When the computer restarts, you should see the splash screen you selected, and XBMC should boot up.

Now, go into XBMC’s Videos settings and select VDPAU for the render mode (if your graphics card supports it) and edit the Sound settings:

Audio Output: Digital
AC3: Off
DTS: Off
Audio Capable Device: plughw:hdmi
Passthrough Output Device: hdmi
Downmix: On

And that’s it, you should have a fully functional media centre running the latest version of Ubuntu and XBMC.

As this is an alpha version, you will need to perform some updates now and again until the final release is out.

To so this, ssh into your computer and update it:

ssh xbmc@your media centre IP
sudo apt-get upgrade

Now I can’t take all the credit for this, I have collected some information from other sources and put them together from here:

Thanks to jonassw from XBMC forums, who suggested using the latest version of the NVidia drivers.