Decorative Image

Random Walking

Media Center PC

Components

Software

Tips and Tricks

Getting access to 4GB of RAM

The default Ubuntu 32-bit kernel cannot access 4GB of ram. To get the full 4GB you need the kernel PAE extensions. The easiest way to get this is to install the server kernel.

 sudo apt-get install linux-server linux-headers-server 

NVIDIA Acceleration and HDMI output

Typically, Ubuntu will autodetect the presence of NVidia cards and provide the option to install the NVidia drivers (via System->Administration->Hardware Drivers). For some reason this auto-detection did not occur so I had to install the drivers manually: sudo apt-get install nvidia-glx-180

I found that when Compiz was enabled the HDMI output only filled the upper-left corner of the screen. Once Compiz was disabled (Right Click the Desktopg>Change Desktop Backgroun>Visual Effects>None) the HDMI output was actually slightly too big to fit on the TV. I had to add the "ExactModeTimingsDVI" and "ModeValidation" options to get everything to look right.  Here is my entire xorg.conf file.

Section "ServerLayout"
    Identifier     "Layout0"
    Screen      0  "Screen0" 0 0
    Screen      1  "Screen1" RightOf "Screen0"
    InputDevice    "Keyboard0" "CoreKeyboard"
    InputDevice    "Mouse0" "CorePointer"
EndSection

Section "Files"
EndSection

Section "Module"
    Load           "dbe"
    Load           "extmod"
    Load           "type1"
    Load           "freetype"
    Load           "glx"
EndSection

Section "ServerFlags"
    Option         "Xinerama" "0"
EndSection

Section "InputDevice"

    # generated from default
    Identifier     "Mouse0"
    Driver         "mouse"
    Option         "Protocol" "auto"
    Option         "Device" "/dev/psaux"
    Option         "Emulate3Buttons" "no"
    Option         "ZAxisMapping" "4 5"
EndSection

Section "InputDevice"

    # generated from default
    Identifier     "Keyboard0"
    Driver         "kbd"
EndSection

Section "Monitor"
    Identifier     "Monitor0"
    VendorName     "Unknown"
    ModelName      "VIZ VW32L HDTV40A"
    HorizSync       31.0 - 70.0
    VertRefresh     50.0 - 77.0
    #ModeLine "1920x1080" 148.50 1826 1982 2004 2201 1028 1058 1063 1125 +hsync +vsync
    Option "ExactModeTimingsDVI" "TRUE"
EndSection

Section "Monitor"
    Identifier     "Monitor1"
    VendorName     "Unknown"
    ModelName      "VIZ VW32L HDTV40A"
    HorizSync       31.0 - 70.0
    VertRefresh     50.0 - 77.0
    Option         "DPMS"
EndSection

Section "Device"
    Identifier     "Device0"
    Driver         "nvidia"
    VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"
    BoardName      "GeForce 9300 / nForce 730i"
    BusID          "PCI:3:0:0"
    Screen          0
    Option "ModeValidation" "NoEdidModes"
EndSection

Section "Device"
    Identifier     "Device1"
    Driver         "nvidia"
    VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"
    BoardName      "GeForce 9300 / nForce 730i"
    BusID          "PCI:3:0:0"
    Screen          1
EndSection

Section "Screen"

# Removed Option "metamodes" "CRT: nvidia-auto-select +0+0"
# Removed Option "metamodes" "CRT: 1366x768 +0+0"
# Removed Option "metamodes" "DFP: 1920x1080_60 +0+0; DFP: 1920x1080 +0+0"
# Removed Option "metamodes" "DFP: 1920x1080_50 +0+0; DFP: 1920x1080_60 +0+0; DFP: 1920x1080 +0+0"
# Removed Option "metamodes" "DFP: 1920x1080_60 +0+0; DFP: 1920x1080_50 +0+0; DFP: 1920x1080 +0+0; DFP: nvidia-auto-select +0+0"
    Identifier     "Screen0"
    Device         "Device0"
    Monitor        "Monitor0"
    DefaultDepth    24
    Option         "TwinView" "0"
    Option         "metamodes" "DFP: 1920x1080_50 +0+0; DFP: 1920x1080_60 +0+0; DFP: 1920x1080 +0+0"
    SubSection     "Display"
        Depth       24
    EndSubSection
EndSection

Section "Screen"

# Removed Option "metamodes" "DFP: 1920x1080 +0+0"
# Removed Option "metamodes" "DFP: 1920x1080_60_0 +0+0; DFP: 1920x1080 +0+0"
# Removed Option "metamodes" "DFP: 1920x1080 +0+0"
# Removed Option "metamodes" "DFP: nvidia-auto-select +0+0"
# Removed Option "metamodes" "DFP: 1920x1080 +0+0"
    Identifier     "Screen1"
    Device         "Device1"
    Monitor        "Monitor1"
    DefaultDepth    24
    Option         "TwinView" "0"
    Option         "TwinViewXineramaInfoOrder" "CRT-0"
    Option         "metamodes" "CRT: 1366x768_60 +0+0"
    SubSection     "Display"
        Depth       24
    EndSubSection
EndSection

Get Simultaneous HDMI Audio Output and Analog Output

The first thing I wanted to get working was the HDMI audio output from the Gnome Desktop. To do this, open the Volume Control and the select Preferences. In that checklist select IEC958, IEC958 Default OCM, and IEC958 2. Close the Preferences windows and then go to the switches tab. In here select all of the checkboxes.

I wanted the ability to use both the HDMI and the analog outputs so that I could listen to music with the TV turned off (using remuco to control Rhythmbox).

DIRECTIONS FOR UBUNTU LUCID

In Ubuntu Lucid, Pulse Audio is used to configure sound.  By default in the Sound Preferences application you can only select one profile to use for output (either Digital Output (HDMI) or Analog Stereo Output).  To enable simultaneous output edit /usr/share/pulseaudio/alsa-mixer/profile-sets/default.conf and add the following text to the bottom:

[Profile output:analog-stereo+output:hdmi-stereo+input:analog-stereo]
description = Digital Stereo (HDMI) Output + Analog Stereo Output + Analog Stereo Input
output-mappings = analog-stereo hdmi-stereo
input-mappings = analog-stereo

The from the command line execute

sudo apt-get install paprefs

After installing paprefs you should be able to launch System > Preferences > Pulse Audio Preferences.  In this application navigate to the "Simultaneous Output" tab and select "Add virtual output...".

Now reboot the machine.  After the reboot launch System > Preferences > Sound.  In the "Hardware" tab select the Profile named "Digital Stereo (HDMI) Output + Analog Stereo Output + Analog Stereo Input".  Then select the "Output" tab and chooes the device labeled "Simultaneous output to Internal Audio Digital Stereo (HDMI), Internal Audio Analog Stereo".

OLD DIRECTIONS FOR UBUNTU JAUNTY

On Jaunty I had to create a custom asound.rc file I was able to accomplish this.  Make sure your Gnome sound preferences are for the analog device while your movie players (mplayer, XBMC, Boxee, etc.) use the HDMI device.

# Use aplay -l to figure out the correct settings here
pcm.analog_hw {
  type hw
  card 0     #  <-----  Put your card number here
  device 0   #  <-----  Put your device number here
}

pcm.hdmi_hw {
  type hw
  card 0     #  <-----  Put your card number here
  device 3   #  <-----  Put your device number here
}

# Control device (mixer, etc.) for the card
ctl.analog_hw {
  type hw
  card 0
}

pcm.dmix_analog {
  type dmix
  ipc_key 1234
  slave {
    pcm "analog_hw"
    period_time 0
    period_size 1024
    buffer_size 8192
    rate 48000
    channels 6
  }
}

ctl.dmix_analog {
  type hw
  card 0
}

pcm.analog_formatted {
  type plug
  route_policy duplicate
  slave {
    pcm dmix_analog
    rate 48000
    channels 6
  }
}

pcm.hdmi_formatted {
  type plug
  slave {
    pcm hdmi_hw
    rate 48000
    channels 2
  }
}

pcm.hdmi_complete {
  type softvol
  slave.pcm hdmi_formatted
  control.name hdmi_volume
  control.card 0
}

# Send the audio to the analog output by default
pcm.!default analog_formatted

 

Network Manager prompts for password on login

On auto-login I continued to get prompted to unlock the keyring so the Network Manager could connect to the wireless network. At first this seemed like it was going to be challenging to fix because of all the solutions that I initially found through Google. In the end it was actually quite simple.

  1. Right Click on the Network Manager and select Edit Connections.
  2. Select the Wireless tab.
  3. Select the network you want to auto-connect to and then click Edit
  4. Check the box "Available to all users"

Low Wireless Signal Strength Reported in System Tray

The wireless adapter reported very low signal strength (i.e. 17%) even though my laptop would consistently report over 60%. Despite this low signal strength, the connection appeared to work well. To resolve this I disabled the built in rtl8180 driver and installed the ndiswrapper and WindowsXP driver.

Run the following command:

 gksudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist 

Then add:

 blacklist rtl8180 

Then download and install the driver via ndiswrappers.