Updated on June 8th, 2011. Found out that the support for the Lenovo M55 wasn’t that good with the kernel delivered as part of Ubuntu 11.04. Unable to shut down properly, among other things. YMMV, and I’m certain hardware support is better for 99% of the machines out there. Quite sure my problem would be easy to solve, but at this time, I just don’t have the time, so I downgraded to Ubuntu 10.10. Works just lovely. 😉
We’ve got a Lenovo M55 8810-A31 (old desktop computer) by the TV. It’s hooked up to the TV via HDMI and to the surround sound system via a normal stereo cable (no 5:1 sound, so far).
Tried running a few movies on it, from the NFS share downstairs. Using the built in movie player, the movie playback stuttered and sometimes even stopped entirely for half a second. At first, I thought it may be the network. The media machine is hooked up in the DMZ, between the Telia router watching our entrance and the pfSense router watching over the house network.
I thought that may slow things down a bit, but even when I copied a movie locally (which took forever), things were slow and movies were unwatchable. And this is with a new graphics card that manages full HDMI output and all.
So! Back to looking at software! I quickly tried installing vlc, but… that didn’t improve anything. Installing my favourite mediaplayer, the mplayer, which I’ve never seen beaten by any media format, showed 100% improvement. No more stuttering, no more pauses.
OK, one step done, a few more to go. Since I’d installed Ubuntu 11.04 on the machine earlier, and XBMC doesn’t officially exist on 11.04, I did a little “fix” (found on the net) to get it installed.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:team-xbmc
Since that adds a repository supposed to work for Natty, which isn’t available just yet, I then proceeded to do the following:
Go to the Package Manager. Click Settings -> Repositories. Under “Other Software”, highlight the XBMC PPA and click Edit. For the distribution, change it to maverick.
Then, I did;
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install xbmc
And… things were cooking.
I looked at the settings for XBMC, and made sure that VDPAU was enabled (hardware acceleration), but otherwise didn’t have to change anything. I added our movie repository, and pointed out where our photos are located, but other than that I didn’t do any changes at first.
Things… just… worked.
Then, I found two plugins! SVT Play and Grooveshark, and things were just wonderful.
Now all I’ve got to do is enable the web administration GUI, and we can remote control the media center from anywhere in the house. Will make playing music loud a lot easier. 😉