XBMC / ECS H61H2-M2 Budget system.

The Hardware

Low-budget system. ECS H61H2-M2 mobo w/hdmi output newegg.com  was blowing them out for like $30 bucks after a rebate. Got a cheapie intel cpu (G530?) from MacMall of all places, via Ebay for $45.

I tried it on both windows and ubuntu and it was fine.

HDMI worked as expected on my television (but was weird on Dave’s?). One thing to note is when the audio line out is plugged in, the sound doesn’t come out the hdmi.

The system uses about 38W sitting on the windows 7 desktop idling according to my Kill-a-watt. This is with an inefficient-looking 400W power supply (it uses 3W even when off, or on standby). That’s inlcuding one 3.5″ 7200 rpm hard disk drive spinning.

Win 7

Fresh Win 7 Pro SP1 installed from bootable USB key. Installed fine but not even the lan worked right out of the chute. Installed mobo drivers, but just the following:  chipset D:\ECSh61h2-m2\Chipset\INF ; lan  D:\ECSh61h2-m2\Lan\Atheros\AR813x  ; video D:\ECSh61h2-m2\VGA\H6x\W7Vista64.

Got xbmc Version 11.0 ‘Eden’. Installed and ran okay. very snazzy. The remote control for andoid works fine EXCEPT that by default, it’s not turned on — to enable it you have to go to system settings and enable the http web server in xbmc.

XBMCbuntu / Linux

Also got 11.0 ‘Eden’ which is distributed as a live CD; based on Ubuntu 11.10 (I think). The live cd booted up and seems to just work. Then I installed it onto the hard drive. It booted up and ran just great. If you exit (click on the virtual “power button”); you will go to a login screen where you can log into a normal ubuntu (select XBMCubuntu) desktop. There is a third choice from the login screen called “openbox” i tried it but it just went to a blank graphics screen.

openssh-server is installed and running by default, so you can/should just let it do its XBMCunbutu full-screen thing and log in via ssh.

Tried some content on a usb hard drive, as well as a windows smb share and both worked fine. didn’t mess with any sort of wireless network traffic. Xbmc has plug in apps for things like Youtube, PBS, Fox News, Al Jezerra, etc; they all work pretty well but the content is somewhat disorganized.

I almost always have trouble with grub/grub2. The basic jist is that you’re supposed to be editing the file /etc/default/grub (e.g. to change the default boot setting) and then you run a job called update-grub. This generates/updates a file called /boot/grub/grub.cnf which you’re not supposed to edit, but you can as long as you’re aware it might get overwritten by various scripts. I never have much luck doing the grub-install, which actually diddles with your hard disk’s MBR. here is the full doc: help.ubuntu.com/community/Grub2 There is a gui app (apt-get install startupmanager) but I sometimes have trouble with it; like this time i used synaptic to install it just fine but it actually put in the wrong default (it put in a 6 instead of a 5 into grub.cfg!).

If it get really stuck, i just use some windows admistration command, /fixmbr or somesuch; and that just gets rid of grub all together.


Boxee on Win 7

Note that as of March 2012, boxee desktop (as opposed to the commercial boxee box) is at it’s end of life; so this is more of a historical curiosity

Fresh Win 7 Pro installed. Installed mobo drivers, but just the following:  chipset D:\ECSh61h2-m2\Chipset\INF ; lan  D:\ECSh61h2-m2\Lan\Atheros\AR813x  ; video D:\ECSh61h2-m2\VGA\H6x\W7Vista64.

installed fine out of the box, except won’t run. To fix that install direct X from microsoft

boxee-1.5.0.23596-2bcda77.exe

note that i initially installed a slightly older (late 2011?) version and it had an aspect ratio problem (black vertical bars on both sides of the screen when playing video; regardless of screen settings).

Boxee on Ubuntu / Linux

Note that as of March 2012, boxee desktop (as opposed to the commercial boxee box) is at it’s end of life; so this is more of a historical curiosity

installed 11.10 default from cd. Did not install anything extra or special. i.e. unlike win7, the lan and graphics seem to “just work”.

boxee-1.5.0.23596-2bcda77.i486.deb and installed by clicking on it and using gui (could have done: sudo apt-get install boxee… )

There were some instructions here… so i installed these dependecies. Thread on boxee forum about installing 1.5 on Ubuntu 11.10.

sudo apt-get install libssl0.9.8

my only confusion is I can’t figure out how to launch the program?? in the unity desktop, you can click on the ubuntu button and search for boxee and a shortcut then pops up and runs.

So it started up and ran pretty uneventfully 🙂

 

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