Building an Ion-powered Linux Media PC

December 3, 2009 | 12:46

Tags: #acceleration #gpu #h264 #home-theatre #htpc #interface #motherboard #pci-express #video

Companies: #boxee #nvidia #ubuntu #zotac

Setting Up

Firstly, we stuck the latest 9.04 Jaunty Jakalope on a USB stick and instructed the Zotac's BIOS to boot from it. A quick install later and we're into the OS. Next we downloaded the latest Ion driver from Nvidia's website. Select Ion, then Linux (either 32-bit or 64-bit depending on the OS version installed) At the time of testing we used 190.42, however the latest at the time of writing is 195.22 beta.

Installing the drivers isn't as simple as clicking on an .exe like in Windows, so I enlisted the help of Linux guru (and bit-tech alumni), Brett Thomas for his skills:
  • Press Ctrl+Alt+F1 to go to terminal
  • Type "sudo /etc/init.d/gdm stop" without the quotes. This stops the desktop (think of it as killing "explorer" in Windows)
  • Type "sudo sh" again without the quotes. Remember Linux is case sensitive too, however you can hit tab to auto complete.
  • Follow the onscreen prompts
  • Once it's done, type "sudo /etc/init.d/gdm start" and you're Bob's uncle
Cheers, Brett!

That's our graphics drivers installed - now to get Boxee. Follow these steps:
  • Go to System > Administration > Software Sources
  • In Sources Software dialogue, select Third-Party Software tab, click Add, and enter: for Jaunty type: deb jaunty main
  • After closing this dialogue you can either use Synaptics and select Boxee for download, or use a terminal window, and enter: sudo apt-get install boxee.
  • Finally, to run Boxee go to, Applications > Sound & Video > Boxee
For the additional Flash plugin, you want to open a terminal and type:
  • sudo apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree
and the Adobe Air install for BBC iPlayer:
  • (and select Linux)
  • Wait for the download to finish and open Terminal
  • Type "chmod +x AdobeAirInstaller.bin"
  • Then type: "sudo ./AdobeAirInstaller.bin"
Thank you, Spode, for that one!

We later updated to 9.10 Karmic Koala via Synaptics, and despite having to reinstall the Nvidia display drivers again, Boxee still worked fine. Once you've installed Boxee, remember to visit the Boxee site and sign up for an account so you can use all its features.
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