LinuxMCE differs from other Home Theater PC systems in that some functions are performed by a Core PC and some functions are performed by a Media Director PC. A hybrid Core/Media Director PC does both.
For the central LinuxMCE Core server that will function on a home automation network, most recommended installations suggest 2 network interface cards (NICs). If you don't have a second NIC card already installed, it is easiest to do so before installing Kubuntu/LinuxMCE, since the second card will then be recognised and configured correctly during the initial installation. You won't have to fiddle with setting it up later. See this section for tips on setting up a nested LinuxMCE LAN within an existing home LAN.
(If you will have only a single PC acting as a hybrid Core/Media Director, 2 cards aren't strictly necessary, but putting them in at this stage will allow you to expand your network down the line.)
For a PC acting as a Media Director (either as a standalone or as a hybrid), an nVidia graphics card is strongly recommended so that you can display the User Interface in the highest resolution (UI2). If you don't have one installed, it is easiest to do so before starting software installation. It is probably best to stick with an nVidia card on the Core PC as well. Make sure the card is installed prior to software installation.
Check out this video and example installation of a complete installation that took this guy a few days and will likely take you a few weeks.
Kubuntu 10.04 (Lucid)
Kubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid)
Kubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy)
Note: LinuxMCE 0704 (beta) was used only with Kubuntu Desktop version 7.04 (Feisty). The current version is LinuxMCE 0710 and is meant to be used only with Kubuntu Desktop version 7.10 (Gutsy). A version compatible with Kubuntu version 8.10 is planned for the future.
Steps for installing Linux MCE on an Kubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) system :
Existing Kubuntu 7.10 installation
You can install LinuxMCE 0710 on a pre-existing installation of Kubuntu 7.10 using the 2 CD install method (but not the DVD method). To complete the installation you will need a Kubuntu Desktop 7.10 Live CD available, or at least a copy of the .iso file somewhere on your hard drive. (If you need to obtain one, see the next section for the download link. There are instructions if you want to burn a Live CD.)
The install process will partially overwrite your previous Kubuntu installation using configuration files from the Live CD which are known to be uniquely compatible with LinuxMCE. If you have previously modified your Kubuntu system (subsequent to its original installation), you may lose some of your configuration files because LinuxMCE modifies them to suit its own needs. Therefore, do not install LinuxMCE on a mission-critical PC if you don't want to risk this. (You should dedicate one PC to be a LinuxMCE core server, anyway.)
If you don't already have an Kubuntu system installed, follow these generic steps to install Kubuntu Desktop 7.10 from the Live CD:
- Download the CD .iso image for Kubuntu desktop- either the 32-bit version or the 64-bit version, depending on your processor. Use the 32-bit version if in doubt. Note that LinuxMCE comes in both a 32-bit and a 64-bit version as well, so you must match. (If the above links are down, try this alternate site for the appropriate Kubuntu Desktop Live CD.)
- If you don't know how to burn the .iso file to a bootable CD, then see these instructions.
- Boot the Kubuntu Desktop 7.10 LiveCD.
- Choose 'Start or install Kubuntu'.
- When Kubuntu's desktop appears, click on 'Install'.
- A short wizard will guide you. Select the language and press 'forward'.
- Choose your timezone and press 'forward'.
- Select the keyboard layout.
- Choose desktop name, a user name and a password. LinuxMCE uses linuxmce for the user and password, so it is often convenient to use linuxmce as the initial user and password at this step, as well.
- Select the partitioning options for your disk. If this is going to be a dedicated server, you can use the entire disk.
- Ready to install.
- Reboot the system and remove the Live CD.
From within the Kubuntu 7.10 desktop, open Konqueror or Firefox (the orange and blue icon at the top), and go to www.linuxmce.org. Select 'Download Instructions' to download the LinuxMCE CD images (.iso files) or the DVD .iso image onto your machine. You can also find the current version here.
There is a 32-bit version and a 64-bit version of LinuxMCE. If you are using a 64-bit Kubuntu 7.10 installation, download the corresponding LinuxMCE version.
You will be downloading two .iso files, each one corresponding to a CD image. The installer is able to use the .iso files directly from the hard drive, or you can burn them to a CD and then use them from the CD.
(Obviously, if you are downloading the .iso files on another computer, you will have to burn them onto CD to use them.)
To install using the .iso files on your hard drive directly, skip the next step.
Burn download to CDs and install from CDs
(If you plan to install directly from .iso files, skip this step and proceed to the next step.)
If you don't know how to burn an .iso file to a CD then see these instructions.
Burn the two CDs (assuming you are using this method).
You can then simply place CD 1 in the CD-ROM and the installer will autostart. You will then be prompted to put CD 2 in the drive, followed by the Kubuntu Desktop Live CD (see later sections).
The rest will take a lot of time but will essentially install automatically. Skip the next two steps and continue with the installation prompts.
Installing mce-installer from command prompt
(Skip the next two steps if you are installing from actual CDs.)
You can install the mce-installer from a command prompt without the need to burn the ISOs as follows:
cd /directory/where/the/downloaded/iso/files/are/ mkdir -pv mnt sudo mount LinuxMCE_0704_CD1.iso mnt/ -o loop sudo dpkg -i mnt/mce-installer_2.0.1-1_i386.deb sudo umount mnt rmdir -v mnt
If you are using the 64-bit version, use mce-installer_2.0.1-1_amd64.deb instead of mce-installer_2.0.1-1_i386.deb.
Installing mce-installer from the KDE Menu
Once you have downloaded the packages and installed the mce-installer onto your disk, run the mce-installer:
- From Konqueror (or the Dolphin file manager), find and right-click on the mce-installer icon. Choose Kubuntu Package Menu --> Install Package.
(This step is done automatically if you are installing from a CD.)
The mce-installer places an "Install LinuxMCE" icon on your desktop. Click it to start the installation process. A window will appear saying that you will be notified when updates are available.
Choosing type of Core
Choose if you want a dedicated core or a hybrid. (In brief, a hybrid runs as both the Core and as a Media Director. As such, it needs more computing power. Click here to find out more differences between a core and a hybrid). Then click on the "Forward" button.
If you aren't going to set up an "internal" home automation LAN at this time, but only will use a single PC for all LinuxMCE functions, then make that single PC installation a hybrid.
However, if you will create an entire home automation network, it is better to use one PC as the dedicated core server (not a hybrid). It will run faster. You can leave it "headless" (no monitor, keyboard, mouse), and leave it always on. In such a situation, "dedicated Core" would be suitable. Nevertheless, it is possible after installation to choose whether to autostart the Core services by themselves, the Media Director services by themselves, or both together. Thus a "hybrid" installation can later used as a "dedicated Core," as a Media Director, or as both (a hybrid). There is little disadavantage, therefore, in choosing "hybrid" at this step. That is what many first time users choose.
Choosing Video Card
This step is displayed only when an nNvidia graphics card is detected by LinuxMCE. You will be asked if you want to use the proprietary nVidia driver (the only one that works well with LinuxMCE and nVidia cards), instead of the generic driver (which doesn't work as well). Generally you should use the proprietary driver. This step is here for legal reasons.
The next screen will ask you whether you want to keep your current network configuration or whether you want to set your network options manually. The "current network configuration" is usually what the Kubuntu Live CD originally detected and setup automatically. Most commonly this configuration instructs the PC to ask for a dynamic IP from your home LAN router's DHCP service. This option is asking whether your LinuxMCE should continue to ask for a dynamic IP from your external LAN's router (using DHCP), or whether you wish to set a static IP address for your LinuxMCE PC. This setting applies only to the (first) NIC card that is connected to the "external" home LAN. Usually keeping the "current network configuration" is sufficient. Then press "Forward".
If you chose manual installation, you must now choose whether your PC will use a static IP within the external home LAN, or whether it will accept a dynamic IP assigned by the LAN router's DHCP. If you do not have a home LAN and router, but connect directly through a cable modem, you most likely use a (static) IP (that your cable company assigns you). Generally you have to know your IP address, the cable company's gateway IP, and the cable company's DNS server information (which your cable provider must provide to you). In contrast, most DSL providers use DHCP-assigned dynamic IPs, so if you connect directly through a DSL modem, you most likely use DHCP. You don't have to worry about the gateway and DNS server; DHCP usually discovers those for you automatically. (Obviously, if you bought a static IP service from a DSL or T1 provider, you would have to choose static and fill in the information, just as for a cable modem.)
If you don't know what the heck you have, use DHCP.
Choosing Mirror for Packages
You have to choose a mirror. Pick one geographically close to you. Downloads will be faster.
Choosing DHCP Server
You will be asked whether you want (the LinuxMCE core server) to Run a DHCP Server or not. The LinuxMCE core server will be the DHCP server for your "internal" home automation network in order to provide plug-and-play detection of network devices like IP Cameras and VOIP phones, and to provide network boot images to any other PC's in the internal home automation network that you might want to use as Media Directors.
Hopefully you took some advice and already installed a second NIC card. That second NIC card is used so that LinuxMCE can provide an "internal" DHCP network to the PCs (Media Directors), Orbiters, and devices within your automated home network. All ethernet connections from these devices (within the home automation network) must be connected to a switch (or a router with DHCP turned off) which is then in turn connected to this second NIC card. The LinuxMCE core server then performs the DHCP functions for the "internal" home automation network.
In essence, the "internal" home automation network is nested within your "external" home LAN. Some PCs can remain outside of the internal home automation network by being directly connected to the router, and therefore not connected to the LinuxMCE server. The first NIC card of the LinuxMCE server therefore communicates to the router of your external home LAN. The second NIC is connected to the internal home automation LAN. The LinuxMCE core server only acts as the DHCP server for the devices in the internal home automation LAN. Savvy?
Generally, you should answer yes to this question. The only time you would answer no is when you will have only one PC that will be a hybrid core server/media director and you do not plan to use any plug-n-play devices other than those connected directly to that single PC.
You will be then asked if you want to keep the default Internal Network address for the internal home automation LAN or if you want to change it. You might as well accept the default, unless you have some specific reason for specifying a unique IP range.
Then press 'Forward'.
Choosing Orbiter Interface
In the next window you need to choose what interface you want to use and you have to pick one of three possibilities. There are currently three options: UI1, UI2 with masking, and UI2 with alpha-blending. UI2 requires specific video cards (nVidia). It is best to choose UI1 for the initial installation if you don't have the appropriate nVidia card or if in doubt, as the interface can be changed later. This will reduce the possibility of video card related errors during installation. After installation, you can check to see if your video card can do masking and alpha-blending by following the instructions at Graphics Test.
Installing Additional Packages
Choosing How to Primarily Use the Computer
You have to select how you plan to use your computer, either:
- Primarily used as a PC -- you can start LinuxMCE manually when you need it, or
- A dedicated LinuxMCE -- you can start Kubuntu when you need it.
For the dedicated core server, choose the second option. If you have a power outage, you can then set the computer to auto-reboot and restore your system without intervention. (If you are serious about home automation, it is best to have a dedicated core server, anyway.) It is possible to access the Kubuntu desktop from within LinuxMCE (see below).
If you choose the first option and have a power outage, then you will require a boot-up script, cron scheduling, or manual intervention in order to restart the LinuxMCE system.
If you are just experimenting with LinuxMCE and/or primarily use the PC as a Kubuntu desktop, the first option is suitable. Also, if you wish to directly install LinuxMCE directly on a PC that will be used as a Media Director, but intend to trade its function back and forth between that of a Kubuntu desktop and a Media Director, also choose the first option.
(Many PCs that will be used as Media Directors can simply be netbooted from the Core, however, so you do not really need to install LinuxMCE on them at all if you intend to netboot (which is generally easier).)
Installing LinuxMCE Discs
This step is very important. You have to insert the CD (or point to the location on the hard drive of the .iso file for the CD):
LinuxMCE CD 1
LinuxMCE CD 2
Kubuntu 7.10 Live CD
You can see the message about the Linux MCE system installation.
Installation can take a long time
Don't worry if the system seems to stop at points or report what seems like error messages. This is normal since at places it will be testing drivers out, and is only there for the advanced Linux user. You will get a dialog box if something really does go wrong. And, understand this may take a very long time since it will in parallel be updating your Kubuntu system to the latest version. Just leave it for an hour or two and come back later.
After the installation is done you’ll receive a message from the installer that will tell you to restart the system
Next follow the QuickStart Guide to tell LinuxMCE about how you want to use it.
If you specified that LinuxMCE should startup by default, then after rebooting you will see LinuxMCE (not the Kubuntu desktop). If you will use this computer as a Media PC only, you don't need to access the Kubuntu desktop for any further set up -- all setup is done from the from the LinuxMCE Admin Website or through the LinuxMCE Orbiter User Interface.
If you would like to use this PC as a Kubuntu PC from within LinuxMCE, however, a menu option on the on-screen Orbiter User Interface of a Media Director is provided to bring up the KDE (Kubuntu) desktop. (This may not work well if the Media Director has been netbooted.)
You can also press Ctrl+Alt+F2 from within LinuxMCE to bring up the KDE desktop (then login and type StartX).
If you specified that the Kubuntu desktop should be run by default, you can then start LinuxMCE manually from within the Kubuntu menu: Applications-->Sound & Video-->Start Media Center. (You can also click on the LinuxMCE icon on the Kubuntu desktop that was placed there during installation.
When LinuxMCE is running, you can toggle back and forth between them by pressing Ctrl+Alt+F7 for Kubuntu or Ctrl+Alt+F11 for LinuxMCE.