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Enhancing the XBMC (Live) Experience

February 7, 2010 2 comments

The XBMC Experience on a HTPC is just awesome with a NVIDIA VDPAU (Video Decode and Presentation API for Unix) enabled graphics card or chipset. My ZOTAC MAG HD-ND01 has a NVIDIA Ion chipset, so CPU usage is at like 3-8% while watching High Definition media. Doesn’t get any better.

XMBC Live is XBMC’s very own spin of a barebone Ubuntu Linux, preinstalled with XBMC. While it works really, really well directly out of the box after installing the newest NVIDIA drivers from the PPA – which are required for VDPAU acceleration – there are some things you might want to do to enhance your experience even more.

If you are hooking your HTPC up to your TV via HDMI, you won’t be able to hear any menu sounds. That is because the default soundcard is still the onboard/whatever one. Fire up your favorite text editor and edit/create the file .asoundrc in your XBMC user’s home directory.

pcm.!default {
    type plug
    slave {
        pcm "hdmi"
    }
}

This will make the HDMI output the default for all sounds, thus enabling XBMC menu sounds.

Next up, /etc/X11/xorg.conf – disable the Hardware Cursor, enable 1080p24 (very important for fluid playback of most HD material) and 1080p60, disable Composite and let your TV do the resolution scaling.

#Remove Hardware Cursor
#Browse to the 'Device' section and insert the following
    Option         "HWCursor" "False"
    Option         "FlatPanelProperties" "Scaling=Native"

#Make 1080p24 and 1080p60 available
#1080p24 is pretty important to have, make sure you calibrate your screen
#in System Settings for this resolution afterwards if you allow XBMC
#to match the screen's resolution to the video playing (which I heavily recommend)
#Browse to the 'Screen' section and insert the following
    Option         "DynamicTwinView" "False"

# Disabling Composite improved the video playback for me even more, YMMV
Section "Extensions"
    Option         "Composite" "Disable"
EndSection

Enjoy XBMC, it rocks! 🙂

Categories: linux Tags: ,
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