** Update 3rd May 2010: The instructions here also generally work for Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, for notes specific to this version see: Boxee and Ubuntu 10.04 LTS on the Acer Aspire Revo ***
A lot has happened since I wrote my post back in June about setting up Ubuntu and Boxee on the Acer Aspire Revo; a new version of Ubuntu has been released and today (7th January 2009) the new beta version of Boxee was officially released to the public. The new version is a major overhaul and represents quite a different, enhanced user experience from the alpha. So I thought I would do a new version of the post to reflect these changes. Fortunately, Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic) has introduced many changes that make getting the Revo up and running much easier than under the previous release of Ubuntu.
If you have previously been using the machine, make sure you back up everything first! This process will wipe your machine. You will need a copy of the Ubuntu 9.10 desktop live CD image on a USB memory stick. Do this by visiting:http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu/download and downloading the ISO image of the CD. Boxee is now available in a 64 bit version, and the Revo will support 64 bit operating systems so you can if you wish download the 64 bit edition of Ubuntu (look under “Alternative download options...”). I am running 64 bit on my Revo, but haven't noticed any speed increase. Now you can transfer Ubuntu from the ISO image to the USB stick by using the USB Startup Disk Creator located under System → Administration. For other platforms see: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation/FromUSBStick.
Next task is to boot the Revo from the USB stick, but first make sure an option in the BIOS that can stop booting from the stick is disabled. Do this by pressing the DEL key when the machine first boots to go to the BIOS options and then navigate to Advanced BIOS features and make sure Boot to RevoBoot to set to “DISABLED”. Save the configuration and reboot. When the machine starts up again press the F12 key and select the USB stick entry. You should very shortly see the Ubuntu installer options screen. Select Install Ubuntu and work through the wizard until you get to the partitioner.
Manually set up a root partition (/) of about 10GB, a swap partition of 2GB and the rest the home partition (/home). These sizes are based on the 160GB hard disc option, for the 8GB solid state drive I would recommend having a 1GB swap and one partition containing the root partition and the home directory. The partitions (apart from swap of course) now get formatted as ext4 as standard in Ubuntu 9.10.
At the end of the installation wizard I selected the option to log in automatically to make the Revo produce more of a consumer device experience. Hopefully Ubuntu should install and you should be able to reboot into Ubuntu on your Revo. When this happens, make sure all of the updates to Ubuntu are applied (System → Administration → Update Manager and click Check) before continuing.
This bit is a lot easier than last time! Make sure all updates have been applied and you have rebooted (this can save a lot of hassle with this step). If you now go to System -> Administration -> Hardware drivers to pick up Nvidia drivers from the Ubuntu repositories. When these are installed you should reboot (sadly this whole process does involve a lot of rebooting but it is worth it). You should make sure that the screensaver is switched off as well otherwise you might find the screen goes blank when you are in the middle of watching something on Boxee (System → Preferences → Screensaver and untick Activate screensaver when computer is idle).
Thankfully this is a bit easier this time as well. You will notice that the Revo is still being silent when you first install Ubuntu but this is easy to fix, go to System → Preferences → Sound, click on the Hardware tab. Under Profile select "Digital Stereo (HDMI) Output + Analog Stereo Input" to make sure all sound goes through the HDMI socket. If you want to use the headphone socket instead select “Analog Stereo Output". We still have to do one slight tweak though. In a terminal d enter alsamixer and you should find that “NVIDIA MCP7A HDMI” is showing as the chip. Press the right arrow until an entry named “IEC958 1” [UPDATE on Ubuntu 10.04 this is called "S/PDIF"] is highlighted and make sure it is not muted (it will have “MM” displayed above it). If it is press “m” to unmute it. Press Escape to leave alsamixer. If you try the sound tests under Sound → Preferences → Sound you should find that they now work.
Install Boxee Beta
Log into http://www.boxee.tv and click on downloads. You will need to create a Boxee account if you have not done so already (you will need the same user name and password to log into the Boxee software itself). You should see options for 32bit and 64bit Ubuntu systems. Click on the right one for your system and save it to your hard disc. When the download has finished you should be able to double click on it in Firefox's downloads window and install it using the default option of GDebi.
When the installation has finished, get Boxee to start automatically when the machine is powered-on by going to System → Preferences → Startup Applications. Click Add and enter Boxee for the name and for the command enter /opt/boxee/run-boxee-desktop.
Once logged into Boxee go to the settings (the cog icon at the top) then System → Audio Hardware. Change the setting to “Digital” and restart Boxee. Also make sure that you have the right region set under Settings → Appearance → Region and your town entered under Settings → Appearance → Weather.
Your system should be pretty much ready to go now. I also install LIRC for the remote control, but you could also use the Boxee iPod application instead (or even the fancy new Boxee remote when it comes out). For a more set top box like experience it is worth setting up Ubuntu to shut down the Revo when you press the power button instead of asking you what you want to do. You can set this up under System → Preferences → Power Management. On the General Tab under Actions change When the Power button is pressed to Shutdown.
That is all that should be needed to get you up and running. Now you can explore the new version of Boxee and maybe have a look at The Open University Application ;). Congratulations to the Boxee team on the beta release!