Cheap Setup

OK, you've bought at least a Revo 3700 and the world's most expensive USB stick (detailed in the previous Pre-purchase page) that combined managed to burn a massive £255 hole in your wallet and all you've got to show for it is a lozenge-shaped machine and an appalling operating system on it when you power it on!

Don't despair like many Revo owners have in the past (the Linpus Linux that Acer ship on all its Revo range is shockingly bad) - this guide is here to help you trash that rubbish OS and put something smooth and creamy on that will delight you and everyone you show it to. You do have several choices at this point:
  • If you're an expert, you might consider Windows 7 with Windows Media CenterMediaportal or XBMC. However, the Revo 3700 comes with Linux, so you'd have to buy Windows separately (I won't mention piracy here and you shouldn't either) and know how to install Windows from scratch on a new machine from a USB stick (you'd be amazed how almost all Windows users have never done this themselves even though it's quite easy). I'm sorry, but I don't trust Windows for any critical TV recording and neither do any hard disk recorder manufacturers (they almost all use Linux). Hence, I cannot help you on the Windows front if you decide to go that route.
  •  You can download a standard Linux distribution - they're almost all free except "enterprise" ones used on servers. Set up a live/install ISO on a USB stick, boot from the stick and then use the live desktop to try out the Linux desktop and if you like it, click on the installer icon and install it on the Revo's hard drive, wiping out the existing and terrible Linpus Linux completely. You then download your preferred media centre software and away you go.
  • You can download pre-packaged media centre Linux distributions that often come stripped down and with all the media centre software installed when you're done. This is the easiest route, but some (like OpenELEC) are actually too stripped down and whilst they give fantastic boot times (20 secs on a Revo vs. 40 secs for a standard Linux boot), they are so locked down that you can't add or upgrade any packages you want to add/change until the authors of OpenELEC decide what you can have for the next update. In fact, the OpenELEC folks have got so anal about the size of their distribution and the speed of booting, they refuse to include perl, which therefore means no XMLTV, which in turns means no 14-day Radio Times EPG - all bad news for Olympics recording (you can use a 7-day EPG that's broadcast over the air, but 14-days and better metadata are provided by the RT EPG).
After ruling out MythTV (horribly techy), OpenELEC (too stripped down and inflexible) and XBMCUbuntu (not using latest releases), I settled on 64-bit Ubuntu 12.04, XBMC 11.0 and tvheadend, which is working well with a USB TV tuner stick. I like the Logitech K260 wireless keyboard and mouse I bought with one of my PCs and the Revo's own keyboard and mouse isn't too bad (fine for typing in bed or on the sofa, but not as good as the Logitech).

I'm of the opinion that "all-in-one" OS+media centre releases on a bootable install image are not the way to go - they're either set up too stripped down (for boot speed) or they lag behind the versions of both the OS and media centre software they're using. Hence, I would recommend that you install a full OS first and then the latest media centre software releases (preferably from a repository so that updates are easy).

To help you with this, I've split up the next set of documentation into the three major installation components:

  • Installing Ubuntu (with XBMC+PVR and tvheadend). A comprehensive guide to installing Ubuntu 12.04 on a Revo. It's so complete that it actually starts from you opening the Revo cardboard box and unwrapping the items!
  • XBMC Configuration. Gets you going with the gorgeous XBMC user interface and makes sure that audio is working too. After some tvheadend configuration, you'll get to see live TV and eventually record a program via an EPG and play it back later on.
  • tvheadend Configuration. Set up the TV tuner/EPG backend via a Web interface, give XBMC access to streams and the two of them together provide a great setup.


  1. looking forward to installation guide, currently running wmc and the epg/series link is ok (ish) but if tvheadend (never heard of it) is better in reliability and eye candy I will give it a go!

  2. I should state here that I am not installing Windows at all on any of the four machines (two Revos, two custom-built PCs) for this Olympics Recording project. Hence, I can't help anyone who isn't willing to install Linux on whatever HTPC machine they decide to use (could be dual-boot, if you really need to cling onto Windows).

    Expect the Revo installation guide this weekend - I've got it working sweetly with a new 50" plasma that does 1920x1080. 24 point fonts for Firefox and it's massively huge Web surfing in bed for me most nights now!