XBMC Config

Now you've got XBMC+PVR installed, how do you configure it? Well, some of the answer depends on what sort of monitor/TV and audio system you have attached to your Revo. Luckily, most defaults are sensible on XBMC and there's not much you have to change. I'll split up the configuration into sections and I'll start with each main menu option in XBMC. I've actually found that most changes are best made with a keyboard and mouse, but you can theoretically use a media remote control, but I'm telling you now, it will be a lot slower.


It looks like XBMC uses GeoIP to guess which is the nearest city from its Weather Underground database, but it got my location wrong by about 50 miles. Hence, go to System -> Settings -> Weather -> General -> Settings and click on the "Change location 1" field. Type in the name of where you live (not the "nearest large town" - only do that if where you live isn't in their database) and click on Done. A list of matches will be shown - if it doesn't include your town, close the list and try a close town name. If it does match, just click on it to use it for future weather info. Click on OK and close the Weather Settings window.


I never bother with this option, so I'll put info here later on how to remove it from the home screen completely.


You can play back videos from either the internal hard drive, from attached storage (e.g. a USB memory stick) or from network storage. Note that when I tried to connect to a DLNA server on my network, it picked up the files fine, but on later sessions after a power cycle, it didn't seem to want to know! I may add more info to this section at a future date.


Similar functionality to the videos section, but you can create playlists (.m3u files) and also have some OpenGL visualisations whilst playing music.


Provides a way to launch desktop programs without having to return to the Ubuntu desktop first. Useful if you want to run Firefox from inside of XBMC for example.


You'll spend a fair amount of time in the Settings section, which has dozens of ways to change how XBMC looks and behaves (there's even alternative themes, though the Confluence default theme is certainly pretty enough). However, if you want to use any Live TV features, you should configure tvheadend first and then come back to this page.

Now you've configured tvheadend, the main option you'll want is to enable Live TV, which you do via System -> Settings -> Live TV -> General -> Enabled. You will get a warning about having no PVR add-ons enabled, but it then gives you a list of add-ons anyway and you should click on the TVheadend HTSP Client add-on.

This brings up a window explaining about the client - click on the Configure button first. Click on the Username field, type in the tvheadend username (the one for the tvheadend access control, not the Web interface username, though I set the username/password for both to the same value for convenience) and click on Done. Repeat for the Password field. Click on OK and then click on Enable.

You'll want to set up HDMI audio next, so go to System -> Settings -> Audio output and make sure the Audio output says HDMI - use the up and down triangular arrows next to the setting to adjust this. If you have attached the HDMI cable to a 5.1 receiver, you will want to switch on some of the other options such as "Speaker Configuration: 5.1", "Dolby Digital (AC3) capable receiver" and "DTS capable receiver". If you're just using normal stereo audio output, the speaker configuration should be 2.0 and turn off the two receiver options I just mentioned.

I also set the Audio output device to "Defaults (Pulseaudio)", changed the "Passthrough output device" to Custom, but I left the actual "Custom passthrough device" blank, even though it bizarrely does let you get away with no setting for this. To test the audio within XBMC, insert a USB stick with some music on it (I use mp3 format myself), navigate to Music -> Files, select the USB mount point and click on one of the files. It should hopefully start playing (OK, in stereo on a 5.1 system admittedly). You could also try some movies via the Video -> Files option, remembering to put a 5.1 movie on the USB stick if you want to test 5.1 audio.

Live TV

Select Live TV on the XBMC home screen and you should get a channel list down the left and a live TV feed on the right, complete with programme information and progress below it. You can click on the video feed to make it go fullscreen. If the live TV feed isn't there, either tvheadend hasn't not got a channel list or you've not authorised anything to connect to tvheadend for streaming (did you remember to set a tvheadend access control IP, netmask, username and password? This isn't necessarily the same username/password that you used for the tvheadend Web interface though). The USB tuner stick may not be plugged in and/or working properly either.

I noticed that using the up and down arrow keys on the wireless keyboard let you surf the previous and next channel, but it seemed to be buffering and stuttering for a couple of seconds after the channel change, which doesn't leave a good impression! A couple of other issues reared their ugly head - subtitles were bizarrely on by default and there seemed to be interlacing issues (i.e. the TV signal wasn't being deinterlaced, so you'd see "griddy" lines during movement).

Unlike the claims by the XBMC documentation, there isn't a subtitle icon in the onscreen display when watching a video or stream - this has been replaced by a teletext "TXT" icon (teletext doesn't work in XBMC,  sadly). Instead, the subtitle settings are in the audio speaker icon, so click on that and turn off subtitles in there and also click on "Set as default for all movies" (unless you are hard of hearing, in which case, ignore this paragraph!).

To fix the interlacing problems, watch live TV or play back a TV recording and then click on the film reel icon on the onscreen display at the bottom of the screen. Change  "Deinterlace video" to On and the "Deinterlace method" to "Auto - ION Optimized". Also choose the option "Set as default for all movies", though this may affect non-TV videos (i.e. movie downloads), so it may need switching back and forth unfortunately.

More to follow...

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