HOW-TO:Install XBMC for Linux on Arch Linux

Revision as of 20:33, 30 May 2009 by Jskube84 (Talk)

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DISCLAIMER! This is an unofficial guide. Unofficial as in the XBMC Team will not support this type of install, answer your questions, assist you with problems or anything along those lines. Unofficial means just that, this is not the official install method for XBMC and is not recommend, supported or endorsed by the XBMC Team. This guide makes no promises that this will work with your system, that it will not break your computer, and that it will not steal your girlfriend. If you are comfortable with all of this then feel free to continue!

This guide was written with the intent of helping those who would like to try a different distribution of Linux. Though there is nothing wrong with Ubuntu Linux some just prefer a choice. The minimal install and rolling release style of Arch Linux compared to Ubuntu is seen as a benefit to some users. Instead of having to deal with the lag of updating packages in some cases on Ubuntu, you can always have access to the latest and greatest. In some ways this is bad and others it is good. As with anything its all about preference. Though with this flexibility you lose some ease of use. If you are not comfortable with the command line and manually editing a config file with vi or nano THIS IS NOT THE GUIDE FOR YOU. This guide assumes you have some basic knowledge of Linux.

Last, if you have questions or problems SEARCH, SEARCH, and SEARCH SOME MORE. The wiki and forums for XBMC and Arch Linux are full of knowledge. If you have a question or problem chances are someone else has had the same one. So please search before you ask a question.


1 Introduction

This guide is intended to be a step by step guide to getting XBMC up and running on a dedicated PC running Arch Linux. I will walk you through setting up all the hardware that is needed to get you the ultimate media p.c. experience. Over time I hope to have people contribute to this guide so it will cover a wider array of hardware. This may seem like a long guide but just stick with it and you will come out on top.

Please note:

  • The guide is for using XBMC on a dedicated HTPC, so there is no window manager and/ or any additional applications installed.
  • You need minimum 1GB size flash drive or blank CD to create the install media.
  • Since you will use this PC only as a media center. I assume that you use digital audio pass-through (S/PDIF or HDMI) to a receiver/amplifier with built-in Dolby Digital (AC3) decoder.
  • Please also think twice, if you want to use any of the below sections in it's own, without following the guide step-by-step from the begining

You will get:

  • A dedicated HTPC which auto-boots directly to XBMC Media Center.
  • Latest XBMC SVN version.
  • Upgraded ALSA (audio) driver.
  • Up to date VIDEO (graphics) driver.
  • LIRC (Microsoft MCE Remote will work out-of-the-box, however if you have any other remotes and/or LCD displays then you are on your own to solve the individual LIRC and LCDproc issues).

2 Obtaining Arch Linux

So you haven't bailed on me yet! Now lets us start down the path of Arch Linux. First we need to download Arch, we will use Bittorent to acquire the needed images. If you can't use Bittorrent or would rather use a more traditional method please reference the Arch download page.

2.1 Thumb Drive Installation

Download this torrent and load it up into your favorite bittorrent client. Note that an installation on x86_64 is possible, but not recommended as there are still issues with xbmc, like a non-working web interface or segfaults sometimes. Please have a look to learn more about this. Once the download is completed you will have the img you need to write to you thumb drive. No we need to write that image to your thumb drive.

This will erase everything on your thumb drive so please back up anything you may need on it.

2.1.1 Windows

Download RawWrite.

Run RawWrite and select the image you downloaded, your thumb drive and then let it do its thing.

2.1.2 Linux / OSX

You should already have dd available to you, simply run dd in this syntax: Linux

# dd if=/where/the/image/is/archlinux-2009.02-2-ftp-i686.img of=/dev/sdX

If you dont know what /dev/ object to use try

# tail -n 25 /var/log/messages

You should see Linux detect your thumb drive being and where its assigned to in /dev/ OSX

# dd if=/where/the/image/is/archlinux-2009.02-2-ftp-i686.img of=/dev/discX

If you don't know what /dev/ object to use try Disk Manager and find your thumb drive and in the right pane you should see what device it is. Make sure to unmount the volume before writing to your thumb drive. It should be mount in /Volumes

Now that we have our image on our thumb drive. Now we need to reboot or boot the computer we are going to install this on. You will probably have to go into your BIOS to boot of the thumb drive. This varies by motherboard so just poke around. On my Zotac Mini-ITX board I just had to set the first boot object to USB.

2.2 CD Installation

Download this torrent and load it up into your favorite Bittorrent client. Once that is completed you will have the iso you need to write to a blank CD. This should be pretty straight forward in what ever operating system you are using so I wont go into detail. You can use Nero on Windows, cdrecord on Linux, and OSX's built in iso burner.

Now that we have our CD, we need to reboot or boot the computer we are going to install this on. You will probably have to go into your BIOS to boot of the cd drive. This varies by motherboard so just poke around. On my Zotac Mini-ITX board I just had to set the first boot object to cd.

3 Installing Arch Linux

If you would like a more in depth guide please reference the Offical Arch Install Guide

Once arch boots up go ahead and run

# /arch/setup

Now that we are in the Arch installer we need to setup a few things.

3.1 Package Source

First we need to set the source. Since we are using the FTP installer go ahead and select the FTP method.

3.2 Network Setup

Next you need to setup your network. If you use a static IP you will need that information if not just set it to DHCP and go about your business.

3.3 Package Mirror

Now we need to choose a mirror, try to find something that is close to you so you can get the best download speeds for obvious reasons.

3.4 Clock Setup

You will now need to set your clock. Most will set their clock to localtime. If your clock is set to GMT then by all means set it to GMT.

3.5 Hard drive Setup

How and what is the best way to do this is up for huge debate but I am not going to really tell you how to do this. If you know how to do it I am sure you have a way you prefer. If you just want to get it up and running go ahead and choose auto prepare. Auto prepare will give you the following setup:

   *  32 MB ext2 /boot partition
   *  256 MB swap partition
   *  7.5 GB root partition
   *  /home partition with the remaining space 

Note that in order to have Suspend-To-Disk working, you need a swap partition of at least the size of your RAM. So if you got 2GB RAM, make your swap partition is at least 2GB big.


3.6 Package Installation

Now we are down to the big part, what packages to install! Just leave what it has set to default we will install anything we need later on down the road. The install will take a few minutes so this maybe the time to get a new bottle of water if need be.

3.7 System Configuration

This is where we setup some important things, like your network and what services you want running.

3.7.1 Hostname


3.7.2 Modules

Next setup your modules. This is where you setup what modules you want loaded on boot up.


If you lead the module name with a ! that will blacklist the module and prevent the system from loading it. Helpful for pesky audio drivers.

3.7.3 Network

Ok network time. Under interfaces you will setup your network. If you are using dhcp then


If you have a static ip you will need to do a bit more. Here is an example:

eth0="eth0 netmask broadcast"

Also add your gateway if you need one:

gateway="default gw" ROUTES=(gateway)

If you setup a static IP you will need to edit resolv.conf, If you use dhcp you can skip this step. You will need to add a name server.

nameserver <routers ip address>"

Or you can add any known DNS server. If you dont do this you wont be able to resolve domain names.

3.7.4 Daemons

Last in rc.conf you will see DAEMONS, this is where you will setup what services you want to start on boot. We will leave this alone for now.

3.7.5 Root Password

Last scroll down and set your root password. Pick what you want just don't forget it!

3.7.6 Boot Loader

Now follow the on screen steps to installing grub. After grub is installed its time to reboot into our new Arch System!

4 Installing Software

Now we need to go through and install XBMC and all other supporting pieces of software. Now that we have booted into our new Arch install you must be asking now what? Ok first lets setup a user account.

4.1 Adding the XBMC user

This is the user we will be running xbmc under. You can run xbmc under root but that is a very bad idea. To create the user is simple.

# adduser xbmc

Follow the on screen prompts and provide the information needed.

4.2 Installing Yaourt

Yaourt is a very handy program. This is a repository tool that wraps around pacman that allows you to easily install packages from the AUR, or what is know as the user repository of packages for Arch. I guess these packages are close to what user repositories are on Debian/Ubuntu.

Add the following lines to /etc/pacman.conf

 Server =

Now sync and install

# pacman -Sy yaourt

4.3 Installing NVIDIA Beta Drivers

There are a few ways we can install the beta NVidia drivers on Arch. You can use the official package in the AUR or if you just feel like using the official install package from NVidia you can do that as well.

4.3.1 AUR NVidia Drivers

You can use yaourt to install the latest beta drivers which are available from the AUR:

yaourt -Sy nvidia-utils-beta nvidia-beta

That way you can assure that there are no leftovers if you intend to update or remove the driver.

4.3.2 NVidia Installer

Not recommended, but possible is an installation directly from the nvidia driver package:

First download the latest drivers ( As of 29 May 09 )

# wget

Once that is done install them

# ./

Follow the on screen prompts and it will complain that it cant find a precompiled kernel interface. That is fine we want it to compile the drivers to our current kernel.

Now lets install the nvidia-utils program (skip this if you installed your driver the yaourt way above).

# pacman -S nvidia-utils

4.4 Installing ATI Drivers

I dont have an ATi video card so this may need some tweaking.

# wget

Once that is done install them

# ./

This is incomplete and I really don't know beyond this.

4.5 Installing ALSA

Sound is important in a setup like this so lets go ahead install alsa.

# pacman -S alsa-lib alsa-utils

Once everything is installed go ahead and edit /etc/rc.conf and add alsa to your daemons line. Reboot.

# reboot

Now that you have restarted we need to go ahead and un-mute all of the audio interfaces.

# alsamixer

Use left and right to scroll around and press 'm' to mute and unmute.

4.5.1 HDMI Audio

If you are using an HDMI connection to pass audio to your receiver or TV you need to edit your /etc/asound.conf and add the following

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

4.6 Install XBMC

We are going to use the SVN version of XBMC because the binary version in AUR has VDPAU disabled and there is no fun in that. We are going to look at two ways. The svn build through AUR and manually. A few people have had trouble with the AUR build so if one doesnt work try the other.


yaourt -Sy xbmc-svn

This will pull all dependencies, checkout a recent version of xbmc from the SVN repository, patch some files for 64bit compatibility and finally compile, package and install xbmc. Feel free to add your experience or recommendations to the AUR comment page at

4.6.2 Manual XBMC-SVN

First we are going to need to install a bunch of dependencies, easy enough.

# pacman -S curl enca faac freetype2 fribidi gawk glew hal jasper libjpeg libmad libmysqlclient libxrandr lzo2 sdl_image sdl_mixer sqlite3 tre unzip libcdio libsamplerate python subversion autoconf automake boost cmake gcc gperf libtool make nasm patch pkgconfig zip flex bison lirc pmount smbclient unrar avahi

Whew that was a lot. That should pull in everything you need along with any dependencies need by those packages. Now lets download xbmc.

# svn checkout
# cd XBMC
# ./configure --prefix=/usr --disable-pulse
# make
# make install

All of those will take some time so once one command finishes move onto the next. Depending on how fast your system is will depend on how long this takes. If you need another bottle of water this is the time. If not be amazed by the fast scrolling text!

4.7 Boot directly into XBMC

Now to get xbmc to start immediately after boot we need to make some changes

# yaourt -S minigetty

now edit /etc/inittab

Change this:

  c1:2345:respawn:/sbin/agetty 38400 vc/1 linux
  c2:2345:respawn:/sbin/agetty 38400 vc/2 linux
  c3:2345:respawn:/sbin/agetty 38400 vc/3 linux
  c4:2345:respawn:/sbin/agetty 38400 vc/4 linux
  c5:2345:respawn:/sbin/agetty 38400 vc/5 linux
  c6:2345:respawn:/sbin/agetty 38400 vc/6 linux

to this:

  c1:2345:respawn:/sbin/mingetty --autologin xbmc vc/1 linux
  c2:2345:respawn:/sbin/agetty 38400 vc/2 linux

This is a security hole but this is also a media pc so it should be fine.

Also we deleted some of 4 of the other virtual terminals. You wont be using them and it saves a bit of memory. If you want to keep them go ahead but I doubt you'll use them.

Now that we have the user logged in we need it to auto start XBMC.

Edit /home/xbmc/.bashrc and add the following


Almost there

Edit /home/xbmc/.xinitrc and add the following

  exec ck-launch-session /usr/bin/xbmc-standalone

Another way of auto starting XBMC (and make sure that it's idiot-proof even if it segfaults), you could start xbmc directly from inittab. Add the following line to /etc/inittab and comment out (#) all other lines beginning with "x:5:".

x:5:respawn:/bin/su xbmc -l -c "/bin/bash --login -c startx >/dev/null 2>&1"

You will also need to edit your /home/xbmc/.xinitrc as stated above.

4.8 Thermal monitoring

So you playing some high bit rate 1080p video and you got the sound blasting and everything is great. Well sometimes things get hot in that box so lets go ahead and setup lm_sensors so we have an idea of how hot it is in there.

# pacman -S lm_sensors

Now we need to figure out what sensors you have.

# sensors-detect

When you run sensors-detect it will spit out a lot of questions, just hit enter. The last question you will have to type out yes. Go ahead and do that. When its all done lets test and make sure that everything was loaded right and we can see the information we want to see.

 sensors -u

You should see a bunch of info about your system to include temp., voltage, and fan speeds. Now to make XBMC understand what exactly is going on.

edit /home/xbmc/.xbmc/system/advancedsettings.xml

add the following lines

  	<cputempcommand>sensors|sed -ne "s/Core 1: \+[-+]\([0-9]\+\).*/\1 C/p"</cputempcommand>
  	<gputempcommand>echo "$(nvidia-settings -tq gpuCoreTemp) C"</gputempcommand> 

Now XBMC should be able to monitor how hot things are getting inside of your little media center.

4.9 Speed Up Grub

Go ahead and edit /boot/grub/menu.lst

Change this:


to this:


4.10 Boot Splash

Lets go ahead and get one of those fancy boot splash thingys going on that all the kids love these days.

# yaourt -S initscripts-splashy splashy

edit /boot/grub/menu.lst again


  kernel (hd0,6)/vmlinuz26 root=/dev/sda1

to this

 kernel (hd0,6)/vmlinuz26 root=/dev/sda1 ro quiet vga=791 splash

Your menu.lst may not be exactly the same but it should be close

Now edit /etc/rc.conf and add


now edit /etc/mkinitcpio.conf

find the "HOOKS" section

  HOOKS="base udev autodetect ide sata filesystems ...

add splashy before autodetect

  HOOKS="base udev splashy autodetect ide sata filesystems ...

now before we build the initramfs lets remove the "the loading initramfs" lines from the boot up. Open up and edit /lib/initcpio/init and comment out line #6. Now lets install some themes

# yaourt -S splashy-themes

Now we need to setup what theme. Go ahead and do

# cd /usr/share/splashy/themes/darch-grey/
# mv background.png background.bak
# wget
# mv backgroundism.png background.png

Now we need to tell splashy to use our new theme instead of the default

# splashy_config -s darch-grey

Last we need to make the splash show up on boot. Anytime you change the theme or pretty much make any change to splashy you will need to rebuild the initramfs.

# mkinitcpio -p kernel26

4.11 Antec Mult-Station Premier

Now we need to get lirc working correctly before we can setup the lcd screen. Lirc should have already been installed with XBMC and if for some reason it is not go ahead and install it.

4.11.1 Remote

# pacman -S lirc

Now we need to install the modules to enable our device. This used to take some trickery but with recent versions of lirc this isnt the case.

# modprobe lirc_dev 
# modprobe lirc_imon

For some reason Lirc detects two devices with this screen. We have /dev/lirc0 and /dev/lirc1. Some buttons show up on one device and some show up on the other. So we need to run two instances of lirc and have them talk together.

# /usr/sbin/lircd --driver=default --device=/dev/lirc0 --pidfile=/var/run/ --listen=8765
# /usr/sbin/lircd --driver=default --device=/dev/lirc1 --pidfile=/var/run/ --output=/dev/lircd --connect=localhost:8765

Edit you /etc/rc.d/lircd script and add those two lines above to the start section when lircd is called. This why our remote will be setup properly on each start up and or reboot.

Start Lirc

# /etc/rc.d/lircd start

Now we want this to all start up on boot so go ahead and add "lircd" to the daemons section of /etc/rc.conf and lirc_dev and lirc_imon to the modules section of /etc/rc.conf

4.11.2 LCD Screen

This is pretty hardware specific but maybe this will help someone out. Now we need to get the LCD screen working, this is probably the easiest part.

# cd ~
# wget
# tar -zxvf lcdproc-0.5.2.tar.gz
# wget wget

Now we need to patch our version of lcdproc. This will add the small changes need so the screen will function correctly.

# cd lcdproc-0.5.2
# patch -p1 < ../lcdproc-0.5.2-imonlcd-0.3.patch

Edit server/main.h file, and change RENDER_FREQ from 8 to 2:

# cd server
# vi main.h

Now we need to build LCDProc. If you see an error that says "IOWarrior.c' with per-target flags requires AM_PROG_CC_C_O' in `'" go ahead and ignore it.

# cd ..
# aclocal
# autoconf
# automake
# ./configure --enable-drivers=imonlcd --prefix=/usr
# make
# make install

Now lets go ahead and setup the LCDProc config file.

# vi /etc/LCDd.conf

In the [server] section change the line Driver=curses to Driver=imonlcd and the line DriverPath=server/drivers/ to DriverPath=/usr/lib/lcdproc/ ( the trailing / is needed dont forget it.)

Now move down and add this section to the config file.

  ## IMON LCD driver added by xxx 5Sept08 ##

You can change the contrast settings to your likings. Now save the file. Now start lcdproc

# /etc/rc.d/lcdproc start

Add lcdproc to your daemons section of /etc/rc.conf to have it auto start on boot.

4.12 Samba Server

So you have this giant harddrive in your media center pc but how do you get all of your files to it? With Samba its easy, you media pc will show up as a windows share on your computer and you can just drag and drop your files back and forth. Now lets install samba.

# pacman -S samba

Now edit you /etc/rc.conf file and add "samba" to your daemons section. Now we need to setup our smb.conf file for our share directory.

# mkdir /home/xbmc/Share
# vi /etc/samba/smb.conf

Now setup your smb.conf file like the following.

          workgroup = WORKGROUP
          netbios name = Media PC
          server string = XBMC Media PC; Samba Server %v
          encrypt passwords = yes
          passdb backend = smbpasswd
          security = SHARE
          guest account = xbmc
          log level = 1
          log file = /var/log/samba/%m.log
          max log size = 50
          socket options = TCP_NODELAY IPTOS_LOWDELAY SO_RCVBUF=8192 SO_SNDBUF=8192
          read raw = yes
          write raw = yes
          oplocks = yes
          max xmit = 65535
          dead time = 15
          getwd cache = yes
          large readwrite = yes
          comment = Media Files on Media PC
          path = /home/xbmc/Share
          force group = users
          read only = No 
          guest ok = yes
          guest only = yes
          create mask = 0666
          directory mask = 0666
          hide dot files = yes

Now lets go ahead and start samba

# /etc/rc.d/samba start

5 Credit

Sadly I cant think of everyone who helped me and I wish I could thank them all. Here are a few who I know off hand that helped me out.

Ctwater on the XBMC forums who had some good tips that I used.

Haggy for all of his help and contributions.

Who Ever wrote this guide. I took a lot of tips and information from there on my install. I dont who exactly wrote it but if you do let me know so I can give them proper credit.

The XBMC Team for all of thier great work and great software. Keep up the great work guys.

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