How to install Ubuntu 9.10 and the Boxee Beta on an Acer Aspire Revo (including 64 bit option)

** 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.

The Boxee Beta home screen

Installing 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: 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 SystemAdministration. For other platforms see:

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 (SystemAdministrationUpdate 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 (SystemPreferencesScreensaver 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 SystemPreferencesSound, 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 SoundPreferencesSound you should find that they now work.

Sound Preferences window in UbuntuThe alsamixer program

Install Boxee Beta

Log into 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 SystemPreferencesStartup Applications. Click Add and enter Boxee for the name and for the command enter /opt/boxee/run-boxee-desktop.

Configuring Boxee

Once logged into Boxee go to the settings (the cog icon at the top) then SystemAudio 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 SystemPreferencesPower 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!


Acer Revo Ubuntu install desperate help needed.

Due to a number of reasons I've been trying to get xubuntu, kubuntu and now ubuntu installed on my Acer Revo R3600. I've found a resolution to every single barrier so far (and there have been many!) and I've rebooted and clean installed this at least 20 times now and I've bumped into a real deal breaker for me, my Acer and linux. There seem to be no answers out on the web so here goes.

After trying at least 10 separate (and different) set up instructions for Ubuntu on the Revo I tried yours and I get the same fail. After the restart the mouse and keyboard freeze and fail. It is not clear what is causing the problem as this fail essentially means I can't find out what is causing the problem as there is no response from the keyboard or the mouse. It is a frozen system.

If I run the system off the USB stick the freeze didn't happen. When installed to the HD it freezes on restart.

Following your guide it has frozen again. I see that a number of people have had a similar problem and bailed out to Windows 7 as nobody in the usually brilliant Linux community has solved it.

I am now clueless. I've tried everything and Windows is once again looking like the way forward as this Acer Revo Ubuntu combination has wasted a good 3 days of my life so far. I'm becoming bitterly obsessed with solving the never ending bugs.

Thanks in advance.

I'm with you Husk. This project has been nothing short of a nightmare. I'm experienced in Ubuntu and Fedora and it is no way as simple as stated in this article. Endless crashes, numerous reboots, multiple reloading of 'clean' 9.10 and just appalling software makes this a task to be avoided - I've lost 2 whole days of my life fighting this one. Bugs, bugs, bugs and still my sound doesn't work (so easy according to this article!) and still I can't load Ubuntu to the hard drive so I need to run it from the USB. Endless endless - I say endless - problems trying to install a simple software solution onto a simple box. Casual computer people beware! Ubuntu 9.10 is not for the easy going and the nearly useless Acer Revo is a candidate for being thrown out of a window.
Ubuntu has lost all credibility with this release. Shockingly bad.

If you're not very familiar with Ubuntu, you should probably grab an XBMC live disk, rather then try and install your own. I didn't have much trouble setting up Boxee (just followed the XBMC + Revo install directions since Boxee is basically XBMC), but grabbing a Live CD with all the Revo drivers installed already certainly speeds things up.

Same here guys. Got it for Christmas as a replacement to XBMX-Xbox. Have tried what seems like dozens of combinations of software and operating systems and it seems like there's a dealbreaker every time. HDMI audio won't work. Or there's tearing on video playback. Or it just doesn't load at all. I've had computers since before the BBS days and I've never had more difficulty with a machine.

I'm with the three guys below. Never has something failed so completely. No sound, no HD video, no install to HDD... problem after problem after problem.
Simple with 9.10? Utter bollocks mate. Sorry, but that's the truth. This Acer Revo is going back to the trash can from which it crawled and the overblown arrogant Linux crowd can keep their poorly derived, poorly conceived and frankly crap software to geek out to. I actually want something that works. Not necessarily out of the box but after three days of reload after reload you'd expect more that a screaming headache and bullshit articles like this that say, " should find that they now work." Really, I should find that it works? No, it doesn't. It never has and never did and the help I've had from the self-proclaimed uber helpful Linux crowd has been nada, nothing, no responses to my requests for help because there are no solutions to the most bug-ridden piece of tripe I've ever had the displeasure of working with. It even beats the de-bugging exercises from university for annoying wastes of human life.
Get Ubuntu 9.10 sorted and stop writing how lovely the world is. No wonder Microsoft ruled the world when the best the rest could come up with is this tosh. 2010 a Linux year? BS! Utter BS.

Good grief! What is going on here? All I am doing in this post is writing down the steps that worked for me in getting my Revo up and running with Ubuntu and Boxee. I wanted to share this with other people as I have often benefited from other people talking the time to write up their experiences in blogs and forums with various technical issues I've had in the past. If you have encountered problems then say what they are and somebody *might* be able to help you, but the tone of these comments helps nobody.

To the naysayers: I followed this guide to a T and it works beautifully. I have full 1080p video on any of my 1000 video files. Flash and boxee work great. I even installed deluge torrent so that I have a perfect seedbox. It even works out of the box with my logitech dinovo edge keyboard.
Nigel: have you tested your RAM? Sounds to me like it could be a bad chipset, you should RMA.

I followed this guide last night to install Ubuntu 9.10/Boxee on my Revo 1600 (w/2gb ram) after trying and failing with the lifehacker guide for 9.04 a couple of times. This guide lead me through in half the time with half the steps and all the video (1080p,720p,mkv's, and SD content) and audio (Dts, ac3, and others downconverted over hdmi) I've tried so far works great. And the Boxee iPhone app is cool too (although not as robust as the xbmc remote app I have for iPhone). Boxee seems a little unstable as I've had it crash a couple of times but it is a beta so I guess that's expected. The real problem I'm having is that my MCE remote that worked out of the box with XBMCLive on my Revo won't work with Ubuntu/Boxee on my Revo. Any ideas?

@yochai and @justsl2 Great to hear it is working for you, and thank you for commenting!

@justsl2 I'm using a MCE remote too, I had to do this to get it working:
* Install the lirc package (sudo apt-get install lirc)
* When promoted select "Windows Media Centre Transceivers/Remotes (all)" for "Remote Control Configuration"
* Select "None" for "IR Transmitter (if present)" (unless you one of these)
Hope this helps.

I'm writing this comment from my recently ubuntized Revo, and it rocks!

Thanks a lot for the guide.

I think the Acer Revo is a great piece of kit, it's a shame the Linux stuff craps out. I've got years of experience with all different Linux flavours and I have been unable to get hdmi audio working after wasting all day with reboot, alsa configuration options and bouncing all over the internet try to find out how to get the audio to work. I have done the audio bit from this article 40 times over with all different settings, systematically stepping through all different models for this chipset on the latest version of Ubuntu, alsamixer unmuting, trying every hdmi output option, playing sound, goto step 1.... repeat... repeat...repeat... 40 times over with no luck. I am totally p*ssed off that I'm wasting my life on this. Am seriously tempted to just load xp and be done with it.

....and by going to XP you will lose the ability to play HD content on the Revo, as you will not get the benefits of VDPAU with the ION....Linux only :o)

I installed Ubuntu 9.10 on an Acer Revo 3610 (Dual Atom 330 processors) and found that installing Nvidia video drivers at the same time as the Ubuntu install (when asked) was a disaster. And yes, I too, had repeated crashes.

However, the installation of Nvidia after the Ubuntu install worked flawlessly and I recommend it for those still having trouble here. Go to the Nvidia site and look for installation instructions. ..'seasy!

It's really important to install Ubuntu and NVidia in the sequence described. Install Ubuntu first, apply all updates, then *reboot* before attempting to install the NVidia drivers from the repositories. This stops the NVidia drivers being built against the wrong kernel (you will probably get a new kernel in the upgrades). If you don't do this you will have problems launching Ubuntu and may need to reinstall the NVidia drivers. It's important that people reboot their machines when the post says to otherwise there may be problems.

For all the nay-sayers out there, particularly the ones who gave up after the keyboard/mouse freeze, there is hope. I ran into the issue where everything worked fine when booting into the live version on the USB drive, then after install hit the frozen keyboard/mouse issue (actually, the screen just flickered at the commandline login prompt). I'd boot back into the USB drive and everything worked just fine. Perplexed, I tried numerous variations, like others that have posted comments here. After sleeping on it, I found the root of the problem. I was installing from the live drive where I had made config changes, updated drivers, etc. It appears that the install took some of these configs and/or drivers (I'm speculating here, but this is the hunch that led me to a solution), so a 'fresh' install, was actually contaminated.

So, the solution: Create a new USB start-up disk, but this time, don't allow it to keep documents and settings after shutting down (if using the ubuntu tool for creating a boot drive, select "Discard on shutdown..." at the bottom of the dialog). Also, don't boot into live mode, just go straight to "install ubuntu" on the boot menu. Problem solved.

@Liam, you might want to update your article with this info so that other cautious folks that test things out on the USB drive before installing don't run into the same issues that I and others did. BTW, great write-up! Thanks for sharing this and thanks also for the 9.10 update!

For the record, I have a Revo 1600, stock out of the box with revoboot option disabled in the BIOS. Also, I used Ubuntu 9.10 desktop i386 (32-bit) version.

I stumbled upon this guide after purchasing a Aspire Revo 1600 on closeout (total impulse buy). Not knowing exactly what I wanted to do with it, but knowing I wanted it to be a basic HTPC, I searched to see what options were out there. Initially, I was going to go with XBMC with no OS. Then I came to this site. Having never used Ubuntu even once, I was intrigued. I knew it would be a "snappier" OS on a fairly underpowered machine than the installed Windows XP, but having never used it, I wasn't sure what I was getting into.

Anyway, last night I followed the instructions on this site to a "t", and...Success! I was actually surprised how easily the whole installation went after reading about the issues some others were having. In all, it took about 30 minutes from start to finish. Most of that time involved installing the 89 Ubuntu updates.

For less than $200, I have a system that rivals the pre-release specs of the Boxee Box, and I have storage space, which the BB does not. Using the free iPhone app Boxee put out is a bonus, though not as slick as the remote that will ship with the Boxee Box.

Today, I'm going to pick up more ram, as the video was slightly choppy at times, but not unbearable. Other than that, I'm very pleased with my little creation. Thanks for the guide!

I, like others, have had one hell of a time trying to get this combo up and running. For me, the sticking point is the Nvidia drivers. Once loaded and the machine is rebooted, all hope is lost. The machine appears to be booting into Ubuntu and then the screen goes blank and no video is detected by my television. I have tried this four times today. Twice, I tried to load the Nvidia drivers directly through the detected proprietary drivers option in Ubuntu. Once, I used the terminal to load the envy package (envyng -core) and when I try to download the drivers from Nvidia, gedit throws an error stating that they are in binary format and no good. I am very new to Linux and thus, don't know what to do with the downloaded driver from Nvidia but, the long and the short of it is that I cannot get my Revo loaded with Ubuntu and XBMC. I don't want to return to Windows but, I may have to unless someone has an answer as to why the video drivers render this machine incapable of, you guessed it, rendering video...

The important thing here is to apply the available updates to Ubuntu then reboot before attempting to install the NVidia drivers, otherwise you will have the problem you described. You can then install the NVidia drivers using the "Hardware Drivers" application (System -> Administration -> Hardware Drivers). It is really important to do the steps in the order they are described. Take your time and don't read multiple guides and try to combine them, this will only lead to problems.

Unfortunately, no, it still didn't work. I installed Ubuntu fresh, ran the update manager, rebooted, ran the hardware driver to add the Nvidia stuff, rebooted and....and.....and......nothin'. No love. Seems my Revo hates me.

I couldn't get audio out of the HDMI. I found you with Google. Thanks for your article.

Thanks Liam.

Worked like a dream. I followed the instructions to the letter, apart from I used and external USB DVD drive and a CD of Ubuntu 9.10 instead of a USB stick with Ubutnu on it.

I got Kubuntu 64 installed and working on a Revo 1600 with no probs. I used a 2gb SD card as the boot device and installed the nvidia drivers after updating Kubuntu with everything else.

Boxee plays locally stored movies and youtube perfectly on a 21" hdtv (1369xsomething via vga). IThe revo plus boxee combo is sweet and simple--just what the fam wants in the living room. The only problem is watching "tv shows" streaming through boxee. Streaming flash at full screen either does not play at all or is so choppy and disjointed as to be horrible. I have flash 10.0.something.

I understand that Adobe is updating flash but it has not released a 64 bit linux version of 10.1 as far as I can tell.

Anything I can do to help this improve? There's only 1 gb of ram in the thing and I imagine that might not be enough.

Thanks for any input.

I read on the ebuyer comments page for the Revo that you can install the beta version of Flash 10.1 which might overcome this problem. Apparently it cures a similar problem that the BBC Iplayer has with jerky video. See this link

However perhaps someone can explain how I install it from a TAR.GZ file!

I'm new to linux and bought the linux version of the Acer Aspire R3600 Desktop PC. The wireless connection to my broadband router worked first time. Then I installed Ubuntu 9.10 using the iso image on USB stick method with UNetbootin and going for complete install over the whole hard drive. This worked perfectly except I now I have no wireless connection. What did I do wrong? If it's to do with reinstalling the nvidia drivers, how to you do this without an internet connection? Or are the nvidia drivers a red herring?

I've set up my revo with Ubuntu Lucid (will be release 10.04) alpha 2 and it works like a charm. Just install the proprietary Nvidia drivers, select HDMI audio output, install Boxee and you're done!!

I recommend installing "Super OS" (aka Super Ubuntu) instead of normal Ubuntu. Here's why: "Super OS" is exactly precisely the same thing as Ubuntu. - It IS Ubuntu, with all the media codecs preinstalled. Simple. Get it here:

Followed all of the instruction above everything seems to work fine but when I go to iPlayer in Boxee and play something I get a black screen and no sound.

Youtube works fine it's just iPlayer and BBC live that do not.

iPlayer works through Firefox though.

Anyone else having these issues or does anyone have any ideas please!!!!!

It's a known fault on linux boxee. If you keep trying it eventually catches and starts playing.

havent used ubuntu in almost 2 years and with this guide ive got hdmi through audio running perfect! Fallowed directions step by step! thank you very much. With out the alsamixer part id be stuck forever.

Thanks Liam. Brilliant guide. After hunting down various forum threads etc. which lead nowhere I found your page, and just followed your notes - and hey presto I have Ubuntu. I still have things to do, but the OS is up and running with no real problems.
You're the man :)


Thanks for the site. I used your information to load a Revo with Ubuntu 64 bit and Boxee. First time user of Ubuntu and was impressed.

I'm using a Refurb. Acer Aspire R1600-U910H : 1.6GHz Atom 2GB RAM 160GB hard drive

Unfortunately, I had a couple problems. The 720 and 1080 mkv files do not run well. I made sure to change the GPU buffer to 512 however it runs really choppy.

Also, I didn't realize that Netflix content can't play on Linux. That was a major blow. (Not sure if the UK has Netflix but it's pretty big here in the US and it you get some great streaming content.)

I'm not sure it's because my TV is older but I had to change my audio hardware options to analog on Boxee and then it worked.

Anyhow, thanks again and if you have any suggestions that would great!


Also, I reviewed your guide again and I didn't check the update hardware step.

Hopefully this will fix it when I get to the house.



Somehow - reinstalling Boxee and installing XMBC cleaned up whatever problem I had and i'm watching 720 and 1080 with no problem.

Very exciting! Anyhow everything is good to go!

Hi Frank, Glad to hear it is working. Shame about Netflix, we don't have it here in the UK but it does sound good. All I can suggest is writing to them to let them know that you cannot use it with Linux. The more noise we Linux users make to these companies the more they will support us!

Frank, it is a real bummer that netflix streaming doesn't work on Linux. It's clearly a business decision on Netflix's part, not a technical impossibility, since some linux-based devices like the Roku box already do the netflix streaming. I suggest calling Netflix customer service (you can't email them) and asking for it. Hopefully a critical mass of comments will bring them around.

I read some articles about moonlight so hopefully netflix get's on board. Oh well. I can wait I guess.

Many thanks Liam for the guidance.

At the start, I suffered serious problems just getting the PC to boot from the USB stick. I tried different distros, and different programs to write the USB, but experienced a variety of boot problems. In the end I bought a new USB stick (8Gb Cruzer) and the boot worked first time. So if anyone else has problems with the USB stick, try a new one.

After that, it was plain sailing. I installed XBMC and Boxee with no trouble and the sound works fine over HDMI.

The only remaining problem is the overscan on my HDTV (Hitachi 32LD7200) which means I lose some of the pixels around the edge of the display, and therefore cant see the Ubuntu menu!. There are lots of reports of these problems on the net, but no universal solution. I've tried tweaking the Nvidia driver, but with no joy. I'm about to try the very latest drivers (195.36.15) to see if this helps.

I'll report back with any progress.

im having the EXACT same issue, overscan on my tv, everything works great except for this. This tutorial was perfect except for this overscan which is killing my pleasure. Oh and I got this running on a Aspire Rovo 1600

You'll find overscan is your TV's problem. Look into your TV settings and adjust as required.

Great tutorial. I know absolutely nothing about Linux and Ubuntu, but followed this guide step by step and now have a dedicated Boxee box in my bedroom with minimal time invested. With the Iphone remote, I'm good to go.

I had overscan issures with Ubuntu after installing the Nvidia drivers, but could adjust it in Boxee. I haven't backed out of Boxee yet to see if Ubuntu is still overscanning though. Don't really care, as all I wanted was Boxee.

Great guide, it finally got me to a workable solution!

One problem I'm having now is Boxee won't play through the HDMI, even through it works through the Sound preferences. I'm running the new early release of Boxee (because that's the only one that will support for this year).

Analog sound works (having enabled both in the Sound preferences).

Anyone have any thoughts?

Great guide, it finally got me to a workable solution!

One problem I'm having now is Boxee won't play through the HDMI, even through it works through the Sound preferences. I'm running the new early release of Boxee (because that's the only one that will support for this year).

Analog sound works (having enabled both in the Sound preferences).

Anyone have any thoughts?

Double check the bit above about "alsamixer" - easy to miss! If not that check Boxee is set up as above. Unfortunately there are a few bits involved in getting the sound right through HDMI.

Thanks for documenting your setup. I was having trouble getting sound to work on my Acer Aspire Revo after installing Ubuntu Netbook Remix, until I read your post. Now I have Boxee running too and it's all working great.

I haven't gotten to the step of hooking the Revo up to my TV, etc. yet but I was looking at the part about Alsamixer, and when hitting right arrow, I don't seem to have a “IEC958 1” option. Do you think that's going to be an issue?

brilliant guide thanks - am buying one of these today and wanted to stick the wonderful 10.04 on it and you have put my mind at ease good sir!

Hi, I'm completely new to linux so really appreciate stumbling across such clear instructions. I think I have a slightly different version... (Acer Aspire Revo R3600) in which there is no revoboot... when I enter advanced settings all I have are quick boot, quiet boot and then a series of 1st,2nd,3rd, and 4th boot devices. I've tried switching from SATA to the USB (on which I have Ubuntu) for the 1st device. However, the option of installing Ubuntu never comes up after it restarts. Could you suggest anything? thanks

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