Ramblings of a Linux Geek.

ASRock ION 330 with XBMC Live Install

by on Aug.30, 2009, under xbmc

The 330 got her on last week Wednesday, I was a little busy last week so I am just getting around to doing the write up now.  I have some unboxing pictures, setup tips and overall review of the device running XBMC.  I do have to say I love this device!

First I am going to start you off with some unboxing pictures.

ASRock ION 330 In Box

Obviously the box it came in.

ASRock ION 330 Unboxed

The contents of the box unpacked and laid out, forgot the flash so I apologize for the dark picture.

ASRock ION 330 Front

The front of the 330 it is one nice looking device.

ASRock ION 330 Back

No idea why they include HDMI and VGA, really who need VGA anymore.

ASRock ION 330 Accessories

The rest of the boxes contents one power cable, one power adapter and one HDMI to DVI adapter.

First impressions, it is a rather tiny little device which I liked.  The packaging was good, case had that protective plastic to avoid scratches.  Really first impressions arnt much, you’ve seen the outside of one computer you have pretty much seen them all.  It was really nice to have the device ready out of the box for the install cd.  The only extra step I had was to hook up the USB IR sensor I purchased

This part of the review takes a little bit of a twist to more of a review of XBMC Lives install process.  This is one of thee lest painful installs I have ever done.  All that needs to be done is to turn the system on select the install option from the grub menu and follow directions.  For the install on this device is strait forward if you’ve never installed Linux before you have nothing to worry about as there is nothing during the install to screw up.

One note about the XBMC Live install at this time is that it does not have the upgraded Nvidia drivers.  Upgrading the drivers is a little complicated if you have no Linux knowledge but it really is simple.  To upgrade the driver you need to download the “restrictedDrivers.NVIDIA.185_18_14.zip” it can found at http://sourceforge.net/projects/xbmc/files/ and look under “XBMC Live” -> “Babylon – 9.04″ -> “restrictedDrivers.NVIDIA.185_18_14.zip”.  Once the file is on the 330 it will need to be unziped, unfortunately XBMC Live does not have it installed.   Once the file is unziped it needs to be mounted and its contents coped onto the filesystem.  Upgrading the driver caused my X session to freak out a little bit but a reboot is needed anyways to load the new drivers.  The steps for performing the driver upgrade are below.

Login as the xbmc user and issue the following commands, minus the “,  I suggest doing this over ssh so you can just copy and paste the commands.

1. “sudo apt-get install unzip”
2. “wget http://downloads.sourceforge.net/project/xbmc/XBMC%20Live/Babylon%20-%209.04/restrictedDrivers.NVIDIA.185_18_14.zip?use_mirror=softlayer”
3. “unzip restrictedDrivers.NVIDIA.185_18_14.zip”
4. “sudo mount -o loop restrictedDrivers.nvidia.img /mnt”
5. “sudo cp -a /mnt/lib /”
6. “sudo cp -a /mnt/usr /”
7 “sudo /sbin/init 6″

After the 330 is rebooted all that is left is putting on a few finishing touches.  You will need to turn on VDPAU in order to get video acceleration from the video card and really why wouldn’t you its one of for having this device.  Enabling VDPAU can be done by going to Settings -> Video -> Player and setting “Render Method” to “VDPAU”.  I also set XBMC to “Suspend”  via Settings -> System-> Hardware  “Shutdown Function” this enables the device to wake up when the power button is pushed.  The last thing I did was enable audio output over the HDMI cable if you want to do this change “Audio output device” and “Passthrough output device” to “hdmi” on screen Settings -> System -> Audio Hardware.

The device has been running for a few days with no issues and it has handled every media file I have thrown at it.  It is extreamly quiet and good looking.  I have one big issue with the device and really all manufacturers of devices like this.  This device was designed to be used as an HTPC so why not include an IR sensor and power on via IR?  I am pretty sure people purchasing these devices would have a problem paying the little extra it costs to add in these features.

Pros:
Plays H.264 video @ 1080p without breaking a sweat.
Pop in the XBMC Live CD and its ready to go.
All hardware needed except IR sensor is included.
There is a Blue-ray model! (not reviewed)
Looks good.
Will resume from power on event over IR if suspended. (tested with XBMC)

Cons:
The power light is way to bright and flashes when in standby.
System adjusts to 480p on one of my TVs, I think this is due to my receiver.
No built in IR, WTF!

Resources/Links:

Another Blog Post
Device @ Newegg
IR Remote Used
XBMC Live Download
XBMC Site

I hope to do a write up on how to make the power light dimmer for those of you who arent afraid to take the machine apart and use a soldering iron.  I have yet to find out if this is acomplishable but If it is I will write it up here.

UPDATE 1.

I have had issues with USB locking up on reboots.  I have found that setting “noapic” for the kernel in grub seems to fix the problem.  More information about the problem can be found in the kernel bugzilla http://bugzilla.kernel.org/show_bug.cgi?id=13405

UPDATE 2.

Link below is where I found information on how to fix my issue with xbmc setting itself to 480p when hooked up to my reciver. I added the lines in red below to my xorg.conf

Section “Screen”

Identifier     “Screen0″
Device         “Device0″
Monitor        “Monitor0″
DefaultDepth    24
Option         “NoLogo” “True”
SubSection     “Display”
Modes “1920×1080″
Depth       24
Option     “DynamicTwinView” “false”
EndSubSection
EndSection

http://www.xbmc.org/forum/showthread.php?t=54402

http://www.xbmc.org/forum/showthread.php?t=54402

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6 Comments for this entry

  • Dan Andresan

    BIOS 1.60 added “Good Night LED” which, if enabled in BIOS, will turn off all the LEDs on the device (Power, HDD, DVD)

  • admin

    Thanks Dan for the update. Anyone looking for the bios it can be found here http://www.asrock.com/nettop/download.asp?Model=ION%20330

  • Magnus, Sweden

    Hi, just wanted to say thank you for your step-by-step driver upgrade howto. For a linux novice like myself, it saved me a lot. And I’ve actually come back a number of times, since it’s helped me revert from black screens after I’ve upgraded xbmc (apt-get install xbmc).

    Do you know if there is a later version of the Nvidia driver available for install, and if there are any gains in doing so?

  • RichLive

    Hi, great guide and really easy to follow, I went through all the steps and it appeared to work. I hope you dont mind me asking some advice? I am running the latest ubuntu 9.04 and have installed XBMC but I still cannot get XBMC to load. it says, “XBMC need openGL rendering. install an appropriate graphics driver” I am totally new to linux and this is my first time building a media pc. I know I haven’t given you much to go on but I will post any further info you need.
    thanks in advance
    Rich

  • admin

    Mangus

    Not sure what the benefits of the newer Nvidia drives would be, I am sure there probably are some though. When it comes to drivers I only upgrade them if I have some issue they fix.

  • admin

    RichLive

    If you are going to just use the HTPC for XBMC you might want to look at just installing the XBMC Live CD instead of installing Ubuntu then XBMC. If you want to post your hardware setup I can maybe help point you in the right direction with your current install though. Also would be nice if you could include the output of glxinfo.

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