painless

That’s what Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope‘s install is like: painless.

And I tried to make it as hard as possible by installing the 64bit version on my HTPC. Even so (I’ll say it again) it was utterly painless.

As an introduction, my HTPC is a pretty average 64bit AMD machine, with an NVidia Geforce 8600 GT graphics card built into a SilverStone LC-16 case. The SilverStone case comes with an IMON VFD/knob remote control combo. Plugged into the machine via a DVI-to-HDMI converter is a Sharp Aquaos 32-inch LCD monitor.

If you have any experience with setting up a machine like this, you will already have recognised the problems I face:

  • The Sharp runs at some non-intuitive modeline, especially at high (1080p) resolution
  • The default NVidia driver used with Ubuntu is the pretty useless “nv” driver

All of the above means that I cannot simply download and burn the iso, boot it up and click on the cute install icon to get it going. First of all I need to lug over a spare monitor, so that I can do the above and actually see what I’m doing. Then I need to install the binary blob NVidia driver and reconfigure X. This simple excercise has taken up whole weekends in the past.

This time, however, things went very smooth, and the machine is up and running after only 2 hours (most of the time spent downloading and upgrading). After installing Ubuntu from the LiveCD, I rebooted it (still with the extra monitor attached), and logged on. Got the newest driver directly from NVidia’s site. Popped into a virtual terminal, killed GDM, and ran the driver installer. Rebooted the machine and detached the extra monitor, and viola! X came up in full resolution. Did I mention that Jaunty also starts up quick?

Then I copied my old X conf to the new install (this has the specific modeline in it, with which I get rid of some of the nasty overscan of the default modeline at 1080p), and restarted X. Perfect…

To get the IMON VFD running all I needed was LCDproc. Procmeter3 works flawlessly with it.

The IMON Pad remote control thing is still an issue in Ubuntu (meaning that it does not work out of the box like a lot of people want): the default Pad driver makes the directional pad act like a mouse cursor, so the IR codes that get sent to applications are pretty much worse than useless. To get coherent keypress-like IR codes, the “pad2keys” patch has to be compiled into LIRC. Luckily, Ubuntu already has the patch, but the user must activate it.

To do this,

  • add the line “options lirc_imon display_type=1” to a conf file in /etc/modprobe.d.
  • stop lirc: /etc/init.d/lirc stop
  • remove and reload the lirc module: modprobe -r lirc-knob; modprobe lirc-knob
  • restart lirc: /etc/init.d/lirc restart

Of course, only if you want to refrain from rebooting the machine, but as I mentioned Jaunty boots quick, so why not? :)

peace out

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8 thoughts on “painless

  1. Thanks for posting this. I have the iMon pad. But, the directional keys do not work. Would I follow the same procedures as you outlined to get the imon pad working. I see you have a reference to ‘lirc-knob’ in your commands.

    Any information would be very much appreciated. I very much hope to get this working properly.

  2. So far no luck. I have “Imon Inside”, which does not have an LCD, so LCDProc doesn’t apply to me. The hardware ID is the same, however. I’m unable to see any response when I press the pad keys in IRW. I just want to verify that pressing the pad keys will show a response in IRW. Or, is that not the case.

    I’ve tried lots of different ways to get the pad keys working based on searches through different forums. It seems that others with “Imon Inside” are struggling as well. I’ll keep trying and will let you know what I come up with. Thanks for replying.

    • First off, you are right – LCDProc does not apply.

      One question though: do you get *any* response when pressing buttons on the remote and running IRW?

      If not, LIRC is probably not set up right…

      Otherwise, read on:

      Googling for “imon inside lirc” the first hit I get points to a MythTV page (MythTV has good information on this kind of thing).

      On that page, look for the “iMON PAD Remote Control” section. This specifically mentions the iMon Inside. It also points to the brakemeier page with the pad2keys patch I mention in original post.

      Since all this information is there, and (assuming) you have a recent build of LIRC installed, I would expect the pad2keys patch to already be available on your system.

      If this is the case, I would simply make the changes I mentioned in /etc/modprobe.d and restart LIRC.

      I can’t verify this, however, since I don’t have the iMon Inside :(

      • I got it working with driver 0.8.5. Hopefully you can answer these questions for me.

        1. Is there a way to change the sensitivity of the pad keys. They are slow to respond in irw, especially the left and down pad keys

        2. If I reboot my system and run irw, the system returns ‘no such file or directory’. I then run sudo lircd and it will allow me to run irw. But, once I run irw, it no longer acknowledges commands from the remote. Do you know why the system is losing its lircd configuration when I reboot? Is there a way to prevent this from happening?

        Thanks again for all of your help. I very much appreciate it.

      • > I got it working with driver 0.8.5
        That’s great news!

        In answer to your questions:

        1. Yes, the sensitivity is not as good as I would wish it to be. I guess mainly because the driver has to interpret the IR codes (which come as the ridiculous mouse coordinates) into directional keys, and there is some issue with that. I am however not sure about this. Maybe brakemeier might have a clue as to where in the pad2keys code to start looking and improving this, if at all possible.

        What I have done is to change the repeat and delay settings in my .lircrc file to give me a better response.
        I don’t have access to the settings right now (at work) so I’ll only be able to give them to you later. Play around with them if you have the time.

        2. Not sure about this one. lircd starts up as a service on my machine. I do however have to specify the device name when using irw. In my case that will be /dev/lircd0. The default /dev/lircd (according to the docs here: http://www.lirc.org/html/irw.html) does not work. That *may* have something to do with it, but only if running sudo lircd implicitly creates the correct link.

        BTW I would recommend running sudo /etc/init.d/lircd start instead of sudo lircd.

        PS when you do get a working setup (either through finding it yourself or via the xbmc.org site) please don’t forget to post about it, either there, on your own blog, or here. I am sure there may be others out there who tried but just gave up because it was too hard…
        Good luck!

  3. Thanks again for followingup. To answer your question, when running IRW, I do get responses when pressing remote buttons. It’s just the pad buttons that don’t respond.

    I found the MythTV page you’re referencing and followed the notes for “Imon Inside.” Still, I’ve had no luck. I tried brakemeier’s patch for 0.8.4 and 0.8.5. The patch hasn’t done anything. I e-mailed him and he suggested I try 0.8.5. But, that hasn’t yielded any results.

    I did a fresh install of Jaunty and lirc via ‘apt-get install lirc’. It installs 0.8.4. I modified the conf file in /etc/modprobe. Still no luck.

    It doesn’t seem that a lot of people have ‘Imon Inside’. So, even though it’s technically the same as the VFD module as far as hardware address, it seems to behave a bit differently than the more popular iMon version.

    I did find a couple of users on xbmc.org forums who got it working. I tried registering for an account to ask them what they did. But, I have yet to get an e-mail confirmation.

    This problem definitely has me scratching my head. But, I’ll try whatever I can to get it working. I’m sure it’s just a matter of a few tweaks. Still a pain though.

    Thanks again for your input.

  4. Ok, I’m stumped. I’m running 0.8.5 (as you know) downloaded via SourceForge from lirc.org.

    1. I run tar xvjf on the package in /usr/src. The package extracts to /usr/src/lirc-0.8.5

    2. I cd to the directory where the package was extraced.
    3. I run sudo ./setup.sh
    4. In LIRC configuration I select Soundgraph iMON PAD
    5. I then select option 3 (save configuration and run configure). No errors are returned.
    6. I run sudo make (no errors reported)
    7. I run sudo make install (no errors reported)

    So, considering those steps I’ve gone through for the install, and everything I’ve read about installing lirc, including your feedback, running sudo /etc/init.d/lircd start (or stop or restart) returns ‘command not found’.

    Am I doing something wrong with the install (including the steps outlined above) that lircd is not installed to /etc/init.d?

    Maybe it’s my limited knowledge of Linux, but I’m wondering if there’s a step I missed, or if the package is somehow complete.

    Now, if I install lircd-0.8.4a (apt-get install lircd) that comes packaged with jaunty, the lirc install seems much more complete. What could I be doing wrong?

    If I run ‘lircd -v’ it shows lircd 0.8.5 as the lirc package that’s currently installed.

    This definitely has me scratching my head. I’m getting close to scrapping this whole deal and reloading XP.

    Thanks again for all your help.

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