I have just got around to setting up my new Aspire Revo R3600 NVidia ION based media centre PC.
Why the Revo? The NVidia ION GPU is quite compelling, HDMI out and good (though non-free) drivers in Linux. The only downside is that it does not have an optical device, you may want the Asrock ION 330 instead (I plan on getting a PS3 anyway)
Install Ubuntu I went for Ubuntu Netbook Remix, installed from USB using the USB Startup Disk Creator. In advanced settings in the BIOS, switch off the annoying RevoBoot nonsense.
Correcting TV overscan My TV did not accept the default HDMI out as it cut off the edges of the screen due to Overscan. Some TVs seem to be able to control if they do this for HDMI input (which is ideal and is outlined here for a newer Sony TV)
In order to do it for mine I needed to update the drivers from NVidia and apply the following fix on startup (94 works for my Sony TV, you can retrieve it from the nvidia-settings app)
nvidia-settings -a OverscanCompensation[DFP-0]=94
Tweaking GStreamer Buffers Run gconf-editor and set apps/totem/buffer-size (I did 30s from the default of 3)
Add Medibuntu Repositories See here for how (I install all the codecs)
Setting up pulseaudio In Sound Preferences, in Hardware set the profile to “Digital Stereo (HDMI) Output” To allow using the media PC as a remote sink you need to install prereqs on source and target PCs
sudo apt-get install padevchooser pulseaudio-module-zeroconf
Set output sink to be the media PC (called “media” in my case) and test It is a bit choppy sometimes, I’m looking at it still… Install XBMC This used to be the XboxMediaCentre and has been jazzed up and ported to Linux/Windows, see here for how to install from the Ubuntu 9.10 PPA archive (site down, see cache for now)
Next? Will be getting a surround sound system with a HDMI switch built in and some DLNA/UPnP speakers for around the flat.