I finally decided to replace my trusty xbox running xbmc with something capable of HD playback. The acer revo is a very slick little box with the nvidia ION chipset which is now supported by the VDPAU renderer in xmbc. At only $200 this is a pretty darn good deal.
Setup was incredibly simple, from unboxing to playing glorious 720p content in less than an hour. There are plenty of detailed instructions out there on the web, but I'll recap what I did:
1. download the xbmc-live iso
2. use unetbootin to transfer the iso to an sd card
3. insert sd card, power on, hit F12 to get to boot menu, boot from sd card
4. select install xbmc to local disk
5. set video render to vdpau
6. set both audio outputs to hdmi
There's a single screw on the bottom that you need to undo before you can open up the case. After I installed the additional memory, I went into the bios settings and bumped the iGPU Frame Buffer Size up to 512MB.
Once installed, it takes about 20 seconds from power on before it's ready to go. Not quite as fast as the xbox, but still perfectly acceptable. The new default skin, 'Confluence' is pretty slick. I still haven't figured out how to get at all the old menu's that I was used to with ProjectMayhemIII, but it's still growing on me. The new libraray features are pretty rad, and indexing is sooooo much faster now that I just have it scan for new content at startup. I always hated having to manually tell it to recheck my movies folder.
Video playback is excellent, I threw all the HD content I had at it and didn't notice any slowdowns or stuttering. Finally getting to see the 'Planet Earth' series on the big screen was totally worth it! I definitely need to grab some 1080p content to test out.
I plan to figure out how to get the old xbox remote to work with the new system, it's a much simpler remote and half the buttons on the new one don't do anything anyway!
The one last thing that I may try to do is utilize the empty mini pci-e card slot inside. It seems that I could install a small SSD and take the 160GB drive and use it for something else.
Update (Jan 5th): For those of you wondering abou 1080p content, I watched an h264 rip of Star Trek at that resolution, and playback was flawless.
I'm going to make an effort to post more on here in 2010, so here's a start:
I always wondered why sometimes ssh connections from my ubuntu box would seem to take forever, but putty would prompt me for my password almost immediately.
As I discovered today there is an authentication method called GSSAPI used for Kerberos that my ssh client was trying to use. It would try twice and then timeout and continue on to pubkey or keyboard auth. This is where the extra 5-10 second delay was coming from.
A quick edit to /etc/ssh/ssh_config
# GSSAPIAuthentication yes # GSSAPIDelegateCredentials no
and my ssh connections are established immediately.
That's one less frustration to deal with