In the last installment, I got the OS installed and drive array spinning. Since HDMI can pass audio and video over a single cable, this is ideal for an MPC setup.

I decided to use Ubuntu’s tool to install the Nvidia 177 driver, hoping that would do the trick, but no luck. After spending some time with this setup, I decided to switch my efforts to the Vista side.

My reasoning is the Windows driver is fairly well supported, and I wanted to be sure everything else was set up and connected properly. So, a reboot later, I log into Vista.

I’ve already installed the driver that came on the included CD, but no luck with those either. Off to the Asus website! Found an updated driver pack, all 500+ MB of it, and start to download from the global site. A while later, and 170 MB into the download, it timed out – yuck. I tried the China site, but it was no better. If anyone from Asus is reading this, guys, fix the download part of your website! I finally got the file I needed by using findfiles.com.

With the NVIDIAnForceMCP78_Chipset_V1524_XPVista.zip file in hand, I ran the setup, then had to upgrade Vista’s video driver manually and rebooted. Entered display properties, told the driver to send the desktop to the 2nd display as well, then there was HDMI video!

Next, looked at the audio. In the audio properties, I changed the HDMI out to be the default device, and there was sound!

With working audio and video over HDMI in Vista, I had to do some performance testing with Hitman: Contracts. My conclusion? A 50″ 1280×720 display makes for an excellent gaming experience.

Having done a nice performance test, I turned my attention back to the Ubuntu side. I did some reading on the Ubuntu forums, and changed the Nvidia driver version from 177 to 173 with the admin tool. A little fiddling with the settings to send the desktop to the 2nd display, and video was working on HDMI!

At this point, I joyously disconnected the VGA cable from the server!

There was still one small thing… Audio over HDMI in Ubuntu. More reading. There’s a script here that upgraded the ALSA installation to 1.0.19. In the sound applet, change everything to use HDMI (well, except audio-in). This is the place to start with this motherboard. Make sure you see the HDMI device in aplay -l and aplay -L.

I tested this through the sound applet and with aplay, nothing. Went through everything I could Google, nothing.

Finally, downloaded the newest driver from Nvidia. Wasn’t too sure about doing this, and as fate would have it, I didn’t install. The script didn’t like something, and gave me an error.

In an effort to find something that would give me ideas, I did an apt-cache search nvidia, and noted there was a 180 version out there in apt-get. On a lark, I went ahead and apt-get install’d that driver.

After a reboot, I tested with the sound control tool, and there was sound! Other apps, however, were still silent.

In summary – It is possible to get audio and video working over HDMI in both Vista (expected) and Ubuntu/Linux. This motherboard uses the Nvidia GeForce 8300, so I would expect the procedure would be similar for other Nvidia 8200/8300 based boards.

(This is short, I’ll be posting some more specifics to Tech-Recipes later)

Vista:
Installed latest chipset pack from Asus
Updated video driver to the one from the chipset pack
Audio and Video are working over HDMI

Ubuntu / Linux:
Installed latest ALSA via the script on the Ubuntu Forums
Installed Nvidia driver v180 from apt-get
Audio and Video are working over HDMI

More to come…..I’ve got the following left:
LIRC remote is unstable, stops working after a few clicks
Need to research if TV can accept 6-channel audio, right now it’s taking stereo
Depending on TV, may need to research a HDMI receiver
Would like to get the onboard Ethernet working with Ubuntu so I can install the 2nd tuner card.
(future) procure and add remaining drives.
(future) procure and add additional 4GB RAM (not really needed, but would be nice)
(future) procure and add optical disk of some type.

Q raised a question about system cost. I got everything from Newegg, the motherboard was around $80, memory was around $50, and CPU was around $180. I’ll do a more detailed breakdown in another post, with some suggestions on cutting the cost further.

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