Sunday, November 28, 2010

Getting a media centre remote working with LIRC, in Ubuntu 10.10

Recently I bought a new remote control for my PC, to replace the one that came with my TV tuner card. I picked up a Hauppauge Media Center Remote Control Kit, model 335, which has more logically labelled buttons than what I had. It looks a bit nicer, too, an important consideration as I am attempting to finally build a Home Theatre PC to go in the lounge room.

While the previous Technisat remote worked fine in Ubuntu 10.10, I read of some other people having problems with getting remotes to work - namely the Media Centre-compatible versions. When I plugged in my new one, I also noticed the problem.

A bit of trawling around on the internet uncovered a thread at the ever-reliable Ubuntu forums. It turns out that the newer kernel includes a module for the media centre remote (mceusb), that clashes with the lirc_mceusb module you want to use, with LIRC. When the two modules are loaded, neither works.

What has to be done, is make sure only one of them gets loaded. The user uniden9 posted an excellent how-to in that thread linked above, describing two methods that are available - disabling the old lirc one, or disabling the newer, kernel built-in module. Based on other responses in the thread, most people had more luck with the second method - disabling the newer one. I guess the MythTV key bindings etc. would work better with the old version.

I have included the relevant quote from uniden9's post here, in case there is a problem accessing the forums:

2. Blacklist the kernel source drivers and use the old dkms built drivers.
-Well you already have lirc-sources-modules install and probably had this working on 10.04 or older version of ubuntu.
A. Edit /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf , create it if it doesn't exist.
blacklist mceusb
line to the file and save it.
B. Update initramfs, #sudo update-initramfs -u -k all
C. reboot
D. Reconfigure lirc if its not already working.
#sudo dpkg-reconfigure lirc
On the Remote, Select "Windows Media Center Transceiver/Remote (All)
E. Thats it.
This is the method I chose after wrestling with button repeats on option 1. I use XBMC and could not figure out how to disable Ubuntu treating the remote as a keyboard device.

I used this method as well, and now have the media centre remote working just fine on my system. I'm now just waiting on the arrival of a VGA to Component Transcoder, that will hopefully allow my PC to connect with my older-style TV that has only component inputs. As an aside, although I have a graphics card that has a component-out attachment, it only puts out a 1080i, 60Hz signal. My TV, being made for the Australian, PAL-based market, requires a 1080i, 50Hz input signal. Fingers are crossed that the transcoder will allow it to work - I'll be posting an update when it arrives and I can try it out.

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