Notes on upgrading XBMC to Gotham on a Ubuntu Linux box

Just a few notes that may help anyone planning on upgrading from XBMC Frodo to Gotham on a Ubuntu Linux system. Many XBMC users will likely have already done this, but if you’ve been putting it off, here are some things to know:

First, before upgrading, enable the default skin (Confluence) in Frodo. That way, if your skin doesn’t work in Gotham, you won’t get thrown into a blank or unusable screen when you bring up Gotham for the first time. If that happens you may need to go into the directory where XBMC resides and completely delete the skin, losing any custom settings you may have had.

Also before upgrading, if you are running 5.1 audio or better then you need to see this page. Note that if you are trying to follow the instructions in section 3.1 (Passthrough Mode), the screenshots shown there are NOT of the default Ubuntu sound settings control. They are instead of the PulseAudio Volume Control, which you will likely need to install from the Ubuntu Software Center. Don’t let the fact that it uses the same icon as the Ubuntu Sound Settings fool you, it is NOT the same program.

This is what you need to install to make 5.1 channel sound work in XBMC Gotham under Linux
This is what you need to install to make 5.1 channel sound work in XBMC Gotham under Linux

After you upgrade to Gotham you can then follow the instructions on that page to get your audio working, and they will make sense to you. The main things are to set the checkboxes as shown in the PulseAudio Volume Control (preferably BEFORE firing up Gotham for the first time), and then enable Passthrough mode in Gotham (note you will need to set the settings level to Advanced to see that setting).

If XBMC crashes when you try to play a video and your system has NVIDIA VDPAU graphics, it may be because it tries to use VAAPI (check the last lines of the crash log). Go to System – Settings – Video – Acceleration and make sure anything having to do with VAAPI is not selected. This apparently didn’t matter in Frodo but it does on Gotham, but only on some systems.

Finally, you may need to refresh your XBMC repository – we found that it didn’t start bringing in updated add-ons until we did that. Try to avoid adding any new add-ons until you see the existing ones being updated because you may still be getting them from the Frodo repository, and they will be shown as incompatible or complain of missing dependencies when you attempt to install them. Go to System – Add-Ons – Get Add-Ons and right-click on Add-ons. Click “Check for Updates” then “Force Refresh” and it should start bringing in the updated add-ons. Don’t be surprised if several are marked as broken – not all add-on authors have supplied Gotham-compatible versions yet.

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