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Xen Hypervisor + Windows 7 Guest + Virtualhere + FLIRC

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Posted

First, let me say that FLIRC is awesome and it is the linchpin to my entire XBMC setup (for obvious reasons).  Great job Jason!  I couldn't be happier.

 

About my setup:

 

I wanted to setup the ultimate home theater pc in my living room.  My main requirements are to stream my local videos, pictures, and music AND play PC games in addition to Playstation, Playstation 2, and Wii games all on the same machine.   After looking over various options, I decided to purchase the Alienware X51 i7 (8 CPUs) /8Gb/1TB with the AMD Radeon R9 270 graphics card.  This was largely due to it's small form factor and performance specs, and after receiving it, I can say it meets all my needs perfectly. 

 

The first thing I did was blow away the disk and install a minimal Xen partition using Debian Wheezy with a single CPU and 1Gb of RAM.  I then configured the remaining disk space as a volume group with 2 logical volumes (300/500).  Once that was up and running, I setup a Windows 7 Home Premium guest (HVM) with 4 CPUs and 4Gb RAM and assigned it to the 300GB logical volume. Then I configured Xen to pass-through the Radeon card to the Windows 7 guest.  Once this was done, I connected the HDMI output of the Radeon card to my TV for video/audio out.  Once I booted the Win 7 guest, I downoaded the graphics drivers, rebooted and voila!  

 

At this point, getting the network working was top priority.  The Alienware has a Broadcom WiFi chipset that simply doesn't work with the available Linux drivers.  This was my original plan since I don't have any ethernet cables in the living room (and certainly didn't want to run any just for this).  To remedy this, I purchased an ASUS EA-N66 Wireless Bridge and connected it to the ethernet port.  After a very simple setup, networking was good to go!

 

I setup a second Debian Wheezy guest (PVM) and assigned it to the 500GB logical volume and configured it with 2GB RAM and 2 CPU's.  This was going to be my backend work horse with SabNZbd and various utilities that manage my media libraries.  This was important to me because the Windows machine simply can't handle multiple simultaneous users and switching out of XBMC to tinker with a python script gone awry is not my idea of a good time.  Especially while the wife and kids are trying to watch TV!

 

So far so good right?  Wrong.  For reasons that I still haven't figured out, I could not pass through my USB devices from Xen to my Win 7 guest.   What was strange is that the VGA card worked, but none of my USB ports.  This was a big problem for obvious reasons.  No USB means no FLIRC (or any other USB devices)!  I was about to throw in the towel and simply restore the Alienware back to factory install when I happened upon a product called Virtualhere.  Virtualhere is Linux server software that shares USB devices over TCPIP.  I thought it was definitately worth a try so I downloaded it and gave it a whirl.  I setup the virtualhere server on the Xen hypervisor and then installed the client on the Windows 7 guest.  A few clicks later and I saw ALL of my USB devices which include the following:

 

XBox 360 Controller Receiver (for my Xbox 360 controllers)

ASUS USB-BT400 Bluetooth (for the PS3 and Wii controllers)

Logitech K400r Keyboard/Mouse

FLIRC (Xbox One Remote)

 

After this, I downloaded and installed each of the drivers on the Windows 7 guest and began configuring/installing the necessary software:

 

XBMC (Media Center)

EPSXE  (Playstation)

PSCX2 (Playstation 2)

Dolphin (Wii)

 

For FLIRC, the configuration utility did not work (even though the drivers installed successfully) on the Windows 7 guest.  I took the FLIRC to another Windows 7 machine, installed the software and it worked like a charm.  I was able to configure my Xbox One Remote Control perfectly using the FLIRC setup tool (XBMC configuration).  I saved the settings, unplugged it, and then plugged it back into the Windows 7 guest.  Fired up XBMC and lo and behold, it was working perfectly.

 

I still have a lot of work to do to get it how I want but it is definitely headed in the right direction.

 

Peace!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted

Just wanted to thank you for this post! You've given me some ideas of things that are possible on my own media server. I had no idea Xen was capable of passing a video card through to a guest OS. Do you know if it is possible to pass multiple video cards to different guest OS'es?

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