Today I will be looking at how to use your RaspberryPi as a Media Centre.
At the time of writing, you have two serious choices – OpenElec and Raspbmc. Personally, I preffer Raspbmc, I find it faster and more stable. They both run XBMC, the open source media centre
Instructions for RaspBMC:
Visit http://www.raspbmc.com/download/ to download the installer. If you later decide you like this, consider donating – I have, and would encourage you to do so also – the main programmer is still studying, not working and needs funds for hosting etc..
Im not going to go into how to run the installer here, that is well documented on the above site – just bear in mind that this puts a very small, lightweight image onto your SD Card – on first boot (Your Pi will need to be connected to the internet) it downloads the latest release of Raspbmc and XBMC and configures the card and the software for you.
Once complete, it boots (quite quickly) into XBMC:
I have a NAS box set up, so it was quite easy to go into Video/Files/Add Files and browse to my NAS box. I found all of my AVIs and all of the mkvs I tested worked flawlessly.
XBMC has a great many plugins available that can extend its functionality, two of my favourites are IPlayer and TV Catchup.
To install these plugins, you will need SSH (I use PuTTY) access to your Raspberry. SSH is already set up in Raspbmc – see here for my previous post on setting up the Raspberry Pi with SSH if this is new to you. (Note, you will not need to set up SSH for Raspbmc, just scroll down to the section that tells you how to use it!)
You should now be in an SSH connection to your Raspberry Pi, so you can download ‘Hitcher’s Repository’, which in turn lets you download iPlayer into Raspbmc.
To get the repository, enter the following into your SSH connection (you can copy and paste text into PuTTY using right-click):
This should download the file ‘xbmc.repo.hitcher-3.0.1.zip’ onto your Pi.
Once this is complete, from the Raspbmc main menu go to ‘System’ -> ‘Settings’ -> ‘Add-ons’ -> ‘Install from zip file’ and select ‘Home folder’, ‘home’, ‘pi’, ‘xbmc.repo.hitcher-3.0.1.zip’.
Hitcher’s repository should now be installed, so you can remove the file you downloaded in SSH. To do this, type the following in your SSH window:
(tip: you can save some typing by pressing tab after the ‘x’ and it should fill in the rest of the filename for you)
You can then close you SSH session.
Next, back in Raspbmc, select ‘Get Add-ons’ -> ‘Hitcher’s Repository’ -> ‘Video Add-ons’ and you should see the option for iPlayer. Select this and choose install.
To access iPlayer, etc. once it’s installed, go to Videos -> Add-ons from the main menu.
(NB you will need an account for this, dont worry, its free, head on over to http://www.tvcatchup.com/)
As before, you will need to SSH into your Raspberry Pi, then enter:
Then goto System –> Add-ons –> .. –> Install from zip file –> Home Folder –> repository.tvcatchup.addons.zip