Raspbmc - Some handy tips
After a week or so of playing and tweaking my new home media network is up and running. At the back end I have a ZyXel 2 bay NSA320 Media Server which I picked up for a song on Amazon (you can still get them for about £70 on Amazon and some vendors are still asking £100+!) and 2x 1TB drives as JBOB (I know, I know, but I have all the important stuff backed up elsewhere).
And at the front I have a Raspberry Pi brought already in a case running Raspbmc (Raspbmc) which is now performing wonderfully after a week of ironing out niggles and finding out just how to configure it correctly.
As someone once requested I do a 'How to' about this I thought that it would be more helpful to cover some of the more random aspects of the configuration and some gotchas which you have to hunt around to get answers for.
Please be aware though that the latest version of XBMC which has had Raspberry Pi support coded in but is still in RC form so you may experience random issues, although I have not yet found anything that causes major problems (if any tbh),
So in no particular order:
Setting up Raspbmc is a doddle, really it is, and it's so easy all I shall do is provide a link to the download and setup page here: Raspbmc » Download
Just follow the simple instructions and you will have it installed and running within 15 mins. This includes the time it takes to download and update itself.
Here are a few examples of things you need to consider and may run into is you were not aware of them:
a. UPnP and connecting to media sources:
This can be a bit of a pain and it took me a couple of days to figure out what I was doing wrong here. Basically, if your media server/NAS box is UPnP enabled do NOT try to connect XBMC to it via UPnP if you want to use the library functionality. What the library feature does is to catalogue your media and download artwork, reviews etc. via 'scrapers', but the process is one way only, so XBMC cannot send information to the box in the form of metadata as it also uses UPnP. You can find out more on this here: UPnP/Media source - XBMC.
I ended up using SMB/Samba and it works like a dream.
b. Screen size:
If you are connecting RaspBMC to your HDTV at home you will probably find that it overscans (looks too big to fit on the screen) and you may at first want to look in the Settings-System-Video Output-Video Calibration menu to fix this. This is NOT the place.
You need to look in Settings-System-Skin-Appearance and set it to about -4 this will resize it. The other menu is for video playback size issues when playing movies etc.
c. Let it index your media one type at a time
I made the mistake of adding all of my photos, music and video at once then telling it to add them to the library. This will kill it. Just add one type at a time and allow XBMC to index them before adding the next.
d. Label and organise your media correctly
This bit will save you a lot of time if you do it from the very beginning. This does not apply to photos BTW, but primarily films and to a lesser extent music. What you need to do is to ensure that your movies are stored in individual folders and labelled correctly. There is a good guide here on how to do it: Organising your files
If not done right then the library cannot give them the correct artwork and other metadata. As I found out.
e. On-demand TV
You can add the iPlayer and other (UK) catch-up tv players such as 4oD by following the instructions here: Adding on-demand players (about a quarter of the way down the page)
f. Raspbmc specific settings
There are quite a few settings specific to Raspbmc. You won't find these in the 'Settings' menu. However, if you hover over the 'Programs' menu you will see the icon pop-up at the bottom of the screen. From here you can do a whole raft of things (I won't go into details) as well as download/install the latest nightly build of Raspbmc or roll it back should you have issues.
And that's about it (for now) but there are a few other issues I have still not yet managed to resolve such as the CEC/HDMI feature not working for me (this allows your TV to pass on any signals it receives from a remote control to the Pi). As it stands the current version - RC3 - is missing quite a few of the addons such as skins etc. but these will be ported over by the XMBC community in good time. As it stands now it is a very capable media player and I have replaced my old Windows Media PC which cost a small fortune over the years for a whole setup which cost me just under £100 once I'd reused my old drives.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to post them up and I'll try and answer them as soon as I can.
Oh, and thanks to Sam Nazarko who created Raspbmc. He's 18 would you believe!
Re: Raspbmc - Some handy tips
Just to throw a spanner in the works, I used Xbian for my parents' one. It seemed a lot more lightweight and I had none of these issues. The only setup difference is that you follow the guide on the Xbian site instead of the Raspbmc one.