Hello Raspberry Pi, bye bye Apple TV G3

Because my Apple TV 3 is still waiting for a jailbreak so it can run XBMC (without a jailbreak it’s useless imho) I decided to order a Raspberry Pi. For those who doesn’t know what a Raspberry Pi is;

The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It’s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. We want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming.

Okay, I’m not interested in programming and not a kid anymore, but this part took my attention;

It also plays high-definition video.

So how can a $35 ‘pc’ play 1080p high-def video? This is achieved by the Broadcom SoC (System on a Chip) which is able to hardware decode h264 media. You can connect your TV set by using the HDMI interface and it has a 100 mbit NIC for the network connections (optional you can use a USB WiFi adapter).

Here’s a schematic picture of the Raspberry Pi;

So I ordered the Pi and and few days later it drops at my doorstep;

The Raspberry Pi is shipped without storage or a power supply, for storage you need a SD-card (4GB is more than enough) and the power comes from a 5V 700mA mobile phone charger (with a micro USB connector).

So now we have to install some sort of operation system on the Pi, the main goal for me is to run the XMBC media center. There’re 3 different options to chose from;

I’ve decided to go for RaspBMC, the installation of RaspBMC is really user friendly and the OS is self updating.

Installing RaspBMC

At the RaspBMC website you can download an installer (for Windows, Linux or Mac OS X)  and install RaspBMC directly on your SD-card. I’m using Windows so here’s a screenshot of the installer;

Your SD card should be shown on the list. Simply check the checkbox and click Install to complete the installation. Note, if you have not inserted your card yet, you can do so now and click Refresh to update the devices list.

When the image is downloaded and transferred to you SD card you can put it in your Raspberry Pi, connect all the cables and fire it up. On the first boot RaspBMC will be installed. So take a cup of coffee and when you’re back XBMC will be presented to you!

So XMBC is running, lets see how it performs when we playback a 1080p h.264 video (you might seen this video before…)

Controlling XBMC

As you expect the $35 Pi doesn’t come with a IR remote, so how do you control it? Well you have 2 options. Option one is to control XBMC with the remote from your TV-set. This is achieved by the integrated CEC software delivered by RaspBMC, this will enable XBMC control with your (compatible) TV-set IR remote. The other option is to control XBMC with the ‘Official XBMC Remote’ app on your smartphone or tablet. You can download the app from the Apple AppStore or Google Play.


Media Center based on Zotac ZBOX AD02

Last week I received my Zotac ZBOX AD02. Zotac is a company specialized in building small mini PC’s which are very interesting for home entertainment use because of the small formfactor and low power consumption. I was looking for an alternative to my (very big and noisy) old HTPC. A few weeks back I got my brand new Apple TV 3 but there isn’t a jailbreak for so it’s still in its box waiting for that.

In this post I’ll describe how I install the ZBOX with Windows 7 and XBMC Media Center.

Continue reading “Media Center based on Zotac ZBOX AD02”

Edit files (for XMBC) on Apple TV

Last week I’ve posted how you can jailbreak and install XBMC media center on an Apple TV 2, after that I’ve posted on how you can connect your media and optionally share your media library on a (Synology) NAS. Some of my blog visitors asked my how you can create and edit the configuration files on the Apple TV. So let’s take a look at that.

To edit and create the files we have 2 options;

  1. Open a SSH terminal session and edit the files from the command line
  2. Use a SFTP/SCP tool (graphical)

The second option is the easiest so I’ll focus only on the SFTP/SCP method. For this method you’ll need a SFTP/SCP client. I’m using WinSCP, it’s a free open-source client, download it from http://winscp.net

After you’ve installed WinSCP you can start the program and provide the information to connect with your Apple TV. The default username is root and the default password is alpine. The default hostname is AppleTV, if you’r not able to use the hostname to connect you can also use the ip-address.

After you’ve provided the connection info you can hit ‘Login’ to connect. When the connection is made you can browse the Apple TV’s filesystem;

The right side browser is the AppleTV.

Edit files

So lets assume you want to edit the sources.xml file witch XMBC uses, this file is created by the installation of XBMC. Browse to the path /private/var/mobile/Library/Preferences/XBMC/userdata/. In this folder you’ll find sources.xml, highlight this file and press F4 (or double click it).  A new window will open where you can edit the content of sources.xml

The editor works the same as for example Notepad, just edit the text and save (and exit).

Create files

If you want XBMC to connect your shared library or make use of pathsubsitution you’ll have to create a file named advancedsettings.xml (this file is not installed with XBMC). To create this file press SHIFT+F4 and provide the name, after that you can edit and save this file.



Share your XBMC library on a Synology DS (or other NAS)

UPDATE: I’ve written an new post based on XBMC 12.0 Frodo: http://www.robvanhamersveld.nl/2013/02/05/share-your-xbmc-12-0-library-on-a-synology-ds-or-other-nas/

In a previous post I wrote about how you can install XBMC on an Apple TV 2. Because the ATV doesn’t support attached USB drives and has no internal storage for your media you probably want to store these on a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device.  But only store your media files on shared storage may not be enough. XBMC creates a local media library by default, if you have more than 1 XBMC device you might consider to place the library also on you NAS to share the library, thumbnails and even settings and plugins.

When you using a shared library you unlock the following features;

  • Share watched and unwatched status for your media on all devices
  • Stop watching a movie or TV show in one room then finish watching it in another room automatically
  • Only one library to maintain for all devices
  • Consolidate thumbnails and fanart to save hard drive space (and reduce scraping time)

Since I own a Synology DiskStation 410 I’ll describe how you can accomplice this on an Syno DS, but most the options will also apply to a Windows or Linux based storage device (like a desktop computer or home server) or even other smart NAS solutions.

Continue reading “Share your XBMC library on a Synology DS (or other NAS)”