Complete Guide on Raspberry Pi Setup XBMC with Windows PC Media Sharing

If you are a geek like us, you sure heard of this little computer called Raspberry Pi. It’s a small computer running on ARM CPU. It’s unique in every way, and one of the best feature it offers is freedom of choice. You’re free to put anything you’d like to on it, people are creative when it comes to this toy.

Many people use it to run XBMC for their home entertainment system, I have my raspberry pi setup to run just that as well. Let me share you some of my findings when setup your raspberry pi with XBMC for your home TV.

Understand Your Options when choosing Linux distributions to Run XBMC

  • XBian, runs latest XBMC in a compact Linux OS, offers ongoing support for updates.
  • Raspbmc, another Linux distribution down to the bone runs XBMC.
  • OpenELEC, seems to be the most popular Linux for Raspbarry Pi to run XBMC, has over 700 starts on github.
  • Raspbian, has the most complicated steps to set up to install this OS onto your raspberry pi.

Others … Essentially there are plenty more choices out there, as long as you can find an OS runs on ARM chances are you can put XBMC onto it.

Things To Taking Consideration

When you choosing the distributions above, you want to check which versions of XBMC they are offering, currently the latest stable version is 12.1 Frodo. Also you want to check once you have the XBMC up and running how is the system performing, check the CPU usage, free RAM. Since the original version of raspberry pi only offers 256MB of RAM, you want to pick a system that yields the most free RAM for you to do HD video playback. Last and the lest is the video output support, some distributions will run 720p for XBMC GUI but actual video in 1080p if the video supports this high resolution.

Installation

Different distributions you choose will have different installations steps, but if you just starting now, installation XBMC is much easier compare to when it first came out last year. XBian and Raspbmc seems to offer the most convenient way to create an image file on SD card. There are helper application you can download to help you download and put the image onto your SD card. You will probably need at least 2GB or 4GB of SD card (class 10 recommended), the more the better, give the OS to have enough rooms for logs, dumps, and video cache.

Setup XBMC

You will need a HDMI cable, a USB keyboard, Ethernet or any compatible USB WIFI dongle. I personally setup with a WIFI dongle. Note: this dongle need to be compatible to run on ARM based Linux. (ex. this USB dongle is one of them, you can probably find cheap ones on ebay or amazon). Depend on the version you choose first time setup you need to to sure to check the following thing:

  • Find out the default username and password, try to change it if you can
  • Make sure you connected to the internet, try ifconfig should be able to tell you the current IP address
  • Connect to WIFI if you have one, most distributions listed above will have GUI you can navigate. The dongle you pick up should be plug and play, if not try run system updates.
  • Update systems, depend on the distributions the command to update all the depend package are different. (ex. XBian uses apt-get)
  • Check system status, try type, top and free to find out the CPU usage and free memory you currently have. Check again when you are inside XBMC’s GUI

Turn on Windows Share

For your local network, go pick a folder or drive you’d like to share. Right click, go to properties, Share tab,  enable share. Remember your PC’s hostname or IP address, you will need to enter this info in XBMC.

Under Video > Files > Add Videos

Pick Windows network (SMB)

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You should be able to find your computer listed in here, navigate further to find the directory you’d like to add to XBMC. Click OK when done.

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Remote Control

XBMC offers official remote apps for iOS and android, you can also buy an USB IR remote for Raspberry pi to hookup with your existing TV remote control.