XBMC on Ubuntu (HP Microserver build)

As part of the HP Microserver build: seeking to possibly set the server up as a Media Centre I installed XBMC. XBMC is an open source software media player and entertainment hub for digital media that's available for Linux, OSX, and Windows. XBMC functions as a standard media player application that can be used to play almost all popular audio and video formats around. It was designed for network playback, so you can stream your multimedia from anywhere in the house or directly from the internet using practically any protocol available. It can also scan your media and automatically create a personalized library complete with box covers, descriptions, and fanart. There are playlist and slideshow functions, a weather forecast feature and many audio visualizations. Once installed, your computer will become a fully functional multimedia jukebox. Read on...
 
Install XBMC on Ubuntu 10.04 (lucid)
For XBMC in Ubuntu 10.04 install the following packages:
sudo apt-get install python-software-properties pkg-config
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:team-xbmc
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install xbmc xbmc-standalone

NVidia hardware acceleration (VDPAU)
For NVidia hardware acceleration (VDPAU) in Ubuntu 10.04 install the following packages:
sudo apt-get install libvdpau1 nvidia-current libvdpau-dev
 
Autostart XBMC on boot
1) From the desktop click System > Administration > Login Screen
2) From the "Security" tab choose "Enable Automatic Login" and select your username.
3) Click "OK" to exit.
4) From the desktop click System > Preferences > Startup Applications
5) Click "Add"
6) Name: XBMC
7) Command: XBMC
8) Comment: XBMC
9) Click "OK"
10) Done! Ubuntu will now load gnome first then xbmc straight after, slightly slower but it keeps your gnome session available.
11) Alternatively to start XBMC run XBMC from the terminal

Tweaking XBMC
Under the Confluence skin I made the following changes

Network Settings
  • Under Settings > Network - Settings > Services
  • Check - Share video and music libraries through UPnP
  • Check - Allow control of XBMC via UPnP
  • Check - Allow control of XBMC via HTTP
  • Change the username and password
  • Check - Allow programs on this system to control XBMC
  • Check - Allow programs on other systems to control XBMC
  • Check - Annonce these services to other systems via Zeroconf

Video Settings
  • Under Settings > Video - Settings > Playback
  • Check - Render method is autodetect
  • Check - Allow hardware acceleration (VDPAU) is enable if you're PC has hardware acceleration.

If you have sync issues or jerky video the following helped me:

  • Under Settings > Video - Settings > Playback
  • Check - Adjust display refresh rate to match video
  • Check - Sync playback to display
  • Set A/V Sync method to 'Audio clock'
  • Uncheck - VDPAU Studio level color conversion
  • Disable - Video post-processing

In Ubuntu it helps to have Visual Effects turned on for some reason which can be done as follows:
  • System > Preferences > Appereances > Visual Effects > Select ANY setting except none.
I've also ripped off the Apple TV backgrounds to use within XBMC and the Confluence skin, which now look pretty swish especially when combined with the Confluence skin overlay, a selection are below:



With the latest version of XBMC (Dharma at the time of writing) installing Add On Programs via XBMC is pretty simple compared to previous builds especially under the Confluence skin as the Program repository is fully integrated akin to an App Store. I've installed a couple of Add On Programs under XBMC notably Wake On Lan interface and the Gmail checker, there use to also be a good iPlayer application although I'm not sure what state it is currently in now.

I'll shortly be looking at the Android, iPhone and iPad XBMC remote apps in another post.

 

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