RPi Media Centre Idea

Discussion in 'Computer Hardware, Devices and Accessories' started by Jamstruth, Aug 19, 2014.

  1. Jamstruth
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    Jamstruth Secondary Feline Anthropomorph

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    Hey guys, looking for a bit of advice to set up an RPi as a NAS/Media Centre hub. My flatmate has had an RPi sitting around for the past year doing nothing so I figure this is as good a use for it as any.

    I know there's an XBMC build available for the Pi but don't have any experience in using it or what it can do/how easy it is to set up. Basically what I want to do is attach the Pi to an External HDD for storage which me and my flatmate can access over the network (preferably Homegroup so it's just drag&drop) to place files into. I know XBMC can use SAMBA to access Homegroup storage but it was unclear if it could act as storage.

    The next issue is controlling the thing. Best way to do this would be via a smartphone program however I use Android and he uses iOS so not sure if there's one program that can do both. Anybody know if this is possible in XBMC?

    I'm relatively used to dealing with Linux but I'm not sure how much fiddling I can run in the background of XBMC or how to do so. Another idea I've had is to try to set up a script which checks a folder every night for torrent files and downloads them overnight. That might be a bit beyond me though.
     
  2. Plstic

    Plstic Guru Meditation Error

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    yes there is a remote for xbmc for android, not sure about IOS though. I don't know if a raspberry pi can handle being a seedbox and a media player at the sametime.
     
  3. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    There are two main XBMC distros for the rpi, they are Openelec and raspmc. I have used both and each have their quirks, though openelec does seem to be the one supported by berryboot (the very easy way to install a lot of things, also dualbooting between things). Neither are especially good when it comes to having lots happen in the background (if you are imagining debian but autoboots into a nice media frontend then you might want to stop that; both distros do remove quite a bit of the functionality that is not needed in general use. However your requests are probably quite doable.

    Afraid I never use homegroups -- to say nothing of some of the machines I am occasionally responsible for running linux or XP then if straight old style SMB is not enough I am likely using full on active directory or something more custom (read some kind of FTP).

    Ability to act as a file server in the more vanilla XBMC stuff (so not running it on top of raspbian or something), if you only need a couple of connections I guess you could use its FTP server. That said you can make shares ( http://www.htpcbeginner.com/configure-openelec-samba-share-raspberry-pi/?PageSpeed=noscript ). Modern linux is better but I would strongly consider something other than NTFS for an external USB drive. If you plan to stick a 64 gig SD card in it or something then that should be fine.

    Control. You can use an IR remote if you can sacrifice a USB port, you can control via web browser (anything that has one, including your phone) or you can get a standalone program. Web browser works for me as far as controlling the UI or just selecting a film to watch -- it will have the library and everything on it.

    rpis as a torrent/usenet downloader/seedbox sort of thing is fairly well documented. How it plays out on top of XBMC remains to be seen in your case, especially if you have to extract and check a big file as it is downloading but you are also watching a film. Transmission is one of the more well known plugins for this sort of thing but it is basic start, stop and check type affair. No options for scheduling (hope your router has something like this) really but a watch directory you can have.
     
  4. endoverend

    endoverend AKA zooksman

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    Running deluge sucks the life out of my rpi model B. And that's running raspbian. Doubt it will work well with xmbc on top of it.
     
  5. Jamstruth
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    Jamstruth Secondary Feline Anthropomorph

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    So a big NTFS drive would make it lag? Shame as that would seem to be the most convenient way of doing it. The plan is to stick a 1TB USB harddrive into it. Considering it would probably just be occasional access to push across new files FTP might be ok.

    Trying to be cheap so the web server is probably the way I'll be going unless there's a good standalone that works on iOS and Android. There will be a USB port spare most of the time though so an upgrade might be done later.

    Torrent was really an if possible thing. I know the RPi can only handle so much at a time.

    Of RaspBMC and OpenELEC which would you recommend? Reviews online suggest OpenELEC is a bit faster than RaspBMC so I'm leaning towards that. I'm a bit confused by its install instructions, particularly the difference between the full SD and USB options.
     
  6. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    NTFS is fine for reading, it is more that Linux does not have the greatest handle on its journaling and write options. It is better than it ever was and I would use it in production environments, however on a pi then I would be a bit wary and coming the other way you can read ext partitions on windows quite happily these days (not to mention if you otherwise have a Linux machine then you are sorted). If it came time for me to try to have to guide person through gparted over the phone then I would say just leave NTFS and plug it in, not even a pause to contemplate the potential trauma down the line. However if you are already formatting a drive/deleting stuff then why not for something Linux likes more.

    Try the IOS and android XBMC remote control programs, most of them have free versions. If you can keep a mouse and keyboard (or really just the mouse) where you can get to it in a pinch then I would do so. That said I have http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B003ZV3J72/ attached to it (and it is my go to choice for anybody that wants a media remote for their PC, pi or something else like that).

    On the different distros it is six of one, half a dozen of the other really. Berryboot supporting openelec means I usually go with that for when I need to have a dual boot pi (mainly ones I do for other people), I have raspbmc on the one underneath my mum's TV and it is a solid little thing. The only problem I really face is remembering the subtly different commands in the shell and ssh/user passwords for the different distros, berryboot did have an odd issue where it ran the CPU a lot but it dropped off when it needed to play things back and never got hot.

    On installing, http://www.berryterminal.com/doku.php/berryboot (extract zip to SD card, insert into pi, follow on screen instructions, possibly try some other distros out if you have the space and inclination). No messing around with DD or filesystem images.

    Oh and for remotes I forgot about HDMI-cec. The HDMI spec (forget which versions) do technically support sending remote control signals back down the cable. XBMC supports these, whether your TV/DVD recorder/whatever does it justice is a different matter and the fault tends to be with the TV itself. Different TV companies call it different things ( http://wiki.xbmc.org/?title=CEC#Trade_names ) but it is the same stuff underneath it all.