XBMC has been the favorite home theater PC software of advanced users for years, but thanks to easy to install distributions like XBMC Live Linux and the latest distribution OpenELEC, it is easier than ever to install XBMC on Linux.
The benefit of using Linux instead of Windows 7 is that you will get a fast booting computer that is instantly ready to be used as a media center.
OpenELEC is the latest attempt to create a small Linux distribution to turn your computer into a complete media center. In fact, as OpenELEC advertises, I was able to install the complete operating system and media center in less than 15 minutes. Let’s have a look at the steps I did to install and customize the OpenELEC.
First, you’ll need to download OpenELEC from their website. There are quite a few different builds available depending on your computer setup, so choose the one that best matches with your processor (Generic, ION, Intel). I chose the ION build as I was installing the media center to my secondary HTPC, Asrock ION 330.
Second, you’ll need to have a USB stick available. The downloaded file is compressed with bz2 and tar compression, so you’ll need to use a compression software such as 7zip to uncompress the file. Then, just run the batch file (create_installstick) and choose the drive letter where your USB stick is located and the software will make a bootable USB stick for you.
Third, insert the USB stick into your home theater PC and boot the computer with the USB stick. After the installer has been loaded, just select the quick installation option and when the installation is finished, reboot the computer.
That’s it, your XBMC media center is ready to use in 15 minutes or so.
Next, let’s continue to customize the media center.
The default Confluence skin is quite nice to begin with, but if you want to have a truly beatiful media center, you should install the Aeon Nox skin. The Aeon Nox comes with the XBMC by default, so all you need to do is to go to System > Appearance > Skin > Get More… and then install the Aeon Nox skin.
The Aeon skin does not support mouse, so you should disable the mouse (System > System > Input devices > Enable mouse) to avoid any annoying error messages.
If you are using optical output or HDMI for sound (analog is selected by default), you can change the audio output within the same menu (System > System > Audio output).
Last but not least, you should change the settings for the weather channel (System > Weather > General > Change area code 1).
If you are not using an external network attached hard drive, you will need to copy your media files to the HTPC using a FTP software such as Filezilla.
Before connecting to your home theater PC, you’ll need to know its IP address. You can find this out by selecting System > Hardware > Network and use the IP address (e.g. 192.168.1.40). Secondly, you will need to know the username and password to connect to the OpenELEC. The default username is root and the password is openelec.
Now, you are ready to transfer the media files to your computer.
If you are using a network attached storage, it is even easier to get all the media files visible in the OpenELEC.
Just follow these steps to add your NAS as source:
- Go to Video menu
- Select “Add Source” and select Browse
- Choose “Add Network Location…”
- Set the “Protocol” as Windows Network (SMB)
- Set the NAS server’s IP address as the “Server Name” e.g. 192.168.1.45
- Set the “Shared folder” on your NAS e.g. Video
- Type the “Username” and “Password” for the folder on your NAS
- Click OK two times
You can learn more about NAS servers from my complete guide to install a network attached storage.
As the last step, get more online video and music content by installing these top 8 favorite XBMC add ons.
5th of July, 2012