The Raspberry Pi can be turned into a Home Theater PC (HTPC) by installing Raspbmc on it. XBMC is a popular open-source media player application that runs on many operating systems. The Raspbmc is a Linux distribution for the Raspberry Pi that has XBMC baked in and turns your Raspberry Pi into a HTPC. Installing Raspbmc on the Raspberry Pi is easy and is performed in two stages.
The first stage of the installation can be done on Windows. Download the Raspbmc Windows installer from here. Raspberry Pi boots from a SD card, so you need a SD card to install an operating system, which is Linux in this case. I used a 4GB Kingston SD card that I was using in a camera. Plug in the SD card into your Windows computer, run the downloaded Raspbmc Windows installer, choose the SD card from the displayed list and click Install. This stage of the installation happens in a couple of minutes.
The second stage of the Raspbmc installation is done from the Raspberry Pi itself using an internet connection.
- Pull out the SD card from the Windows computer and plug it into your Raspberry Pi.
- Connect the Pi with an Ethernet LAN cable to the internet. I did this by connecting it to the wireless router of my internet provider.
- Connect the Pi to a TV. I did this by plugging a HDMI cable into the back of the TV, turning it on, choosing HDMI input and plugging the other end of the cable into the Pi.
- Connect the Pi to a micro-USB power source. I did by plugging in the micro-USB travel charger that came with a Samsung Galaxy Gio cellphone. The Pi needs a power source of at least 700mA at 5V. Make sure that the micro-USB adapter you are using provides this much power.
- Turn on the power to the Pi. Raspbmc boots up, connects to the internet and over the next 20 minutes proceeds to download and install the root filesystem, kernel, bootloader, kernel modules and libraries. It does all this automatically, reboots and installs XBMC.
- If all went well, you should now have XBMC displayed on the TV in front of you! 🙂
- Plug in a USB mouse or keyboard to interact with XBMC. I plugged in the USB adapter of my Logitech M310 wireless mouse. This was not detected automatically, but was detected once I rebooted Raspbmc.
- An easy way to play videos, music and photos from the Pi is to plug in a USB thumbdrive that has this content. I plugged in a Sandisk USB thumbdrive with a FAT32 partition on it. Raspbmc mounted the USB thumbdrive automatically and its contents were found under the Files section of Videos, Music or Pictures menu.
Have fun with your new HTPC 🙂
Tried with: Raspberry Pi Model B and Raspbmc RC3