How to install a nightly release of XBMC in Raspbmc

Raspbmc ships with a stable release of XBMC. But, if you are adventurous, it is pretty easy to try the latest nightly release of XBMC on your Raspbmc.

  1. Go to Program → Raspbmc settings
  2. Choose Nightly Build Configuration → Install XBMC nightly
  3. The nightly releases of XBMC will be listed here, including the one which shipped with Raspbmc, which is listed as xbmc release
  4. Choose the XBMC nightly you want and it will download and install. After the install you will be asked to reboot to switch to the nightly.
  5. Your original or older XBMC releases remain and you can switch to them in Raspbmc settings using the Switch between versions of XBMC option.

Tried with: Raspbmc RC5 and XBMC rbp-20121231

Forcing Raspbmc to turn on HDMI at boot

Problem

Raspberry Pi is running Raspbmc and is connected to a TV by HDMI. If the TV and Raspbmc are powered on at the same time, then everything works fine. However, if the Raspbmc is powered on first and the TV much later, then there is no video or audio on the TV!

Solution

During boot, if Raspbmc sees through HDMI that the TV is off then it switches its video-audio signals to the analog outputs. To force Raspbmc to always use HDMI even if no HDMI display is detected, add the line hdmi_force_hotplug=1 to /boot/config.txt and reboot Raspbmc.

Now, if you boot Raspbmc first and power on the TV later, you will find that video works. However, there is no audio! This is because when forced to use HDMI and no HDMI display is detected, Raspbmc only outputs video and no audio. To force Raspbmc to pick the full HDMI mode where both video and audio are sent, add hdmi_drive=2 to /boot/config.txt and reboot Raspbmc.

# For more info see: http://choorucode.com/2012/10/13/forcing-raspbmc-to-turn-on-hdmi-at-boot/
# Add to /boot/config.txt
hdmi_force_hotplug=1
hdmi_drive=2

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RaspbmcForceHDMI
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By adding both of these lines, the problem should be solved. More information on these modes can be found here. Thanks to the fine folks who answered my query for this solution 🙂

Tried with: Raspbmc RC4

View Raspbmc web interface addons

Raspbmc web interface addons

You can control your Raspbmc from the browser of any computer connected to the home network. This remote control is but one of the many web interface addons that can be added to your Raspbmc.

If you install any other addons which provide a web interface, you can view and access these addons from the browser. If the IP address of your Raspbmc is 192.168.0.10, you can view its web interface addons at: http://192.168.0.10/addons

Tried with: Raspbmc RC4

Set the timezone in Raspbmc

If you notice that your Raspberry Pi which is running Raspbmc is showing the wrong time, it may be set to a wrong timezone.

To set the correct timezone go to System → Settings → Appearance → International and set the correct timezone in the Timezone country field. The clock displayed at the top right corner should update immediately to the correct time.

Tried with: Raspbmc RC4

How to access Windows shared folder from Raspbmc

Raspberry Pi running Raspbmc is an awesome HTPC. If you have videos, music or photos on one of your home Windows computers, then it might be convenient to access or view the media right from your Raspbmc over the home network. The easiest way to do this is to share the media files in a Windows shared folder and access that from Raspbmc using SMB. I am assuming that the Windows computer and Raspbmc are connected to the same wireless router or the same home network.

First setup the Windows computer:

  1. Your Raspbmc will access your Windows computer using its IP address. So, it might be convenient to configure a static IP address for the Windows computer. In any case, note down the IP address of the Windows computer.
  2. Create a folder and make sure the folder name has no spaces in it. Drop all the media files you want to share into this folder. Make it a shared folder. Add Everyone as a user who has read access to this folder.

Next setup the Raspbmc to access the shared folder:

  1. Make sure you can ping the Windows computer from the Raspbmc. You can do this by SSH to Raspbmc (here is how) and pinging the IP address of the Windows computer.
  2. Assuming you want to access the video files in the shared folders. In XBMC, go to Videos > Files > Add videos > Browse > Add network location.
  3. In the Add network location dialog, choose Protocol as Windows network (SMB). For Server name enter the IP address of the Windows computer. For Shared folder enter the name of the shared folder on the Windows computer. Fill the Username and Password fields with the credentials of a user on your Windows computer. Press OK.
  4. The Windows computer shared folder now appears in the listing, choose OK. Press OK in the next dialog. Now the shared folder is visible in the Files listing and you should be able to browse through the media files inside it and play them whenever needed.

Have fun playing the content from your Windows computer on your Raspbmc 🙂

Tried with: Windows 7 (64-bit) and Raspbmc RC4

How to assign a static IP address to Raspbmc

Raspberry Pi running Raspbmc is an awesome HTPC. If you have connected your Raspbmc to your home wireless router, it is most probably getting a dynamic IP address from it using DHCP. This is quite a hassle if you control your Raspbmc using your cellphone or browser or use FTP or SSH with it, since the IP address keeps changing. Due to these reasons, it is better to assign a static IP address to your Raspbmc.

Assigning a static IP address to Raspbmc is easy:

  1. In XBMC, go to Programs → Raspbmc settings → Wired network configuration.
  2. Uncheck the Automatic DHCP option.
  3. Provide a static IP address. Make sure the IP address is far away from the IP addresses typically assigned by the router to the networked devices at home. For example, if a router assigns addresses starting from 192.168.0.10, then pick a static IP like 192.168.0.50
  4. Scroll down and check the Update Now option. Raspbmc will take a few seconds to apply the new configuration.
  5. Make sure you can ping the static IP address you assigned. Voila, your Raspbmc now has a fixed IP address! 🙂

Note: Do not muck around with the /etc/network/interfaces file to assign a static IP address. That does not work with Raspbmc.

Tried with: Raspbmc RC4

How to FTP to your Raspbmc

  1. Ensure you have a Raspberry Pi installed with Raspbmc and connected to your home network. See this post for how to do this.
  2. Note down the IP address of your Raspbmc. (For example: 192.168.0.12) Follow step 1 of this post to find the IP address of your Raspbmc.
  3. From the computer you want to FTP, ensure that you can ping the Raspbmc. For example: ping 192.168.0.12. If the Raspbmc is not reachable, check the settings of your wireless router or home network.
  4. Open a FTP program and connect to the IP address of your Raspbmc using Secure FTP (SFTP).
  5. Login using the default username (pi) and password (raspberry) of Raspbmc. For example, I open Filezilla → Site manager. In Host enter the Raspbmc IP address, choose Server Type as SFTP, Logon Type as Normal, enter the username and password and click Connect.
  6. Transfer the files you want between your computer and your Raspbmc. For example, if you have a USB thumbdrive or harddisk plugged and mounted in your Raspbmc, you could transfer files to the drive directly from your computer using FTP.
  7. You may need root access to transfer to certain directories and mounted drives. The root account is disabled by default on Raspbmc. To enable it, SSH into your Raspbmc (see this post on how) and follow the directions here to get root access. FTP into your Raspbmc using root account and you can do these file transfers.

Tried with: Raspbmc 12.0-ALPHA5

How to SSH to your Raspbmc from Windows

SSH into Raspbmc

You have installed Raspbmc on your Raspberry Pi, converting it into a cool little HTPC. (Here is how to do that.) The Pi is running Linux after all and it is connected to the home network. Now, you want to SSH into it to explore its internals. That is easy.

PuTTY can be used to SSH
  1. In your Raspbmc, navigate to System → System info → Summary. Take note of the IP address (for example: 192.168.0.12) that has been assigned to your Raspbmc.
  2. Ping your Raspbmc to make sure it is reachable from the computer you want to SSH from. For example: ping 192.168.0.12. If the ping does not work, check the settings of your wireless router.
  3. Use PuTTY and SSH to your Raspbmc using its IP address and port 22.
  4. At the login prompt presented by your Raspbmc use the username pi and password raspberry.

Bingo! You are inside your Raspbmc now. Have fun playing around with it 🙂

Tried with: Raspbmc RC3

How to use an Android smartphone as a remote control for Raspbmc

Android smartphone as a remote control for Raspbmc

I assume you are using your Raspberry Pi as a HTPC by running Raspbmc on it. (Here is how to do that.) I also assume the Raspberry Pi is connected to your home wireless router or home network.

XBMC Remote display on Android.

Raspbmc can easily be controlled from a Android smartphone that is connected to your home wireless network.

  1. Configure your Raspbmc as a webserver. To do this, follow steps 1-4 in this post.
  2. Power on your Android smartphone, turn on its wifi and connect it to the home wireless network.
  3. Open the Play Store (or Marketplace). Search and install the XBMC Remote application.
  4. Open the XBMC Remote application and add the Raspbmc as a XBMC Host by providing its IP address, HTTP port, username and password that you noted in step 1.
  5. XBMC Remote should be able to talk to your Raspbmc. If not, check your wireless router settings.
  6. In the XBMC Remote application, choose Use as Remote Control and enjoy controlling your Raspbmc to play videos, music or pictures.

Tried with: XBMC Remote 0.8.8-beta1 and Raspbmc RC3