Last Updated: April 2, 2014
This guide will explain how to set up a personal video recording (“PVR”) system using a computer running Windows 7 and Windows Media Center to record live TV from an over the air antenna and then watch those programs on ordinary televisions using a smaller computer running XBMC connected to your TV. The guide is written from a North American perspective. If you live elsewhere in the world, you will probably need to make some deviations from this guide, especially with respect to the recommended TV Tuner.
Important: Please note the “Last Updated” date that appears at the top of this document. Open Source Software is often updated and sometimes evolves quickly. You may find that options referred to in this guide have changed locations, been renamed, or eliminated altogether, especially if you use a newer version.
Software (Required and Optional)
1. XBMC: XBMC is a computer program that you can use to watch videos, music files, and photos on your television. XBMC is optimized for use on television sets using a remote control, but it can also be used with a keyboard on a computer. Using this guide, you’ll set-up XBMC to watch Live and Recorded TV on smaller computers that are connected to each TV in your home, while a larger, more powerful computer running Windows 7 and Windows Media Center acts as a server that records TV shows and streams live TV.
There are many ways to install XBMC. You can manually install XBMC onto an existing Windows or Linux machine. However, for the purpose of this guide, we want to set-up a dedicated machine that will be connected to a TV and which will boot into and run only XBMC.
There are also several distributions that will allow you to install XBMC onto a computer for this purpose, including OpenELEC, XBMCBuntu, and RaspBMC.
OpenELEC is a distribution that includes a very basic Linux kernel and XBMC. Once you have installed OpenELEC on a computer, that computer becomes an XBMC appliance that will run XBMC immediately after it is turned on. OpenELEC includes versions that will run on most personal computers and on the Raspberry Pi, which is a very small, low powered computer that sells for about $75.
You can download OpenELEC here:
XBMCBuntu is a distribution that includes a full install of Ubuntu (a version of Linux) and XBMC. It runs on most PCs. You can download XBMCbuntu here:
RaspBMC is a distribution that includes the Raspberry Pi operating system and boots directly into XBMC. It runs only on Raspberry Pi. You can download RaspBMC here:
These instructions assume that you choose OpenELEC. If you choose another distribution or choose to install XBMC on a Windows machine, these instructions will still serve as a good getting-started guide, but you should expect to find some areas where these instructions don’t work.
When this guide was written, the current version of XBMC is version 12.3 Frodo. The next version will be called Gotham and has just entered beta. XBMC includes the ability to install different themes (called skins) which will change the look and feel of the program. The default theme (skin) on XBMC 12.3 is called “Confluence”. The current version of OpenELEC is 3.2.4.
2. Windows 7 Home Premium or Ultimate- Windows 7 is a computer operating system written and distributed by Microsoft Corporation. The Home Premium and Ultimate versions both include a free program called Windows Media Center which can be used to watch and record TV using a supported TV Tuner. You can buy Windows 7 Home Premium from Amazon.com. You can also use Windows 8, but you must purchase Windows Media Center from the Microsoft App Store for $10.00.
When this guide was written, the current version of Windows 7 was Windows 7 Service Pack 1. If you wish to do a fresh install, you can download an ISO file, which can be used to create an installer DVD, from here:
If you already own a computer running Windows 7 and wish to do a fresh install, you can use the product key on that computer to activate a fresh install from the ISO file. However, you may also have to obtain drivers from your computer manufacturer’s web-site to ensure that all of the components in the computer work correctly.
3. The Windows Media Center Plug-in for XBMC: The Windows Media Center Plug-in for XBMC is a free computer program that is created and maintained by krustyreturns and Scarecrow420, who can both be reached using the xbmc forums.
The Plug-In includes two parts: (1) A Server program which you will install on your Windows 7 computer and (2) a Client program which will be installed on each XBMC machine as an “add-on”. You can download the Server program and the client/PVR add-on here:
Note: Register to be updated when a new version is released. Create an account at forum.xbmc.org. Then visit the following two pages and click “subscribe to this thread” in the bottom left hand corner:
Notification of Server Updates:
Notification of PVR Add-On/Client Updates:
When this guide was written, the current version of the Server is 1134, and the current version of the Plugin is 0.x.95. Replace the “x” with 1 if you are running XBMC 12.3 Frodo and 2 if you are running XBMC Gotham. Note that the Gotham plugins are listed first.
4. Nettime: Nettime is a tool that will keep the time set correctly on your Windows 7 Machine. While Windows 7 has a built-in tool for that purpose, it does not seem to work properly if you leave Windows 7 running without regular user intervention. Having the time set right is important to ensure that recordings start and stop when they should. You can download it from here:
5. Putty: Putty is a free SSH client that runs on Windows. It will allow you to connect to your XBMC computers remotely and perform various tasks that are contained in these instructions. One of the best features about Putty is that you can highlight text that you see on Putty’s screen using the mouse and it will be immediately copied onto the Windows clipboard. And if you right click while Putty is in focus, anything on the Windows clipboard will be pasted into Putty wherever the cursor is located. You’ll find that feature very useful when you need to SSH into your machine and execute commands or create files as suggested in this guide.
You can download Putty from here:
6. MCEBuddy (Optional): MCEBuddy is software that will monitor any folder that you choose for new recorded TV programs and then automatically process the files that appear there according to your instructions. It can be configured to simply move and rename files from the standard naming conventions used by Windows Media Center to the naming convention used by XBMC without any conversions. In a more complex configuration, MCEBuddy can be configured to convert the files from .wtv to .mp4 (which are about ¼ the size of a wtv file), either remove the commercials or create a .edl file that XBMC can use to skip over the commercials during playback, and then move and rename the files. I haven’t completed my testing of MCEBuddy, and so this Guide does not yet include detailed instructions for configuring it.
7. Remote Access Software: If you plan to run your Windows Media Center as a "headless server" (with no monitor, no keyboard, and no mouse), you should consider installing some kind of remote access software. Teamviewer (http://www.teamviewer.com) currently offers a free option that you may find useful. You may also want to consider a VNC option such as RealVNC or TightVNC.
Hardware Required to Run Windows 7 and Windows Media Center as a Server to Record TV
1. Computer: Most personal computers sold in the last five years for the purpose of running Windows will work. Just about any HP, Acer, or Gateway machine should work just fine. Recording Live TV from a tuner using Windows Media Center requires very little processing power so a fast machine is not necessary. You can probably even use one of the Intel NUCs that I recommend in the next section for use at a TV for the purpose of running Windows Media Center, though I have not tested it.
2. TV Tuner(s): Windows Media Center supports up to four TV Tuners. If you purchase a two tuner device, you can purchase a second device and use both at the same time. You can user more tuners if you use a program like TunerSalad (which overcomes Windows Media Center’s four tuner limit). There are a variety of options available for TV Tuners:
A. SiliconDust HDHomeRun DUAL High Definition Digital TV Tuner HDHR3-US (Black) is a two tuner off-air HDTV Tuner for North America. Unlike most other options, it connects to your computer network instead of installing inside your computer. That means that you can have the server in one location, and the Tuner in another location (closer to your TV antenna). Please note that the HDHR3-US is the Third Generation of this product, and there is a newer Fourth Generation version (Model DHDR4-2US). Both are currently still available for sale at Amazon.com.
If you use the HDHomeRun Dual, you’ll need the Windows drivers for the Tuner. The Tuner will come with a driver disk, but it may be better to download the latest version from the manufacturer. You can download them from here:
You can find installation instructions here:
Important Note: If you purchase the Fourth Generation version of the HDHomeRun Dual Tuner, the latest drivers should work fine. However, if you purchase the Gen3 version of the HDHomeRun Dual Tuner, the current firmware (20140121) appears to cause video quality problems. I have found that 20120405 works fine. The 20120405 version was included on the disk that came in the box with my tuner.
If you can't find the disk that came in the box, you can downgrade by installing the latest version of the software using the link I provided above. Then download the .bin file for the 20120405 firmware from here:
(this links works as of today, but SD may take it down. If they do, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and ask them to put it back).
Now go to this folder:
and delete all the .bin files.
Now run HDHomeRun Config, select your tuner, click the "Device" Tab, click the "..." button, and find the "hdhomerun3_atsc_firmware_20120405.bin" file that you downloaded, click "Open", and then click "Upgrade."
B. Other Tuners: There are several other well known manufacturers of TV Tuners, including Ceton and Hauppauge. Ceton’s infinitTV6 records from cable TV using a CableCard and has 6 tuners (and software to overcome Media Center’s four tuner limit). SiliconDust has a similar version that has 3 tuners. Hauppauge mainly makes TV Tuner cards you can install inside your computer, such as the WinTV-HVR-2250, which is a two tuner card.
3. Video Capture Card and Infrared Blaster (optional): If you plan to record TV using an Antenna, you can skip this part. However, if you plan to record TV from a cable-box or satellite dish, you'll need a Media Center Compatible Infrared Blaster, which Media Center will use to change channels on your cable/satellite box, and video capture card to record the TV signal. I haven't tested these options, but the following may work:
A. IR Blaster with Remote:
1. Azend Group MediaGate HA-IR01SV Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Ultimate Media Center Remote Control, 1 Channel IR (Silver)
2. Hauppauage Model 01069 - http://www.hauppauge.com/site/webstore2/...-mckit.asp
3. Rosewill RHRC-11001
B. Video Capture Card: Hauppauge Colossus PCI Express Internal HD-PVR
Hardware to Watch TV (Client to run XBMC)
There are many options for hardware that will be connected to your TV. However, these are the two options that I’ve tested:
A. Intel Next Unit of Computing (about $250 total)
1. Computer: Intel Next Unit of Computing – Model DCCP847DYE
2. Memory: Crucial 4GB Single DDR3 1600 MT/s (PC3-12800) CL11 SODIMM 204-Pin 1.35V/1.5V Notebook Memory Module CT51264BF160B
3. Power Cord: C2G / Cables to Go - 27400 - 6ft 3-Slot Notebook Power Cord
4. Hard Drive (Either of these will work):
a. SanDisk Cruzer Fit CZ33 32GB USB Flash Drive (SDCZ33-032G-B35)
b. MyDigitalSSD SC2 Super Cache 2 50mm SATA III 6G mSATA SSD Solid State Drive (32GB with FNet HybriDisk)
Note: I much prefer this option over the next one. The Intel NUC is a computer that is about the size of a hockey puck. It has 3 USB Ports and 2 HDMI Ports (you’ll use this to connect your TV). The model # listed was the cheapest one available at the time that I wrote this (About $150).
Installing the memory, power cord and hard drive in these machines is very easy. The Intel NUC computer comes with a very nice instruction manual, and you can easily find Youtube videos that will show you exactly how to do it.
As time passes, newer versions may become available, and as the older models become more scarce, they may become more expensive. If you find that this unit is priced more than $150, you may wish to check and see if a newer model has been released that is cheaper. There is now a newer version available, Model DN2820FYKH0, that has a processor that is twice as fast, includes Wifi and an IR Receiver, and is slightly cheaper. I have not tested it.
B. Raspberry Pi Option (about $75.00 total)
1. Computer: Raspberry Pi Model B
2. Case: As desired
3. Power Supply: Any Micro-USB Power supply that delivers 1A at 5 Volts
4. Hard Drive: 8GB SD Card
Note: The Raspberry Pi is a very small, inexpensive, low power computer. Everything you need can be purchased as a kit on Amazon. If you have an older TV that does not support HDMI, the Raspberry Pi also includes a standard RCA Video output and a standard headphone jack audio output which you can convert to RCA. If you hook these up to a standard TV and boot the Raspberry Pi with no HDMI Cable plugged in, these outputs will drive a standard TV. The Raspberry Pi is considerably slower than the Intel NUC when navigating the XBMC interface. When I used the Raspberry Pi to watch Mpeg2 video over a wired network, the quality was fine, but when I attempted to watch over a Wifi network, I experienced considerable problems with the video starting and stopping. If you plan to use the Raspberry Pi to watch MPEG2 video (TV or DVD), you'll also need to purchase an MPEG2 License. See the advanced topics section towards the end of this guide for more information.
C. Optional Items for either setup
1. Remote Control and IR Receiver: One of the following:
A. Ortek Windows 7 Vista XP Media Center MCE PC Remote Control and Infrared Receiver for Home, Premium and Ultimate Edition. This consists of a USB Infrared Receiver that plugs into your XBMC machine and a remote control. I use the remote to program my Universal Remote Control (see next item) and then put it in a drawer. Although this device was designed and is intended for use on computers running Windows Media Center, it also works on an XBMC machine. You’ll need to do a bit of experimenting to learn what each button does. Note that the Guide button acts as a context/right click button.
B. CE Compass IR Wireless Mini Palm Style Keyboard Mouse PC Remote Control: Similar to the above, but with a full keyboard in a small package and an IR Receiver.
Note: You can find a list of XBMC Keyboard controls and their functions here:
C. FLIRC: Flirc is a USB Device that can translate any IR remote control button to any key on a standard keyboard. For example, you can use the included software to program FLIRC so that when you press the up button on an old DVD player remote, it will press the up arrow on a keyboard. It is more expensive than the other options I noted above.
2. Universal Remote Control: URC MasterControl RF20. This remote can learn the IR codes from either of the above options and from your TV remote, and then allow you to control your XBMC and your TV using the RF20. If you want to control your system through walls or cabinet doors, you can also buy the URC MRF100B and place it inside the cabinet.
3. Wireless 2.4Ghz Keyboard: Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 with Built-In Multi-Touch Touchpad: This is a full-size keyboard that does not use IR. It is great for initial configuration of your Windows 7 Server and each XBMC box, but I believe that it is too large for ordinary use.
4. HDMI Cable: You will connect your computer running XBMC to your TV using an HDMI Cable. This cable will send both the audio and the video to your TV. monoprice.com has cheap HDMI cables.
5. Wifi: Wifi is often not fast enough for reliable streaming, but if you want to try it, you might try one of the following:
A. Ubiquiti Networks AirGateway and POE-24-12W: The AirGateway ($19) can provide Wifi access to any device with an Ethernet jack. I use this routinely for my network and it works great. It can also be configured as an access point and even as a router. You also have to buy a POE-24-12W to power it ($9).
B. Edimax EW-7811Un 150 Mbps Wireless 11n Nano Size USB Adapter with EZmax Setup Wizard: This device is apparently highly recommended for use with the Raspberry Pi and may also work with the Intel NUC. I have not tested it.
C. Intel Network 7260.HMWG WiFi Wireless-AC 7260 H/T Dual Band 2x2 AC+Bluetooth HMC: This apparently can provide Wifi to the Intel NUC and is installed inside the NUC. Again, I have not tested it.
6. Light DIMS: If you plan to use any of these devices in a bedroom, you might want to buy a pack of these handy stickers that will reduce the intensity of the lights on your devices.
7. Latest BIOS (Intel NUC Option Only): If you use the Intel NUC, you should update to the latest BIOS, which you can find here:
Make the following selections on the web-site:
Product Family: Desktop Boards
Product Line: Intel NUC Boards and Kits
Product Name: Your model #
Operating System: OS Independent
Download Type: BIOS
Select the latest BIOS Update (at the top of the listing).
Download the .BIO file. Place it on a USB Stick. Plug the USB Stick into the Intel NUC. While booting press F7 to update the BIOS using the .BIO file.
Installing OpenELEC (which includes XBMC 12.2 Frodo)
Begin by installing OpenElec on the small computer that you will connect to your television set. Download OpenELEC for your machine from here:
If you choose the Raspberry Pi hardware option, then download the Raspberry Pi build.
If you choose the Intel Next Unit of Computing hardware option, then download the Intel Build. Note that in the future, the Intel build will be merged into the Generic build, so if you cannot find an intel build listed, get the Generic build instead.
To install, follow the instructions from here:
While installing OpenElec, you’ll be asked if you want to enable SSH and Samba during install. Be sure to select these options. You'll secure SSH later by disabling password based access from within XBMC.
When you turn on a computer running OpenELEC, it boots up into XBMC. When you start, you’ll be using the default skin/theme which is called Confluence. You will see options to access System (settings), Programs, Videos, Photos, Music, Weather, and a few other items, which you can choose using the left/right and OK buttons on your remote. In the bottom left hand corner, you’ll see options to view your favorites and to power-off or reboot the machine.
When using a Windows Media Center remote control like the one that I recommended, the up/down/left/right/ok and exit buttons work just as you would expect them to in most XBMC screens. However, when you’re in the File Manager or Browser, the left/right buttons are used to move from the folder list to the OK/Cancel buttons, even though they are below the folder list.
When watching videos, the up/down buttons skip forward and backward 10 minutes or move through chapters if you’re watching something that has marked chapters. The left and right buttons skip forward and backward 30 seconds. In XBMC Frodo, the exit button skips backward 7 seconds. In XBMC Gotham, no button will do the 7 second backward skip, but I'l show you how to fix that later.
The Guide button on most remotes serves as a right click/context menu button. Typically, the context menu will allow you to select an item as a favorite, rescan your sources for new files, and make other changes to the selected files.
Pressing “Menu” on your remote control will usually take you back to the main XBMC screen. However, if you are watching a video, the Menu button will show you icons at the bottom that can be used to pause, rewind, and fast forward. In the bottom right hand corner, you’ll see some icons that can be used to change video and audio settings. If you push the up arrow, the focus will shift to an “X” in the upper right hand corner. If you select that X, your video will continue playing, but you’ll be able to now press “Menu” and get back to the main menu while your video continues to play in the background. To return to the video, press “Exit” or click on “Fullscreen” (which appears above the main menu).
These are the settings that I routinely change from the default:
System/System Information/Network- Show the IP address of the unit
Make a note of this IP address, as you’ll need it if you want to SSH into your machine.
System/Settings/System/Video Output/Video Calibration: Use Enter to switch between settings and up, down, left, and right arrows to change. Adjust until blue line in upper left hand corner and in lower right hand corner are at the edge of the screen. I usually set them so that they are fully visible at the edge of the screen. ESC to exit.
System/Settings/System/Audio Output/Audio Output: HDMI
Note: If you have no audio when watching videos, try changing Audio output device and Passthrough output device in this section.
System/Settings/Appearance/Skin/Settings/Home/Show Weather: Check
System/Settings/Appearance/Skin/Show RSS news feeds: Uncheck
System/Settings/Appearance/International/Timezone Country: US
System/Settings/Appearance/International/Timezone: America/**As desired
System/Settings/Video/Library/Group movies in sets: Checked
System/Settings/Video/Library/Update Library on startup: Checked
System/Settings/Video/File Lists/Default Select Action: Show Information
System/Settings/Video/DVD/Attempt to Skip Introduction before DVD Menu: Checked
If this is not checked, many Disney DVDs will not play. However, if this is checked, other DVDs may not start as well.
Be sure to click OK when done.
Exit out back to main menu and then return before continuing
System/Settings/Weather/General/-Settings/Location 1: **As desired
Be sure to click OK when done.
System/Settings/Services/General/Device Name: **As desired
System/Settings/Services/General/UPNP/Share Video … through UPNP: Disabled
System/Settings/Services/Webserver/Allow control of XBMC via http: Checked
System/Settings/Services/Webserver/Username: **As desired (default is xbmc)
System/Settings/Services/Webserver/Password: **As desired (default is xbmc)
Note: by enabling this, you can use a web browser to access the XBMC machine using it's IP address and start and control playback.
System/Settings/Services/General/Remote Control/Allow Programs...: Disabled
System/Settings/Services/General/AirPlay:Allow XBMC...: Disabled
System/Settings/Services/SMB Client/Workgroup: **As desired (usually you want to match the workgroup used by Windows machines on your network.
System/Settings/System/Input Devices/Peripherals/CEC Adapter/Enabled: UN-CHECKED
Note: Uncheck this unless you intend to use the TV Remote to control XBMC. Checking this enables HDMI Control, which can be notoriously buggy. If you enable this and you experience problems, you may wish to disable it.
Be sure to click OK After you disable.
System/Settings/System/Power Saving/Put display to sleep when idle: Off
System/Settings/System/Power Saving/Shutdown function timer: **As desired
System/Settings/System/Power Saving/Shutdown function: Shutdown:
Note: If you enable suspend, when you come back from suspend, you may find that the Recordings list is inaccurate for some period of time until XBMC pulls an update from ServerWMC. The "Shutdown function" selection affects what happens when you push the power button on the computer and and what happens when the shutdown function timer is activated.
System/OpenELEC/Services/Samba/Enable Samba: Checked
System/OpenELEC/Services/Samba/Use Samba Password Authentication: Checked
System/OpenELEC/Services/SSH/Disable SSH Password: Checked (until you want SSH access).
Note: SSH login is root. ssh password is openelec
Username and password cannot be changed, so only enable SSH Password as needed!
XBMC First Use:
Upon starting a video, click Menu on your remote and then select the Audio Settings icon in playback mode (in bottom right of screen), Uncheck "enable subtitles" and then “set as default” for all videos to remove the time stamp that is shown when playing home movies.
If you notice strange lines when watching TV that is showing action scenes, you may wish to change the deinterlace mode. Access the video settings (icon in the bottom right of the screen), change deinterlace video to "Auto." Change deinterlace method to “Bob". Change Zoom amount to ensure that video fills the entire screen. Then set as default for all videos.
Windows Media Center Support
To watch TV shows from Windows Media Center on your XBMC box, you must install the server program (“ServerWMC”) on a computer that is running Windows Media Center (i.e., Windows 7 Home Premium or Windows XP/8 with the Media Center option). You must also install the “PVR Add-on” client on the XBMC Machine.
Download the latest version of ServerWMC and the PVR Add-on client from:
With respect to the PVR Add-on Client, you’ll want the following versions:
For XBMC installed using OpenELEC on a regular computer:
linux (x64): pvr.wmc-linux-x86-64-0.1.xx.zip
For XBMC on a Raspberry Pi:
Note: If you’re using XBMC 12.2 Frodo (which is currently what is installed by OpenELEC), DO NOT download the 0.2.xx.zip versions. The 0.2.xx.zip version are listed FIRST, are for XBMC Gotham, and WILL NOT WORK with XBMC 12.3 Frodo.
Start by setting up the computer that you will use as a server to record live TV:
1. Install Windows 7 Home Premium on a computer.
2. Configure Windows to use a static IP address and make a note of that IP address for later.
3. Install the TV Tuner drivers (depends upon which TV Tuner you use).
4. Install Nettime to keep the time right. This will help ensure that timers start and stop at the right time.
5. Configure Windows Media Center (install TV Tuner, add TV Tuner drivers, run Windows Media Center configuration).
6. Create a new standard user account on the Windows PC with a password.
7. Share the Recorded TV Folder with that user
8. To ensure that Windows will automatically login to the admin account upon bootup and start ServerWMC, run netplwiz from the command line in the Windows machine. Choose the admin account, uncheck “Users must enter a user name and password.” Click OK, enter password. Click OK. This will allow the machine to login automatically when it boots up.
9. Install ServerWMC.
10. Configure ServerWMC as follows:
General/Start when Windows Starts: Checked
General/Minimize to System Tray: Unchecked
General/Close box minimizes to system tray: Unchecked
Folders: Enter the network path: Change computer name to IP address and verify that share name is correct.
Folders: Click “Use Credentials for non-windows XBMC clients” and then enter the username/password you created in step 4.
Live TV/Set the maximum … Live TV Stream: 2 (or as you desire)
Live TV/Enable prime viewing time: Check
Start/End: As desired
Recordings/Remux active recordings: Checked
Recordings/Append episode title to series tile for recordings using: Checked
Recordings/Append episode title to series tile for recordings using: Title - Episode.
XBMC PVR Client
On each XBMC machine, install the add-on from the zip file you downloaded earlier:
System/Settings/Add-ons/Install from zip file
XBMC will then open the XBMC Browser. Use the up and down arrows to select the folder and then the .zip file you want, and then click on it. XBMC will install the add-on.
Click "Configure" while in the add-on and then enter IP address of Windows Machine where indicated.
Next, enable Live TV in XBMC:
Settings/Live TV/Enabled: Checked
Settings/Live TV/Use backend channels numbers: Checked
Settings/Live TV/EPG/Days to Display EPG: 14 days
Settings/Live TV/Recording/Margin at the Start …: 0
Settings/Live TV/Recording/Margin at the End …: 0
Settings/Live TV/Recording/Display a notification … timer updates: Uncheck
One you’ve done this, a new option should appear on the main XBMC screen called “Live TV.” Once you’re in that section, clicking the left arrow will open a sidebar that allows you to choose from all of the available options. I recommend you start by doing this:
Live TV/Recordings: Highlight a recording/Right Click/Sort by Date (twice)
This part of the guide is intended to show you how to enable add-ons and place them in a location where you can find them. My examples are based upon the add-ons I use, but you’re welcome to choose whatever add-ons suit your needs.
XBMC Library Auto Update
This add-on will cause XBMC to regularly update the library in order to determine if new videos have been added.
System/Settings/Add-ons/Get Add-ons/All Add-ons/Program Add-Ons/XBMC Library Auto Update/Install
Note: if nothing appears after All Add-ons, then highlight "XBMC.org Add-ons," right click (or press c or Guide), and select "Force Refresh" and "Check for Updates"
After installation, select the Add-On, select configure and then:
General/Startup Delay: 5 minutes
Video/Update Video Library: Enable
Video/Amount of Time Between Updates (Hours): 1
Cleaning/Clean Libraries: Enable
Cleaning/Verify Sources Before Clean: Enable
The Daily Show
This add-on lets you watch The Daily Show using their web feed.
System/Settings/Add-ons/Get Add-ons/All Add-ons/Video Add-Ons/The Daily Show/Install
The Colbert Report
This add-on lets you watch The Colbert Report using their web feed.
System/Settings/Add-ons/Get Add-ons/All Add-ons/Video Add-Ons/The Colbert Report/Install
This add-on lets you watch a variety of PBS shows from their web site.
System/Settings/Add-ons/Get Add-ons/All Add-ons/Video Add-Ons/PBS/Install
Add Daily Show/Colbert/PBS to Video Menu
System/Settings/Appearance/Skin/Skin – Settings/Home Window Options/Add-on Shortcuts/Home Page Videos Submenu/Add-on 1: The Daily Show
System/Settings/Appearance/Skin/Skin – Settings/Home Window Options/Add-on Shortcuts/Home Page Videos Submenu/Add-on 2: The Colbert Report
System/Settings/Appearance/Skin/Skin – Settings/Home Window Options/Add-on Shortcuts/Home Page Videos Submenu/Add-on 3: PBS
System/Settings/Add-ons/Get Add-ons/All Add-ons/Video Add-Ons:
Add Music Add-Ons to Music Menu
System/Settings/Appearance/Skin/Skin – Settings/Home Window Options/Add-on Shortcuts/Home Page Music Submenu/Add-on 1: NPR
System/Settings/Appearance/Skin/Skin – Settings/Home Window Options/Add-on Shortcuts/Home Page Music Submenu/Add-on 2: Sky.fm
System/Settings/Appearance/Skin/Skin – Settings/Home Window Options/Add-on Shortcuts/Home Page Music Submenu/Add-on 3: ListenLiveEU
Adding Videos (Movie/TV) that you already have on a network server or a USB Drive
If you have your own library of Movies or TV Shows that you own, you can tell XBMC where to find them, and it will download descriptions and artwork for each. Once XBMC has recognized a Movie or a TV Show, XBMC will add a new option to the main menu entitled “Movies” and/or “TV Shows” which will display all of the Movies or TV Shows that XBMC recognized along with details about the program.
XBMC can only find a Movie or TV Show if you name it properly. Begin by naming your library using the following rules:
Movies should be named with the name of the movie and optionally the year released. For example:
Casino Royale (1967).mp4
Casino Royale (2006).mp4
My Cousin Vinny.mp4
If you are unsure of the precise name or year, search for the movie at:
TV Shows should be in folders that are named with the name of the show and optionally the year released. For example:
Cold Feet (1997)
The files containing each episode should be in the folder bearing the show’s name and should be named with any name you want, ending with the Series and Episode Number formatted as SxxExx:
Name of Episode.S1E1.mp4
Name of Episode.S6E4.mp4
If you aren’t sure what to name a show, search for it at:
Adding Video Sources to XBMC
To add a new group of videos, make the following selections in XBMC:
This will open a new window with the following options:
Enter the paths … for the media locations: Either type in the path for your source where you see the <None>, or use the Browse button to find it.
If you click the Browse button, the XBMC Browser will open. Use the up and down arrows to select the folder you want, and then click on it. Note that the Browser will only show you the folder names and will not show you any files located inside the folders. Once you have selected and clicked on the folder you want to add as a source, use the left/right arrow buttons to move from the folder list to the confirmation buttons (OK/Cancel). Once you click “OK”, XBMC will take you back to the “Enter paths … for the media location” and will have filled in the "path … for media locations" based upon the selections you made in the Browser.
Here are some examples:
Windows Network Share (CIFS/SMB):
When setting up network shares, always use IP addresses and not Windows network names. If the Browser puts a Windows network share name into a path, replace it with the IP address before you move on. Otherwise, you may have problems accessing those files in the future. So, for example, if the Browser leaves you looking at:
then you should change it to:
(assuming that the IP address of MediaCenter-PC is 192.168.1.50)
Enter a name for this media source: Give the share a name that you’ll recognize
This directory contains: Pick either None, Movies, TV Shows, or Music. Use “None” for home movies and video. If you select other than “None,” XBMC will then search an internet database to find matching titles and will download art and a description for the item.
If any Movies are found, a new main heading will appear in XBMC entitled “Movies” and the movies that were found will be listed. If any TV Shows are found, a new main heading will appear in XBMC entitled “TV Shows” and the shows that were found will be listed along with the downloaded art and descriptions.
Note: If you add or remove any movies from these locations, those changes will not be reflected in XBMC until you update the library. You can do that by viewing a list of Movies, TV Shows, or Videos and right clicking (or clicking Guide on your remote) and then selecting "Update library." Also, earlier in this guide, we configured an XBMC add-on to automatically update the library on a regular basis.
Verifying that files were located:
To check and see if every movie has been properly recognized, using XBMC go to Videos -> Files -> NameYouGaveTheMediaSource
Then scroll through each listed video and see if the artwork appears and see if the filename is listed (the ending will show, i.e. .mp4) or if a Movie name is listed (without the file type at the end.
If a filename is listed (with the .mp4) or there is no artwork, the movie was not recognized and you need to rename it as described above and then right click and select “Update Library” or “Refresh.”
If a Movie is recognized but is wrong, highlight the show, click “Info” on your remote, and then select “Refresh,” and you may be given a list of all matching shows.
Using the File Manager/Browser
XBMC includes a file manager that you can use to copy, rename, and delete files. You access it as follows:
The options available on the right-click/context menu will vary depending upon where you have navigated on the screen you are on and on the other screen. For example, if the right hand side of the file manager is in a folder, and you right click on a file on the left hand side of the file manager, you may be presented with an option to copy that file. However, if the right hand side of the file manager is at the very first screen (showing you the available sources), and you right click a file on the left side of the screen, you may not see the “copy” option.
The “guide” button on the remote is often used as a right-click/context menu.
When you use the "Add Source" option in the file manager, you will be presented with a window to add sources that works exactly the same as the section used for adding video sources, and which is documented in the section above.
The following advanced topics will explain how to make changes that are often desirable, but which you cannot change from XBMC's User Interface. Most of them involve accessing the XBMC machine's command prompt using SSH.
The best way to SSH into your machine from a Windows machine is using a free program called Putty, which you can download here:
Putty allows you to easily copy and paste. Copy something while in Windows, and then go into Putty and right click. Whatever you have on the Windows clipboard will be pasted into Putty wherever your cursor is currently located. If you highlight text in Putty, it will be copied onto the Windows clipboard.
Changing Skip Backward Times
By default, XBMC allows you to skip forward and backwards in 10 minutes and 30 second increments. XBMC also allows you to skip backwards in 7 second increments. I prefer a 10 second option. You can change these by modifying your advancedsettings.xml file.
Connect to the machine using SSH:
<smallstepbackseconds>10</smallstepbackseconds> <!-- Length of the small skip back (normally the BACK button) when playing a video -->
<usetimeseeking>true</usetimeseeking> <!-- Whether to use time based or percentage based seeking. -->
<timeseekforward>30</timeseekforward> <!-- Time to seek forward in seconds when doing a short seek. Defaults to 30. -->
<timeseekbackward>-30</timeseekbackward> <!-- Time to seek backward in seconds when doing a short seek. Defaults to -30. -->
<timeseekforwardbig>600</timeseekforwardbig> <!-- Time to seek forward in seconds when doing a long seek. Defaults to 600 (10 minutes). -->
<timeseekbackwardbig>-600</timeseekbackwardbig> <!-- Time to seek forward in seconds when doing a long seek. Defaults to -600 (10 minutes). -->
Save and exit by pressing CTRL-X, Y.
Note: You can also create this file on a Windows machine and then copy the file over using Windows networking.
reboot to make them effective, by typing:
Enabling Skip Forward/Backward and Exit Buttons on MCE Remotes
For the Windows Media Center remote, the Skip Forward and Skip Backward buttons are mapped to Next in Playlist and Previous in Playlist. And when watching videos in fullscreen mode, the Exit button skips backwards 7 seconds. Many MCE users would prefer that the Skip Forward and Skip Backward buttons be used to Skip forward 30 seconds and skip backwards 7 seconds (see instructions above on how to change 7 seconds to something longer), and that the Exit/Cancel button be used to return to the prior menu.
. To change this, SSH into the machine and do the following:
Type in the following:
CTRL-X, Y, ENTER to save and exit.
Then reboot by typing:
The above works for the remote control that I recommended. However, if you are using an older MCE Remote and it does not work, you might try this instead:
Type in the following:
<f mod="ctrl">StepForward</f> <!-- Skip -->
<b mod="ctrl">SmallStepBack</b> <!-- Replay -->
CTRL-X, Y, ENTER to save and exit.
Then reboot by typing:
Notes: Even after you make this change, you can still do a “Next in Playlist” and “Previous in Playlist” with the Channel Up and Channel Down buttons.
If neither of these work, you’ll have to search the default keyboard.xml and default remote.xml files and locate the correct entry. The entry will have “SkipNext” and “SkipPrevious” in them. You’ll need to find the correct entry and change “SkipNext” to “StepForward” and change “SkipPrevious” to “SmallStepBack”.
However, don’t just change it everywhere it appears. In some places, SkipNext and SkipPrevious are required to get XBMC to do what it is supposed to do. You need to find the entry that correlates to the skip forward and skip back buttons for your remote when watching a video. Some trial and error may be necessary. Once you find the correct entries, you can duplicate them in the files in the same manner as discussed above.
For OpenELEC, the default keyboard.xml and remote.xml files are located in:
Making Left/Right/Up/Down/Buttons Consistent in Live TV
By default, the (1)Left/(2)Right/(3)Up/(4)Down buttons on the MCE Remote will (1)SkipBack30Seconds, (2)SkipForward30Seconds, (3)SkipForward10minutes, and (4)SkipBack10Minutes.
However, when you are watching Live TV, XBMC changes these buttons so that they effect channel changes. Up/Down changes channels and Left/Right changes channel categories. Since MCE Remotes already have a channel button, we may wish to change it so that these buttons work the same in LiveTV as they do when watching other Videos. To do so:
Type in the following (but see the note below):
CTRL-X, Y, ENTER to save and exit.
Then reboot by typing:
Note: If you have already created a remote.xml file (for example when you set up the skip forward/back buttons in the instructions above), then delete the </keymap> code at the end of the current file and delete the <keymap> at the beginning of the text above. The remote.xml file should only have a single <keymap> at the beginning of the file and a single </keymap> at the end of the file.
If you want to keep the up/down channel category functionality, just delete the up and down lines from the file. Using these large up and down jumps in Live TV seems to crash XBMC anyway, so I deleted it on mine.
For more information on customizing keys for a remote, see:
Changing Font Sizes (for smaller TVs)
If you find the default font sizes too small, you can increase them. These instructions assume that you are using the default skin (theme), which is called “Confluence.”
The Confluence skin files are located here:
Unfortunately, with OpenElec the /usr/share/xbmc folder is read only and so you cannot modify the default Confluence skin. There is a work-around, however. You can create a duplicate skin folder with a slightly different name, change the font size in the duplicate, and then select the duplicate as your default skin.
Start by enabling SSH. In XBMC,
Settings/OpenELEC/Services/SSH/Disable SSH Password: Checked
Login to the XBMC machine via SSH using Putty or another SSH Client.
Copy the default confluence file to a new folder that is not read only by typing:
cp -r /usr/share/xbmc/addons/skin.confluence /storage/.xbmc/addons/skin.confluence.big
Then you need to edit the addon ID so it looks different then the original confluence, do this by opening the addon.xml and adjusting the value.
you will see something like this
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
change "skin.confluence" to whatever you name the containing folder as and change the name value as well so it shows up differently from within the XBMC GUI. In our case I would use.
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
Save and exit by pressing CTRL-X, Y.
Now edit the font.xml file:
Look through the file. One option is to increase the font size for every font by 5.
Alternatively, you can just change the ones you want. To change the size of the description of the show in the recordings menu and the titles in the EPG, change the <size> parameter from 17 to whatever you want (I chose 21):
<fontset id="Default" idloc="31390" unicode="true">
<!-- Normal Fonts -->
To change the size of the description of the show in the recordings menu and the titles in the EPG, change the <size> parameter from 20 to whatever you want (I chose 24):
Note that these entries appear several times in this file, but I only had to change the very first appearance of them to have the desired effect.
When you’re done:
Save and exit by pressing CTRL-X, Y.
Now copy the ServerWMC xml files over to the new directory to ensure that you'll be able to set series timers:
cp /storage/.xbmc/addons/pvr.wmc/resources/skins/skin.confluence/720p/* /storage/.xbmc/addons/skin.confluence.big/720p/
Then access XBMC, go to the skin area, and select the new Confluence (Big) skin.
Settings/Appearance/Skin: Confluence (Big)
Streaming Media (Cameras/Radio Stations/etc)
If you know the URL of a streaming source (such as a camera, radio station, or live video feed), you can manually add it by creating a file that ends in .strm
For Foscam brand cameras, use this URL:
For Cameras that support rtsp (including the Ubiquiti Aircam), use this URL:
Notes: Change 192.168.1.50 to the IP address of the camera. Change USERNAME and PASSWORD to the username and password assigned in the cameras configuration.
Place these files into a folder on the XBMC Machine and then make that folder a favorite for ease of access.
Speeding up Raspberry Pi
The Raspberry Pi is a very inexpensive computer and it has a very slow processor. It can play HD video just fine, but some users find the XBMC interface too slow when navigating XBMC. There are two things that you can do to speed up that experience: Overclock the processor and enable “dirty regions.”
Overclocking forces the processor to run faster than intended. If you run too fast, the processor can overheat and/or the data on the SD Card can become corrupted. Many users have overclocked the Raspberry Pi without any problems. Your mileage may vary. To overclock, SSH into your machine using Putty. From the command prompt, issue the following commands:
mount -o rw,remount /flash
Find the overclocking section. The file includes several suggested settings for Overclocking. Determine which settings you want to use. Then remove the # in front of the four sections and set them as desired.
CTRL-X, Y to exit and save.
By default, XBMC redraws the entire display every time anything changes. If you enable “Dirty Regions,” XBMC will only redraw the part of the display that has changed. This will speed up the XBMC UI, but will not make video play any better. This can also cause unusual results if you watch a 4:3 video on a 16:9 display, as the edges will not be redrawn and will continue to show the XBMC user interface. My experience has been that this change is well worth the drawbacks.
1. SSH into machine
2. Change to the correct directory and edit advancedsettings.xml
Add the following:
Save and exit by pressing CTRL-X, Y.
Reboot by typing:
Copying XML Files if using a theme other than Confluence
Using the PVR Add-on for Windows Media Center with the default skin (theme) called Confluence, you can browse the program guide and even set and delete timers on your Windows Media Center computer. You can also set both individual and series timers.
However, if you select an alternative skin, you may find that you cannot set series timers. If you wish to enable this functionality, you must copy the special xml files that enable this functionality into your skin folder.
The XML Skin Files that you need to copy are located in:
You need to copy them to the folder containing your skin files. With OpenELEC, skin files are normally located here:
Note: Replace [name] wherever it appears in this section of the guide with the actual name of the skin.
Unfortunately, with OpenElec the /usr/share/xbmc folder is read only and so you cannot copy the files directly. There is a work-around, however. You can create a duplicate skin folder with a slightly different name, add the XML files to the duplicate, and then select the duplicate as your default skin.
Start by enabling SSH: In XBMC,
Settings/OpenELEC/Services/SSH/Disable SSH Password: Checked
Login to the server via SSH using Putty or another SSH Client.
Determine the name of your skin folder:
Look at the listing and determine the name of the folder you want to copy based upon the name of the skin you want to use. Copy the skin folder to a new folder that is not read only by typing:
cp -r /usr/share/xbmc/addons/skin.[name] /storage/.xbmc/addons/skin.[name].wmc
Then you need to edit the addon ID so it looks different then the original skin, do this by opening the addon.xml and adjusting the value.
you will see something like this
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
change "skin.[name]" to whatever you name the containing folder as and change the [Name] value as well so it shows up differently from within the XBMC GUI. In our case I would use.
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
Save and exit by pressing CTRL-X, Y.
Then copy the XML files from the Add-On folder to the new one:
cp /storage/.xbmc/addons/pvr.wmc/resources/skins/skin.confluence/720p/* /storage/.xbmc/addons/skin.[NAME].wmc/720p/
Reboot the machine via SSH by typing:
Now in XBMC, choose the new skin:
Settings/Appearance/Skin: [Name] (WMC)
XBMC on Raspberry PI – MPEG2 License
If you want to use XBMC to watch MPEG2 Video (DVDs or TV) on a Raspbery Pi, you’ll need to purchase an MPEG2 license from the Raspberry Pi team. Currently, they charge 2.40 British Pounds (about $4.00). To purchase the license, you’ll need to find your serial number and provide it to the Raspberry Pi foundation along with payment. These instructions are for OpenELEC, but the instructions for RaspBMC are probably similar and are definitely available online. SSH into your Raspberry Pi, and issue the following commands:
Your serial number will be to the right of the words “Serial”.
Purchase the license here:
You’ll receive your license key within 72 hours by email. After you receive the license key, input it on OpenELEC. SSH into the machine again, and issue the following commands:
mount /flash -o remount,rw
by removing the # and changing “0x00000000” to the license key you received.
Save and exit by pressing CTRL-X, Y.
Note: If you use RaspBMC instead of OpenELEC, you’ll also need to purchase a license, but the instructions to install the license key may be slightly different. You can probably find correct instructions on the RaspBMC web-site.
Running Windows Media Center in a Virtual Machine
Instead of installing Windows 7 and Windows Media Center onto a single dedicated computer, you may wish to set-up a server running VMWare's vSphere Hypervisor ("ESXi"). ESXi is a free program from VMware that will allow you to run multiple virtual computer on a single machine. While complete details on setting up ESXi are beyond the scope of this Guide, I include this information to help you get started.
Start by creating an account at vmware.com. Download the ESXi 5.1 .iso file for VMWare vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 from Vmware’s web-site, convert the ISO file to a CD or DVD, boot your machine from the CD/DVD. This will wipe your entire hard drive and convert your computer to an amazing server that can run multiple operating systems at the same time. VMware.com will also provide you with a free registration key that you must type into your server, otherwise it will expire in 60 days.
When you create a Virtual Machine, give it access to all the cores that your computer has (i.e. an i3 will have 2 cores, an i5 will have 4 cores). I have found that 2GB of RAM, 2 cores, and 30GB of hard drive space is more than enough to allow Windows 7 to act as a Media Center. You’ll need to add another drive to your VM for storage of Recorded TV. ESXi has the ability to access multiple driver on one computer and also to mount NFS network shares as drives.
You’ll also need to download the VMWare vSphere Client 5.1 software from VMWare.com, which you’ll install on another computer and then use to remotely install Windows 7 onto the ESXi machine and to then access the Windows 7 Virtual Machine to make changes.
Video pauses during Live TV/Active Recordings
While XBMC can play a .wtv file, it is not capable of recognizing that a .wtv file is increasing in size while you’re playing it. For that reason, XBMC will encounter difficulties playing Live TV and active recordings from WMC. For example, if you begin playing a .wtv file in XBMC that is 15 minutes long at the time you start playing, that file will only play for 15 minutes, even if the file increases in length to 30 minutes while you’re watching it. ServerWMC overcomes this limitation by converting (remuxing) active recordings and Live TV to a .ts file, which XBMC can continue playing even as it grows in size.
The development team has optimized ServerWMC so that Live TV and Active Recordings will start as soon as possible after you attempt to watch them. As a result of this, the buffer used by ServerWMC is very small. Some users may find that this small buffer size causes XBMC to pause or report that it is buffering during TV Playback.
If you experience instances where XBMC repeatedly pauses or buffers when you are watching Live TV/Active Recordings, you may be able to fix the problem by increasing the size of the buffer used by ServerWMC to remux that content. Doing so may eliminate the pauses and buffering, but it will increase the amount of time you have to wait when starting playback and changing channels.
To use this feature, you must be using ServerWMC version 220.127.116.11, or later.
Open ServerWMC on your Windows computer. Click on the “debug” tab. Click the “Edit Settings File” button. If you don't see that button, hit "s" on your keyboard and it should appear.
Windows notepad will open and you will be editing a file called “config.xml”.
Locate and edit the following two entries to change the buffer size:
To change the buffer delay for Live TV:
To change the buffer delay for an Active Recording:
Change these entries from 0 to the number of milliseconds by which you want to increase the buffer. Remember that these entries are in milliseconds (1,000ms is 1 second). When you’re done, click “File” at the top of the window and then select “save”. Close Notepad by clicking the “X” in the upper right hand corner.
Then click the “Reload Settings” button on the Debug screen.
Warning: Be careful when editing the config.xml file. If you make a mistake, ServerWMC will crash a few seconds after you click "Reload Settings." If that happens, ServerWMC will rebuild the config.xml file the next time you start it using the default values.
You may wish to backup your config.xml file before you start. You can either copy the file from its default location, or while you're in notepad, hit CTRL-A to select all and then CTRL-C to copy the contents of the .xml file to the Clipboard, and then paste it into a backup file.
You can copy and edit the config.xml file from here:
Corrupted Video Database (“Movies” and “TV Shows” either missing or duplicated)
If Video database becomes corrupted, you can reset it by doing any one of the following three options:
1. Go to System/File Manager in XBMC. Select “Profile Directory,” and then “Database” and then right click/guide on “MyVideos75.db,” and select Delete.
2. SSH into the machine and do the following:
3. If SAMBA is enabled, you can also use a Windows computer to access it:
Then delete the "MyVideo" file
After you have done one of the three options, above, reboot the machine by selecting the power button in the bottom right hand corner of the XBMC interface or by typing “reboot” at the command prompt.
After you delete the database, you will then have to edit each source and reset its content to Movies or TV Shows in order to force XBMC to rescan those files.
Corrupted PVR Database (Guide Missing Data/Recordings Missing)
If the PVR database becomes corrupted, you can delete it from within XBMC:
System/Settings/Live TV/General/Reset the PVR Database
As soon as you delete it, XBMC will reload the PVR data without a reboot.
Commmand line options
Using SSH, the following commands will turn off, reboot, suspend, and hibernate the machine: