Tutorial: How to build the best Raspberry Pi media server

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Who requirements the likes of Sky Anytime or Virgin Media’s on-demand services when you can build your own personally tailored digital media library?

Imagine having the ability to watch your movies and TV shows or hear your entire music collection from any room in your home without having to dig out CDs, endure DVD intros or browse a collection of material, 90 per cent of which you’ve no interest in. In this tutorial, we will show you exactly what kit you should make that dream a truth.

We will open with a glimpse at how you can build your own affordable set-top box for accessing your digital media using the functional Raspberry Pi, and then we will reveal what you’ve to try to find in the computer – COMPUTER or Mac – that you plan to press into service as your media center, saving, organising and delivering media to every other gadget on your network.

We will also take a comprehensive look at XBMC, our selection for both media server and customer. We will expose the different methods you can get it onto your system, plus how you can personalize it to cover all your media sharing and playback demands, plus utilize it in combination with another popular media server – Plex.

Build a set-top box

Even the most intelligent TVs are not that smart – yet. If you are in the marketplace for a set-top box providing easy access to internet media as well as the video, music and pictures saved on your network, then you could select a plug-and-play system such as the Roku LT or WD TELEVISION Live for around ₤ 50/US$50 or ₤ 90/US$110/AU$150, respectively.

Both have their constraints – you are tied into whatever online services they’ve the ability to provide, for instance – so why not develop your own custom-made set-top box utilizing the Raspberry Pi Model B? Buy it from the official RS Parts store and you can also easily add the additional components you’ll need, such as a PSU, case, SD card and cables, although you may want to source a suitable 8GB Course 10 SD card from in other places for optimal rate.

You’ll also need your very own keyboard and mouse to set it up – non-Bluetooth wireless models must work, however you may wish to disconnect the USB connector and plug it back in after restarting the Raspberry Pi each time. Once set up, nevertheless, it ought to likewise choose numerous remotes, consisting of the official XBMC remote app for Android and iPhone.

The Raspberry Pi has enough grunt to work as a media server – such as with SqueezePlug – however for the purposes of this tutorial we are suggesting you utilize it as a low-cost media facility only.

Build a media server

How to build a perfect Raspberry Pi media server

While you can use your daily PC or Mac as your media server, it’s most likely simpler to press into service a dedicated machine for the job. This might be an older computer system otherwise predestined for the scrapheap, or you may be in the market to buy a brand brand-new desktop or laptop computer for the job – if so, a living room-friendly box such as those provided by Zotac fits the bill perfectly.

Either means, you need to make sure your wannabe media server meets the following requirements, which will make it efficient in streaming HD video to the rest of your network.

First, it requires either a beefy processor (2GHz dual-core processor or much better) or graphics chipset that supports hardware increased video decoding. Chipsets meeting these requirements consist of Nvidia’s GeForce 8 collection or later on, Intel’s GMA X4500HD or later, and AMD’s Radeon R700 (HD4000) or later on.

So practically any modern-day PCI-E graphics card will fit the bill actually, indicating that updating will cost you next to absolutely nothing. The sad thing is, older Computers with the diminished AGP slot will have to rely on the processor being beefy adequate to manage the strain.

How to build a perfect Raspberry Pi media server

In regards to memory, 4GB is adequate, while you might wish to examine the fastest boot media you can find, so powering up your server takes seconds rather than minutes. That indicates a fast SD card, USB flash drive or SSD hard drive – assuming your media is saved on another drive, you only require a boot partition of around 8-32GB in size to cover your needs.

You’ll certainly likewise need a hard drive to save your media on – internal or USB 3.0 is more effective, however even USB 2.0 is quick enough for streaming purposes.

Depending on where you site your media server – if it’s doubling up as a media center in the living-room, then it may be concealed under the TELEVISION – you might also want to consider spending for a wireless keyboard/mouse mix. For those on a tight budget plan, Ebuyer’s own Xenta Wireless Touchpad Keyboard is a happy choice, and we’ve actually checked it effectively with XBMCbuntu.

One final factor to consider is your network. If you can plug your media server straight into your router, then that’s all well and good, but if it’s too far away then be prepared to invest in a HomePlug/Powerline network adaptor from the similarity Faculty-X if you discover HD files faltering over Wi-Fi. Pick a 500Mbps pass-through model with Gigabit ports for optimal performance.

Choose your media server

How to build a perfect Raspberry Pi media server

As you are going to use this equipment as a dedicated media server, there’s no should install Windows – or indeed a vanilla Linux build – on it. Rather, we suggest you set up a personalised version of XBMC configured to work directly out of the box.

You’ve actually got 2 fundamental options here. OpenElec is the more streamlined version, perfect for lower-end PCs and created to run direct from an SD card or USB flash drive. Those desiring optional access to the underlying Ubuntu OS for more advanced tweaks ought to consider XBMCbuntu instead.

In both cases you’ll have to download the right version for your principal chipset: XBMCbuntu provides a selection of AMD or Intel/Nvidia, while OpenElec has develops for ION, Combination, Intel and Atom to name a few. If you can’t determine the right one making use of the Frequently Asked Question, pick among the 2 common constructs.

XBMCbuntu downloads a basic ISO file that you burn to a CD or USB stick. OpenElec is set up from a USB drive, and a Windows installer (create_livestick. exe) is provided to make the procedure as simple as possible.

You then merely boot from your CD or USB stick and follow the guidelines to either run as a Live CD or set up to your picked drive – internal hard drive, USB stick or SD card.

Configuring XBMC

How to build a perfect Raspberry Pi media server

Take the time to acquaint yourself with how XBMC works – you’ll discover both the XBMC Wiki and OpenElec Wiki are important below. Start by running with the System) Settings area to configure how XBMC is established – if you are utilizing it as a media server, for example, go to Services) UPnP to select Share video and music libraries with UPnP, and change it on.

If you plan to conceal away your media server from view, and don’t want to have it hooked up to a keyboard or screen, then select Solutions) Webserver to make it possible for you to manage your media server from another computer system on your network by means of its web browser. Don’t like the default skin? Modification it from the System) Setups) Appearance) Skin area. If you are wishing for a vertical theme, attempt PM3. HD.

When it concerns including video and music to your libraries, make the effort to ensure they are called correctly with the help of our guide. This guarantees they’ll appear properly in XBMC, making it easier to discover the TELEVISION episode or film you are looking for.

One of XBMC’s greatest plus points is its adaptability, thanks to the dozens of plug-ins and add-ons that make it a lot more flexible. The XBMC Wiki reveals ways to install them, and you’ll find all types of goodies hidden away.

Make sure you explore the Videos area if your server doubles up as a media facility – below you’ll discover add-ons for accessing all kinds of online content from worldwide, consisting of catch-up TELEVISION services.

XBMCbuntu tweaks

How to build a perfect Raspberry Pi media server

If you’ve actually installed XBMCbuntu, then you likewise have access to the underlying Linux setup. To access XBMCbuntu, click the power button in XBMC, however choose Quit. Select XBMCbuntu from the drop-down menu and log in making use of the password you produced during the XBMCbuntu installment process.

From below you’ll find yourself in a modified variation of Ubuntu. Click Beginning) System Tools) Synaptics Package Manager to include additional components. Use the Search tool to find exactly what you are trying to find – you just actually have to gain access to XBMCbuntu to add elements not available to XBMC itself, such as exFAT-Fuse if your media is kept on an ExFAT-formatted disk.

Speaking of exFAT, you’ll also have to install gedit in order to add the requisite command to the fstab file to make XBMCbuntu immediately mount your exFAT drive each time you begin your media server – something like / dev/sdb1 / media/exfat exfat-fuse defaults, nobootwait, individual must do the trick.

When you have finished tweaking in XBMCbuntu, make certain you click Start) Logout) Logout, then pick XBMC and log back in. This ensures your PC boots directly into XBMC the next time you start it.

Plex Media Server

How to build a perfect Raspberry Pi media server

If you are wedded to Plex Media Server instead of XBMC, then installing it as your principal media server inside XBMCbuntu is easy – you then utilize XBMC as your media center on this PC.

First, download and install the Ubuntu variation of Plex Media Server, then set it up via Beginning) Sound and Video) Plex Media Manager. Finally, download both PleXBMC and PleXMBC Helper to your Downloads folder.

To complete the configuration of Plex with XBMC, visit System) Settings) Add-Ons) Install from zip file. Select House) Downloads and install each add-on in turn. You are now able to browse your Plex media from within XBMC (choose Videos) Add-ons) PleXBMC to do so).

Switch on and gain access to the server

How to build a perfect Raspberry Pi media server

When it concerns turning XBMC into a media server, you’ll discover the setup you need – Share video and music collections through UPnP – under Setups) Solutions) UPnP.

Once made it possible for, you can access any video and music contributed to your XBMC library from an additional UPnP-capable gadget on your network, including various other computer systems, that Raspberry Pi set-top box you produced earlier and a lot of clever Televisions.

You can likewise access your media via your tablet or phone – you’ll find an official free of cost XBMC app for Android, while iPhone, iPad and iPod touch individuals can try the likes of AirPlayer or Media Link Player Lite apps.

If you’ve actually got Plex Media Server running in the background, you can likewise buy the Plex apps with the pertinent app store. Keep in mind that these will just provide you access to any content you have set up utilizing Plex Media Server, however.