How to Build a Raspberry Pi Media Centre with XBian

By: Edgar Pisani

Did you know that you can convert the Raspberry Pi into a media centre?

There is a distribution called XBian that is an optimised version of Kodi for the Raspberry Pi. Kodi transforms any computer into a media centre.

There are thousands of Kodi Add Ons you can download to stream Internet TV through your Raspberry Pi. You can also use it as an Airplay, LDNA or uPNP player, making the functionality of the Raspberry Pi very similar to that of an Apple TV, but open and free, with no iTunes!

1. Get the parts you need

You will need: A Raspberry Pi 2 Model B with 1GB of Ram, a 8GB micro SD card with XBian, a HDMI cable, a power adapter, a usb keyboard and mouse for the installation, a network cable or a WiFi USB adapter and a router connected to the Internet.

The easiest thing to do is to get a kit with all the parts you need and add a remote control or a keyboard.

Note: XBian is not included in NOOBS. You will have to create a SD card with XBian as explained in the tuturial Writing an image into and SD card for the Raspberry Pi.

 

To build your own media centre, you can get any of the following kits. If you prefer to get a SD card with XBian, OSMC or OpenElec  instead of NOOBS, just write it down in the special instructions when you place an order:

 

 

Raspberry Pi Noobs Kit Transparent - WiFi

Kit includes: Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, Noobs 8GB micro SD card with Adapter, Raspberry Pi black enclosure, HDMI 2m cable, USB power adapter - 5V 2A, USB type A to micro B 1m cable, Network RJ45 1m cable and WiFi USB adaptor with 5dBi antenna: better reception equals faster transfers and no hickups with HD movies, making this adapter ideal for media centres.

$100.80 In stock.
Raspberry Pi Noobs Kit Black - WiFi

Kit includes: Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, Noobs 8GB micro SD card with Adapter, Raspberry Pi black enclosure, HDMI 2m cable, USB power adapter - 5V 2A, USB type A to micro B 1m cable, Network RJ45 1m cable and WiFi USB adaptor with 5dBi antenna: better reception equals faster transfers and no hickups with HD movies, making this adapter ideal for media centres.

$101.80 In stock.
Raspberry Pi Noobs Kit Frosted - WiFi

Kit includes: Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, Noobs 8GB micro SD card with Adapter, Raspberry Pi frosted enclosure, HDMI 2m cable, USB power adapter - 5V 2A, USB type A to micro B 1m cable, Network RJ45 1m cable and WiFi USB adaptor with 5dBi antenna: better reception equals faster transfers and no hickups with HD movies, making this adapter ideal for media centres.

$101.80 In stock.
Raspberry Pi Noobs Kit Rainbow - WiFi

Kit includes: Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, Noobs 8GB micro SD card with Adapter, Raspberry Pi rainbow enclosure, HDMI 2m cable, USB power adapter - 5V 2A, USB type A to micro B 1m cable, Network RJ45 1m cable and WiFi USB adaptor with 5dBi antenna: better reception equals faster transfers and no hickups with HD movies, making this adapter ideal for media centres.

$107.80 In stock.

And then you can add a wireless keyboard, like these ones:

Miniature Wireless USB Keyboard and Touchpad

Add a miniature wireless controller to your computer project with this combination keyboard and touchpad. We found the smallest wireless USB keyboard available, a mere 152mm x 59mm x 12.5mm! It's small but usable to make a great accompaniment to a computer or Raspberry Pi. The keyboard itself is battery powered. The keyboard communicates back to the computer via 2.4 GHz wireless link (not Bluetooth).

$33.15 In stock.
Wireless Keyboard + Wireless Mouse + Learning TV Remote

The perfect media centre remote control. It combines a wireless keyboard, a wireless mouse and a learning infrared remote control. The wireless keyboard and mouse use a 2.4GHz USB dongle. The learning infrared allows the remote control to learn the commands from your existing infrared TV / Amplifier / DVD Player / Blue Ray Player remote controls. Simplify your life with a single remote control.

$52.00 In stock.

You can also check our catalogue for other options.

3. Connect to your TV, and finish software installation

Connect the Pi to the TV via HDMI cable. Plug in your USB keyboard and mouse or the USB adapter of the remote control into one of the USB ports of the Pi. Connect the Pi to the router with the Ethernet cable or plug the USB Wi-Fi adapter into one of the USB ports. Pop the micro SD card with XBian into the Pi's card reader and connect the power adapter into the micro USB socket to turn it on.

4. Set up Kodi

Follow our tutorial First Boot Configuration for a Raspberry Pi Running XBian  to learn how to set the network, language, country and timezone.

Then you can follow with the tutorial Network Setup for a Raspberry Pi Running XBian to learn how to connect the Raspberry Pi to the network or change the network settings and check its IP address.

Once you have finished with the basic settings you can set the audio output to HDMI and Analogue (System->Settings->System->Audio Output).

You can the connect Kodi to your storage devices and set up a media library, you can go to wiki.xbmc.org to find out how.

5. Install XBMC/Kodi Video Add-ons

The great thing about XBMC/Kodi is that by installing add-ons you can extend its functionality. Is like apps in a phone. You can get add-ons to watch ABC iView, or listen to the radio in Pandora, or watch Internet video strings.

XBian comes with a SuperRepo installed, making the installation process a breeze.

Please check the XBMC/Kodi tutorials to get the most out of your XBMC/Kodi installation.

6. Use your phone as a XBMC Remote control

There are a couple of apps that will allow you to use your phone or tablet as an XBMC remote control. The most widely used are XBMC Remote and Yatse.

7. Get Video Codecs (Optional)

If you are planning to watch avi or video files that are encoded in MPEG-2 or VC1, you will need to get MPEG-2 license keys and VC-1 license keys.

The license keys are unique to every Raspberry Pi. To be able to get the license keys you will have to find out the 16 digit serial code of your Raspberry Pi's CPU.

To do so, in XBMC/Kodi go to System->System Info->Hardware

The following images illustrate this process:

XBMC/Kodi System
XBMC/Kodi System -> System Info
XBMC/Kodi System -> System Info -> Hardware

Make a note of the 16 digit CPU serial number and then go to http://www.raspberrypi.com/license-keys/ where you can buy the license keys.

Once on the keys website, click on MPEG-2 license key, once in the product page, enter the CPU serial number you copied before and add to cart.

Then click on VC-1 license key, once in the product page, enter the CPU serial number you copied before and add to cart.

Proceed to checkout and pay for you video licenses.

Eventually you will receive an email with the video keys.

To enter the video keys in your system go to:

Programs->XBian-Config

XBian-Config has several sections, to enter the keys, select the system section and press enter.

Then enter the keys you received on the email in MPEG2 Codec License and VC1 Codec key.

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