This thread is a continuation of the part 1 thread for XBMC 10.0 (Dharma) found here:
WIP- Still more information to be added and screen shots to be updated
This thread is to replace the last which has just exceeded its 1000 post count- thank you all for your participation so far!
I would also like to thank all of those providing support and advise in this thread who I would like make sure are recognised in their efforts in this thread, perticularly JeffD, stevos and tredman
Please make sure not to be a scrooge and use the "Thank" button for anyone that has helped you
Back to the subject.
With more and more people taking the dive into HTPCs, its a very common question as to which front end is best and what for. XBMC is one of the popular choices on this forum, but some people appear to fear that XBMC is complicated to setup and get working right.
So the purpose of this thread is to show you how to setup XBMC and hopefully give you all the confidence to give it a go by seeing just how simple and easy it is to configure, and to offer support for any xbmc questions you may have.
So what is XBMC?
XBMC (in full Xbox Media Centre- although no longer supporting Xboxs and never supported on the 360) is an all in one self contained media centre that allows you to manage all your media quickly and easily without having to piggyback of anything else, and is also one of the most cosmetically pleasing front ends around.
What can it do that others cant?
Well for this question you're best off reviewing robbos comparions sticky, however what I can now gladly report is as of the latest patched Eden version, XBMC CAN NOW NATIVLEY BITSTREAM HD AUDIO WITH NO TWEEKING NEEDED AT ALL- As far as I know, currently XBMC is the only front end to offer this feature in such a painless way and definatley means that from an "all in one playback front end" XBMC should tick all the boxes....
What cant it do?
Technically speaking XBMCs main limitation and the reason you may look elsewhere is its lack of native live tv/PVR support in its stable releases- dont look away yet though. So whilst it is perfectly capable of playing back files recorded from such PVR software, the native releases do not have any user interface for such features. I've put a basic workout for this below which incorperates using Windows Media Centres live tv features for a simple solution...
However, one of the many benefits of being Open Source means that developers can have a good play around and do what they want with it.... this as result means there are whats known as "Nightly" builds of XBMC which DO incorperate PVR support. Now, I must point out here that as these are "nightly" builds and therefore technically "beta" in their nature these may not be quite as stable as native released, but Im assured by users that actually the latest builds are very very stable. As I dont have a DVB card in my HTPC theres not too much more I can say on this, but for more information on these builds I recommend you go here- http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=HOW-TO:Watch_TV_in_XBMC#Windows and http://forum.xbmc.org/forumdisplay.php?fid=136
The following setup guide will cover everything found in native builds so will not cover the PVR setup/configuration (feel free to create the steps and PM them to me though for incorperation).
Will I need to install anything extra to watch all of my media, be it blurays, dvds, etc?
In a nutshell, No. XBMC comes with all codecs for (as far as I know) all different media formats, and can play anything from dvds, blurays, isos, mkvs, etc nativly without the need to install any 3rd party applications what so ever.
The only limitation to this is bluray discs directly from the drive and this is no different for other front end availible, due to encryption on a bluray disc (which is normally removed when you backup) you will need what is known as an "On-the-fly decryper" which basically allows your PC to trick the disc that it is in a normal bluray player. There are a few different options for this, but keeping it free I would recommend DVDFabs free decrypter- I wont link it here but youl find it on their website.
What about metadata and all that fancy artwork, surely thats tricky to manage??
No, this is one of the many things that is managed within the application and is very simple to setup and is mostly automatic.
Do I have to pay anything for it?
No, XBMC is Open Source which means it is made through a collaboration of developers coming together and sharing information. Unlike some media managers, XBMC gives you every bit of functionality absolutely free but if you decide to use it on going and can appreciate all the work developers have clearly put in, visit XBMC and make a donation
Does it support remote controls?
Yes, I wide verity from Imon, normal MCE's, to Harmonys. It is also controllable via apps available for the likes of the iphone.
Sounds great, but let me guess, its only for Windows right?
Wrong, XBMC supports most platforms from Windows, Macs, Linux, even ipad and the iphone!
Ok Ok, but let me guess, I'll have to have some really specifc and technical file structure for my files?
Im glad you asked, in a nutshell No.
Unlike many many other front ends, file renaming and structuring is incredibly flexible on XBMC and it will read and understand most logical setups.
I keep my folder structures simple, I will simple have drive:\Format (blurays/dvds)\movie files (Ie D:\Blurays\Dark Knight
But thats not to say you cant have D:\Dark Knight, or whatever other random combination you can think of. XBMC can understand films based on their folder name or the file name within the folder, and because of its excellent scrapers, you DONT have to have complex file names like Dark.Knight.2010.1080p.LifeStoryHere.UhhWhatAWasteOfTime - It will know all of the key points of a but actually looking at it- so it will see and know if it has DTS, or DTSHD soundtracks, whether its 720p, 1080p, etc etc.
This logical approach is just the same for music. My music files are a mess, I have a Music folder- and within that I have direct mp3s sat there, but also folders by artist and within that individual albums- XBMC can see all of them no problem at all.
The only slight change you may experience is TV Show layout/naming if youve come from another front end, but again my understanding of the layout here is also logical and there are a few ways you can do it. File naming is important here though.
I personally use Folder\TV Show Name\Season\ season files (which need to be named showname.S01.E01 (S01 meaning Seaon 1, E01 for Episode)), I believe though you could easily just have TV Shows\TV Show Name\Files.
e.g of of mine is F:\TV Shows\Lost\Season 1\Lost.S01.E01 - and in XBMC I would simply add the "TV Shows" folder.
More on TV show structures Here showing the many options.
Ok I'm intreeged, where to I start?
First, go to Downloads | XBMC and select your platform (windows, mac, etc) and download
Got it! Now what?
See the guide below