This blog is written so that I can spew my thoughts on a cheap networked hometheater system. I use as much opensource software as I can, but try to keep everything as easy as I can. When I am done, I will create a tutorial to sum up what I learned.

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Wednesday, 16 November 2011

back to work

Well I've been in the states awhile, but I'm back!
So with the internet working, I've downloaded the new uTorrent for mac, which has scheduling!  Now I have to figure out how to get wired internet to my room for my pc and linux server.  Once that is done, I'll start intalling programs to the server to help with managing and downloading files. 
I think tomorrow, I'll add the advanced launcher to my iMacs XBMC set up, and see what it is like.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Router 2

Well I finally got my router working.  Took some intense googling!  problem is that my router is in the closet under the stairs, and its the only switch.  I can't attach my 2 PC's (as they don't have wireless)
I have to work on that.  Maybe I'll set up my computers on the desk across the hall for some set up time.  But i'm using an old CRT monitor, so moving and placing computers can get pretty hard.  I'm in the states (Bleh!) until sunday, so I'll see if I think of a solution then.  If any one knows how to attach a mac and pc by ethernet to share a wireless connection, give me a shout!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011


Well, I realized that I can’t set up my router…   So my blog has been slowing down.  I have set up utorrent on my PC and set up CouchPotato and SickBeard to go with it, but again, I have no internet connection, so they don’t do anything.  I will also start to work with MediaFrontPage on this. 
Once I do have my connection I will do the following:
1)Continue to set up my Linux server.  I need to start downloading the proper software on to it.
2)which means I can start working on my guide.  One of the purposes of this blog is to act as a guide for those who wish to have the same setup.  The guide will make that available without the whole story.
3)Start testing out configurations for CP,uT,SB,MFP.  I will first have these set up on my XP system.  This way, I get to know how the programs work before I start using them on Linux.  
4)Start downloading media.  I would like to create a large enough archive and doing so means starting asap.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011


I am honeslty having such a hard time getting my wireless internet to work.  this is prohibitying my productivity, as I cannot download any programs for my server, or any add-ons for my XBMC test rig.  If anyone knows how to get a lynksis valet working, please say so in the comment.
Once I get the internet working,  I'll do the following:
Download the advanced launcher plug in for XBMC to test with emulators and games.
Start downloading all my programs for the server.  Once this is done, I can have the first part of my guide ready.  Also, I will be able to do some testing for Mediafrontpage, sickbeard and Couchpotato.  Still looking for a RSS torrenter for music.  If there was one for games too, that would be awesome!

Adding storage to your server

I'm just looking for storage and it seems that the cheapest option is the WD Green 3TB drive.  It is priced at $180CDN for $60 a TB.  This is the absolute cheapest per TB.  Its not extreamly fast and is best for just media, nothing heavy, but if all your doing is added more storage to your media server, this is the best.
Edit Nov 9th
Hard drive prices have dramatically increased due to the flood in WD's plants
Seagate has also came out with a similarly prices 3TB HDD which scores better on PC Maximums test

Monday, 31 October 2011

Rom and Saved game locations

It looks like saving the roms on the server will be easy to do, using a rom managment tool.  Also, for older windows games (say pre-2000 ish) it looks putting the saved games to on the server will work fine as well.  The real problem will be the newer games.  They automatically save their games in a designated folder.  There are no clear options to change that folder.
Any ideas would be helpfull.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


I've decided that I will also create a list of instructions for this process.  I've already finished the instructions for installing the server.  I will be building a basic media server, then I find instructions for the more advanced stuff.  Once I have done it, I will look back at it all, and see if that was the best way to do things.  I will write the instructions and then recreate my server by following the instructions.  I will then post the instructions.  Maybe by that time, I'll be good enough at linux that I can just create a package and have it automatically install and configure everything for you.  Hey, a man can dream.
In reality though, its all to document my adventure and provide everyone with the resources to create a free media system.  The instructions will also provide me with a way to look back and see what I've done if something goes wrong. 

Ubuntu Installed!

I have sucessfully install Ubuntu server on a PC.  It was pretty straight forward.  but I have yet to get my router working, so I haven't been able to download any programs. Currently I know how to log in, find the help menu, and then turn off the computer.
It's awesome!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Server (Finally)

So I've decided how to run my server!  I'm using instructions from here.  I'm currently downloading the Ubuntu server ISO.  Really excited for this.  This linux server means every system can use it.  I'm slightly worried about the power consumption of my box, but it isn't stopping me.  I will hopefully be putting together the server tonight.  I do all my program downloading at work due to large bandwith.  My home internet sucks and is usually stuck at 3-4mps download.  But it seems that I have to do alot of updating from the actual server it's self.  Dang!  Also, the instructions use things like TED (which suck, I'd rather use sickbear) and don't include media front page or CP.  I'lll do some research on these to find installation instructions.
I also found a good site at home yesturday, but I didn't copy the address, so I have no idea where to find it. 

Monday, 24 October 2011

live vs W7 vs OpenElec

I am still working on choosing how to run my main HTPC.  I ran XBMC on my wxp desktop, but when I woke it up from standby, it still required me to log in to the windows user (the PC only has one user, and it doesn't have a password).  I'm reading about OpenElec and it looks pretty good.  It can use add-ons, which is awesome.  http://lifehacker.com/5851924/openelec-is-a-hassle+free-xbmc-distribution-for-home-theater-pcs
But then again, I would like to use my games.  If I can find a way to run it on WXP without ever seeing the log in screen, it would be awesome!  That way, I could easily close XBMC and work on the back end with no coding knowledge.  In that case, I'd just leave the computer on sleep.


I'm currently looking at a Linux server.  I've done some research and it looks like thats the only way to have it work for both Mac and Windows.  I've been doing some research on linux and will hopfully be learning how to use it.  It uses the comand line alot, which I'm not familiar with.  I have a computer ready to become a server though, so this should be a free endevour. 
In other news, I drilled some holes in my house and ran some cable.  There is now network access at the main computer, the main TV, and the downstairs bedroom.  I also have a put my wireless router there and placed a computer in there aswell.  This will become my server.  Notice there is no power going to it, this will probably come tonight.  I think I'll build a couple doors on it.  I'm quite excited for that.  Even if there is not a home theater front at the moment, it will really help future implementation of it

Friday, 21 October 2011

Media Front Page

I just discovered a program called "MediaFrontPage"  This program work on your HTPC and runs with certian programs to automate all your processes. It can work with SickBeard, Couchpotato, uTorrent, and XBMC.  It looks like it works on Linux.  This could really help and get rid of a lot of extra work on my end.
I'm starting to feel that I actually understand some of this stuff now.
PS SickBeard can be used for torrents as well as NZB.... YAYA!.  Now to find Headphones for torrenting.

XBMC forums

I have been looking at some XBMC forums and there are some really cool feature that are avalible.
I really like the program which puts trailers infront of your movies to give it more of a theater experence. 
The other is a program which looks at your data base and checks which movies you don't have.
I'd like to see these both interated with couchpotato.  Images getting to the end of a trailer, and having a button pop up asking "Do you want this?"  This would be so cool.
Or looking through a list of the movies you don't have and clicking "Want" beside each.
I also found a forum about sombody trying to do something really similar to me: http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?t=107931
There is also talk of creating a XBMC Backend http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?t=105883
The Trakt addon also looks cool and it seems very popular.  Keeping my eye on that one

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Creating My Home Network

So I figured out that you don't need a server but to have a central storage space, I do require either a router with a USB hub (Asus RT-N56U) or a NAS.  I really should add a NAS.  There is this opensource program called FREENAS which would work, but I think I would have a hard time adding programs to it (I know it can torrent, just click here but I don't think it can run any programs).  I could leave on computer to be the torrent/sort/scrap machine (Using these instructions) and just send all my media to the NAS once that is done (I think event ghost can do this for me).  But then I need to have 2 computers dedicated to the back end.  I only have 1 working spare computer.  I'll probably have to find another crap computer to be a NAS.

Monday, 17 October 2011


It seems that today is about getting all the correct research done. 
I found a remote that will hopefully work well. http://www.riimini.com/rii-mini-i6-2-4ghz-wireless-keyboard-with-touchpad-universal-ir-remote-control-black/
Look alittle big, but it has built in IR and bluetooth.  This means it can turn on the TV and then work with the HTPC.  It's alittle more expensive and its kinda looks like crap, but its back lit and works with everything out of the box. 
Here is a link for getting boxee remote to work on linux xbmc http://askubuntu.com/questions/20543/how-do-i-get-a-boxee-remote-working
Heres a comparison:

So who wins?  Well I have no idea yet.  As this hardware is not nesisarry and will only be used in the end, then I think I can wait to decide.  Heck, maybe boxee v2 will come out with backlighting and an accelerometer...

But there are still other options.  XBMC has its own remote made by motorola.  It is a full on TV remote with qwerty on the back.  Or the TiVo Slide.

The XBMC Remote doesn't have backlighting, but it does have an accelerometer.  It is also a little more expensive.  TiVo slide is back lit, doesn't need an accelerometer (its a slide, not a flip).  But the TiVo really doesn't play nice with XBMC.  It's the same in price as the Rii, but still astetically, the Boxee is the best.  Amazing even.  I love that remote!

Watching my Media everywhere

Recently, I came across a program called TVersity.  This allows you to access your media from anywhere over the internet.  Now it does require Directx 9.0 which may seem ok, but none of my computers have that.  All my computer are from my office, and I only get them when they are 3 years old.  That said I will have to eventually pony out for some sort of server, so hopfully this will work with that.


I have been talking about this server which hosts basically everything.  But I don't own a server and know nothing about them.  So today and tomorrow, I will be researching servers and will be looking to see:
The system requirments
the price of the operation system
If I really need a server, can I network with out one and have everything run off a regualer XP/W7 computer?
If not, can I run XP/W7 programs on a windows server rig?

I will be using SmallNetBuilder.com for most of my reseach.

1,4,5,7,9 Done!
3,6 Coming soon!
2,8 No work has been done

The New List

Here is the new, more refined reference list
1) Have all media accessible from every computer on the network
2) Be able to access my media remotley
3) use air play with XBMC
4) Have TV shows automatically downloaded to my server, be scraped by EMM and be added to XBMC
5) Have all new movies automatically downloaded to my server, be scraped by EMM and be added to XBMC
6) Have all my saved games data/roms/ stored on a server
7) Have all my games/emulators on each computer (disclamer: if a computer cannot handle a program, it will
not be on there
8) Have this all controlled by a simple remote, like the boxee remote
9) Able to start up quickly and directly to XBMC on my main media station and to be able to access this all
through XBMC on all other computers

Updates to come soon!

Newly working PCs

This weekend, I was working on 2 PC's which my office gave to me, and I have gotten them both working.  I will be using them as testing for my XBMC installations.  One will become a XBMC Live htpc and the other will have XBMC on top of windows XP.  This will provide me with a place to test the laucher setup for both.  I also have a laptop from work with a broken screen and no hard drive.  The screen doesn't matter as I could hook it up to a monitor.  But I do need a hard drive for it. 

PS still working on that updated list.  Really looking at what I want out of this system.

Friday, 14 October 2011

XBMC installation

I'm trying to decide on how I want to run my XBMC installation.  Should I run it on W7 or XBMC live?
W7 will take awhile to start up.  And then i will have to navigate to XBMC and click run.  This is ok for any secondary computers in the house, but not for my main HTPC. 
I could leave it on stand by the whole time, but that will probably use alot of electricity. 
I could use XBMC live, but then all my emulators will probably have to be linux based (Here, im runnign on the assuption that you could use launcher to lanch programs from the server.  This could be 100% wrong or just really hard) .  And live takes 1:30 m to open any ways
I could use OpenELC, but that gets rid of all the plug in's

This going to say, life would be about 100x easier if xbmc live was faster and could open programs from a server

Installing couch potato

Couch Potato for mac gave me a bit of a hard time.  Heres some instructions.
Click OSX/Linux on the website.  A folder will download. To install it, you must down load python and run the installation.  Then look for and open the Python Interpreter (using spotlight).  Go file>open.  look for the file couchpotato.py (should be right above the thing that looks like it should be teh couchpotato app)  open it.  Terminal will come up, hit enter.  you must leave these terminal windows open to run couchpotato.  CouchPotato will open in your default browser. 
I'm honestly not sure how well this work.  I have to test it a little more.  I scheduled a couple movies but they didn't show up in my torrent client.  I'm going to read through the life hacker guide.  I know its a guide to set it up for the 'downloader which must not be named', but the site says CP is cool for torrent too. 

Actually, just from reading that artical again, I think I realized whats up.  I have to click the gear icon (settings) and set all my preferences.

Now there is a couchpotato app for iphone to choose/set your movies, but its only avabile on jailbroken phones.  I'm not jailbraking my phone.  ever

1,7,9 Solved
3,4, 5, 6 Almost there!
2, 8, no research has been done

PS you are all do for an update on number 8, its coming.  I just have to refine my goals

Thursday, 13 October 2011

AutoDownload new music

I've been talking about autodownloading movies and tv shows
I want to say that this isn't quite legal (an neither are alot of roms for emulators)  I currently do not use any of these solutions and I legal own all the media I use, everything here has been hypothetical so far
That being said, I have found a autodownload for music as well.  It uses the 'downloader which must not be named' which kinda sucks.  Between that, sickbread and couchpotato being optimized for 'downloader which must not be named', I'm really thinking of starting an account ( you have to pay for it though, $10-$15 a month).  The only thing they're missing is autodownloading games when they come out (alittle over kill, I know).  If you know of a good torrent version, (of this or sickbread) shout it out in the comments!

Gaming Center!

I found this link in my fav's and it will really help with number 6 and 7
I should be able to store the roms on the server this way
For keeping saved games on the server, i have no idea how to do this, it just seems like it should work.  I will be looking into this
From now on i will also keep track of which items i've solved at the bottom of each post

1,5,7,9 Solved
3,4,6 Almost there!
2, 8, no research has been done

Media Network Diagram

Here is a diagram of my goal.
Well, my goal if there is no TED replacement
Again, any ideas are much welcomed in the comments

TV Shows

I'm still trying to find TV Shows for PC or somthing similar (but better than TED)
If you have a suggestion, hit up the comments for sure!
If I can't find a better Windows solution than ted, I will continue to use TV shows on my mac.  But I would like to have it so it sends the torrents to the server. This would centralize everything and provide less room for error in the EventGhost workflow. I have no idea if this is possible and I will reading alot about this today.
Also, stay tuned for a diagram for those visual folk


I just did some research and it seems that CouchPotato works for torrenting! YAY
Number 5 is off the list
"CouchPotato is an automatic NZB and torrent downloader. You can keep a "movies I want"-list and it will search for NZBs/torrents of these movies every X hours. Once a movie is found, it will send it to SABnzbd or download the .nzb or .torrent to a specified directory."
When i get home, i will install it on my mac.  I will also check that Utorrent can download directly to a server and not only the computer.  I hope this doesn't effect the eventghost workflow (I will do some research into that today)

Recap for today

So lets look at the original list and see what we have a solution for

1)Watch my movies from all the computers/tvs in my house XBMC set up to grab media from server
2)Access all my media remotly No ideas about this, please feel free to share in the coments
3)Use airplay with all my computers/tvs Thanks to a similar blog with the code i just have to figure out how to use it ( i have no codeing experence)
4) Automatically download new TV shows An currently do this but only on the mac as TED sucks.  I think i could leave it on the mac and have it drop all the finished files in the server
5) Automatically download new movies  Just have to see if couchpotatoe is 'downloader which must not be name' only or if it works with torrents (cause i don't understand 'downloader which must not be name' )  If it can torrent, it will be the same as 4)
6)Access all my games and saved info from all my computers/tvs This is up in the air. I need to find out more about how emulators work. 
7) Play all games from every system ya right
8) Control this all using 1 or 2 controllers (and my iPhone) futher info needed ( i know there is alot of apps for phones, but i really like the boxee remote (minus no back lighting or acceleromitor)
9) Have this all under one skin (XBMC) Well this is kinda the main thing isn't it?

So I have a complete solution for 2 items.  But around 3 of them i just need a bit of info, and those are really the ones I care about.
I guess i should get cracking
I will be referencing this list from now on, so if you see me talking abou 3), it means 3) from this list (unless otherwise specified)

Setting up XBMC

My posts are slowly becoming more orginized.  I'm able to think through this as I write it, and it comes out very easily after I have the inital stuff out of the way.
Now i will detail my XBMC set up
I don't have XBMC installed on to anything, but i think i understand it ( from looking in the forums)
I will be using this as a guide
1) i will have to set it to look for media in the server, not the computer it is installed on.  I am assuming this is quite easy
2)I will get airplay to work with XBMC.  the following 2 links will help
3) i will have to use the launcher to start games/programs
         a)I don't know much about the launcher.  I would like to be able to lauch certian program right from the main menu (the one with music, movies, pictures, and settings) I would name it internet because it would launch Kylo (http://kylo.tv/) a 10 foot internet browser
         b)I would also use it to create a game library
4)I'd like to sync my media through out my house, so if i start a show in one room, i can continue it in another. Can you tell i read alot of life hacker?
5) I think thats about it!

Things/solutions i have been looking at

I have detailed what i want, and now i will share with you some research that i have done
Here is a link to a great tutorial for setting up a mostly awesome XBMC center
Out of that the only thing i want to change is the locations.  I want XBMC on the HTPC and the rest (TED, EMM, EventGhost, uTorrent, Renamer) on the server.  I would also like couchpotatoe, but I'm not sure if it works with torrents or only the downloader which must not be named.  Also TED sucks.  I currently use TV Shows for OSX and its awesome.  I do wish there was a RSS torrenter for games
Also if i ever buy a real computer, I'd like to run a TV tuner and turn it into a PVR. 


Hardware i currently have
one iMac
one mac mini
one samsung tv
one lynsis router
one old compaq pc
one old HP laptop
one old not working Server ( i don't know why)
enought VGA/DVI/Ethernet cables to blow your mind
one external hardrive 500GB

I want to hook up the old HP Laptop to my tv, but it has no harddrive,

what i want for a structure

I want a server which holds this all together lets me share everything to every computer
this includes saved games, music, tv shows, and movies

i want the actul computers to hold the following: 
the emulators
the game if it is a pc game
If i could get the games to be held on the server and just launched on each computer, that would be awesome (but probably impossible)

First Post

Basically this blog is a record of my endevour to create the most comprehensive home theater/media system with as little money as possible.  I work as an IT assistant in a company of around 250.  I some time receive free stuff like cords/cds so that will definatly help upset my costs. 
My current goal is this.  I want to be able to
1)Watch my movies from all the computers/tvs in my house
2)Access all my media remotly
3)Use airplay with all my computers/tvs
4) Automatically download new TV shows
5) Automatically download new movies
6)Access all my games and saved info from all my computers/tvs
7) Play all games from every system
8) Control this all using 1 or 2 controllers (and my iPhone
9) Have this all under one skin (XBMC)

This is a dream.  Some of this is really easy, some not so much
I'll post specifics later