Friday, August 24, 2012

Free TV the XBMC Way --Part 1

I hate cable TV!!!  That is even a sugarcoated statement.  I truly despise it.  If it was not for the rest of my family, it would be gone forever from my house! I have one TV in my house  that is known as "daddy's TV".  My four year old coined the phrase. "Daddy's TV" does not have cable tv hooked up to it.  All it has is a Roku and an XBMC box.... but I am slowly losing control over my beloved library TV.  So I thought, why not add a man screen to the garage and bring back "daddy's TV".

This is project number one here at the Geek's Garage.   I picked up free HD tube TV that had some overheating issues.  I could fix it probably by replacing some caps in the power supply, but you know what?  In my garage in the winter months when I will be watching it, it won't be an issue. The best part about this TV is that it has a VGA input...

Next, I dug up some old computer parts  I found an old 1.6 Mhz  AMD, 1 GB memory, and about a 20 GB hard drive lying around doing nothing but collecting dust. For the man screen project, I don't have to worry about waf (wife acceptance factor).  I know it will be ugly, but hey, it is in the garage!  Remember, all hardware is different, your mileage may vary.  If you have problems setting yours up, it will be with hardware and linux. I will go over the issues I had, but I can guarantee they will be different from yours.  When you have issues, check the XBMC forums.  I bet your question has already been answered. 

My computer is old, so it does not boot from USB. That defeats the purpose of XBMC Live for me.  Therefore, I must go out and download the minimum Ubuntu install to get this party started!  I downloaded the minimum install here and burned it to a CD. What version you decide on is up to you.  Since I have old hardware, I think I used 10.04....  I followed the guide located here.  The only problems I had were with my video card.  I had an older NVIDIA video card.  I had to go download the old version drivers and install those with the Ubuntu minimal install and everything worked out fine.

Now comes one of the negatives,  Netflix is not compatible with Linux yet.  You have to have Windows or Mac OSX running to get the Netflix plugins to work.  Since I have the Roku for Netflix movies, I prefer the Linux way, but that is a decision will have to make.

Now I have XBMC running on this box.  For those of you unaware, XBMC is one of the best media center apps out there. Not only can it scrape video and TV content off the web, it can also be used as a music server, multiroom audio distribution, a video game console and many other can find out more information about XBMC features here.

I will continue this post in multiple parts...

Save yourself some money and stay geeky.

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