As some of you may have followed in earlier posts I've been replacing our old Sky satellite setup with my own setup here at home. Well over the past month or so its improved considerably so I thought I'd write up where I'm up to with the whole setup and how the family are getting along with it.
Firstly the problem, Sky is expensive and to be honest the majority are repeats and most of the channels we frequently watch are FTA (Free-to-air/satellite) in the UK, so dropping Sky was logical. So I then had the Sky dish and the problem of how to feed it into the house setup. Firstly the front-end. I've used XBMC since the early days on the original XBOX thanks to Bunnie Huang and his amazing books, etc. (Google it!). So I'm happy with XBMC, so setting that up on a small footprint PC with quiet fans and HDMI out. I bought a cheap Nvidia card with HDMI out (Cost around £35), as these cards can do hardware decoding, this is important as it takes the load off the PC's CPU and very important when your machine isn't the most powefull on the planet. So with that in the PC (It's a slim-line Dell so fitting the Nvidia was a pain, the case doesn't quite close properly, but its hidden out of sight so not a problem). The HDD in the XBMC machine isn't too important, big enough to hold the XBMC install is enough as you won't really be storing anything on it. Save your disks for the 2nd bit of hardware! Networking is also important, make sure its cabled up right and if possible use Gigabit network cards+switches as it'll speed the whole system up (Although for HD tv you can get away with 100Mbps as HD tv streams are 35Mbps (at worst) dropping down to 6Mbps.
Install XBMC: Simply download their Live CD XBMCUbuntu, burn that and run it. There is the option to install, choose that and wait whilst it flattens your HDD, partitions, installs, etc. Now a word of caution. Make sure your graphics card, hardware, etc, are all plugged in at install, as the installer does a really good job of installing the right components if it finds the right hardare. It'll save you a world of pain later! So now you should be booting XBMC from HDD and getting things looking reasonable. You can tweak this as you need. Insert a MS media centre remote for remote control/IR functions (Pretty much any will do, I found the older silver ones work better than the newer branded editions (HP badged, etc, I found didnt work reliably). There should be little else you need to do.
To get TV functions into XBMC you need the latest packages, Pulse-Eight provide these in an easy script, SSH to your XBMC machine, then run these commands:
cd /tmp; wget http://packages.pulse-eight.net/ubuntu/install-xbmc.sh; chmod +x install-xbmc.sh; ./install-xbmc.sh
Thats all one one line to make copy/paste easier! What this does is grab the install script from Pulse-Eight, set it to executable and run it. This adds a repository into Ubuntu with the relevant updates, upgrades and does it all for you. When its done, just reboot and you should have XBMC again but this time it will have additional TV functions hiding. This is all we do with XBMC for now.
(NOTE: XBMC has a few problems with standby, resuming usb devices at the moment, this appears to be an Ubuntu issue and not XBMC, so if you set your settings > power savings to standby when power pressed and after resuming you find it won't make the IR remote work you've got the bug. There are loads of forum posts about it. I've tried them all and with no success as yet unfortunately).
If by chance your IR works after resume then you'll want to be able to wake the XBMC machine from its sleep by the remote (So a simple power button press on the remote will wake it). If thats the case you want to look at adding the following to /etc/rc.local:
git pull origin initialscan