How To – Extending XBMC Above And Beyond
In a previous post, I revisited using Ubuntu 12.04 and Linux in general as an HTPC. While there were some advanced steps I took, I asked myself, can this be easier? Can all of what I want fall under a unified interface? Having toyed with the OUYA console a fair bit, I remembered Advanced Launcher, which is coincidently, also available for XBMC. What this turned into, was a simple way to launch any web link to a video stream or Linux program. This enabled me to use XBMC entirely as an HTPC solution without a need to escape XBMC itself. Read on for me!
First, you will want install XBMC on top of an existing distro, such as Ubuntu. The reason for this is so you can always drop out of XBMC if you need to install programs or do other tasks. Yes, yes, overhead overhead, but it is very little for a modern system to have over something like GeexBox. Once XMBC is installed, add it to your autostart session programs. Below is an example for Ubuntu:
Adding some basic Channels to XBMC is very simple. Simple visit any section, such as video and choose add-ons. There are many to choose from, and you’ll want to take the time to add these as well as any media sources:
Setting Up Your Custom Launchers
Setting up your custom launchers is quite easy, and I made a video tutorial above in case you need a helping hand. The basics are:
- Install the “Advanced Launcher” addon from XBMC under Home > Programs > Get More. If it does not exist there, you will have to add the zip file manually, described here on XBMC’s website.
- Once installed, the program should should up under Home > Programs. Open the program
To add a new launcher, right click “Default” and choose “Add New Launcher”
On the next screen, choose “Standalone launcher”
Next, right click your launcher again and choose “edit launcher” and choose “Change Thumbnail Image”. Choose a local image, preferably a PNG image with a translucent background.
That’s it! Alternatively, you can also right click your launcher and choose to “Add to Favourites” which will make it quickly accessible from your preferred skins favourites area. Each time you launch a program it should load the program, and when you exit, return to full screen XMBC. The only caveat here is Firefox. If you wish Firefox to launch full screen, mimicking an “app”, take a gander at the following add-ons:
- Full Fullscreen (adds a few options for beginners to always launch Firefox in full screen). Note: be sure to only check the appropriate options if you wish to keep your tabs and minimize, maximise and close buttons.
- Big Buttons. This add on is great for an HTPC interface, allowing you see everything on the toolbar in case you need to go back, and refresh etc.
- No Squint. This add-on is perfect for quick on the fly page zooms, and page fitting. The great part about this add-on is that you can set global defaults for specific areas and also exceptions for sites that render in a way you prefer.
- Rights to Close. One of the available add ons I consider absolutely necessary for full screen Firefox use. If you go sans tool bars on Firefox, you will want this to right click and close the tab, or Firefox entirely.
XBMC, on its own, is amazing. Distros such as GeexBox and Mythbuntu make quick work of the base install to bring it even higher, However, if you want all the DRM goodies, you’ll want to invest in setting up Advanced Launcher. Again, if questions, please contact me, or for personal support, see the Linux Support tab at the top of the site.