Blog Archives

Announcement: Some updates to UbuntuHTPC git repo

Just a small update before I finish up a nice Blu-ray how to today.  The Ubuntu HTPC git repo was updated with new mappings and a line change to allow hot pluggable udev events, rather than a specific event.  Also added is the command for an “easy setup” under xboxdrv.  New mappings are:

  • LS (move): move mouse cursor
  • RS (move): mouse scroll
  • D-Pad: up/down/left/right
  • Back Button: keyboard backspace
  • Start Button: Shutdown/Restart Menu
  • LB: “Back” in Firefox, using this add-on.  Locked F4 to LB in .ini file
  • LT: Volume Down, mapped using Ubuntu keyboard shortcut F7, Locked F7 to LT in .ini file
  • RB: “Forward” in Firefox, using this add-on.  Locked F5 to LB in .ini file
  • RT: Volume Up, mapped using Ubuntu keyboard shortcut F8, Locked F8 to RT in .ini file
  • Y: keyboard space
  • A: keyboard enter
  • B: mouse right-click
  • X: mouse left-click
  • Xbox Center Button – call up onboard keyboard.  Ubuntu keyboard shortcut, custom set to onboard/F6, locked F6 to center button in .ini file

As always, the article will be updated if I add anything else.  Also of note, is under the software folder on the Ubuntu HTPC git repo, is a “launh_steam” script which seemlessly unloads xboxdrv (full HTPC control), loads xpad (standard xbox config Steam uses), and when done, returns the Xbox controller config to xboxdrv’s original control.  That way, you can launch steam out of XBMC without a hitch.


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! Read the rest of this entry

How To – Making a Media Center Using Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

ccdf6dc794fd35c2a702751c7732b2324b66586216aee7bcad8017dd8ab508f3For quite some time I have been away from the HTPC scene (~2 years), having resigned to using a Roku Player with the Plexapp channel for home media purposes.  I recently took another look last week at the HTPC option for my home.  Safe to say, I found I could safely get 80 percent of what I wanted for a media box out of the experience.  The Dell GX755 PC slim desktop is now tucked safely into the TV stand, and it works beautifully.  How did I do it it? Why? Read on for more.  Read the rest of this entry

Hot Hardware : The Little Black Box

Google it, I dare you.  “little black box” will likely present you with a Lingerie store, so be sure to search “little black box media player.”  That stated, I wanted to present this nifty little piece of hardware today.  That hardware is The Little Black Box.

Read on for more.

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The List: The Top 5 Media Center Programs for Linux (2013)

I thought I would share my thoughts on my exploits with the popular Media Center Solutions for Linux. While none of them are perfect some come very close. Please keep in mind these are my opinions and you do not have to agree with me, but I feel my points are pretty spot on as of 09/13 , the current month and year. Some of the points made are with my personal experience with the program while one is based off a review, as I had trouble installing it. Please feel free to comment or use the “Contact Us” page at the top of the site.  I would LOVE to hear any other suggestions for media center software if you have them.


Updated 2013-09-29

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30 Days of GNU\Linux: Day 10 – SUCCESS! Plex Media Server FTW

I am ecstatic today.  I have successfully setup Plex Media Server on Linux after a bit of sweat and elbow grease.  Turns out it took not only permission changes, but a carefully made symbolic link.  The full details on how all this was setup, plus and update to the Top 5 Linux Media Servers post will be coming down the pipe tomorrow.  Right now 2 TB of data is being transferred back over to my server drive.  Plex is perfect* at trans-coding (if you allow it to, but tomorrow in my detailed summary, you will see what types of media it prefers and just what quirks to look out for.

I am head over heals happy with this.  What this means is with a Roku box and a home computer running Plex Media Server (as a backend), the Roku is the 1 stop shop for all media center.  Too bad XBMC never made a Roku app, would have loved that.  The Roku is truly the one stop shop, once you get the right apps on it.

Till tomorrow!


30 Days of GNU\Linux: Day 8

Credit: Comedy Central

As I sit here watching Tosh.0, trying to concentrate on writing, I can’t help but be at least very happy at my progress using only Linux at home.  As of this, I have installed Chromium Browser, which as of today as well, is using the VP9 open codec under the WebM project by Google.  Dang, did my online videos  speed up!  The once herky-jerky video that sometimes buffered even on my 8 year old HTPC (Core 2 Duo / ATI SFF 5400 series GPU), are now fluid and at least 720p quality now.  I am very impressed with this Open Codec. So, now that my online browser experience is nice and smooth what is left?  TONS!

I made good progress determining the proper Handbrake settings so that XBMC on my ancient Linux HTPC runs smoothly.  Aside from minor scan lines on some scenes, things are progressing well.  I at least got everything playing smoothly, and know the program well.  For those who don’t know, you must break the Blu Ray encryption first with MakeMKV.  Both of these are in the software section of this site.  The settings I had the most luck with, is 1280×720 (720p), MP4 format, H.264 codec, default decomb/deinterlace.  I made those changes after starting with the Apple TV preset for 720p.  Try different settings and see what happens!

Still searching for solutions to Amazon Instant Video, and if Linux teaches you anything, it’s DON’T GIVE UP!   Oh, yes Hulu and other online services play very smoothly now under Chromium Browser:

 sudo apt-get update 
 sudo apt-get install chromium-browser

30 Days of Linux: Day 6 – Blu Ray ripping time with MakeMKV and Handbrake

Did some testing with MakeMKV and Handbrake.  MakeMKV is designed to rip your Blu Ray discs to an MKV container format.  What you do from there is more important, as you will end up with a huge file in the neighborhood of 30-70 odd Gigabytes!  This is where Handbrake comes in (install instructions for both below).  With Handbrake, you trans-code the video (transforming its internal format).  This will result, when done properly, into a much smaller file size, and often a better file all together.  Getting the “proper” or “correct” settings is the hard part.

Getting the right settings involves some trial and error.  I could go through the endless settings, but what works for me, may not for you.  I can* however, give you some insight:

Read on for more:

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