I’m back with another Ubuntu-based guide on how to setup an HTPC (Home Theater PC) using free download-able software products. I’ll be using the latest released version of XBMC, XBMC 13.1 Gotham, that was released on June 5,2014. Ubuntu 14.04 64bit Server Edition is the OS of choice, because of its small footprint (low resource operation) and it would be best for a stand-alone HTPC application. Best of all, Ubuntu is free to use. So we’ll utilize these free resources to setup our HTPC and install XBMC on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Server Edition.
Purpose of This Guide
The main purpose of this guide is to help you install XBMC 13.1 Gotham as the front-end application for your HTPC or Media Center setup, that only requires the least system requirements. This shall be the most optimized method to install a stand-alone XBMC on a low-resource HTPC or Media Center PC.
For this guide, you only need at least to have an Intel GMA 945G or ATI Radeon 4000 graphic controller, to play the latest 1080p HD movie files. If you only aim to build yourself an HTPC or Media Center PC, you don’t have to buy a $200 worth of OS like Windows 8. In addition to that, installing XBMC 13.1 Gotham on Ubuntu is far more adventurous than on Windows. Installing XBMC on Windows is very straight forward and boring. Point and click is nothing more exiting than a one liner Linux command-line syntax.
Furthermore, Using Ubuntu 14.04 Server Edition as your Host-OS (Host Operating System), will only require a small footprint on your hardware setup. Besides, you only intend to run XBMC 13.1 Gotham as a stand-alone application and no other applications which require a full-blown Desktop Environment. You don’t need a pricey Windows 7 or 8 OS just to host your XBMC instance, so Ubuntu 14.04 is the best OS for this setup.
Now Comes The Fun Part – Installation
To properly install XBMC 13.1 Gotham on Ubuntu without any issues, make sure you have at least meet the minimum system requirements for a stand-alone HTPC or Media Center PC. For a Linux-based XBMC install, you might wanna read this page from
XBMC’s Wiki page. Navigate to 1.3.1 Desktop section, you’ll read the system requirements from there. It is stated there that you should have a minimum RAM of 256MB, which you don’t see it anymore around. So the least that you could probably pickup from PC stores nowadays, would be a stick of 2GB RAM. But if you still have some old stuffs lying around, then you might be able to use that for this guide. In my case, I’ve been using my Intel Based and AMD based PC as a stand-alone XBMC Media Center. I only use it for playback and I don’t store files in it, I have a separate PC as a media back-end. XBMC 13.1 Gotham is running well on my Intel-based machine that has an Intel D510MO motherboard, 80GB Sata Hard-drive and a stick 2GB RAM. The Intel D510MO motherboard has an integrated Intel GMA 945G graphic controller, and it plays back 1080p movie files smoothly. It’s a MINI-ITX motherboard, which is perfect for a stand-alone XBMC media player. I’ve mentioned those just to give you an idea of the least system requirement for a stand-alone XBMC installation. Don’t forget to check XBMC’s Wiki page.
Part 1: Host OS Installation – Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr)
Server Edition The first part of the install process is of course the installation of your Host-OS that XBMC will be running on. I’ve already posted a guide on
how to install Linux Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Server, so check it out first before proceeding to the XBMC installation guide. Of course you may just skip this part if you have already done it so.
Part 2: XBMC 13.1 Gotham Setup Guide
In this part of the guide, we’ll be using a Linux package to manage the display for XBMC front-end GUI. It should take care of auto-starting XBMC upon user login. Auto-start and auto-login is a must-have feature for a stand-alone XBMC-based HTPC application. So we need to install these Linux packages together with our XBMC setup. For this guide, we need the following:
- Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Server Edition, already installed
- A user account to run XBMC session
- LightDM – Display manager for Linux
- XBMC 13.1 Gotham
Note: LightDM is one of Linux’ several display manager. A display manager in Linux is responsible for outputting the login screens or welcome screen. Other known Linux display managers are; FluxBox, LXDE, MDM and other more.
Step 1: Upon a successful Ubuntu 14.04 install, your machine should boot straight to a black login-screen. You should only see a black-screen and a command-line. Reference Image: Login and type in your configured user-name and password. Then let’s add a new user-account for XBMC’s user-session. To do this type the following commands and hit ENTER key. sudo adduser xbmc Then enter your desired password, in my case, I’ve used
xbmcfor user-name and user-password. You’ll be asked again to enter additional details, but you may skip this part and you may just press
ENTERkey several times. Finally, enter
Yeswhen asked if all details are correct. The user account that we’ve created, is only for XBMC to run on, it has no sudo or administrative privileges. Reference Images:
Step 2: Let’s install XBMC’s (13.1 Gotham) dependencies, input the following commands and hit enter key. sudo apt-get install python-software-properties pkg-config software-properties-common -y
Step 3: After we install XBMC’s dependency packages, we now add XBMC’s official repository to Ubuntu’s source list. Do do this, type the following commands and hit
ENTERkey. sudo add-apt-repository ppa:team-xbmc/ppa Reference Image:
Step 4: We are now ready to install XBMC (13.1 Gotham) on our Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. Type the following and hit
ENTERkey. sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install xbmc -y Reference Image:
It would take around 10 minutes to complete the installation process.
Step 5: Install LightDM as the display manager for XBMC. LightDM is a Linux window manager, which is responsible for starting a user session and login screen for our Ubuntu instance. We also need to install a Linux package called
ubuntu-session. To do these, type the following command and press
Enterkey. sudo apt-get install lightdm ubuntu-session -y Reference Image:
It may take up to 10 minutes to complete the installation.
Step 6: Let’s configure LightDM to use a user-account and automatically start a user session. In this case, our user-account would be
xbmc, while for the user-sesson is
XBMC. Let’s create a new file called
/etc/lightdm/folder. To do this, type the following commands below. sudo nano /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf A new black-screen should open. Now enter the following block of text and press
ctrl + o->
ENTERkeys simultaneously to save the file. [SeatDefaults] autologin-user=xbmc autologin-user-timeout=0 greeter-session=unity-greeter user-session=XBMC allow-guest=false Press
ctrl + xto exit the screen and you should be back to the command-line. Reference Image:
Step 7: Finally, all have been setup and configured, it’s time to reboot your PC and wait for XBMC’s Front-end GUI to load up. To reboot your PC do the following: sudo reboot LightDM should be responsible for loading the GUI and auto-loads the
xbmcuser name. When your PC finally booted up and loaded the GUI, then you’re done. You have successfully installed and configured XBMC 13.1 Gotham, with LightDM as its display manager. Reference Image:
That’s a Wrap!
There we have it, we’ve installed XBMC 13.1 Gotham, and using LightDM as it’s dispplay manager and Ubuntu 14.04 Server Edition as it’s host-OS. This would be a perfect setup for a stand-alone XBMC-based HTPC and Media Center PC. No bloated Desktop environment and other unnecessary background services, saving RAM allocation and processing power. With this setup, you can further augment your HTPC experience by adding more useful services like DLNA/UPnP server or even a Torrent application for 24/7 downloading and uploading, all under one box. Just make sure your hardware resource could handle it. If you want to integrate your XBMC-based HTPC with 3rd party software as a DLNA/UPnP client, then I think you should read my guide on “How To Setup A Headless Media Server“. If interested, just check it out. I hope this guide helped you out in your HTPC or Media Center PC build. If you have gone through issues during the procedure, just feel free to post it via comment page below.