Creating a Personal Content Media Network, Part 1

Posted: December 15th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: AppleTV, Mac OS X Server, Media | No Comments »

First I’m going to take an overview of XBMC, the application that we’ll use to replace front row or AppleTV.

XBMC is great application. It has many features that put it above and beyond front row. First XBMC is a media manager and digital jukebox. It does not do any file system organization of files so it does require you to be a clean with your media. It is capable of playing most types of audio such as ogg and mp3 as well as able to play any video that you have a codec installed on your computer. It’s fully interoperable with the standard Apple remote and has a different yet still intuitive interface, (despite what Luke tells you.)

I’m going to show you how to customize XBMC to pull movies in from differing sources. First navigate into Movies and erase the sources that you won’t be using. Then click add new source and type in the location. Also you can specify an SMB server for XBMC to connect to, we’ll cover more on this later. My movies are located on my server and thus I will specify the SMB address along with a username and password. Then when I select on the source that I’ve just entered XBMC will make an SMB connection to my server and list all the movies I have. Now I can navigate to my Movies directory and select any movie I want.

Another great thing about XBMC is the control interface. Simply take you apple remote and press the play button, and on screen control appears. You can then navigate the controls and select whatever action you want with the play button. Or press menu to escape. Also while the movie is playing you can press the menu button and minimize the film so that you can browse for another, or if you want to return to the minimize film just keep pressing the menu button.

Now this can all be applied to the music and pictures features as well. Just specify the location of your music or pictures and XBMC will list them for you. Plus, thanks to a nifty iTunes plugin you can now load your iTunes playlists inside of XBMC so there’s no need to resort all your music!

But now for the piece de resistance. To replace front row altogether you want to enable the Apple remote to work with XBMC. To do so, in Settings, hit the Apple Remote section. If you’ve got a standard-issue Apple remote, set Mode to Standard. To start up XBMC instead of Front Row, check off “Always Running” in the Apple Remote section of XBMC’s Settings area.

You can download and install XBMC for your Mac from here or if you’re using an AppleTV please read this.