XBMC – The Frodo Guide

©HenryFord 2012
Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

There is also a PDF-Version of this guide available here.

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Introduction

Don’t worry – this is going to be short: This guide was created after a lot of people complained that “getting into“ XBMC was kind of difficult for them. Thus I decided to create this guide to help them – so I do not have to explain it over and over again. This guide includes instructions for a fully automatic PVR without actually owning a TV-Card. Also – it heavily relies on some stuff that may be illegal in your country. Check your local copyright-laws whether they apply, if they do – go ahead and decide for yourself if you want to continue. I take no responsibility.

At this point I also want to thank the community around the XBMC and the projects which rose in the near context. Thanks go out to:

  • Team XBMC – For creating the XBMC in all its glory
  • Team sabNZBd+ – For creating a good UseNet-download-application
  • Ruudburger – Creator of CouchPotato
  • Midgetspy – Creator of Sickbeard
  • Angelscry – Creator of the “Advanced Launcher” Add-On

They put a lot of work into this and deserve to be appreciated. Take that into account and consider donating something, because all of the mentioned projects are completely community-driven open-source projects and they do not take a cent for the supplied software.

Donations can be made to:

I am sure they will appreciate your support.

Special Note:
In order to make XBMC what it is today, the communities around www.themoviedb.org and www.thetvdb.com are also needed. You always can add information there, so go ahead and help out.

Prerequisites

In order to use everything I present to you in this guide you’ll need a UseNet-account. You can skip ahead if you do not want to download anything but just want to get started with XBMC.

The Usenet basically resembles modern internet-forums in many ways. The key difference here is that the Usenet does not rely on a central server but rather on a distributed network. The Usenet can be, in large parts, accessed for free. But in order to retrieve binary content (i.e. files) from the UseNet you need to rely on a paid provider since there is no way to access this content without them. There are a lot of UseNet providers out there. I will recommend one, but you may choose any other provider you like, there is no limitation to what provider you’re going to use.

I recommend using astraweb since it is cheap and reliable, unfortunately I do not have tested any other provider, so that is the only recommendation I can put out. If you want to add a provider to the list, just let me know. A “special offer” for astraweb can be found here, and in my opinion the price-performance ratio is totally worth it.

XBMC

Homepage: http://www.xbmc.org

Download and Install XBMC

You can get the XBMC here:
http://xbmc.org/download/

Windows

Click the Windows-Logo to get the newest stable Windows-Build for your machine. Download the Setup-File and install it. It will also install the needed libraries (DirectX, C++), so it will take a little bit to complete.

Mac OS

Download the current Mac-Version by clicking on the OSX-Logo (or – if you run a PPC – on the OSX-PPC-Link beneath the logo) and save the DMG-File to your drive. Install the DMG by clicking on it. Drag XBMC to your application folder as usual. You can delete the DMG-File after installation.

Linux

The installation varies between the different distributions of Linux. You may want to take a look at the XBMC-Wiki; you’ll find instructions for the various distributions:
http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Installing_XBMC_for_Linux

After the installation launch your XBMC. You will be presented with the following screen:

You will notice that you cannot do anything right now, the Videos-Section is completely empty and so is everything else. We are going to change that in the next step. At this point XBMC will also give you some first-run help.

Keyboard Binding

In order to control XBMC properly, you should know a few keyboard-bindings to get you started. This will help you navigating through the XBMC and using its functions. It is important to know that the XBMC uses different mappings for different views. So if you are playing a video in full screen the button-mapping might change. I will show you some global mappings which will be used if no other mapping is defined by the keyboard.xml-file. You can find all the proper commands which are used by default on this XBMC-Wiki-Page: http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Default_Controls

I will list the common, global commands:

Key Action, Description
O Displays CPU usage and video diagnostic information
P Play
Space Pause
X Stop
F Fast Forward
R Rewind
Left-arrow Left
Right-arrow Right
Up-arrow Up
Down-arrow Down
Page Up Page Up
Page Down Page Down
Return Select
Backspace Parent Directory (Step back)
Q Current Queue
W Mark file as Watched
M Activate OSD Player Controls (while playing media)
S Activate Shutdown Menu
Esc Home menu
I Media Info
C Context Menu
Period Skip Next
Comma Skip Previous
Tab Toggles full screen modes (either visualization or video playback)
Print Screen Screenshot
Minus (-) Volume Down
Plus (+) Volume Up
Zero (0) Number0
One (1) Number 1
Two (2) Number 2
Three (3) Number 3
Four (4) Number 4
Five (5) Number 5
Six (6) Number 6
Seven (7) Number 7
Eight (8) Number 8
Nine (9) Number 9
End Shutdown XBMC
Z Zoom

Setup the Sources

Sources – this is where XBMC looks for your media-files. The Sources will determine the content of your library, they are necessary in order for XBMC to index your Music-/Video-Files into the proper libraries. Be aware that you always should name your video- and music-sources according to XBMC’s set (more on this beneath). This will make sure that you have the best possible experience with the XBMC. Let’s get started.

Media-Manager

Before we are adding your files to your XBMC-Sources you should make sure that the files are named properly. Ideally you have your movie-files all in one folder. It does not matter if there are subfolders and/or single files in this directory. The best way however is to use subfolders for each movie you have. The folder should then be named like the following Layout: “Movie Name (Release-Year)”. The part “Release Year” is technically not necessary but it will make sure that XBMC scrapes the right movie and you have the right movie in your library. If you currently have not sorted your movie-directory, you can do this with the help of some additional tools which are available. Some free tools:

Multiplatform

Windows

Mac OS X

Linux

  • N/A

These tools will generate usable NFO-Files for the XBMC. NFO-Files are little text-files in which all information about the movie is stored in a XML-Layout. If XBMC finds a NFO-File inside a subfolder, it will use the information from this NFO rather than downloading the information from the internet. For some more information on NFO-Files head down, you’ll find a section dedicated to them. A neat function of the XBMC provides the possibility to play two video-files as if they are merged to one file. This is helpful for movies which contain multiple CDs. If you have the movie “The Matrix” for example split into two files, you should name those files like “The Matrix.CD1.FileExtension” and “The Matrix.CD2.FileExtension” (this will be done by the media managers mentioned above as well). When scraping this movie to the library, XBMC will know that this is supposed to be one movie and will index the both files only as one movie in your library. If you then play this movie via the library in your XBMC both files will be played – the CD2 after CD1 ends obviously. You won’t even notice the cut between those (unless the files have an overlay of course) two.

Movies

To start adding a source for movies hit the “Videos” button in the Home-menu. If this is the first time you’re accessing a menu, you will be presented with the following help screen:

Hit “OK” to continue. You’re now accessing the top of the videos-tree, click on “Files” here and hit “Add Videos…” in the following screen. You then will be presented with the “Add Source”-Screen:

Hit the “Browse”-Button and locate your movie-location. Click “OK” to move to the Content-Screen. It will look like this:

This setup depends on how your movies are setup. Most of the management-programs listed in the first section will be using separate folders for your movies. This means that you have one root folder (for example “D:\Movies”) in which you have subfolders for every single movie you have (for example “D:\Movies\Lord.Of.The.Rings.-.The.Fellowship.of.the.Ring.(2001)”). In this case activate the radio-button next to “Movies are in separate folders that match the movie name”.

After you hit “OK” you will be asked if you want to refresh all item in the path. Press “Yes” here in order to catalogue your movies right now.

The Library

Once you have scanned in your movies, you can use the library-section of XBMC. Head back to the Home-Menu and click on the new item “Movies”. You will be presented with a screen similar to this (except, of course, that you will see all of your movies instead):

The Library Views

You can now customize this screen the way you like it. You can choose different layouts and different layers of information. Where you see only the poster, the fan art and the movie name in the first screenshot, check out this one, where you can also see the information about the Genre, Length, Rating, Story, etc.:

Usually you also will be presented with a couple of information about the specific movie’s quality (like for example 720p or 1080p) – but because I used test files here this information is not available.

You can change the layout of the view by hovering on the little arrow on the left side – another menu will open where you can choose which layout you want:

Which layouts you can choose depends on the skin you use. Different skins can have different layouts – so be sure to try them out and look which layout suits your needs.

TV-Shows

With Sickbeard

Before adding TV-Shows to XBMC you should complete the Sickbeard-Tutorial first. Click here to read it now. Come back when Sickbeard is fully configured. Open up Sickbeard in your Browser and click on the button “Manage”. A list of all your TV-Shows should be presented to you – click on the empty field beneath “Rename”. This should mark all the “Rename”-Fields of the shows. Now click on “submit” below. Use it in order to change your entire TV-Show-Collection to the right naming convention for XBMC. Also – It will help you to actually sort your Collection and to make it more accessible.

Without Sickbeard

If you do not want to use Sickbeard, you should pick a media manager which is also capable of renaming your TV-shows to proper names. Another solution is SortTV which is multi-platform and programmed by cliffe. You can find the thread here.

Setup Sources

With TV-Shows you also have the option to use locally stored NFO-Files for XBMC. In this case XBMC will also use the provided information in the NFO-Files to check for your TV Shows. This will make sure that you do not have problems with the scanning. Check the option in the sickbeard-config if you want the Files to be created. Be aware that you should apply the naming-convention “TV-Show-Name (Starting-Year)” to the subfolders holding your TV-Shows. This will make sure that you do not get the wrong information.

Now head back to the XBMC, click on “Videos”, then on “Files” and click on “Add Videos”. Select your TV-Show-Directory and click OK. In the “Content”-Screen you should then select “TV Shows”. If you want to add everything right now, simply click on “Yes” after you hit “OK”.

The Library

You can now use the TV-Show library as well. Head back to the Home-Screen and click on the new button “TV Shows”. You will be presented with a screen similar to this (except you’ll see your shows, of course):

If you click on one of the titles of your shows, you can select an episode you want to watch.

The Library Views

As with movies, the TV Show library has different views from which you can choose. Above you see only the poster, title and the fan art. But you can choose to display even more information – one special addition can be applied to the TV Show library: Episodic views. For example, below you’ll find screens which display more information – first for the TV Shows and then for the episodes:

If the TV Show you have collected has multiple seasons, you can also choose a special view for the single seasons. The resulting structure in XBMC is as following:
Home Screen –> TV Show –> (Seasons) –> Episodes

Advanced Library Configuration

Movie Sets

In XBMC Eden you have the possibility to easily group movies into sets. You may now the problem that you have a collection of movies from the same set, but they don’t sort like you wanted. Another possible application is when you simply want a Movie-Set to be displayed as one entry in the Movie-Section. An example would be the “Lord of the Rings”-Trilogy. The movies included:

  • Lord of The Rings – The Fellowship of The Ring
  • Lord of The Rings – The Two Towers
  • Lord of The Rings – The Return of The King

You can now activate movie set grouping in the settings menu (Home-Screen > Settings > Videos > Library > “Group movies in sets”). This will cause XBMC to display all those movies as one title in the library, opening it will list every movie of the set. Note that this will only work if you selected the “The MovieDB” scraper for your movie source. For every other scraper you will need to use NFO-Files in order to sort the movies into sets. For the example above, the line that should be added to the nfo-files of the movies which belong to the set:

<set>Lord of the Rings Collection</set> 

Re-scrape the movies and they should display as one movie set in your library. See the example below – first the view upon the collection as a single title, then this collection opened up:

NFO-Files

NFO-Files can influence many aspects of XBMC’s library. For more information visit the XBMC-Wiki: XBMC Wiki: NFO-Files

Automatic cleaning of the library

If you delete a lot of movies/TV Shows after you have watched them, you will notice that the XBMC will not clean these files if you launch the Library-Update. You can erase those movies only if you pick the “Clean Library”-Function in the settings-menu. Another solution however would be to put a file “advancedsettings.xml” into your XBMC-Userdata-Folder. For Windows just hit “Windows-Key” + “R” and type “%AppData%/XBMC/userdata”. Create a new text-file with the following content inside this directory:

<advancedsettings>
      <videolibrary>
            <cleanonupdate>true</cleanonupdate>
      </videolibrary>
</advancedsettings>

Rename the file to “advancedsettings.xml” and restart your XBMC. Your XBMC will now clean your video-library every time it updates it.

Warning:
You should be aware that cleaning your library may result in unexpected behavior. If your media-sources for example are located on an External Drive and you launch the cleaning while the drive is disconnected, your whole library will be erased! If the media somehow isn’t available, you are going to lose everything stored in the library.

AdvancedSettings.xml

You can do a lot more with the “advancedsettings.xml” – for more information check the XBMC-Wiki: http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Advancedsettings.xml

Additional Settings

Library Settings

Navigate back to the Home-Window (hit Backspace to get back) and open up the Settings-Menu. Open the “Video”-Tab and click on the Library-Tab. I recommend using “Automated Scan on Startup”, this way you make sure that every new file you add will be there after you restart your XBMC. I will explain later how you can start the scan by yourself. Remember the “Clean Library”-Button – if you delete files out of the folders you specified under your Sources it still will show up in the library of XBMC, even after you scanned for new content. To remove dead entries hit the button “Clean Library”, it will remove them.

Warning:
You should be aware that cleaning your library may result in unexpected behavior. If your media-sources for example are located on an External Drive and you launch the cleaning while the drive is disconnected, your whole library will be erased! If the media somehow isn’t available, you are going to lose everything stored in the library.

Customization (Skins!)

You can modify the behavior and appearance of your skin by applying extended settings. Each skin has specific settings; you have to choose what you like. Generally you can disable/enable specific Home-Menu-Buttons and more. Play a little bit with the settings if you are not sure and see what you like. You should in any case activate the home-screen menus “TV Shows” and “Movies” (accordingly to your sources) – because this are the library-sections which you want to use later.

Every skin has also own views for the different media-sections (TV Shows, Movies, Music) between which you can choose in order to customize everything for your needs (we spoke about them before in the library sections). This is also a little bit of a “Trial & Error”-Game – switch between the different views in order to find out what you like most.

You can apply complete new skins to your XBMC which will change the look and feel of XBMC entirely. I am currently using the “Aeon Nox” skin, although you might prefer something else. To install a new skin, open up the “Appearance”-Settings. You will find an option “Skin” – click here to open the Skin-Selector. Click on the “More”-Button at the bottom of the selector. Choose the skin you want to try and it will download. After the download completes you will be asked to switch to the skin – choose what you like.

Networking and external access

XBMC has advanced features available. Several external applications can make use of these features in order to communicate with the XBMC. They also have the possibility to actually control the XBMC. These advanced features require you to enable the http-access of the XBMC because it is not enabled by default. This can be done under “Settings” -> “Network”. You also have the possibility to share your libraries via UPnP. This again gives you the opportunity to use DLNA-certified devices with your XBMC – this way you can share and stream the contents of your library. Be advised though: XBMC will share nothing which is not indexed in your library. A list of compatible software/hardware can be found here (it may be incomplete…):http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=UPnP_Sharing

In order to use the Webserver of XBMC properly I advise to use a predefined IP instead of obtaining one via DHCP. This way you’ll always know where your XBMC is located. This also comes in handy when using Sickbeard, Couch Potato and sabNZBd+. This however is not required – you always can access the XBMC, Sickbeard, Couch Potato and sabNZBd+ via “localhost” (if you do not change the default settings, that is).

After enabling web access you can secure your XBMC with a username and a password. Just enter the values in the boxes below the option. By default XBMC restricts access from the network to your machine. Every request coming from another machine than the XBMC’s machine will be rejected. You can lift this restriction by enabling the “Allow programs on other systems to control”-Option in the network-settings.

Setup additional Add-ons

You can expand your XBMC-Experience by installing Add-Ons/Plugins. Since XBMC Dharma we have a repository installed from which we can choose additional Add-ons/Plugins. You can find this sub-section on the home-screen. Hit the “Add-On”-Section in XBMC and choose “Get Add-ons” – browse and install what you like.

Repositories

You have the option to install extended repositories which will enhance the available Add-Ons for your experience. To find repositories just check this site in the XBMC-Wiki: http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Unofficial_Add-on_Repositories

Download the Zip-File, open up the “Settings” -> “Add-Ons”-Menu and choose the option “Install from Zip-File”. From the dialog-window pick the downloaded zip-file. After the installation you can choose Add-Ons from this repository. If you do not see any Add-Ons after you added the Repository, navigate to the Repository (“Add-Ons” -> “Get Add-ons”); bring up the context-menu and hit “Refresh Repository” in order to load available entries to the database.

Extras

Advanced-Launcher

The Advanced Launcher is an add-on which was developed by XBMC-Community-Member Angelscry. This Add-On enables you to launch installed programs on your computer from inside the XBMC. Through this Add-On you practically can build a library from programs/games which are installed on your machine. The Add-On also makes use of some advanced features for emulator-applications. You can add specific Command-Line options in order to browse and launch your games which are running through an emulator. This again gives you the opportunity to index your Nintendo 64 games for instance which are present as ROM-Files on your system and launch them with the proper emulator. The Add-On also features scraping mechanisms. These will scrape the information about your games like XBMC does with TV Shows and Movies. In order to enable the Add-On I recommend adding the repository to your XBMC. Once the repository is added, Advanced Launcher will update itself if you install it. This way you stay on top of current developments.

In order to install the Repository go to your settings-menu and open up “Add-Ons”. You should see a line “Install from zip-file”. Choose this option and in the dialog that appears navigate to the file you downloaded from this location:

http://code.google.com/p/xbmc-advanced-launcher/downloads/detail?name=repository.angelscry.xbmc-plugins.1.2.0.zip

Afterwards click on the Button “Get More…” and choose the newly installed repository. Under “Program Add-Ons” you should find an entry “Advanced Launcher” – click it in order to install it. If you do not see any entries in this repository, navigate back and open up the context menu while highlighting the right repository (It should be “Angelscry Add-On Repository”) and choose the option “Force Refresh” – now go back inside the repository, you should see everything now. After the installation completes head to the next section.

Hint: For the Windows-Version of XBMC you should disable the full screen for “Advanced Launcher” to work properly. Head to “Settings” -> “System” in your XBMC and click on the menu “Video Output”. You will see a line “Use a full screen window rather than true full screen” – set this option active.

Configuration

You have some options available for Advanced Launcher which will help you with your setup. Click on the Add-On again in order to bring up the “Add-On-Page”. You will find an option “Configure” inside it. After you clicked this option you will be presented with the options-screen of the Advanced Launcher. Configure it to your likes (I heavily borrowed from the tutorial at http://www.gwenael.org/forum/viewtopic.php?id=3 ):

General

This menu contains general configuration options for Advanced Launcher.

Launchers Thumbs Default Path
Define the default folder in which your thumbs are being stored (more in the section Thumbnail/Fanart/Rom-Folders below). If not defined Advanced Launcher will ask for the folder-path whenever you create a new launcher.

Launchers Fanart Default Path
Define the default folder in which your fanarts are being stored (more in the section Thumbnail/Fanart/Rom-Folders below). If not defined Advanced Launcher will ask for the folder-path whenever you create a new launcher.

Action on Playing Media
Define an action that will be executed if you are currently playing media when you launch an application. The available options are: stop (stop the current playback when launching an application), put into pause (pause current playback), or let to play (just let the current playback continue).

Recursive Scan
Activate or deactivate the capability or Advanced Launcher to recursively scan items in subfolders.

Data & Infos

This menu contains configuration options for the data scrapers.

Scraper Source
Define the scraper-source. The data-scraper will look here in order to receive information about your stored media-files. Results may differ depending on the kind of games you scrape.

Import during scan
Select which method will be used to import the data (when you run a scan for new items): None (nothing will be imported), Semi-automatic (you will be asked to select from a list of results) and Automatic (will automatically select the first matching result).

Ignore BIOS Files
This option is dedicated for MAME games. When activated, Advanced Launcher will automatically ignore any detected BIOS files during folders scan.

Clean Items Titles
Activate or deactivate the clean title option. For example, the title “Alien Invaders (1983)(UA Ltd.)[aka Alien aka Les Envahisseurs Etrangers]” will be displayed as Alien Invaders. Any text after brackets will be ignored.

Titles formatting
When activated any articles at the beginning of a title (like “The”, “An” or “A”) will be placed at the end of the title.

Covers & Thumbs

This menu contains configuration options for the thumb-image-scraper.

Scraper Source
Define the scraper-source. The data-scraper will look here in order to receive information about your stored media-files. Results may differ depending on the kind of games you scrape.

Thumbs Region
Select the geographic region (America, Japan or Europe) for the box-art. If this is not activated the first found thumbnail will be used.

Images Size
Select the resolution (size) of the images which will be downloaded while scraping.

Import during scan
Select which method will be used to import the data (when you run a scan for new items): None (nothing will be imported), Semi-automatic (you will be asked to select from a list of results) and Automatic (will automatically select the first matching result).

Overwrite Existing Files
If this option is selected, existing thumbnail images will be overwritten by new scraped ones.

Screen & Fanarts

This menu contains configuration options for the fanart-image-scraper.

Scraper Source
Define the scraper-source. The data-scraper will look here in order to receive information about your stored media-files. Results may differ depending on the kind of games you scrape

Images Size
Select the resolution (size) of the images which will be downloaded while scraping.

Import during scan
Select which method will be used to import the fanarts (when you run a scan for new items): None (nothing will be imported), Semi-automatic (you will be asked to select from a list of results) and Automatic (will automatically select the first matching result).

Overwrite Existing Files
If this option is selected, existing fanart images will be overwritten by new scraped ones.

Debug Menu

This menu contains configuration options for debugging Advanced Launcher. It could be used by advanced users during the built-up of their XBMC/Advanced Launcher/Scripts/Executable Application system.

Show Batch command windows
This option show/hide the window display of started .BAT scripts by advanced launcher on windows operating system.

Sources

The “Advanced Launcher”-Add-On uses your program-sources. In order to add a source to this specific type you have to do the following: Go back to your home-screen and select the “programs” item (assuming you are using the “Confluence”-Skin which is default) – do not open the menu-item! – and click on the arrow next to the title “Programs”. A little menu should extend – select “Files” in this menu. In the next screen add a source via the “Add Source”-Button. Now technically it does not matter what you add as a source. In order to use your whole hard-drive just add the whole hard-drive to the sources, you won’t have any side-effects (except you will have to navigate more while creating new launchers).

Thumbnail/Fanart/Rom-Folders

I recommend using separate standard-folders. Create a folder on your hard-drive for the “Advanced Launcher”-Thumbnails and –Fanarts. Advanced Launcher can download those images automatically while scraping for new games but more on that later. The Thumbnails represent the Box-Arts of the several games (like the poster in the movie-section) and the Fanarts are exactly the same as in the video-library. Several Skins have own views defined for Advanced Launcher, you can use them in order to make use of the advanced features like Fanarts. It is also recommended that you keep the ROM-Files in a folder, where you have subfolders for the different gaming systems. So you would have a Folder “ROM-Files” with the subfolders “N64” and “PS2” for instance – this way you can handle the setup in a quicker, easier way. If you want to add Windows-Games to your Advanced Launcher I also recommend using a subfolder inside the ROM-Folder for shortcuts. Place a shortcut (an “.lnk”-file – note it is an “l” as in “low”) to the exe-file of the games you want to add inside this folder.

Adding a Launcher

When you run Advanced Launcher for the first time (click on the programs item in the home-menu in order to bring it up) it will ask you to add a launcher. You will be presented with two different choices: “Standalone” and “File launcher”. For explanation: The “Standalone” simply runs an executable which sits on your hard-drive while the “File launcher” is used to start an application with a special file passed to it. So for example you will run an emulator with a ROM-File passed to it, so that the emulator will then begin to run the ROM you passed to it. In order to use this feature with an application, this application has to understand command-line arguments.

The general configuration of those two launchers:

Standalone Launcher
  1. Select the “Standalone (normal PC executable)“ option
  2. Browse and select the executable file of the application you want to start
  3. In the next window you can pass command-line arguments. If the application you want to run does not need any arguments or does not support them you can leave this field blank. Otherwise just fill in the argument you have to pass.
  4. This title will be used when viewing the application in Advanced Launcher.
  5. Choose the game platform. This indicates the platform of your game-system for the image-/data-scrapers. If you do not add a game but an application, this option does not matter.

If you did not configure Advanced Launcher to use default fanart- and thumbnail-folders you have to do these steps too, otherwise you’re through at this point:

  1. Select the thumbnail path. This is the folder where the thumbnail image of the launcher will be downloaded to. If there is already an image (jpeg, gif, png or bmp format) with the same name as the executable file (can include the _thumb suffix),, this image will be automatically used for the launcher.
  2. Select the fanart path. This is the folder where the fanart image of the launcher will be downloaded to. If there is already an image (jpeg, gif, png or bmp format) with the same name as the executable (can include the _fanart suffix), this image will be automatically used for the launcher.
File launcher

(You’ll find more specific explanations on the items below – indicated with a *)

  1. Select the “File launcher (e.g. game emulator)“ option.
  2. Browse and select the executable file of the application you want to use (the emulator’s “exe”-file for instance)*.
  3. Enter the arguments you want to use with the application**. To fill these arguments you have the possibility to use 5 variables:

%rom% : this tag will be replaced by the complete path of the file.

%romfile% : this tag will be replaced by the filename (name + extension).

%romname% : this tag will be replaced by the name of a file (name without extension). %appath% : this tag will be replaced by the folder path of started executable file. %rompath%: this tag will be replaced by the folder path of launched files.

  1. Select the folder containing the file which will be launched with the application you choose (the folder of your ROM-Files for instance – we’ll call this folder ROM-Folder from this point onwards)
  2. Indicate the files extensions that will be listed by the launcher. The extension must be separated using the | character***.
  3. Indicate the title of the launcher. The Launcher will be displayed using this defined title.
  4. Choose a platform. The selected option will correspond to the platform system of the started application or emulated system. This option will be used by the scrapers to identify the games in the ROM-Folder****.
  5. Select the thumbnails path. This folder contains all the thumbnails of the items inside the ROM-Folder not of launcher itself! If there is already an image (jpeg, gif, png or bmp format) with the same name as an item in the folder you defined (including the _thumb suffix) this image will be automatically used with that item.
  6. Select the fanarts path. This folder contains all the fanarts of the items inside the ROM-Folder not of launcher itself If there is already an image (jpeg, gif, png or bmp format) with the same name as an item in the folder you defined (including the _thumb suffix) this image will be automatically used with that item.

*= If you want to add Windows-Games just choose any application, it does not matter what you select, the launcher will always launch the shortcut which is placed in the directory.

**= The arguments are defined by your application. If you use an emulator for instance, there is the highly possible chance that it can use command-line-arguments to pass a certain file. So normally you could just open a command-line window in Windows and type something like “Path\to\emulator.exe –s Path\to\ROM-File.rom” to launch a desired ROM-file inside the emulator. Advanced Launcher makes use of those command-line arguments. So in this case it would be the argument “-s” followed by the path to the actual ROM-File which is needed by the emulator to launch directly to load a ROM. You then should type the following into the argument-textbox: “-s %romfile%”

If you do not know what command-line arguments you can use with what application you should look on the page of the emulator. It most likely will explain the command-line usage somewhere in the manual or the wiki.

***= For Windows-Games type “lnk” (“l” as in “low”) in order to start the right applications. Otherwise choose the file-extension of the ROM-Files. If you have more than one file-extension per file-type you can add multiple extension, separated with the “|”-character.

****= For Windows-Games choose “IBM PC Compatible”

You will notice that after adding a “File launcher” you have no items in it, regardless of the contents of the ROM-Folder. This is because Advanced Launcher needs to be instructed to add the items to the launcher. Highlight the specific launcher in Advanced Launcher and open up the Context-Menu (“c” on your keyboard) – pick the item “Add Items” from the list. In the next step you will be asked how the items in that folder should be scraped. In “automatic”-mode Advanced Launcher will scrape all items in the folder automatically using the scrapers you defined in the configuration. Advanced Launcher will use the best matching title and does the rest alone (including the import of Thumbnails and Fanarts). If you pick the manual-mode Advanced Launcher will prompt you for an item. Specify an item you want to add and Advanced Launcher will scrape it. You could also choose an item which is not located in the ROM-Folder but somewhere else. This can take a while – of course depending on the contents of your ROM-Folder. After it finishes importing, the File launcher will open itself and you’ll see all the scraped items.

Advanced

Look at this post for more features and a take on how to use them: http://www.gwenael.org/forum/viewtopic.php?id=3

In order to make full use of the Advanced Launcher it is probable that you want an item for it on the home-screen so you do not have to go to “Programs -> Add-Ons” every time. Most skins allow you to add items to the home-screen which are present in you “Favorites”-File. To add Advanced Launcher itself to your list of favorites navigate to “Programs -> Add-Ons” and highlight “Advanced Launcher”, then bring up your context-menu and pick the item “Add to favorites”. You also have the possibility to add the specific launchers to your favorites. Just open Advanced Launcher, highlight the specific launcher and open up the context-menu. Pick here “Add to favorites” as well.

Now get back to your settings-menu and choose the option “Skin” from the list. Open up the section for “Custom Home” – you can now pick individual home-screen items to display.

Logo-/Tunes-Skins

There are several skins with advanced features which can be applied to your TV-Library. Your skin may support either TV-Show-Logos or TV-Show-Tunes. A logo should be self-explanatory – it is a title-image for the specified show. The Tunes will play as soon as you navigate to one of your show (e.g. If you have a show called 30 Rock and a proper tunes-file in the folder of 30 Rock, the tune will play as soon as you hit the “30 Rock”-entry in the library.

For both of those features most supported skins have built-in support and scripts in order to get the necessary stuff. Search for an option “Run logo script” and/or “Run tunes script” which will then download the necessary files in order to view the advanced features. You may have to apply these features in additional settings of your skin.

Bear in mind that both features generally require some “hacking” on the skin-developers end. If you have any problems with the scripts, please report them to the maker of these scripts. XBMC by default does not have any support for those features built in.

Configure Gamepads

This is an explanation of the various Keymap-Files. The Keymap-Files control in which way your Gamepad will interact with the XBMC if it is connected. You can map any button to a lot of actions in XBMC. This way you are able to use your XBMC in a more comfortable way.

This guide shows the steps for an Xbox-360-Controller but can be applied to every Gamepad which is recognized and the proper driver is installed…

Important
If your controller does not work or/and you are using XBCD for your controller, you have to check the correct button-assignments which are used by SDL. Start your XBMC and open up the settings. Go into the system-settings and click on “Debug”. Enable the Debug-Logging. Now press every key on your gamepad and remember in which order you pressed them (better yet – write it down). Quit XBMC and hit “Windows-Key” + “R” on your keyboard. In the little text-box that appears write “%APPDATA%\XBMC\” and hit Enter. Open up the file “xbmc.log” with a text-editor. You then should see something like the following:

NOTICE: Enabled Joystick: XBOX 360 For Windows (Controller) 
NOTICE: Details: Total Axis: 5 Total Hats: 1 Total Buttons: 10 

And the buttons which have been pressed are below. Now – it is important that you notice the correct Joystick-Name, because we will need it later. Also write down the button-assignment which is used by XBMC (compare your notes in which order you pressed them and you should be able to match them).
For the Xbox-360-Controllers (Wired and Wireless) the Button-Layout is the following:

XBMC Name Actual Button
Button id 1 A
Button id 2 B
Button id 3 X
Button id 4 Y
Button id 5 Left Shoulder Button
Button id 6 Right Shoulder Button
Button id 7 back
Button id 8 start
Button id 9 left stick button
Button id 10 right stick button
axis limit=”1″ id=”2″ Up on left stick
axis limit=”+1″ id=”2″ Down on left stick
axis limit=”1″ id=”3″ Left on left stick
axis limit=”+1″ id=”3″ Right on left stick
axis limit=”1″ id=”1″ Left Trigger
axis limit=”+1″ id=”1″ Right Trigger
axis limit=”1″ id=”4″ Up on right stick
axis limit=”+1″ id=”4″ Down on right stick
axis limit=”1″ id=”5″ Left on right stick
axis limit=”+1″ id=”5″ Right on right stick
hat id=”1″ position=”up” Up on DPAD
hat id=”1″ position=”right” Right on DPAD
hat id=”1″ position=”down” Down on DPAD
hat id=”1″ position=”left” Left on DPAD

Simple steps to create your own keymap.xml:

  1. Go to your XBMC-Folder and open the subfolder “system\keymaps”
  2. Copy the Xbox-Joystick-XML-File
  3. Hit “Windows-Key” + “R” and type “%APPDATA%\XBMC\userdata\keymaps”
  4. Paste the copy of the XML-file into this folder
  5. Open the XML-File with a file-editor
  6. Replace everything after the tag “<joystick name=” and before the “>” with the name of the controller you wrote down before.
  7. Create/Change the nodes for your needs. Check the Wiki for Instructions (more below).
  8. Done, you should be up and running! (Note: You must restart the XBMC in order to apply the changes you made)

Good to know

Here is a list of actions you can use:
http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Keymap.xml#Actions
The full list of actions is here:
http://xbmc.svn.sourceforge.net/view…pp?view=markup

Look at the part below “static const ActionMapping actions[] =” .
On the left side you find the name to use for the action, on the right side the action which is executed. You can also run XBMC’s internal commands, just put “XBMC.” before function (XBMC.Function).

A list of commands is here:
http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=List_of_Built_In_Functions
And a list of available windows (for the “OpenWindow”-Function):
http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Window_IDs

Example:

http://pastebin.com/jCd9czvg

Configure Remote Control

You can also use remote controls in order to control the XBMC. Since this would blow up the guide, I’ll link to the XBMC-Wiki pages here. You can get information on how to use the different remotes over there.
http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Remote_controls
http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Using_a_remote_control_with_XBMC
http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Remote_control_reviews

sabNZBd+

Homepage: http://sabNZBd.org/

Since the documentation around SAB is very well done and helpful, I won’t do anything on sabNZBd+ besides pointing to the right direction. Download the latest build at: http://sabNZBd.org/

After the download check the Setup Walkthrough – it will help you get things up and running:http://wiki.sabNZBd.org/quick-setup

This may be interesting in the context as you may want to use the PP-Script of Sickbeard (more on that later):http://wiki.sabNZBd.org/configure-categorieshttp://wiki.sabNZBd.org/configure-directories

Also make sure that you are setting up a specific category for movies. They should be downloaded to a special folder in order for Couch Potato to process them (for example: “D:DownloadsMovies”).

Sickbeard

Homepage: www.sickbeard.com

Installation and Setup

Sickbeard is fairly easy to handle. Download the latest build from the Sickbeard-Homepage: www.sickbeard.com

Just unzip it and run “sickbeard.exe” (or “python sickbeard.py” if you want to run from source – only do this if you know what you’re doing) – You can now access your Sickbeard via the Web-Interface, which should be reachable under http://localhost:8081 in your Web browser. Please note that the first time you want to show Sickbeard’s-Page it runs a little bit. Just stay calm – eventually the site will pop up.

After you reached the Web-Interface you want to configure everything before you put in your already existent TV-Shows. Note that everything may look a bit different on your end.

General

Open the general configuration by clicking the “Config”-Button and then on “General” below. Those options should be self-explanatory.

Save your changes and go on to the site “Search Settings” (Config -> Search Options).

Search Options

You should definitely use the “Download Propers” option. This will cause Sickbeard to watch out if a downloaded episode has been “nuked”. Nuked means that the file was reported for being bad, for example missing frames, out-of-sync, etc. If such a file is detected, Sickbeard will search for a proper release which does not have the errors.You should also activate the “Search NZBs”, since we want to use Sickbeard in condone with sabNZBd. In the field “NZB Method” select “sabNZBd”. A new field will show up – enter the appropriate settings for your local sabNZBd installation (You can get those settings directly from your sabnzbd-installtion). Save your settings and then go on to “Search Providers”.

Search Providers

That site should be self-explanatory. A few of the providers require you to register and a few of those also require you to pay money for downloading nzb-files. I would recommend using “Sickbeard Index” and “Newzbin” (Newzbin is generic and applies to all servers with the software “Newzbin” installed, for example nzb.su). Save your setting and go on the “Post Processing” (Config -> Post Processing).

Post Processing

Since we will run sabNZBd+ locally, you do not need to define the “TV Download Dir”. Otherwise the settings should be pretty self-explanatory.

Notifications

This is the last section to be configured. You can choose between different services which will receive notifications from Sickbeard once Sickbeard snatches an episode or finishes a download. Again: Settings should be self-explanatory.

Adding TV-Shows

You have two different options available: New Show and Existing Show. If you want to download a TV-Show you do not own at this time, click on the button „Add New Show“ and head to the section below. If you want to add one or more TV-Shows you already have saved on your disk click on the button „Add Existing Shows“ and head to the section „Existing Shows“ further below.

Add New Show

There are three steps in order to add a new Show to your database:

  1. Find TV-Show on TVDB
  2. Pick the folder in which the Show will be stored
  3. Customization

The third step however is optional – you can just apply the settings which are stored in your configuration.

First type in the name of the Show you want to add. Sickbeard will the look in the TVDB for a corresponding title and will present you with the results.

Hit the results which suit your Show and click the “Next”-Button. As you do not have a parent-folder specified right now, click the “New”-Button in the next step and choose the folder in which the Show should be stored.

In the next step choose your likings and click on “Add Show” at the bottom of the page.

Add Existing Show

First click on the button “Manage Directories” and add the Root-Folder of your existent TV-Shows. You can add more folders if you like (if you – for example – have a folder shows and Shows2, you could add them both). You should notice that Sickbeard starts to load and indexes the new folders which are subfolders of your Shows-Folder(s).

Now click on the button “Customize Options” and set everything accordingly and hit the button “Submit”.

By default, Sickbeard now tries to identify the shows in the directory you set up and will add them automatically. If you want to add the shows by yourself and review the show Sickbeard finds, you can check the Box “Prompt me to set settings for each show”. You will now be presented with the “Step 1”-screen of the Add-Show-Dialog. It will show you the search results for the Show lookups based on your Show-Directory.

Click on the right Show and hit the button “Add Show” below. This will continue until every folder is scanned and checked. If you do not want to add a specific show, just hit the button “Skip Show” and if you want to customize your choices hit “Next” and “Next” again to get to Step 3. Here you can configure special settings for the single show.

After you added the Shows to Sickbeard you have to wait a little bit – Sickbeard is now gathering all the required information and then will start looking up the series (if you specified it) in the NZB-Databases. Otherwise Sickbeard is now completely ready for usage – just hit the button “Coming Episodes” in Sickbeard to see what Sickbeard will download next and what episodes already were missed.

Post-Processing

At this point Sickbeard is configured to look for new releases. But how will Sickbeard know if a download finished? Post-Processing is the key-word. Post-Processing is the ability of Sickbeard to automatically rename your downloads and sort them into the proper folders. Without this you will need to manually copy them over and then re-scan the show directory to find the new episodes.

You can configure sabNZBd+ to launch a Post-Processing-Script for Sickbeard. Again I will copy the content of the Sickbeard-page regarding this process (http://code.google.com/p/sickbeard/wiki/PostProcessing):To set up post processing, first copy the contents of the autoProcessTV directory from your Sickbeard installation to your sabNZBd+ scripts folder (or set your scripts folder to the location of the autoProcessTV directory). Rename autoProcessTV.cfg.sample to simply autoProcessTV.cfg and open it in a text editor. Change the host, port, username and password values to the appropriate settings for your Sickbeard installation. Then set the appropriate script as your post processing script inside sabNZBd+/HellaNZB:

  • sabToSickbeard.py – Linux/OSX sabNZBd+
  • sabToSickbeard.exe – Windows sabNZBd+
  • hellaToSickbeard.py – HellaNZB

Note: If your sabNZBd+ is running on a different PC than your Sickbeard you may need to enter your TV download dir into your Sickbeard settings so that Sickbeard knows how to find the sabNZBd+ downloads.

Note 2: You must disable sorting inside sabNZBd+ to use Sickbeard’s post processing, all episodes should be being post-processed from a temporary download folder.

Couch Potato

Homepage: http://couchpotatoapp.com/

Download the current build of Couch Potato on the homepage above. For Windows click on the Windows-Button and download the zip-file. Extract it and run the file “Couch Potato.exe” – that’s it, Couch Potato is running and should open your default browser with CP already launched.

Setup – The Wizard

You can now setup Couch Potato using a wizard which is provided and included by default. I’ll guide you through it, but it should be pretty self-explanatory. You can access the wizard by accessing “localhost:5050” in your browser – but the browser should be started with that page open by Couch Potato anyhow.

Basics

The basic settings are straight forward – enter a username/password if you want to protect your Couch Potato. Now enter the port which should be used by Couch Potato. You have to choose a port which is free and not in use by another program. If you’re running under Linux: Remember that all ports below 1024 require root-access in order to be bound to. If you enable “Launch Browser”, Couch Potato will launch the default browser every time it’s started.

Downloaders

In the next section you can specify your Downloader settings. Since we are setting Couch Potato up to run with our sabnzbd installation, we choose “sabnzbd” instead of “Black hole”. Couch Potato can use many different downloaders, but I will only explain sabnzbd in this guide. After you disabled “Black hole” and enabled “sabnzbd”, you have to enter your sabnzbd information (just like with sickbeard before). Be sure that you setup a specific category for the nzbs. This is necessary because we want sabnzbd to download the movies into a specific directory. After you added those information as well, head on to the next section.

Providers

Now you can enable the different providers which are used by Couch Potato to search for new movie releases. By default a bunch of free sites are enabled. You can just ignore the torrent section, since we are not going to use it in this guide. For NZBs there are two defaults enabled “Nzbindex” and “NzbX” – both providing a registration free service. But due to the nature of the index these are more prone to fake releases. Using one of the providers which require registration tends to be more useful – some of those providers are free, a few of them require a once-a-lifetime payment and a few require a monthly fee to be used. “Newznab” again provides generic settings for different providers which are using the Newznab-Software (like nzb.su, nzbs.org, etc.). After you setup your providers, head to the next section.

Renamer

In the next section you can configure the complete automation of your movie handling. Enabling the Renamer will let Couch Potato look for downloaded movies in a specified directory. If it can detect a new movie, it will process it. This will rename the movie into a proper format and place it in a specified folder. The setting “To” is for the destination of your movies (for example: “D:Movies”) and the setting “From” is for the download directory (for example: “D:DownloadsMovies”). Generally you do not have to touch the Naming-Settings – the default ones are perfect for use with XBMC. You can also enable the setting “Cleanup” which will remove all unnecessary files from the Download Directory and also removes the top-level directory where the movie was downloaded to (for example: D:MoviesLord.of.the.Rings). After you set everything up, move on to the next section.

Automation

You can now choose to install a UserScript for your Browser by pressing the “Install userscript” button in order to install a custom script. This script will allow you to add movies directly from pages like IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, Apple Trailers, the Movie DB, and so on. You can also drag the button “+CouchPotato” to your bookmarks – this will do the same thing. When you now for example visit the IMDB and open up the detail page of a specific movie, you can use either the userscript or the bookmark to add this movie to your “Wanted” list in Couch Potato.

Finish

Well – in this section you’ll only finish setting up. Press the big green button on the bottom and get ready to start your Couch Potato experience.

Additional Settings – Searcher

Gear-Icon > Settings > Searcher

In this panel you can specify more specific settings for the Searcher. You can add “Preferred Words”, “Required Words”, and “Ignored Words”. Do this only if you know what you’re doing.

Additional Settings – Quality

Gear-Icon > Settings > Searcher > Quality

In the quality section you can specify custom qualities. The default ones are good for most, but if you want to specify something for yourself, you can do this here. By clicking “Create another quality profile” you can create a custom profile. I created a profile as an example:

This profile “720p Finish” would do the following: It would try to snatch the movie in the highest possible quality for 5 days after an initial release has been found. It would search for the qualities “720p”, “BR-Rip”, “DVD-Rip” and “Screener” in that order. Only if no 720p release can be found, a BR-Rip release would be used. If no BR-Rip would be found, it would look for “DVD-Rip” and so on. It would also continue to search for the movie after for example a “BR-Rip” has been found but no 720p release (it would of course only look for a 720p release then). The setting “Wait X day(s) for a better quality” specifies if a better quality should be looked for first, before looking for a lower release. If we have a movie for example which has the screener released on the 1st January, with the setting above, it would continue to look until the 6th January before it would actually snatch the Screener. If however a 720p release (or BR-Rip, etc.) would be found during that time, it would snatch that quality instead.

Additional Settings – Renamer

Gear-Icon > Settings > Renamer

You can setup the Renamer to do even more than just renaming your movies. In the Renamer panel you can also enable Subtitle and Trailer downloading. When a movie is being post-processed by Couch Potato, Couch Potato will also try to download an appropriate trailer and subtitle file, which then are being placed in the same directory where the movie is being renamed to.

Additional Settings – Metadata

Gear-Icon > Settings > Renamer > Metadata

In this section you can enable metadata-writing for XBMC. Couch Potato is then writing the metadata of a specified movie into a file as well. After you enabled the setting, you can choose which type of metadata you want to be written.

Additional Settings – Automation

Gear-Icon > Settings > Automation

You can do even more to automate your Couch Potato setup despite of using the userscript/bookmark. In this panel you can specify different services from which Couch Potato can pull movies into the Wanted list. For example you can use your Watchlist on Trakt to add movies to your Couch Potato installation. Enable the trakt-checkbox on the panel, enter the required information and watch the magic happen. Once you add a movie to your Trakt Watchlist, it will also be added to your “Wanted”-list on Couch Potato.You could also pull movies from for example Rotten Tomatoes which fulfill certain requirements (for Rotten Tomatoes this is for example the rating given – the movie has to match a certain rating, in order for Couch Potato to pull that movie into the wanted list). In the section below “Minimal movie requirements” you specify the generic requirements for all of the services – like Year, total Votes cast, etc.

Additional Settings – Notifications

Gear-Icon > Settings > Notifications

In the notifications panel you can enable notifications for all kind of services. Those services will notify you about a new download as soon as it is available. It will also inform you about the successful download of a movie. Enable the services you use and enter the information required for the notifications.

Additional Settings – Manage

Gear-Icon > Settings > Manage

You can use Couch Potato to manage your movies as well. Couch Potato is then able to upgrade the quality of your movies, change the information, search for trailers, etc. Enable the setting and specify the directory to your movies (for example: “D:Movies”) in order to manage your existing Movies.

Adding a Movie (manually)

To add a movie by yourself and not by using one of the automated ways, you can simply click into the search bar and enter the name of the movie you want to be added to the list and hit . You will be presented with a list of matching movies:

When you click on one of the presented titles, you can add it to the list and choose which quality you want to be applied to that movie. Click on “Add” to add this movie to your wanted list.

Couch Potato will now perform an initial search and gathers all the information about the movie. Reload the page to see the changes:

When one of the releases is available for snatching, the icon changes to the blue color. If it has been snatched it changes to a green color. As long as none of the qualities with a checkmark is downloaded, the movie will stay in your wanted list. Once one of these qualities has been snatched and downloaded, the movie will vanish from the Wanted list and moves to the Manage list.