Step 6: setting up XBMC

I've tried several media center programs. Windows Media center, web based front ends, and besides the fact that most have to be running on a PC, they cost money. XBMC is opensource, free, and totally customizable. When browsing movies in XBMC, there is little, if any lag, even with large movie collections. With Media Center, the more movies you add the slower it gets. XBMC running on an AppleTV was what sealed the deal to make it my final solution.

Once you boot into XBMC try it out, kick the tires, take it for a spin. then:

Set up your screen
Go into settings> Appearance> Screen. Then select Video Calibration. This will step you through the process to ensure you are utilizing your entire screen, and also that nothing is getting cut off.

Add your media
The next thing to do is add sources. This is where you tell XBMC where your movies are located. If you would like to add parental control, start with your account. Add all of the drives that you have movies on. One source can contain multiple drives and directories.
To add sources click on Videos> (disable Library mode if active)> then click on Add Source.
Choose the right source type, usually SMB, and then browse to your media server. Add as many locations as you need to. Before you hit ok, click on the SET CONTENT button. This is where you tell XBMC what type of content is in the folder. I prefer IMDB, choose the option you prefer, which should be that same place you got he movies names when converting.

repeat this same process for TV shows, music, and photos. you want every path to every location to be listed under one source, for each type of media. in other words, you want 1 source for movies, 1 source TV shows, etc.. each source can contain multiple paths. (watch the video)

Convenient system settings
a few setting that I like to set up for convenience are Update on start up, and I like to get rid of additional menu items that won't be using. this way every time your start XBMC is will update your library, and you won't have to scroll through menu items you don' t use.

"Change the look and Feel"
Next choose your favorite skin. There are three default. I prefer the skin 1/3 Media Stream, it has a separate menu item for TV shows and Movies, and has a better over all look and feel, IMHO.

Library mode vs. File Mode
XBMC has two modes, file mode and library mode. Simply put file mode is for adding sources, seeing all of the options available and is a little more coarse to use. Library mode is for when you have every thing set up, and your ready to just use your new set up. it has a little more elegant look. but if you want to change something on the fly, some extra steps will be required. This is my opinion on how to use XBMC. Configure it to your hearts content!
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I use Media Center Master and XBMC. <br> <br>I have tried several other apps and this is by far the best. <br> <br>Media Center Master Is a free metadata and media organization solution for Windows Media Center. <br>Including support for MediaBrowser, XBMC, Boxee, Netgear NeoTV, pyTiVo and more! <br> <br>http://www.mediacentermaster.com/
Take a look at mediarenamer. Its an amazing renaming software. I like the apple TV Idea but a PC is a better solution as you dont need to have a separate NAS or other things running. and it can be cheaper. Also download your movies from the internet with torrents. Its legal if you own the DVD and you start them all at once. depending on your connection you will have them all in a few days. and no DVD swapping.
Do you mean S-video and AV aren't supported. because Component is the three video output.
Vista worked for me with 2 HD digital tuners and 2 XBox 360s in different rooms as extenders. <br>I already had a PC with Vista Home Premium and 2 360s so all that was left to do was buy 2 pci tuners under $50 each so the entire cost in hardware was under $100
freenas is free and better justget a older copy cuz the new one has probs with realy realy old hdds
Most computers that are a p4 or newer have a raid chip built into the motherboard that support raid 0 or 1 and some times raid 5 for big multi media file servers I recommend putting the os drive on a single drive then make a raid 5 for the media files you'll have better read speeds and if one drive dies in the raid your configuration will still work until you can order a back up. but one fyi is NEVER use a raid set up instead of back ups. hard drives fail and server weather happens so if something comes along and kill more then one hard drive at a time then your screwed.
I'd love to go Raid 5 but at the time I build my server a 1TB drive was around $200.00. and I didn't have $800-1000 for hard drives. I think the problem is, for the average person, raid is too hard to set up, and too expensive. the latter is my issue. I'm ok with no raid, for back up I use a different Hard drive to store the movies. and I leave the hard drive not in use, in a safe place. not fool proof but it's cost effective and easy to restore.
Regarding FreeNAS... how long ago was it you evaluated it? I'm wondering if the newer release is more stable with enhanced performance.
I haven't looked into FreeNAS for a while, about 9 months. it took days to move 1.4Tb, I don't see myself switching when I have a working set up. The only reason I could see my self switching from FreeNas would be to visualize the server, I currently have my Media Server and a Skype Server, I'd like to get both of these on one machine to save or electricity and upkeep on 2 PC's
....if you read the instructable you'll see why I don't recommend freeNAS FreeNAS is cool but I want my data on something rock solid... NASlite.
use <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.freenas.org/">http://www.freenas.org/</a> instead is FREE<br/>
XBMC or Boxee is better?
They each have a different focus. XBMC is more media center oriented, and Boxee is more social network oriented. XBMC has been fine tuned to be very easy to use and easy to que up media. Boxee is brand new and there are a lot more steps to get to your media. so it really depends on what your after. also the Iphone app for Boxee doesn't even compart to XBMC Remote. I was leaning toward Boxee as my primary interface, but when they lose Hulu. that made XBMC more appealing. When you hack an AppleTV it installs both XBMC and Boxee and its easy to switch between the two.
dose XBMC work on an xbox
Yes XBMC (xbox media center) was originally written for the original xbox. to my knowledge it does not work on an xbox 360. you can substitute the appleTV with an Xbox, But in keeping to the "a wife will use theme" I'd recommend an appleTV. it is a more elegant solution.
well mines is going into a house full of collage students with a "guess the stain" couch so looks aren't that big of a deal.
how about some photos of <em>your</em> system that 'even the wife and kids will use'?<br/>
sure, I will post some photos of <em>MY</em> system, but the point of this is, there isn't really anything to take a picture of... the server, See Step 2 for photos, is in my basement out of the way, and my AppleTV sits on top of my TV . What you see on screen looks exactly like what is on step 7. <br/>

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