They live in many homes across the world, dwelling near or even in many a television set, ominous little boxes of lameness. Yes I speak of the set-top video streaming box like the roku or apple tv and smart-tvs.These little guys lock you in to a set of services, don't get regular updates, and don't allow us hackers and makers to expand their functionality. HTPCs or Home Theater PCs are the solution to the common media streaming box, we can build one on a limmited budget and make them do anything we want. Continue reading to find out how!
Step 1: Hardware Selection
Now for the fun part, choosing out our new HTPC. Kodi media center recomends a dual-core cpu and 1gb of ram, anything made in the past 10 or so years should be fine. You can spend as much as you like, better hardware will let you do things like PC gaming on your tv. I recommend looking at garage sales, basements, and university surplus stores.
I got a Dell Optiplex 755 ultra small form factor PC for 10$ at a garage sale, it came with a dual-core pentium,1gb of ram, 80gb hard drive, and failed to boot windows (something that didn't worry me).I also needed to get a USB wifi card for the computer) Many people do this kind of thing with a raspberry pi, but I wanted better expandability, performence, and an internal hard drive for media.
Step 2: Opperating System Choice
This is really up to you, I personally recomend Linux for this because it will allow us to both run on old hardware and control every bit of our system. I chose Antergos Linux because it is rolling relase, (meaning updates forever vs. new versions) offers every package we need and is comes with good software pre-installed.
Step 3: Install Antergos
First of you will need a USB drive of blank DVD, next visit https://antergos.com/ and download the version of the .iso file that is correct for your system (32 bit for old computers and 64 bit for new). After that burn your install media to your USB or DVD device using Unetbootin or a similar piece of software. Boot your computer and connect to the internet, launch the "Install Antergos" program from the menu and follow the prompts.
This is a more in-depth tutorial for people who are not so familiar with this kind of thing.
Step 4: Software Setup
Now that you have a functioning desktop it is time to set it up as an HTPC. The first thing to take care of is Kodi media center, our primary interface to the PC. On your Antergos system launch the "terminal" app. This is the command line side of Linux and it is very powerful, this is how we will install and remove software. Type or copy/paste this command to install Kodi. sudo pacman -S kodi
Next enter your password and wait for Kodi to install. You can now launch the Kodi app and install some addons or browse local media.
Step 5: Puting It on the TV/Final Thoughts
Next you will need to find the cables to hook up th computer to the TV. I needed a DVI-HDMI cable as well as an audio cable, you may need something else. You now have a box that can do much more than the set-top box your buddy has. You can download the Kode remote app to your phone to control your new media center. However Kodi isn't the limit to what you can do, try installing steam and doing a little game streaming or gameplay or try runing a file server. If you have problems/questions look at the arch wiki (Antergos is based in Arch Linux) or leave me a comment.
Keep your system up to date by runing: sudo pacman -Syu