I bought a Raspberry Pi after my GuruPlug died. I figured I’d use it for a ZNC bouncer. But then I bought a Mac Mini and starting using it instead. The Raspberry Pi just sat on my desk as I couldn’t think of a good enough reason to find time to tinker with it. Then I thought of one…

I’ve dropped cable/satellite TV. I’m using SickBeard to download a couple of shows I can’t get on Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, or Netflix. I have a Roku (with Roxbox) on one TV and an Apple TV connected to another. The problem is that SickBeard downloads my shows in .mkv format. I then have to use HandBrake to convert them to .mp4 (H.264) to get them to play on either device. It often takes longer to convert them that id does just to find a torrent offering the H.264 version. Either way, it’s not as automated as I would like it to be.

I tried once to play an mkv file through Roxbox. It messed up my Roku so it wouldn’t connect to the internet anymore. I had to do a factory reset to get it working again. It just happened again. This time though, I decided to spend some time seeing what I could do with the Raspberry Pi that has been sitting on my desk for months.

I quickly found Raspbmc. Wow! I found an 8GB SD card, borred the charger for my Kindle Fire, and followed the instructions for setting it up. Everything went smoothly and I had a media center up and running in short time. Out of the box, it’s pretty cool. It has a nice user interface, though not as simple as Roku or Apple TV, but like most open source software, much more robust & configurable.

The Problems

Of course it can’t all be THAT easy – at least with me. I set this up on a TV upstairs. My router is on the main floor in my office. There is no wireless on the Raspberry PI, so I have to have it wired. Luckily, I have an extra Airport Extreme that got fried in a lightening storm. The incoming port doesn’t work, but it still works as an access point and so I could use it to plug an ethernet cable into my Raspberry Pi. On my main Airport Extreme I have and external hard drive. This was the tricky part getting it mounted on my guru plug, and proved to be a challenge with the Raspberry Pi as well.

I got a bee in my bonnet trying to get this to work and I finally found the solution.

I had to ssh into my Raspberry Pi and install cifs-utils because apparently Raspbmc doesn’t come with it.

sudo apt-get install cifs-utils

Then I could mount my hard drive (Elements is the name of my HDD):

sudo mount -t cifs //10.0.1.1/Elements/ -o username=MYUSERNAME,password=MYPASSWORD /home/pi/Elements/

XBMC plays the mkv files perfectly, so now I just need to add a few automated tools to put my files in the right place on my network drive and this whole thing will be so much more hands-off 🙂