What can you do with Raspberry pi and Raspbmc OS

If you are new to ‘Raspberry pi‘ (a.k.a Raspi) like me, you might be wondering which operating system should you use with your Raspi. in this post, I will summarize what you can do with Raspbmc operating system . The Raspbmc OS is actually port of the famous XBMC project for Raspi. so here are some things you can accomplish

DIY Hometheater system

Yes, this is the primary objective of the Raspbmc system. It converts your RasPi into a full-blown home theater system with ample of connectivity options. You can:

  • Play music, full HD videos and image slideshows of content locally stored on your RasPi’s SD card or any storage device attached via USB to RasPi. For attaching USB hard disks you will need a powered USB hub .
  • You can play media from any UpnP/DLNA servers.
  • You can stream local media from RasPi to any compatible device via UpnP/DLNA.
  • You can use the built-in slideshow function to view photos. It is possible to play music in the background when viewing a slideshow.
  • You can see a very cool visualization during music playback.

Look Ma ! no seperate remote needed.

If you have a HDMI TV which supports CEC (I think most HDMI TVs do !) , your existing TV remote is more than sufficient for using most of the functionality offered by Raspbmc. Even text entry is supported via onscreen keyboard, though it is bit painful. From my personal experience, I am happy using a single remote for TV and RasPi. It is even possible to turn off your TV and RasPi using the remote. However, before doing that please make sure that your TV’s USB port is not powering the ‘Raspberry pi’. What I have observed is the TV switches off completely before RasPi can shutdown properly, which can lead to SD card curroption.

Make your TV smart

Yes, if you don’t own one of those ‘state of the art’ smart TVs then ‘Raspberry pi’ is here to make your TV smart and keep it that way for a long time to come. Raspbmc which actually is an XBMC port, benefits from hundreds of add-ons which extend functionality of XBMC. There are many add-on repositories from where you can download these. Think of a well-known media streaming site and the chances are it will have a XBMC plugin ( Youtube, Dailymotion, Ppandora, Shoutcast, Netflix…). This is probably most distinguishing feature of XBMC/Raspbmc.

Control it from your smartphone

There are few nice XBMC remote apps available for smartphones. They allow you to use your mobile phone as remote over wifi. Some apps even allow you to stream to your mobile device or download your files.

Filesharing the easy way

If you want to transfer files between any device and Raspbmc, all you need is SFTP client on your device. I strongly recommend this method to transfer files, instead of using mobile apps or other programs. There are many SFTP clients available for smartphones, which make it super easy to transfer videos from your mobile to ‘Raspberry pi’.

Install custom software (like BitTorrentSync )

The biggest advantage of using an open hardware and software is, it allows for limitmess customization. Since Raspbmc is a full-fledged linux system, it allows you to install additional software and do cool things. For example, you may want to use a software like BitTorrentSync to keep your media content in sync across devices. You can also download and themes to personalize your XBMC experience.

Once you start using Raspbmc, you will quickly realize why the XBMC project has received so much appreciation and respect among home theater lovers. I will strongly recommend ‘Raspberry pi’ + Raspbmc to anyone who is thinking of buying a smart TV. I would rather suggest spending money saved on getting a larger display or better music system.