I’ve noticed for a while that my grossly inadequate XBMC setup guide is one of the most popular articles on this blog, and it’s something that has long required rectifying. XBMC has been changed a lot recently, and it’s now moved to a different configuration system – plus, if you want XBMC to talk with Windows Vista, you require a 2007 version.
Thus, I’ve created here an all-new XBMC setup guide – Vista-safe, up to date, and with absolutely no XML editing required. This, however, will be done as a series of parts:
- Installation and updating (which follows)
- Setting up your sources list
- The little things
XBMC is, quite simply, one of only two legitimate reasons to mod your Xbox – the other is emulation. The achievement in XBMC is breathtaking – here we have a bit of software that despite being open source, despite that it requires a modded Xbox to run, despite that the Xbox is a Pentium-III running at ~733MHz with 64MB RAM, basically does everything a TV-connected media box needs to do very easily; it’s only being slightly superceded now because it’s simply not capable of HD-resolution video (although it can do HD upscaling through hardware acceleration.)
The hardest part of XBMC is installation. But once you’ve got your Xbox modded (and my other guide’s quite good at that sort of thing, ahem) installing or updating your XBMC install is actually fairly easy.
First, T3CH, the builder of the best XBMC compile, now offers his build of XBMC through his website t3ch.yi.se. All you have to do is download the .rar file from that website and unRAR it to a temporary directory; if the T3CH site is down, you can generally find his compiles distributed through bittorrent. Anyway, there’s a bunch of directories in there; the most important, however, is called “XBMC” and it looks like this:
The structure of XBMC has changed recently – now all the data generated by you goes in the UserData directory, so there’s less risk of you overwriting any of your personal settings if you upgrade XBMC, as long as you make sure not to overwrite the version you’ve built up with any new one.
So now all you need to do is connect to your Xbox. Almost all non-Microsoft dashboards for the Xbox offer a ftp server (username ‘xbox’, password ‘xbox’, unless you’ve changed it) which offers full access to the system’s hard drives. If you absolutely can’t have a network connection, you can use a file manager to copy the XBMC directory from a DVD-R (CD-Rs generally don’t work with xboxes), but networks are easier. All dashboards understand DHCP, so you can easily plug it into your standard router, get your IP from the configuration section of your dashboard, and then use SmartFTP or a similar FTP client to connect to your box.
This will show a series of folders, each of which represent the Xbox’s drive letter system – C, D, E… “C” is the main drive and must not be tampered with. “D” ditto. “E” is the data partition that all applications and so on should be installed on, except in special situations (and with things like upgraded hard drives, you’re probably above the level of this guide anyway, or at least know how to adapt it.)
So go into the E folder, and then into Apps – in FTP’s style, this is the folder /E/Apps/. Here is where you upload the XBMC folder…
So all you need to do here is copy across the XBMC folder into the /E/Apps tree, so that when you go into /E/Apps/XBMC/ you see the same folder tree as in the first image, with the default.xbe. If you’re upgrading, the best way to go about it is to go into /E/Apps/XBMC on the FTP server, go into your unzipped .rar on the local side, delete all the folders except UserData from the Xbox that you can see in the .rar plus the default.xbe, and then copy to the Xbox all of the folders and files except UserData. You might also want to manually merge any changes in UserData across file by file – so if the remote command codes have updated, you might want to shift that .xml across, but not alter your sources list.
Once it’s finished uploading, you should see XBMC in your applications startup list on the Xbox. Just boot it, and it’ll take a few seconds to come up. And that’s it.
If you want XBMC to come up as your default startup, the method of doing this varies depending on the mod you’re using; it involves a “shortcut”. Two of these (one by team XBMC and one by Team UIX) are supplied in the T3CH distribution in the _extras folder: these are documented here as options 1 and 3.
Anyway, good luck all. Coming up: putting XBMC to work reading all your network-stored music perfectly happily. In the meantime, feel free to tell me in the comments if I’ve messed something up or made the description too hard or whatever and I’ll endeavour to fix it. Thanks all.