Raspberry Pi and XBMC

This is my first blog post regarding the Raspberry Pi, a neat little toy that I've had so much fun playing with the last few weeks. At the moment, I'm using it primarily as a cheap, low power XBMC media center. I have it connected over NFS to my media server, so there's no additional disks or storage near the media system. I installed the standard Raspbian image, and on top of that a custom build of XBMC from:


I'm not sure why Raspbian doesn't ship an XBMC out of their repo, hopefully soon. Using this, running XBMC without an X11 window manager, I had some issues with the boot screen (and login prompt) showing up for media with letterbox borders. I could not figure out how to get XBMC to handle this, or clear it, so I took a slightly different route:

  1. I created an account, xbmc, and modified /etc/inittab to boot into this user on startup
  2. Edit the xbmc users .bashrc to clear the background, set the cursor to be invisible, and then fire up xbmc in a loop (so it restarts during a crash or shutdown)

I created the xbmc account with

$ sudo useradd  -g users -G 4,20,24,29,44,46,60,1001 --shell /bin/bash xbmc


The inittab is simply

1:2345:respawn:/sbin/getty -a xbmc 38400 tty1


And the ~xbmc/.bashrc script is

echo -e '\033[?1c'
while [ 1 ]; do
    /usr/lib/xbmc/xbmc.bin --standalone --fs
    sleep 10


For this to work well, you also have to set a 128M/128M split, using the raspi-config utility. In addition, I'd recommend running the medium overclock mode, again set using a (recently updated) raspi-config. In my case, I run with this from /boot/config.txt:



You can check temperature and arm frequency with e.g.

root@rpi-2:/home/leif# vcgencmd measure_temp
root@rpi-2:/home/leif# vcgencmd measure_clock arm


This shows standard CPU frequency, since the system running the XBMC menu system consumes a fairly small amount of CPU.

Update: If someone has a better solution to eliminate the framebuffer crap (login prompts etc.) from the XBMC letterbox borders, please post a comment!