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Run XBMC (Kodi), build a SMART TV with a netbook/laptop for free

After moving house our main HTPC/PVR was relocated to the backroom of the house. This left our main lounge without adequate access to our substantial media library. We started with Samsung’s DLNA solution which is garbage, but i am a massive fan of the XBMC (Kodi) project and wanted it implemented as the main interface for all our media solutions.

I used a Lenovo S10e as my main portable device for many years. That was until the hinges snapped on the screen, the old trick with laptops. This as many know, rendered it’s primary purpose useless.  The Television in the main loungeroom is wall mounted so having something hidden behind the TV sitting on the bracket is an attractive opportunity. Based on the small netbook form factor, I decided I’d set it up as a x86 XBMC install hidden behind the TV.




The aim of this project is to have a x86 based device hidden behind a wall mounted television with a full featured XBMC (Kodi) install. Other software may be installed at a later date but here we will focus on what it took to get XBMC (Kodi) installed.

  • The television will be attached through the VGA port as a second display
  • Second display will need to remain on when the netbook lid is closed
  • Machine will be Linux based
  • Machine will be hardwired into the network
  • XBMC (Kodi) installed from official PPA

Previously we had setup:

  • Samsung TV DLNA talking to MythTV/XBMC (Kodi) UPnP support.
  • Samsung TV hacked with SamyGo to support virtual cifs mounts on USB, this has limited playback support and wouldn’t list all the available files when browsing some shares.
  • Raspberry Pi with XBMC (Kodi) (Raspbmc & Raspbian implementations) but unfortunately the Pi is either faulty or our implementation of the Pi results in corruption of the SD.

The broken netbook previously had vanilla Linux Mint 14 installed, this was not changed at the beginning of this project. We will make use of the .xprofile file to manage the displays at the beginning of the X user session.

Install the Official XBMC (Kodi) Repository

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:team-xbmc/ppa
$ sudo apt-get update

Install XBMC (Kodi)

$ sudo apt-get install xbmc

Create ~/.xprofile

$ touch ~/.xprofile

Edit .xprofile

$ gedit ~/.xprofile

Add the following lines to the ~/.xprofile (native resolutions for your screen may differ)

#Set 2nd display to native resolution 1920x1080
xrandr --output VGA1 --mode 1920x1080
#Turn off 1st display
xrandr --output LVDS1 --off
#Unmute sink pactl
pactl set-sink-mute 0 0
#Set sink volume to 100%
pacmd set-sink-volume 0 65537

Autostart XBMC (Kodi) after login

$ mkdir -p ~/.config/autostart
$ cp /usr/share/applications/xbmc.desktop ~/.config/autostart/

Ensure the second display will remain on with the netbook lid closed

Prevent sleep/hibernate etc.

$ sudo gedit /etc/default/acpi-support
Find and edit the following items as per below
Reboot your machine, XBMC (Kodi) will start after login and you may configure it appropriately.
Now you may close the lid and hide the netbook behind the TV out of the way. Mine sits almost perfectly on top of the wall mounted bracket. The piece of lego pictured below is a simple lo-tech method keeping the netbook heat away from the hotspot on the plasma to aid cooling of both devices.




There is still some work to do hiding the network cables between the TV, Netbook and router but this is purely cosmetic and  easily solved.




End result, now I have a x86 based XBMC (Kodi) install in my main lounge room, easily hidden away from view.


NB: We control our XBMC (Kodi) installs on our Android devices using Yatse which is a great piece of software.



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