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Revision as of 20:01, 20 September 2013 by Apoulos (talk | contribs) (99-lirc.rules didn't work for me. Added note to follow LIRC wiki tmpfiles.d method to set the remote to the lirc protocol.)
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XBMC (formerly "Xbox Media Center") is a free, open source (GPL) multimedia player that originally ran on the first-generation XBox, (not the newer Xbox 360), and now runs on computers running Linux, Mac OS X, Windows, and iOS. XBMC can be used to play/view the most popular video, audio, and picture formats, and many more lesser-known formats, including:

  • Video - DVD-Video, VCD/SVCD, MPEG-1/2/4, DivX, XviD, Matroska
  • Audio - MP3, AAC.
  • Picture - JPG, GIF, PNG.

These can all be played directly from a CD/DVD, or from the hard-drive. XBMC can also play multimedia from a computer over a local network (LAN), or play media streams directly from the Internet. For more information, see the XBMC FAQ.

As of version 12, it can also be used to play and record live TV using a tuner, a backend server and a PVR plugin; more information about this can be found on the XBMC wiki.


Note: These instructions assume you have a working X installation. If you have not done this yet, please consult Beginners_Guide#Graphical_User_Interface.

Install xbmc from the official repositories. If you plan to use the pvr extensions of xbmc you will need to install xbmc-pvr-addons.


Autostarting at boot

To use XBMC on HTPC you may want to start XBMC automatically on boot. Since version 11.0-11 xbmc package includes the xbmc group, user, and service file necessary to do this.

To make XBMC start at system boot you should simply enable the service:

# systemctl enable xbmc

Enabling shutdown, restart, hibernate and suspend

Since version 12 XBMC supports power management via systemd logind daemon. To enable it you should have polkit, upower and udisks installed on your system.

In case XBMC is started using the systemd service, the session might not get initialzed properly and therefore polkit may not allow the shutdown or reboot of the system. If this happens, adding the following rule file will allow users in the power and storage group to shutdown, restart, hibernate and suspend computer.

polkit.addRule(function(action, subject) {
    if(action.id.match("org.freedesktop.login1.") && subject.isInGroup("power")) {
        return polkit.Result.YES;

polkit.addRule(function(action, subject) {
    if (action.id.indexOf("org.freedesktop.udisks") == 0 && subject.isInGroup("storage")) {
        return polkit.Result.YES;

Using a remote controller

As XBMC is geared toward being a remote-controlled media center, if your computer has an IR receiver, you will probably want to set up a remote using LIRC. Once you are sure your remote is working properly (tested with $ irw), add lircd to your DAEMONS Array and you'll be ready to create an Lircmap.xml file for it.

Using your favorite text editor, you'll need to go in and create an XML file at ~/.xbmc/userdata/Lircmap.xml (note the capital 'L'). Lircmap.xml format is as follows:

  <remote device="devicename">
  • Device Name is whatever LIRC calls your remote. This is set using the Name directive in lircd.conf and can be viewed by running $ irw and pressing a few buttons on the remote. IRW will report the name of the button pressed and the name of the remote will appear on the end of the line.
  • XBMC_button is the name of the button as defined in keymap.xml.
  • LIRC_button is the name as defined in lircd.conf. If you automatically generated your lircd.conf using # irrecord, these are the names you selected for your button then. Refer back to LIRC for more information.
  • You may want to check out the very thorough Lircmap.xml page over at the XBMC Wiki for more help and information on this subject.

MCE remote with Lirc and Systemd

Install lirc-utils and link the mce config:

# ln -s /usr/share/lirc/mceusb/lircd.conf.mceusb /etc/lirc/lircd.conf

Then, make sure the remote is using the lirc protocol:

$ cat /sys/class/rc/rc0/protocols

If not, issue:

# echo lirc > /sys/class/rc/rc0/protocols

A udev rule can be added to make lirc the default. A write rule doesn't seem to work, so a simple RUN command can be executed instead.

KERNEL=="rc*", SUBSYSTEM=="rc", ATTR{protocols}=="*lirc*", RUN+="/bin/sh -c 'echo lirc > $sys$devpath/protocols'"
Note: If this doesn't work, follow the suggestion to use tmpfiles.d as specified in the LIRC wiki to set the remote to the lirc protocol at boot time.

Next, specify the lirc device. This varies with kernel version. As of 3.6.1 /dev/lirc0 should work with the default driver.

# Parameters for lirc daemon


The default service file for lirc ignores this conf file. So we need to create a custom one.

Description=Linux Infrared Remote Control

ExecStartPre=/usr/bin/ln -sf /run/lirc/lircd /dev/lircd
ExecStartPre=/usr/bin/ln -sf /dev/lirc0 /dev/lirc
ExecStart=/usr/sbin/lircd --pidfile=/run/lirc/lircd.pid --device=${LIRC_DEVICE} --driver=${LIRC_DRIVER}


Finally, enable and start the lirc service:

# systemctl enable lirc
# systemctl start lirc

This should give a fully working mce remote.

Fullscreen mode stretches XBMC across multiple displays

If you have got a multi-monitor setup and don't want XBMC to stretch across all screens, you can restrict the fullscreen mode to one display, by setting the environment variable SDL_VIDEO_FULLSCREEN_HEAD to the number of the desired target display. For example if you want XBMC to show up on display 0 you can add the following line to your Bashrc:

Note: Mouse cursor will be held inside screen with XBMC.

Slowing down CD/DVD drive speed

The eject program from the util-linux package does a nice job for this, but its setting is cleared as soon as the media is changed.

This udev-rule reduces the speed permanently:

KERNEL=="sr0", ACTION=="change", ENV{DISK_MEDIA_CHANGE}=="1", RUN+="/usr/bin/eject -x 2 /dev/sr0"

Replace sr0 with the device name of your optical drive. Replace -x 2 with -x 4 if you prefer 4x-speed instead of 2x-speed.

After creating the file, reload the udev rules with

# udevadm control --reload

See also

  • XBMC Wiki - Excellent resource with much information about Arch Linux specifically