Raspberry 2 – First impressions

I’ve been a raspberry fan over the last 2 years. In the beginning of this year, Raspberry 2 was introduced. I soon ordered mine, and a few days ago – I just received it. Since I was doing a clean installation, making it function as a media and download center – I’ve come up with a short guide explaining the installation and configuration process.

Raspberry 2Full spec of the board can be found here.
The main improvement over my last model, was the new quad core arm A7 cpu, together with the increase of RAM to 1GB. The specs promise up to 6 times performance improvement over the previous model. I was curious to see how it performs, and immediately turned it to a media center, replacing my old setup, which was sometimes slow, and laggish.

Power Supply

Pay attention to buy a good solid 2A output mains to Usb power adapter. Most Chinese adapters are not well regulated, and often can not supply more than 0.2A. Since model B+, you will get a visual warning: a rainbow color rectangle on top-right corner of the screen. This indication warns about under-voltage and temperature issues. More can be found in this post

XBIAN Installation

I had a good experience with XBIAN distribution for the Raspberry, so I downloaded the new image for the Raspberry 2. I followed the instructions, and made an sd-card ready to be inserted to the Raspberry.
The Raspberry booted immediately, Kodi (xbmc) appeared, and i followed the wizard seamlessly. Soon I got a running Kodi on my new Raspberry. I immediately noticed a very quick boot time, and the navigation with the menus was very smooth and fast !

Skin – Aeon MQ5

The beginning of the customization stage was to install Aeon MQ5 skin. I installed version 6.1.6 by downloading the skin .zip file, and choosing “install from zip file” in Kodi. Instructions can be found here.
Aoen MQ5 is a heavy skin, allowing you to do unlimited customization. Modify the main menu, and do the customization you like.

media-20150228 (1)

Sharing Your Database Between Other Media Centers

Since I’m having more than one Kodi installed (sometimes i use my laptop, my old raspberry and this new one), I decided to use the more powerful raspberry to serve as SQL server, so sharing between all the media centers will be possible. I logged with SSH client (putty) to the raspberry (default user/pass “xbian”/”raspberry”) and run:

sudo apt-get install mysql-server

Once the server is installed, it will start the daemon on every boot. The problem you will encouter, is that Kodi is not waiting for the sql server to load, and loads too early, so it can’t access the database. You can identify it by reading the Kodi log file (.kodi/temp/kodi.log).
To synchronize the two, I created a script xbmc-wait-for-mysql.sh as described here. Edit your xbmc.conf file:

 sudo nano /etc/init/xbmc.conf

Add a call to to xbmc-wait-for-mysql.sh just after the line “pre-start script”. You’re done. This will make your boot time a little longer, but ensure that the MySql server is loaded before Kodi.
Lastly, you have to tell Kodi to use MySql server instead of locally managing the database. Open .kodi/userdata/advancedsettings.xml and add the following to the advanced settings:

<videodatabase>
<type>mysql</type>
<host>192.168.1.19</host>
<port>3306</port>
<user>kodi</user>
<pass>kodi</pass>
</videodatabase>
<musicdatabase>
<type>mysql</type>
<host>192.168.1.19</host>
<port>3306</port>
<user>kodi</user>
<pass>kodi</pass>
</musicdatabase>
<videolibrary>
<importwatchedstate>true</importwatchedstate>
<importresumepoint>true</importresumepoint>
</videolibrary>

Replace the IP address with the one of your MySql server. Do this for every Kodi machine you’ve running. Soon you’ll be able to share the same database between all. If you need to import an already, locally running database, follow this section on how to export/import the database.

NZBGet

NZBGet is a newsgroup leecher tool. If you prefer you can use transmission to handle torrent files. The installation for both is similar. You can run Kodi, open the Xbian configuration program, and install the package from there. The second way is doing that with SSH. After the login, the xbian configuration utility will load by default. There you can go to “packages” and install NZBGet/Transmission.
After installation, you can http port 9092 with user “xbian/raspberry” to get logged in.
NZBGet needs to be configured with your newsgroup service provider, Paths and post processing scripts. To install the scripts:

cd /etc/nzbget/ppscripts
git clone https://github.com/clinton-hall/nzbToMedia.git

(if the scripts fail to run in nzbget, you might need to change permissions to xbian)
Now go back to the nzbget configuration page, and you should nzbToMedia down left. Select it, and configure the various services you use (sickbeard, couchpotato , headphones). The main parameters are the port and user/password parameters, leave the rest on default.

SickBeard

Install the package, as described before. Http to port 9094 and login with “xbian/raspberry”. Go to the configuration tab and configure the search options with nzb or torrent service. Configure the method with the correct ip:port, username and password. Verify that the category is the same as in nzbget. Sickbeard will set this category each found episode. Continue to configure which subtitles you would like, Any post processing you might like and lastly, the notifications. I use Notify My Android, Trakt and Xbmc. Download notify my android application on you Iphone/Android device, so you will get notification each time you get a new episode.
To check that everything works, go to sickbeard and create a new show. Afterwards change an episode to “Wanted” and watch it being queued in nzbget/transmission. When it finishes go to the logs, and see if there are any problems in the post processing. You can select in nzbget the failed ones, and re post-process it, so you can easily debug your problem, if any.

Remote Control

Lastly, i configured a remote control. You can either use your smart-phone, by downloading Yatse (I know there are more controllers, but i like this the most). Ensure that you configure Kodi web server under settings. Another method I use is an infrared remote control. There are plenty cheap chinese one’s on ebay. I just ordered one with usb IR receiver, which send keyboard like commands. Most of the keys works right out of the box, but you can customize the rest with this guide

CA-80

Final thoughts

After playing with it around a week, I can tell for sure that performance wise, there is a great improvement over the first model. The navigation, playback, OSD, in-movie navigation is very fast. Also, doing things in parallel which before were almost impossible. I can now manage sickbeard/couchpotato while it’s unpacking files or in middle of watching a movie. The unpacking time also went down dramatically. Tasks that before took 30-35 minutes now taking 5-10 minutes. There are a lot more things that I didn’t cover here, like: external storage installation,  and fixing low download speeds (which in the old one I did have to do some optimizations), but they just worked straight forward without doing any modifications.

 

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