ATV2 & XBMC – Totally Feeling The Love

I noticed that it had been 3 months since my last XBMC update. The main reason for this is because I have been happily using XBMC on ATV2 for the past months with absolutely no issues. I was very please with its performance on the whole, some things were slow(ish) but it worked for my needs.

I had a nightly build from June sometime and I just thought “if it ain’t broke …” well you know the rest. As a regular visitor of the XBMC forums I know that there had been continued development work, especially it seemed for the ATV2, so I thought I would take the plunge and get an update.

Having been able to stream HD (720p) content over my network almost seemlessly for the past few months I started to have a few issues. I have powerline ethernet set up now that, although no faster than the wireless network around the house, is rock solid. That was the only real change in 3 months so I am supposing that it was really a problem with the files themselves. However I wanted to change my sources to FTP shares as McLog had his setup like this and found it way quicker that the standard SMB share.

As I have a very limited amount of TV shows and the watched/unwatched status doesn’t matter for me on my movies I decided to almost rebuild the whole system – without deleting too much. My first steps should have been to take a back-up but I skipped this part as I only have a few plugins and wasn’t bothered if I needed to start everything all over. That being said I had a copy locally of advanced settings and sources files so I could save myself a bit of typing. So my first steps were to download and update the latest nightly build.

wget http://mirrors.xbmc.org/../xbmc-20110904-a2098db-master-atv2.debdpkg -i xbmc-20110904-a2098db-master-atv2.debrm xbmc-20110904-a2098db-master-atv2.deb

I didn’t experience any issues with the install, though instructions are available on the wiki pages if you do run into them. Next I edited my sources file to include the FTP shares instead of the SMB shares previously. I had decided that since I wanted this pretty clean I deleted all thumbnails on my system. I had never managed to share this part but I think it is better in my set up to continue drawing the files locally. To delete all thumbs in the cache you need to edit Textures6.db found in userdata/Database directory. There are instructions on how to do this directly, but the way I did this was to copy the file to my local machine and open with SQLite Database Browser App for the mac and make one commit then overwrite the existing file on the ATV2 again. You may want to do a backup before doing the following.

DELETE FROM texture WHERE 1;

All good. Now I went to video files and set the content for my sources and set the scanning in motion again. Two things to point out here. Firstly I have .nfo files for all my movies, so it should help with the scapping process and secondly I made a slight modification to my advancedsettings.xml file to reduce or limit the size of images.

<fanartheight>540</fanartheight><thumbsize>256</thumbsize>

Now to test.

The general speed of navigation was improved a bit for sure but the most noticable change was in movie library mode when images, once library had updated, were almost instant. Fantastic. Playback is just as good with no issues to report at this time. One added bonus of this build, that I didn’t even notice at first, was the introduction of native “airplay” support. This means now that I can airplay from my iPad straight to XBMC. Previously when trying this, XBMC would crash. So now there is even less need for the native Apple interface.

Photo_9

I must admit when I got XBMC onto my ATV2 when I took it out of the box I was a bit disappointed. One day later with my first install of a nightly build I could see some hope – after all at the time XBMC for this platform was only 5 months old. However, after an update in June I have been thrilled to bits about it. It is absolutely fantastic and with the latest build I installed from September I am really feeling the love again – it’s like a new machine almost. I haven’t tested everything yet, tonight will be one as it is HD movie Friday, but so far .. so good great!

Once again, great work developer chaps!!!!!

As I write this I notice that the latest release as AFP client support, this should make file sharing even easier across the home network I guess. Amazing.

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