For the past 6 months or so, I’ve been using XBMC on a Mini-ITX computer I hooked up to my HDTV through HDMI. Just a barebones AMD Fusion PC. For those who don’t know what XBMC is, it’s a open source media center application for Windows/Mac/Linux. They even offer a minimal Ubuntu install with XBMC preinstalled (Didn’t run HD very well for me because of the ATI graphics on Linux). Otherwise, it’s awesome. Really slick interface for watching/listening to pretty much anything, and a ton of community support and forums. It even downloads poster art and media info automatically (if your files are named/tagged correctly). Right now I’m using refocus theme. One of the best themes I’ve found yet, especially for the Pre-Eden builds.
So after reading through the XBMC forums for a while looking for cool addons (and believe me, there’s a lot of cool stuff there), everyone kept talking about NAS, RAID, and Usenet. I’ve been using torrents for years, since I was on dial-up (which was only about 5 years ago if I think about it…). I’m on private trackers, I read TorrentFreak, I upload my own torrents, etc. On a couple of private sites, they had an RSS system where I could set a TV season to my RSS, and it would auto add it to my client when something new was added to it. A really great idea, but I really wanted something even MORE automated, even MORE streamlined.
Then I saw programs like Sickbeard and Couchpotato, programs written in Python that would search NZB providers periodically for new TV Shows or Movies. With Sickbeard, you can specify a TV Show, it will auto grab all the episode names, screenshots, everything from TheTVDB, and auto searching whatever NZB provider you have set up for any episode you specify (You can set it to skip/want any season/episode you want). Couchpotato does the same thing, but for movies. (You can also use a program called Headphones that does the same for Music but I couldn’t get it to work properly)
The best features about this is that they ALL talk to XBMC and update the XBMC library automatically. Everything is automated. I can set it and forget it. For example, if I decide to get all of Futurama, it goes out and finds all the seasons, unzip them if needed, put them in the right folder, rename the files to the episode name, updates XBMC with the new episodes.
I also recently bought a RAID enclosure to house all of this media. I bought a Mediasonic ProBox 4 Bay Enclosure with USB 3.0 with 4 2TB drives. Put them all in RAID5 and I have about 6.5TB in RAID5 with USB 3.0. Works great.
I’m really happy with the whole set up. If anything, I would change my PC specs to be something slightly more powerful (preferably with an nVidia chip so I can use the Linux distro of XBMC).
If anyone wants to use the same Usenet service I use, you can sign up to UsenetServer here (affiliate link). They offer unlimited downloads, and a huge binary retention at a great price.
If anyone wants a similar setup, leave me a comment and I’ll try my best to help out