CCitizenTO
Posts: 83
Joined: Sun May 20, 2012 2:14 am

Raspberry Pi Media Center?

Fri Mar 28, 2014 6:45 am

First and foremost let me preface this by mentioning that I have an older model Raspberry Pi (256mb RAM version) that was put out shortly after release. I was wondering if this was the major culprit in my performance issues.

I was wondering how people are setting up their Raspberry Pi as media centers because my experience with RaspBMC has been less than stellar including rather laggy menu and such. Do you stream things reliably or do you have to download it to the SD Card/USB Drive/NAS and run it from there?

My Current Setup

Raspberry Pi (256MB RAM Version 1.1)
Powered USB Hub (Dlink 7 Port Hub)
Edimax Nano USB Wireless N Adapter (150Mbps)
Wireless Keyboard... I may get a bluetooth one.

Running RaspBMC (would OpenELEC work better?) Or should I just bite the bullet and buy a newer Raspberry Pi version?

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GTR2Fan
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Location: South East UK

Re: Raspberry Pi Media Center?

Fri Mar 28, 2014 8:37 am

I've run a dedicated RaspBMC setup on a 256MB Model B and it was quite sluggish initially, so I did the following to fix it...

1/ Used the highest stable overclocks possible,

2/ Used an SD card with decent 4KB transfer speeds.

That made it much smoother and perfectly usable, but the icing on the cake was moving the '/root' partition over to an external USB hard drive. The end result was a system that performed very similarly to the XBMC install on my 3GHz+ Intel C2D main PC. :)
Pi2B Mini-PC/Media Centre: ARM=1GHz (+3), Core=500MHz, v3d=500MHz, h264=333MHz, RAM=DDR2-1200 (+6/+4/+4+schmoo). Sandisk Ultra HC-I 32GB microSD card on '50=100' OCed slot (42MB/s read) running Raspbian/KODI16, Seagate 3.5" 1.5TB HDD mass storage.

CCitizenTO
Posts: 83
Joined: Sun May 20, 2012 2:14 am

Re: Raspberry Pi Media Center?

Fri Mar 28, 2014 3:51 pm

Alright well I will admit I cheaped out on the SD card the first time around... I got a Class 4 on the assumption that the RPi would not benefit from faster SD cards. Would a move to a Class 10 card result in that much of improvement in performance as well?

I have never set it up to use a USB drive before... I am guessing that sort of configuration isnt easily doable with NOOBS is it?

wimble
Posts: 34
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2013 9:52 am

Re: Raspberry Pi Media Center?

Fri Mar 28, 2014 4:23 pm

I have the understanding that OpenElec is smoother than RaspMC. It certainly ought to be (since it's *only* configured to run XBMC, and not to do anything else which might impact on performance).

If you want to try switching between the two, It's possible to back up the userdata directory and restore it under the other environment, preserving your library and watched statuses etc. The Beta (3.95.2 based on the upcoming Gotham release of XBMC) is more responsive than the official release, but I can sympathise with not wanting to deal with it.

However, even before you do that, try turning off the RSS scroll-text. It requires quite a lot of CPU power, and slows down the responsiveness of the interface.

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GTR2Fan
Posts: 1601
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Location: South East UK

Re: Raspberry Pi Media Center?

Fri Mar 28, 2014 5:27 pm

CCitizenTO wrote:Alright well I will admit I cheaped out on the SD card the first time around... I got a Class 4 on the assumption that the RPi would not benefit from faster SD cards. Would a move to a Class 10 card result in that much of improvement in performance as well?
Not necessarily. All of the Class 10 cards I've ever owned have had very poor 4K transfer (ie, small reads/small writes) speeds. RaspBMC benefits from faster performance in this area, so a smaller SD card with a lower class rating can, infact, be significantly faster for running an OS from.
I have never set it up to use a USB drive before... I am guessing that sort of configuration isnt easily doable with NOOBS is it?
NOOBS can complicate matters by generating umpteen Ext4 partitions leaving you unsure as to which one belongs to what. The standalone RaspBMC installer is a better bet if you fancy trying to run it from a USB HDD as it resides inside just the one Ext4 partition.

An easier option for getting Raspbian and XBMC in to one easily manageable partition is to install UltraSlim (see Gaming sub-forum) and then just remove or ignore the parts you don't want. Myself and others can help you with customising UltraSlim if you decide to take that route.

Running the '/root' partition from an HDD also means that the speed and size of the SD card become irrelevant, so I used my smallest card for the '/boot' partition which happened to be an old Sandisk 1GB SD card that wasn't much use for anything else. As long as the Pi can reliably boot from it, nothing else matters.

If you decide to take the USB HDD route, you might find my guide handy. I wrote it primarily for Windows users trying to run a Pi OS from a USB HDD that's already formatted to NTFS and part-full of media, but the same basic rules apply no matter how your hard drive is currently configured. I took the Windows route as my main PC runs Win7, and the guide explains how to avoid using Gparted which I personally find quite unfriendly and daunting to use. Here's the guide...

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/431 ... %20HDD.pdf
Pi2B Mini-PC/Media Centre: ARM=1GHz (+3), Core=500MHz, v3d=500MHz, h264=333MHz, RAM=DDR2-1200 (+6/+4/+4+schmoo). Sandisk Ultra HC-I 32GB microSD card on '50=100' OCed slot (42MB/s read) running Raspbian/KODI16, Seagate 3.5" 1.5TB HDD mass storage.

CCitizenTO
Posts: 83
Joined: Sun May 20, 2012 2:14 am

Re: Raspberry Pi Media Center?

Sat Mar 29, 2014 9:58 pm

Thanks for the advice... I switched to OpenELEC (did not have anything to worry about losing) and things improved significantly but it's still a bit sluggish. I think i'll take your advice and isntall onto a USB drive and acquire a better SD card (

So would a 1GB Class 10 card be the best? I'm guessing any usb2.0 flash drive would be good to run everything else of? At least according to the data below (thank you wikipedia).

SD Card Class Speeds
Class 4 = 4MB/s
Class 6 = 6MB/s
Class 10/UHS1 = 10MB/s
UHS3 = 30MB/s

USB Speeds

1.0/1.1 = 12Mbit/s (1.5MB/s)
2.0 = 480Mbit/s (35MB/s)
I Left out 3.0 because it is not supported by the RPi but it's effective rate is 500MB/s for reference. Also I do not believe any interface on the RPi is fast enough to handle USB3.0...

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Forrrge
Posts: 120
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Location: Gateshead, UK.

Re: Raspberry Pi Media Center?

Mon Mar 31, 2014 1:40 pm

I use OpenELEC through noobs on an original 256 Model B, its very fast, but I did disable RSS feeds and also I turned off the feature that displayed art and screenshots, etc.

blockh34d
Posts: 57
Joined: Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:49 pm

Re: Raspberry Pi Media Center?

Thu Apr 03, 2014 4:16 pm

Hello,
If you dont mind a rather primitive UI (text only, with mouse support), I made Scamp, which uses omxplayer to output media while adding a few features like an interface, fullsreen toggle, a seek bar and a playlist. Maybe it would help you maximize your setup, since it has a very low overhead (typically 0.3% or so). It's on Pi Store now, free. Works in/out of X, also remotely from SSH/Putty. It is made for a Raspbian install but other OS's may work.

Have a nice day.
Matt

CCitizenTO
Posts: 83
Joined: Sun May 20, 2012 2:14 am

Re: Raspberry Pi Media Center?

Thu Apr 03, 2014 10:02 pm

Also another question would be is how important is buying the codecs to running as a media center?

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GTR2Fan
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Location: South East UK

Re: Raspberry Pi Media Center?

Thu Apr 03, 2014 10:08 pm

I've not bothered and it's not held me back yet. Everything I stream live is H.264 video of one flavour or another, and any conversions I've made myself from hard-copy media is all x264/NeroAAC High Profile Level 3.0 MP4.
Pi2B Mini-PC/Media Centre: ARM=1GHz (+3), Core=500MHz, v3d=500MHz, h264=333MHz, RAM=DDR2-1200 (+6/+4/+4+schmoo). Sandisk Ultra HC-I 32GB microSD card on '50=100' OCed slot (42MB/s read) running Raspbian/KODI16, Seagate 3.5" 1.5TB HDD mass storage.

HiroProtagonist
Posts: 212
Joined: Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:45 am

Re: Raspberry Pi Media Center?

Fri Apr 04, 2014 4:36 am

CCitizenTO wrote:Also another question would be is how important is buying the codecs to running as a media center?
This depends entirely on the media you intend to play. Most stuff you'll find these days is H.264/mp4, but if you plan to play DVB in the UK, Australia & a few other countries, you'll need the mpeg-2 license. Ditto if you plan to play DVD's.

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