Monday, October 28, 2013

Raspbmc - control XBMC over VNC

I switched my media center from Windows XP to Raspbmc 10 months ago.
As advertised
Raspbmc is a minimal Linux distribution based on Debian that brings XBMC to your Raspberry Pi. This device has an excellent form factor and enough power to handle media playback, making it an ideal component in a low HTPC setup, yet delivering the same XBMC experience that can be enjoyed on much more costly platforms.
The switch from double clicking a movie and navigating folders in Windows XP to pure media center  system XBMC is a major shift ! Although in the long run, XBMC is just "better", there are so many concepts to grasp, and I won't even mention the fact that it's all on Linux  :-) (if you're not familiar with it)

Since I use my media center on a projector, I need quick access to  XBMC without turning on the projector every time (whereas people using it with TV don't have this dilemma)
My wishes were fulfilled with Raspbmc's "July Update" as it includes a VNC server

Setup your Raspberry Pi
Create the vncserver script
nano vncserver
Paste the script of "Hiro Protagonist" from his post #3 (the script in post #1 didn't work for me)
Make it executable
chmod +x vncserver
Move it
sudo mv vncserver /usr/local/sbin
You can now start the VNC server
vncserver start
If you want to check if it's running, check if vnc_dispmanx has the default VNC port open (5900)
pi@raspbmc:~$ sudo netstat -lnptu |grep vnc
tcp        0      0  *               LISTEN      3687/vnc_dispmanx

tcp6       0      0 :::5900                 :::*                    LISTEN      3687/vnc_dispmanx

When you're done, you should turn it off, as it's quite CPU hungry
vncserver stop
Connecting with VNC viewer
  • from my iPad - using PocketCloud remote desktop
  • from my Mac - using screen sharing (see from quick instructions) ... this crashed the VNC service and "Screen sharing" never times out.

  • from my Mac - using RealVNC viewer
  • didn't try from Windows 7 - guessing it would work fine with RealVNC

Although the performance is appalling, it's very useful to play around settings, and of course you're not going to watch a movie through VNC :-)

Don't have a Raspberry Pi ? It's a bargain for a media center, I highly recommend and you get to learn Linux on the way.