Installing XBian to your Raspberry Pi?

XBian is a free media center operating system that is optimized for the Raspberry Pi hardware. It provides a great out-of-the-box experience for media playback from a Raspberry Pi. If you want to turn your Raspberry Pi into a media center, XBian is an excellent choice.

Installing XBian to your Raspberry Pi?

Hardware and Software Requirements

To install XBian, you will need:

  • A Raspberry Pi board. XBian is optimized for Raspberry Pi 2 and 3, but also works on earlier models.
  • A microSD card with at least 8 GB of space to install XBian. A Class 10 card or better is recommended for the best performance.
  • A micro USB power adapter to power your Pi.
  • HDMI cable to connect the Pi to a display.
  • Keyboard and mouse for initial setup.
  • Internet connection for downloading XBian image and software updates. Ethernet or WiFi dongle required.

You will also need software to write the XBian image to your microSD card:

  • Etcher is a great cross-platform tool to flash OS images to microSD cards.

Step-by-Step Installation Guide

Follow these steps to download and install XBian:

  1. Download the latest XBian image file from the official website. Select the Raspberry Pi version you need.
  2. Connect the microSD card to your computer. Be sure to backup any important data first as the card will be completely erased.
  3. Open Etcher and select the XBian .img file you downloaded.
  4. Select your connected microSD card as the destination.
  5. Review your selections and click Flash to begin writing XBian to the card.
  6. After writing completes, eject the card from your computer
  7. Insert the microSD card into your Raspberry Pi
  8. Connect your Raspberry Pi to a screen via HDMI, attach a keyboard and mouse, and plug in your power adapter
  9. The Raspberry Pi will now boot up directly into XBian for the first time
  10. Follow the on-screen configuration steps in XBian to set up WiFi, change passwords, enable SSH, etc.

That’s it! After the initial configuration has completed, XBian will reboot and you will be presented with the XBian media center interface. Continue on to post-installation steps to further optimize and configure XBian.

Post Install Configuration and Optimization

To get the best experience from XBian after completing the first boot configuration, here are some additional steps you should take:

Update Software Packages

Keeping XBian updated with the latest software packages improves performance, security, and compatibility:

  1. Launch a Terminal from the accessories section of XBian interface
  2. Run: sudo apt update && sudo apt full-upgrade

This will fetch the latest updates from XBian package repositories and install them.

Adjust Video Output Resolution

For optimal video quality, change XBian to output video resolution that matches your display:

  1. Go to Settings > System Configuration > Video Output
  2. Select the Resolution matching your screen

Enable SSH for Remote Access

If you want to access your Pi’s command line remotely over SSH:

  1. Go to Settings > Services
  2. Toggle the SSH service On

You can now access your Pi terminal with ssh xbian@your_pi_IP.

Improve Video Performance

  1. Go to Settings > System Configuration > Performance
  2. Change GUI Rendering to OpenGL or try OpenGLES if having issues
  3. Disable Vertical Refresh
  4. Adjust Decode Buffer Size slider right for higher resolution video

More Optimization Tips

  • Use a powered USB hub if attaching multiple peripherals to avoid power issues
  • Overclock your Pi CPU/GPU for up to 10% performance gains
  • Install packages like samba or minidlna to share files and media on your home network

With these tweaks, your XBian media center on Raspberry Pi will deliver silky smooth video playback! Continue reading for more details on usage.

Using and Customizing XBian Media Center

XBian includes powerful media center software to organize your media libraries and play video, music and photos from your Raspberry Pi.

Importing Media Content

To add your existing media files like movies and music into XBian, simply copy the files over to attached USB drives on the Pi. Then select Library > Files > Video Files/Music Files/Pictures in the XBian interface to scan and import the copied files.

You can also map network folders from other computers on your home network into XBian by going to Settings > Shared Folders

Watching Videos in Kodi

XBian uses Kodi as the main media player interface. Key features of Kodi include:

  • Beautiful graphical interface with many visual theme options
  • Library with advanced media tagging, descriptions, fanart and metadata
  • Supports all major video, audio and photo formats
  • Addons system to extend features like streaming apps access
  • Controllable with keyboard, mouse, remote app or dedicated remote

Explore Kodi’s features and customize it to your needs!

Maintaining and Backing Up XBian

To ensure you don’t lose your media library setup and XBian customizations, keeping backups is important.

Create System Image Backups

Creating full system image snapshots allows reverting your SD card to a working state if corruption occurs. Plug in an external USB drive with enough storage and make periodic backups with these Terminal commands:

sudo apt install dcfldd

sudo dcfldd if=/dev/mmcblk0 of=/mnt/extdrive/xbian-backup.img

Manage Content and Settings Backup

To backup just your XBian configuration, libraries and settings (no system files):

  1. Go to Settings > System > Backup & Restore
  2. Select all sections you want to backup
  3. Choose destination as local disk or networked storage

Test restoring from your backups periodically to verify they are working!

Expanding Capabilities with Add-ons

One of XBian’s strengths is the huge collection of add-ons that can be installed to enhance features. Popular add-ons provide access to streaming services like YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, and thousands more.

To browse and install add-ons:

  1. Select Add-ons from top menu
  2. Browse categories or search for capabilities to add
  3. Select desired add-ons to download and install

Some great add-ons to get started with:

  • Youtube – stream Youtube videos in Kodi
  • PlexKodiConnect – stream content from Plex media server
  • Retroplayer – emulate old game systems

Explore Kodi’s add-on collection find new ways to get content and fun on your device!

Troubleshooting Common XBian Issues

Here are solutions for some frequently encountered issues:

Kodi crashes back to XBian desktop:

  • Launch terminal, run kodi-standalone to restart
  • If crashes recur, disable problematic add-ons

Video playback stutters:

  • Enable OpenGL rendering
  • Lower decode buffer size
  • Ensure adequate power supply

Lost admin password:

  • Attach keyboard & display
  • Enter recovery mode from GRUB menu
  • Drop to root shell to reset password

Won’t boot – corrupted SD card:

  • Re-image XBian OS to the SD card with Etcher
  • Restore media libraries/settings from backup

Network/WiFi connection issues:

  • Reconfigure network settings
  • Update to latest firmware
  • Change location of Pi/router
  • Test with Ethernet cable

Consult the XBian forums or discord for further troubleshooting help!

Key Takeaways

  • XBian provides an excellent optimized media center experience right out of the box for Raspberry Pi.
  • Keeping the system updated is key to ongoing performance and compatibility.
  • Backup your libraries, settings and system images in case problems occur.
  • Expand capabilities with Kodi add-ons like YouTube, Plex, Retroplayer and many more.
  • Adjust performance settings like video resolution and OpenGL rendering to improve playback.
  • Seek help from the active user community if you run into issues.

Installing XBian breathes new features into your trusty Raspberry Pi. Have fun exploring everything Kodi has to offer on your new XBian media center!


Installing the XBian media center OS to a Raspberry Pi unlocks a whole new set of entertainment abilities. With the powerful Kodi software at its heart and an optimized Linux distro for the Pi hardware, XBian delivers a smooth media experience.

The initial installation only takes a few steps to get up and running. But optimizing performance, importing media libraries, installing add-ons, and configuring backups take more effort yet result in a tailored system. Getting familiar with all of the settings and capabilities XBian offers will take time.

As with any complex piece of software, occasional issues can crop up. But the active XBian community provides ample troubleshooting resources to get past the hurdles you encounter. And the flexibility to backup and restore various components of the system eases recovery when needed.

Overall, if you’re looking for an always-on entertainment hub for playing videos, music, and games on your trusty Pi, XBian should absolutely be considered. The system gives new utility to Raspberry Pis that may be gathering dust. And it may just replace dedicated media streamers as the entertainment centerpiece in your living room.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What models of Raspberry Pi work with XBian?
A: XBian is optimized primarily for the newer Pi 2, 3 and 4 models but can work on earlier models too with some limitations. The Pi Zero is not recommended due to its more limited processor and memory.

Q: Does XBian support media formats like HEVC/h265 and 4K video?
A: Yes, newer versions of XBian running Kodi 18 or higher support playback of HEVC/H265 video as well as 4K resolution. Actual video performance will depend on your Pi model capabilities.

Q: Can I use my phone or tablet as a remote control in XBian?
A: Yes! Install the Official XBMC/Kodi Remote app for iOS or Android to control your media center over your home WiFi network.

Q: How can I access content from Netflix, Hulu, Spotify etc. in XBian?
A: Install the appropriate add-ons from within XBian to stream content from these services in the Kodi interface. Add-ons like Netflix require additional steps on a PC to login and enable.

Q: Can I use a PlayStation or Xbox controller to navigate around XBian
A: Yes, XBian has built in support for connecting these game controllers over Bluetooth or USB which work great for media navigation and gameplay control. Enable in Settings > Input Devices.

Q: What steps should I take to secure XBian from unwanted access?
A: Key security steps are 1) Changing default passwords 2) Disabling SSH if remote access not needed 3) Assigning static internal IP 4) Updating to latest packages frequently for vulnerability fixes.

Q: What is the best way to backup my media libraries and watch history data?
A: Enable periodic automated backups to a USB drive or network location in XBian Settings > System > Backup & Restore. This saves watched status, playlists and other non-media data not in your media folders.

Q: What should I do if XBian will not boot up properly from the SD card?
A: It’s generally best to re-image the SD card from scratch with a fresh XBian download using Etcher if corruption is preventing boot. Then restore just your media libraries and settings from backup rather than trying to salvage the existing flawed image.

Q: Can I access files on my home Windows/Mac network shares and hard drives through XBian?
A: Yes! Under Settings > Shared Folders you can map Windows (SMB) and Mac (NFS) network shares to allow browsing files directly in XBian. Hard drives connected to the router may also be accessible.

Q: Can I use my older model Raspberry Pi 1 with XBian
A: XBian can be installed on a Pi 1 but due to its slower processor, performance will be quite limited. Stick to 720p video or lower and lighter weight skins. Overclocking the Pi 1 can help a little bit too.

Q: How can I control my home smart devices like lights and thermostat with XBian
A: Check Kodi repositories for home automation add-ons that can enable control of smart devices from your media center. Popular standards like Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings and Google Home have integration options available.

Q: Does XBian work on the new Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W?
A: Yes, XBian can be installed on the Pi Zero 2 model. Performance is better than the original Pi Zero but will still be limited compared to Pi 3 or 4, especially for video playback above 720p resolution.

Q: How can I enhance XBian’s audio capabilities for listening to music?
A: Install add-ons like Spotify Connect or the MPD music player daemon. For hi-fi audio output, USB DACs and DSPs like the HiFiBerry can be configured for improved music quality.

Q: Can I access XBian remotely when away from home to manage downloads etc?
A: Yes, services like Chrome Remote Desktop allow remote GUI access through a browser. SSH console access is also handy for remote command line management via port forwarding on your router.

Q: Does the Kodi software in XBian integrate with Plex or Emby server?
A: Yes, add-ons like PlexKodiConnect and Emby for Kodi sync your media libraries from those servers into the nice Kodi interface. Decrypted DRM content may have limitations.

Q: Can I run other Linux software like web browsers alongside the XBian media center OS?
A: XBian is still Raspbian at the core, so you can install additional Debian/Raspbian packages using apt to expand capabilities beyond just media playback.

Q: How do I change the default paths for where media libraries are stored?
A: Under Settings > Media you can set custom locations for storing your video, TV shows, music etc. to external USB drives or network shares.

Q: Can XBian be controlled by physical push-button remote instead of just an app remote?
A: Yes, XBian supports pairing a variety of USB media center remotes and wireless keyboard/mouse combos out of the box. Some even come with dedicated shortcut buttons mapped to Kodi functions.

Q: Does the XBian OS support video recording or DVR capabilities?
A: Yes! Combining a TV tuner add-on for Kodi plus an attached USB hard drive enables personal video recorder abilities like scheduling recordings, watching live TV with pause/rewind, etc.

Q: Can XBian integrate with any of my existing smart home hubs and devices?
A: Kodi includes some home automation add-ons for major platforms – check for compatibility with brands like Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings, Philips Hue, Z-Wave etc.

Q: Is the Retroplayer emulator Add-on capable of handling higher-end systems like PlayStation 1 or N64 games?
A: Emulation performance varies greatly by Raspberry Pi model. Retroplayer can generally handle PS1 on a Pi 3 or 4. N64 is still hit or miss due to the more complex 3D rendering required.

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