HOW-TO:Install XBMC for Linux

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TriangleArrow-Right.svg HOW-TO:Install XBMC for Linux

These are instructions for people who already have a Linux-based OS set up. If you have not installed a Linux-based OS yet, you might wish to try out XBMCbuntu which will install both the OS and XBMC with an easy installer.


1 Official Team XBMC repositories

1.1 Ubuntu

Simple Install Instructions
Note: Click here to find out how to use the terminal.
  • Before you run these comands type "sudo echo" into the terminal and hit Enter.
  • Then copy the area below up to sudo add...
  • Go back to the terminal, hit the middle mouse button and when it prompts hit Enter.
  • Copy the part after sudo add... and paste it to the terminal.
  • If it askes you if you want to install enter y and hit Enter
sudo apt-get install python-software-properties pkg-config
sudo apt-get install software-properties-common
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:team-xbmc/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install xbmc

1.2 What official ppa's does Team XBMC have?

See also: Connecting to Linux/XBMCbuntu via SSH

There are currently, 3 official repositories providing XBMC.

Note: For XBMC Beta or Release Candidate use unstable ppa, xbmc-nightly ppa will yield alpha builds (from master), remainder ppa (main ppa) yields point release final versions.

Frodo is available from Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) to 13.04 (Raring Ringtail), you can install from the team-xbmc PPA as follows or replace the ppa with the desired from above.

sudo apt-get install python-software-properties pkg-config
sudo apt-get install software-properties-common
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:team-xbmc/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install xbmc

1.3 XBMCbuntu

XBMCbuntu is a boot-USB drive/LiveCD image with XBMC pre-configured to work directly out-of-the-box for a dedicated set-top-box style installation of XBMC. Users can either demo XBMC without touching the internal HDD, or use it to install XBMCbuntu on the HDD, without any pre-installed operating systems. XBMCbuntu is based on a light weight version of Ubuntu.

2 Autostarting XBMC

There's several ways to start automatically XBMC:

2.1 Upstart init script

Create a /etc/init/xbmc.conf with following contents.

# xbmc-upstart
# starts XBMC on startup by using xinit.
# by default runs as xbmc, to change edit below.
env USER=xbmc
description     "XBMC-barebones-upstart-script"
author          "Matt Filetto"
start on (filesystem and stopped udevtrigger)
stop on runlevel [016]
# tell upstart to respawn the process if abnormal exit
  exec su -c "xinit /usr/bin/xbmc --standalone -- -nocursor :0" $USER
end script

Note: -- -nocursor option kills all X cursor on XBMC startup and does not interfere with mouse use/operation

You may have to edit /etc/X11/Xwrapper.config and replace the last line that says:




XBMC will now auto-start on boot and restart/respawn if killed or crashed.

2.2 Modify the inittab

This was tested on Arch Linux.

To automatically start xbmc on your system, do the following:

First you need to make some changes to /etc/inittab. Comment out (add a #) to this line:




and uncomment


Then add this line to the bottom:

x:5:wait:login -f <YOUR_XBMC_USERNAME> </dev/tty7 &>/dev/tty7

Using wait instead of respawn means that you can exit out of xbmc into the console.

  • NOTE*: This is a security hole as it autologins a dedicated xbmc user without asking for a password!

Now that we have the user logged in we need it to auto start XBMC. In ~/.xinitrc add the following to the end of the file (after removing/commenting any other exec lines that start a windowmanager):

exec ck-launch-session xbmc

Add this line to your ~/.bash_profile

[[ $(tty) = "/dev/tty7" ]] && exec startx </dev/null &>/dev/null

And create a hushlogin file to suppress login messages.

touch ~/.hushlogin

Lastly, for the magic sauce that makes this work, add dbus to your daemons in /etc/rc.conf.

DAEMONS=(... dbus ...)

You're finished. Next time you reboot you should be greeted with XBMC.

2.3 Add a new init script

This method works well under Debian. The current configuration is a HTPC running Debian Squeeze, with no window manager installed. The main goal here is to start an Xserver only for XBMC. It allows also to specify which user will start / own the XBMC process. This method will not work if you have a window manager installed (however, it should not be hard to modify the script to suit your needs)

  • Create a new script under /etc/init.d/. Call it xbmc
  • Change the rights, in order to allow it to be executable.
# chmod a+x /etc/init.d/xbmc
  • copy the code under in the file. Modify the variables to suit your configuration:
#! /bin/sh

# Provides:          xbmc
# Required-Start:    $all
# Required-Stop:     $all
# Default-Start:     2 3 4 5
# Default-Stop:      0 1 6
# Short-Description: starts instance of XBMC
# Description:       starts instance of XBMC using start-stop-daemon and xinit

############### EDIT ME ##################

# path to xinit exec

# startup args
DAEMON_OPTS=" /usr/local/bin/xbmc --standalone -- :0"

# script name

# app name

# user

# Path of the PID file

############### END EDIT ME ##################

test -x $DAEMON || exit 0

set -e

case "$1" in
        echo "Starting $DESC"
        start-stop-daemon --start -c $RUN_AS --background --pidfile $PID_FILE  --make-pidfile --exec $DAEMON -- $DAEMON_OPTS
        echo "Stopping $DESC"
        start-stop-daemon --stop --pidfile $PID_FILE

        echo "Restarting $DESC"
        start-stop-daemon --stop --pidfile $PID_FILE
        sleep 5
        start-stop-daemon --start -c $RUN_AS --background --pidfile $PID_FILE  --make-pidfile --exec $DAEMON -- $DAEMON_OPTS
        echo "Usage: $N {start|stop|restart|force-reload}" >&2
        exit 1

exit 0
  • Test the script by trying to start / stop XBMC with it.
# /etc/init.d/xbmc start
# /etc/init.d/xbmc stop
  • If all is ok, you can add the script to your configuration, by issuing a "update-rc.d"
# update-rc.d xbmc defaults
  • If XBMC does not start, you may need to allow X to start from non-consoles. Under Debian/Ubuntu, run:
# dpkg-reconfigure x11-common

and choose "Anyone".

  • You can now reboot the server, XBMC should be started just after the boot sequence.

3 Installation from source

If distribution packages are not available, or you need a newer version, or specific features enabled, then you will most likely need to compile from source. While compiling from source does not differ very much between distributions (except for installation of build dependencies), a few different guides are available in this wiki.

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