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Turning your old computer into a home theatre media centre PC using XBMC Part Two

If you have recently purchased a new computer or if you've still got an old one laying around. Don't send it to landfill, install Xbox Media Center on it and give it a new lease of life as a home theatre PC.

Let’s face it, we’re a media hungry nation and whether it’s music, movies or TV shows whatever media you find yourself enjoying, there’s no better way (in my opinion) to enjoy it than using XBMC (Xbox Media Center).

With XBMC we have two options, we can run XBMC over the top of Windows as a separate program or we can install a ‘stand-alone’ version that runs as a customised version of Ubuntu or as the guys from XBMC say:

“XBMCbuntu (formerly XBMC Live) is the XBMC Media Center software bundled with an embedded operating-system, all pre-packaged for that set-top-box feeling. XBMCbuntu also lets you easily boot to the XBMC "Live" CD/USB in order to demo XBMC Media Center for your friends and family on practically any relatively modern computer, (as long as it was manufactured in the last 5-years or so it should meet the XBMC's minimum requirements).”

In this guide we’re going to cover installing the ‘stand-alone’ version of XBMC known as Eden or XBMCbuntu which is a full blown operating system built for running XBMC.

This means that we’re going to remove the existing operating system on the PC such as Windows and totally replace it with XBMCbuntu, so make sure you’ve backed up all of your data and that there’s nothing on the computer that you don’t want to lose.

Installing XBMCbuntu

The first thing you are going to need to do is download the required files for installing XBMCbuntu, this is an ISO file, which you can burn to a CD using a program such as Nero or IMG Burn. You can download these files here.

For the purpose of this guide we’re going to be installing a slightly older version of XBMCbuntu; version 11 as oppose to the latest version 12, as there are some compatibility issues with certain hardware that unfortunately we can’t really get into in this guide.

Once you have burned the ISO to a CD you’re ready to reboot your computer with the CD inserted.

Depending on your bios you will either; get an option to boot from CD at which point you’re going to want to press enter or it will automatically boot us into the Ubuntu install environment.

Once your computer has booted from the CD the first screen we should be resented with is the one above. This gives us the option to boot into Ubuntu to try the OS, however as we’re installing a modified version of Ubunutu we’re not going to be able to use this option to experience XBMC prior to installing it. Therefore, for this step we need to press Install Ubuntu.

The next screen shows us the requirements for the installation and an option to download updates while installing (if your computer is connected to the internet I would suggest ticking this box) then clicking continue.

If you have not already formatted your hard disk the installer will ask us what we want to do with the files and folders that are already on there, as I said for this guide we’re going to be formatting the hard disk of all files and folders. So choose the Erase option and click continue.

Next we’re given the option to use the default partitioning system or customise it, rather than complicate things unnecessarily we’re going to leave this default and click the install now button.

As the installation starts we’re prompted to make some customisation options to the operating system such as setting our time-zone, keyboard layout etc. obviously you need to set these as applicable to yourself and click continue.

Once we have finished choosing our location and language settings the system will ask us to setup a username and password, one vital option we have to choose here is the option to Log in automatically. This enables us to power the system on and boot right into XBMC as quickly as possible.

We are now at the final stage of the installation, which is going to install any updates and remove any leftover installation files that we do not require.

Once we see this screen eject the installation CD and press restart now. The system should reboot and take us right into XBMC for the first time.

That is it, we have successfully installed XBMC ‘stand-alone’ XBMCbuntu and you are now free to add as much content as you like and enjoy the home theatre experience powered by XBMC.