This is by no means a full tutorial of how to get one running from start to finish. Rather, think of it as a guideline to help you in the right direction. The community of people who code and organize XBMC, Plex, and Arch Linux deserve much of the credit to what you’re about to read. It’s also meant for a beginner to intermediate as I’m not writing about advanced procedures like setting up local mysql servers to sync the XBMC settings. That’ll all make sense in part 2.
The HTPC will consist of an Android set top box with XBMC or a Raspberry Pi with XBMC.
The current NAS setup consists of a a Pogoplug (ver. 2), a 4gb USB stick, Arch Linux, and an external hard drive.
What’s an HTPC?
A Home Theater Personal Computer (HTPC) is a computer that is attached to a TV for the purpose of displaying your media onto the TV. A Roku box would be the closest thing to an HTPC that you may know of if this is all new to you. Many people build HTPCs out of old computer parts laying around or use that netbook they purchased but only seemed to use twice.
I wanted to build a cheaper and more customization one than what the Roku could provide. For example, the Roku can not stream media locally without the help of a Plex server.
What is a NAS?
A network attached storage (NAS) is a hard drive that any computer on your network can access. With the setup I’m working on, it is meant to be the main storage for video, music, and pictures I want displayed from the HTPC onto the TV.
Setting up a Cheap NAS
Step 1: Install Arch Linux onto a Pogoplug Device.
Pogoplug is a device / service that is used to create a Dropbox alternative that syncs locally, as opposed to the Dropbox servers. Whatever. We just care about the cheap and stylish hardware they provide. We won’t use their service or built in software, and will be installing Arch Linux (an extremely basic version of linux) to provide us all the capability needed.
The Pogoplug provides us with a few awesome things: The first being a very basic computer setup with a few USB ports attached. The second is something small that can be on 24/7 while not using much energy.
I have the Pogoplug v2 in bright pink. Remember, I said this was a stylish piece of hardware. Visit Archlinux’s list of machines that would also suffice for what we want to do. The device will run you anywhere between $20 to $40.
Installation is found on each device’s specific page. Here’s the page for Installing Arch Linux on a Pink Pogoplug.
Essentially, you’ll be telling the device to load an operating system from the flash drive instead of the OS on the Pogoplug itself. The flash drive acts as the operating system, and the Pogoplug is the hardware.
Step 2: Mount External Hard Drive
You’ll need to learn a small bit of Arch Linux to mount a hard drive.
Step 3: Install Samba Share on the Pogoplug
Here’s a good guide for getting this started. Note that the newest Arch Linux has systemd powering it, so some of the commands will be different.
The Pogoplug attaches to your router. Once attached, Samba share provides a way for devices to access media on the hard drive you attached and mounted. A Windows PC will discover it the same way Windows machines have been sharing files for years. Samba is simply a protocol for sharing files between machines.
I haven’t picked up an HTPC yet, so this guide is just Part 1. I’m waiting for XBMC (HTPC software similar to Windows Media Center) to become a bit more polished for Android before deciding on a device.
Cheap Android Based HTPC
Part 2 coming soon…
The post Building a Cheap HTPC and NAS Using Android, XBMC, Pogoplug, & Arch Linux (Part 1) appeared first on Pit Zips.