OK, so I’ve had a Raspberry Pi Model 2 for a while. I installed Raspbian Wheezy on it when i first got it and played for a bit. Neat device, but I had no “real-world” application for using it.
Since last year, I’ve been getting closer and closer to cutting my cable TV out since I can get 90% of what I want to watch via Netflix, Hulu or torrents. I’ve been researching ways that I could locate most of what the wife and kid watch on cable via streaming or downloading and how I could automate the process so that they could just sit down and have what they wanted to watch available to them. Right now, when i download shows/movies I have to manually push them to the AppleTV so that they can be watched by them.
I usually watch stuff on my phone or Nexus so I don’t mind the process of copying the media to my devices or streaming it. The wife and kid like the ability to just turn on the TV and just consume. I also tend to download the TV shows that I watch and keep them for a while in case I want to watch them again in the future. Most of the shows that my wife watches are throwaways, meaning that chances are the shows will get watched and then discarded or maybe re-watched if there’s nothing on standard programming. My daughter is hooked on old family shows and cartoons, which I’ve either ripped from DVD or streamed.
I thought a bit about what I wanted to do for this. I have some RSS feeds that I monitor to get the TV shows that I like and watch regularly so the automation piece was a no brainer. RSS all the way. I’ve also been having issues with Utorrent crashing. I run that system pretty much headless, so it becomes a problem when I don’t check on it regularly.
My requirements were pretty basic:
- automation – I wanted the system to automatically download the shows I tell it to and sort them to folders as TV Show -> Season which is mapped as a source for XBMC on the AppleTV in the living room.
- transparency – The system had to be pretty much maintenance free once it’s up and running. I wanted to avoid having to constantly tweak and move files manually.
- Low power consumption and noise – I was planning on putting this system into our entertainment center cabinet, so it had to be quiet and not jack up my power bill running a full PC rig. An added benefit would be if the system was unobtrusive so it didn’t look too out of place if I couldn’t tuck it back into a corner and hide it.
Based on this, I started looking at using my Pi as the device. There are a few distros that run Linux under the hood with an XBMC gui. I figured that this might be the best solution, but after tinkering with it for a bit in testing, this is not the solution for me. I have multiple media player devices and the AppleTV is already set up and in use in the living room. I had hacked it when I first got it so that I could play non-apple media, add additional storage and other fun hacker-ish things. I’ve not been disappointed. XBMC on it is responsive and i’m able to map shared drives with no serious issues.
I started building the Pi with Xbian and installed Deluge and Flexget. Seemed to be working pretty well. Now to test out some automation. A little stumbling with creating the config files for Flexget to do what I wanted, but ironed those out and set it up to download a few shows and see how it went. Everything seemed to be going well, but after a few days, i found I couldn’t connect to Deluge with the thinclient from my Mac. Tried restarting deluge as root to no avail. Rebooted Pi and it started working again. Let it run for a few more days and it happened again. So, back to the drawing board. The more I thought about what I wanted, i decided to pursue getting the Pi set up as a Linux desktop that would be a torrent downloader and NAS.
Update: The Pi has been running as a torrent/NAS machine for the last few weeks without any major issues.