Miro

Miro Internet TV Blog

DIY Media Center with Miro

October 27th, 2008 by Dean Jansen

Redhat has recently been touting the hardiness of open source software during times of economic crisis. In light of our current slowdown, I figured a post about connecting your computer to your TV would be fun. You can use Miro and/or a lot of other free software to make finding and watching media from your computer a living-room-worthy experience.

The Nuts and Bolts

Step one is physically connecting your computer to a television or projector. I won’t go into much detail here, because there are lots of useful guides that cover the basics for mac and PC. This video shows the port-types. Once you get the computer connected, it’s on to the fun part.

Browsing and Watching Media

Step two is to decide how you want to access your media — you could just use Miro directly, but sometimes it’s hard to navigate inside Miro (the interface wasn’t designed to be used while sitting 10 feet away). You can also add a media center program that will give you access to all the media on your computer through a nice menu/playback system (with very large fonts, etc). A great option for Windows, Mac, and Linux is an open source app called Elisa. Alternatively, for Windows, there is Media Portal, and Mac iTheater.

These media center apps usually allow you to scan your computer for media and sometimes to “watch” a particular folder for new videos. You’ll just need to configure your media center app to watch the folder that Miro downloads to.

These are the default locations for Miro videos:

Windows: C:\Documents and Settings\(your username)\My Documents\My Videos\Miro\
Mac: /Users/(your username)/Movies/Miro/
Linux: /home/(your username)/.miro/Videos/
(our dev intern, Jason Brower, made a short video about how to couple Elisa and Miro on Linux)

Gaming Consoles

I won’t go into much detail here, but you can often hook a game console up to play back media from the network (sometimes the console needs to be modified though). A few things to check out are: XBox Media Center, Wii Media Center X (not open source), and PS3 Media Center X (also not open source).

DVR “TIVO”

If you want to go totally crazy and have a way to pipe cable into your computer, it may be worth checking out MythTV, which is a free and open source Digital Video Recorder (DVR). The simplest option to install/use it is probably Mythbuntu, which lets you burn a CD and boot live into the application. Be warned that MythTV is a deep rabbit hole, and can get pretty complicated!

Caveats

Not all media center software can play back all video formats — so if Miro downloads a Flash video (.flv) and your media center software doesn’t support it, you’ll have to watch it through an alternative app. Another issue is that when you watch a video in your media center software, it won’t necessarily be marked as watched (and expire itself) in Miro. Remember you can always connect your computer to your TV and just use Miro as your media browsing/watching program — don’t diss it till you try it.

Have Fun!

We may eventually add a media center-like interface for Miro, but for the time being there are lots of ways to watch Miro programming on the big screen. If I’ve left out any fun or interesting programs for going from computer —> to television, please let me know. Also, if you’ve got a DIY media center setup you like, tell us about it in the comments.

30 Responses to “DIY Media Center with Miro”

  1. mathieu says:

    Some months ago I wrote a plugin for Elisa to have a Miro Provider :
    https://code.launchpad.net/~elisa-contributors/elisa/miro_plugin

    The original objective was to list audios apart from videos in Elisa and to get items marked as watched. Very few people used it so far, and I never felt confident about writing into Miro “object” database. I was expecting that some day there would be an “Miro API” or a usual efficient relational database…

  2. Dean Jansen says:

    Mathieu,

    I wasn’t aware of that plugin. An API is a pretty good idea. Do you code on the Elisa core (or know anyone who does)?

    I’m wondering if there was an API, if the Elisa folks would be interested in adding Miro support directly?

  3. Pat says:

    I’ve currently been using Boxee (www.boxee.tv) for my media center, Macbook Pro to SD TV with DVI to S-video connected. While I can add the Miro folder into my video sources and watch them, they don’t appear as watched in Miro. Also the sometimes cryptic file naming makes it a little difficult and frustrating. Since Boxee is based on the open source XBMC, I’d love to see a plugin for Miro developed that can be used on all flavors of XBMC.

  4. Dean Jansen says:

    Pat,

    I forgot about Boxee (I think it’s still private beta, right?). As I mentioned above, an API for Miro is a great idea for stuff like Elisa and Boxee.

  5. Pat says:

    Yes Boxee is still in private beta. If anyone would like an invite let me know PHermas@gmail.com

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  8. mpSocial says:

    Is there ongoing work for an API for Miro? Im a Mediaportal user with some coding skills and a Miro plugin for Mediaportal has long been a dream of mine :-)

  9. Cowboy_79 says:

    I have found an interesting way to create a networked media center using a combination of miro and (HFS) all a did was share a folder containing my films and shows with HFS and create a rss feed to point to it. You can even watch you media from out side your network if you forward your port and grab a host from (no ip) or similar service. all you need then is a very big hard disk ;)

    http://www.no-ip.com/
    http://www.rejetto.com/hfs/

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