Tag Archives: Kodi

How To Install Advanced Launcher Add-On For Kodi (XBMC)

UPDATE: 2016-01-05 Advanced Launcher has been discontinued by its author and all links to its repository have been deleted. I am investigating alternatives and will post again once I have an answer. Until then, please check the comments section for further information.

Advanced Launcher is an add-on for Kodi that is used to launch external applications such as Firefox or Steam in any operating system. Launcher parameters are customisable so a particular instance can launch a specific website, game, or media file. In short, if it can be defined in a command-line interface, it can be done through Advanced Launcher.

Unfortunately, such awesome power is not available to Kodi users by default. To install Advanced Launcher, you will have to add the Angelscry repository to Kodi’s source list. To access the source list, navigate to the “Files Manager” under the “System” menu.

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Choose “Add Source” and type http://www.gwenael.org/Repository as the path. Name the source “Angelscry Repository” and click “OK”.

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From the Settings>Add-ons Menu, choose “Install from zip file”. When the browser appears, select “Angelscry Repository” from the list and wait for it to connect to the server.

Select “repository.angelscry.xbmc-plugins” from the list and choose the latest version of the repository to install. Back out to the Add-ons menu and now choose “Get Add-ons”. Select the newly-available Angelscry Repository, then “Program Add-ons”, and finally “Advanced Launcher”. The add-on will now be available from the “Programs” menu on the home screen.

Creating a standalone launcher (for a single executable like Firefox) is a simple process of browsing to the executable for the application (or just entering the command in Linux), defining the command-line parameters, and providing a (optional) thumbnail. The add-on walks you through the process and you will be able to set these launchers as favourites or (in the case of the Aeon MQ5 skin) home menu items.

Scraping Games In Rom Collection Browser

A few tips and tricks to better scraping games in Rom Collection Browser:

As of this writing, the thegamesdb.net usually glitches and causes an error during scraping. If this happens, change scrapers for the next run; the GiantBomb scraper still seems to be working.

Not every rom file will find the right game. If this happens, choose a unique title that isn’t in your collection, then edit the *.nfo file manually. Even if the file scrapes correctly, you can make changes to the *.nfo file to tweak your library listings. For example, renaming “Zelda II: The Adventure of Link” to “The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link” or “Super Castlevania IV” to “Castlevania IV: Super Castlevania” to keep sequels with their respective franchises.

Use the Local Artwork scraper to fill in missing or incorrect artwork manually. Make sure the image(s) are in the correct folder(s) and named EXACTLY the same as the rom file that they belong to (excluding the extension, of course). Also, use Local Artwork to add videos to your library listings. I prefer to locate recordings of the games’ original television advertisements, reveling in the nostalgia and casually examining how sensibilities have evolved over time. Arcade games naturally get their attract mode videos.

How To Run Games From Kodi

As we’ve seen from previous numbers, Kodi is a pretty powerful application that can be extended to power your entire media experience from local downloaded and physical media to a nearly infinite number of media streams, but we have not covered exactly how to run games from Kodi. For this, we’ll obviously need some games installed on our system, and we’ll need to download an add-on called Rom Collection Browser (if you followed my recommendation to use the Aeon series of skins, you will have RCB already installed on your system).

Rom Collection Browser is available through the stock Kodi repository under the programs menu and is installed like any other add-on.

Before we begin the setup, we must ensure that our files are sorted correctly on the computer. For emulators, each set of roms needs to be in its own folder, sorted by system (all NES roms need to be in an exclusive folder, all SNES roms need to be in an exclusive folder, etc.). For Windows games, make a new folder and place a shortcut to each game’s executable file within.

On first run, Rom Collection Browser will prompt you to create a configuration file, click OK and it will bring up the initial configuration file for a new rom collection. First, RCB will ask you to choose a location for the game information and artwork. Since this is a first run, you will most likely need to download all the pertinent artwork and information, so choose the online option.

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Next, you’ll need to choose a platform for your game collection. If you are adding roms for an emulator, choose the appropriate system for the emulation. If you are adding PC games installed locally, choose the appropriate option (Windows/OSX/Linux).

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Once you’ve set your platform, RCB will prompt you to browse to the emulator executable (unless you are adding Windows games, in which case, RCB will skip to the next section). Once you have selected the executable, you will be prompted to enter the particular emulator’s command-line parameters, if applicable. Most emulators worth their salt offer a CLI parameter set to add a measure of granular control over each game as it is executed, because who wants to dick around with settings on a game-by-game basis every time you want to play something different? RetroArch, by far, is the best of the bunch in this respect, and I highly recommend it for all your emulation needs.

RCB will now ask you to browse to the folder containing the roms you are adding. On the next screen, you will type in the file mask for the particular set of roms you are adding (for Windows games, the file mask is *.lnk).

Next, you’ll select a path to the artwork folder. I prefer to use the same folder that contains the roms. RCB will create folders for the basic types of artwork (boxfront, boxback, screenshot, fanart), so you needn’t specify a location for each…yet.

Finally, RCB will ask if you would like to add another rom collection. I recommend only adding one collection at a time as it tends to be easier to watch for mistakes, but you may prefer to do all your scraping at once, and that’s your mistake to make. If you choose to add another collection, you’ll be redirected to the platform choice dialog and start the process over again. If you choose not to, you will be directed to the scraping dialog.

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In the scraping dialog, you will be presented with several options. First, choose the particular system that you will be scraping information for. Next, choose the level of interactivity you wish to utilize. For large collections, I recommend starting with the fully-automated (“Automatic: Accurate”) option to do the heaviest lifting without needing to constantly monitor the progress. Once the majority of games have been successfully scraped, use the “Interactive: Select Matches” option to import the titles that may have oddly formatted or incorrect file names. On first fun, I recommend using the default trio of scrapers. Later edits may require changing scrapers, but these three should take care of the bulk. RCB will now query the specified scrapers for information and artwork regarding each game you’re importing (much like Kodi does for your video or music library). Once finished, you will be presented with a list of games ready to play. Simply select them from the list, hit “OK” on your remote, and get to playing!

The Piracy Box Sellers and Youtube Promoters Are Killing Kodi

So, I walk the line on this one. While I generally condone piracy less and less–especially when there is a “legitimate” alternative (Netflix, Hulu) available–I recognize that it’s the “career pirates” that really cause a problem in the system. That being said, I’m a long-time fan of XBMC and Kodi (as one can tell by reading my blog), so I’m inclined to agree with the Team on here. Kodi is very powerful software, and like any open-source project, can be exploited for nefarious purposes against those who likely don’t know better.

I appreciate the Team’s response here, slathered in the libertarian ethos that defines the Hacker Ethic. The message is clear: Kodi does not enable media piracy any more than an iPhone enables terrorism. It is merely a platform that can be infinitely expanded upon for reasons both legitimate and illicit. I, personally, would love to see an official Netflix, Hulu, or Crackle plugin, but that will never happen if the powers-that-be see Kodi as a gateway to piracy.

I write my how-to articles on Kodi both for personal reference and as a resource to those who may be reluctant to dive head-first into such a project without someone to hold their hand. Project Magnavox is a labour of love, but it’s also a prototype determine the best way to build a robust all-in-one entertainment solution for the average consumer. The more I can help the average consumer cut the cord, the more I feel like I can help effect fundamental change in the way media is distributed and consumed–dragging the consumer away from the “cable monster” and into the wild blue yonder of Freedom. The pirates that seek only to make a quick buck by shilling these half-assed “Kodi boxes” are only biting the hand that feeds them as consumers looking for a cheap alternative to Big Cable get burned and the name Kodi leaves a sour taste in their collective mouths.

I’m not an official developer for Kodi, but I feel like I am part of the team. I don’t actively participate in the fora, but I try my best to parse the mountain of information therein and present it in a format that is less intimidating to the average idiot. I have loved Kodi since I started using it sometime around 2006 (when it was still called “Xbox Media Center”), and I will fight to defend its good name to the bitter end!

Over the past few years it’s become clear that many users have been watching pirated content using unofficial and unsupported add-ons that frequently break, and they are installing add-on repositories whose trustworthiness is questionable, leaving themselves open to numerous security exploits.

Source: The Piracy Box Sellers and Youtube Promoters Are Killing Kodi | Kodi

How to add Google Play Music to Kodi

I’ve had a love affair with Google Play [Music] since its inception–having the ability to store 20,000 (now 50k) tracks in the cloud for free was a helluva draw that nailed the lid on the coffin of my plans to buy an iPod classic to keep my MP3 files. I’ve not needed to solicit the services of a streaming radio app since I was a beta tester in 2011. My massive music library is always available wherever I have data service and I don’t have to pay a subscription to listen to music that I already own!

I’m always looking for new and interesting add-ons for my Kodi installation–part of my quest to make a truly universal, completely customizable, open-source media center–and I’ve run across a nice solution for (in my opinion) the only worthwhile streaming service. Granted, my music library is already connected to the VCR via NAS, but I like the option to have my playlists available on all my machines for the sake of continuity.

Foreverguest has written a great little add-on based on some code originally started by Vially, but like every other app that uses the Google APIs, it’s going to need a little effort to get working.

The first part is rather simple: download the repository from this link and install it from zip file as you normally would. Install the add-on from the new repo, but before you get involved in configuring the settings, make sure you set up an app-specific password in Google because the add-on does not support 2-factor authentication (assuming you have it set up; if you don’t, shame on you). Use this password to configure the add-on with your Google account, and away you go!

Control Kodi and Stream to Your Android Device With Yatse

I’ve been playing with the Yatse Android app for a little while now, and it blows away the stock Kodi/XBMC remote control app! With the free version, you get a much slicker interface and a lot of great bells and whistles as it provides a more robust second screen experience.

With the paid version, you can download media to your device (great for trips) and even stream media on your home network (great if you want to watch something besides Korean melodrama on Hulu)!

If you don’t want to spring for a Microsoft IR remote or just don’t have the room to install one, definitely give the Yatse remote app a shot, and even if you do have the IR commander set up (like me), it’s still a great value for all the extra features!

How To Add Netflix and Hulu to Kodi

NOTE: This article generally applies to Windows machines; however, Linux machines have been addressed in the comments.

Netflix and Hulu are two of the most popular streaming services on the market today, offering thousands of titles on demand and leading the cord-cutting charge against cable’s content monopoly. Unfortunately, neither service has offered official, dedicated plugins for one of the most popular home theatre software applications available. While plugins like NetfliXBMC and Bluecop’s Hulu plugin exist, they tend to be sketchy in quality and often broken. In this number, I’m going to explain how to add Netflix and Hulu to Kodi using a web browser.

To me, the best HTPC Netflix or Hulu experience (outside a dedicated app such as the ones for Xbox 360) comes from the services’ own websites. The only drawback to this is having to hang onto a wireless keyboard and trackpad combination, but it’s a small nuisance that can eventually be rectified with some clever hackery (more on that in a later article).

To launch the respective website from Kodi, we’re going to use Firefox with the Advanced Launcher plugin. Firefox supports command-line controls, so it will be perfect for our needs. Inside Advanced Launcher, right-click or press C on the keyboard to call up the context menu. Click “Manage Sources” to bring up the source manager screen. Select “Add Source” and “Browse” when the source window appears. Select the root folder for your hard drive, then click “OK”. Press backspace to return to Advanced Launcher.

Back in Advanced Launcher, create a new category and call it “Firefox Links”. Inside the new category, choose “Standalone Launcher” and browse to the Firefox executable located on your hard drive. In the next window, you will need to enter the following command-line arguments to load Netflix automatically when Firefox runs:

-fullscreen -new-window http://www.netflix.com

Press Return and then you will be prompted to name your launcher. “Netflix” seems like a reasonable choice (unless, of course, you are launching Hulu or another service). Press Return again and you will be prompted to select the platform that your application runs on.

On the following screens, you will be prompted to browse for a path where thumbnails and fanart is stored. This is unimportant, so you can browse to an empty folder or a placeholder if you wish. In the Aeon MQ5 skin, you will be able to select custom artwork for these menu items later.

After selecting the artwork locations, the launcher is officially completed. I’ve taken it a step further and added a custom macro in EventGhost that disables closes Firefox with a particular keypress on the remote or the Escape key on the keyboard, seamlessly returning to Kodi.

Pro Tip: If you add your launchers to you “Favourites” list, you will be able to add custom menu options for them on the Aeon MQ5 home screen. Under the “Settings” menu, choose “Customise Main Menu” and add them to any open slots!