Chapter 7: The Pi as a Home Theatre PC

One of the most popular tasks for a Pi to carry out is that of a home theatre PC, or HTPC. The Broadcom BCM2835 at the Pi’s heart is specifically designed as a multimedia powerhouse, originally developed for use in HTPCs.

The graphics portion of the BCM2835 system-on-chip (SoC) design, a Broadcom VideoCore IV module, is capable of full-speed high-definition video playback using the popular H.264 format. The chip is also able to play back audio files in a variety of formats, both through the analogue 3.5 mm audio output and digitally via the HDMI port.

The small size, low power draw and silent operation combine to make the Pi a tempting device for home theatre enthusiasts. A variety of distributions and software packages designed to turn the Pi into a user-friendly home theatre PC have appeared since its launch, but you don’t necessarily need to give up your existing operating system to get started.

Playing Music at the Console

If you’re a developer, you will likely spend most of your time at the Pi’s console. With the majority of music playback software being aimed at desktop use, it can be a quiet experience—but it doesn’t have to be.

The Pi supports a powerful text-based music playback package called moc (which stands for music on console). Unlike other tools (such as LXMusic), moc can be installed and used even when there is no graphical user interface (GUI) installed on the Pi.

To get started, install the moc package from your distribution’s ...

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