The guide below is provided free for use by anyone. If you feel you would like to make a donation towards the work involved in producing and maintaining this guide, then I would appreciate any offering.
- For Index of topics, please see post number 11.
- For the old AVSForum MediaPortal Install Guide please click here. This old sticky thread has over 1400 posts so contains a wealth of useful information.
- This guide is a copy of my AVForums MediaPortal Guide which will be modified to give best support for users in Northern America.
1.1) What is MediaPortal
MediaPortal (MP) is a very powerful and configurable Home Theatre Personal Computer (HTPC) package which is free to download and Open Source architecture. MP will run on Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 and allows the user to do a whole host of things, but its main functions include:
- Watch/timeshift/record Live TV using BDA compatible TV tuners (DVB-S/S2 (satellite), DVB-T/T2 (terrestrial), DVB-C (cable)) and IPTV, including working as a PVR and waking up from standby/hibernate to make a scheduled recording
- Share TV tuner resource across a network and can function with a large number of TV tuners, limited only by the number of PCI, PCI-e and USB connections in your HTPC(Windows Media Center (WMC) is limited to 4 unless you purchase an additional piece of software)
- Maximize the use of TV tuner resource by being able to access the whole mux (frequency) and not just a single channel on a mux like Windows Media Center (WMC). This means that in the UK, you only need to install a single DVB-T2 tuner in your HTPC to simultaneously record ALL the UK High Definition channels (you would need 4 DVB-T2 tuners for WMC to achieve the same)
- Catalogue and display ALL your video media, music, videos and computer games pretty much whatever the format (including HD Audio formats such as DTS-HD)
- Play removable media (CDs, DVDs, Bluerays (Note: encrypted Blueray discs require an on-the-fly decoder to be installed to play))
- Run plugins that do a whole host of functions, such as (but in no way limited to) watch online videos (e.g. BBC iPlayer and Youtube), control home automation, display media fan-art, control your system using an Android or Apple mobile phone, display weather and RSS feeds
- A skin-able Graphical User Interface (GUI) which will allow you to change the look and layout of your HTPC to suit your needs and personal taste: MEDIAPORTAL - MediaPortal Skins Gallery
- Use of a remote control to interface with your HTPC
1.2) How does MediaPortal work
Before installing MP it is worth knowing a little bit about the software, since this knowledge will help understand why the software is the way it is.
The primary function of MP is to provide a whole-house media solution, which includes the sharing of TV Tuner resource to multiple users (clients) on the home network. Because of this aim, the software is split into two parts:
- The server software (often called the “server-side”), which connects to the TV tuners, grabs EPG data and hosts TV channel logos.
- The client software (often called the “client-side”), which provides the user with the GUI for the user to interact with, and then plays the media (Live TV, Movies, Music, Online Videos, Photos, Radio, etc.
1.3) Assumptions made within this guide
This guide is written based upon installing MediaPortal on a Windows 7 machine, however, all of the instructions are equally pertinent to installing MP on either Vista or Windows XP (albeit the directory names may vary slightly between versions of Windows.
The guide is also tailored towards setting up a system using either DVB-S/S2 and/or DVB-T/T2 in the UK (since that is where I am from). However, the process should work wherever you are, and if you have problems (for example you can’t display your Electronic Programme Guide (EPG), then the community forums will be eager to help you. I plan on updating this guide to give specific help for Northern America regarding TV tuning and EPG setting over the coming weeks - so if you can help with this then please let me know and feel free to send me amendments to the guide.
The guide does not differentiate between the Client/Server Installation or the Single-Seat Installation (unless specifically crucial to a particular step in the process). This is because the setup procedure for each side of the software is the same whichever type of installation is used.
The guide assumes the user owns a standard MCE remote control. MP supports many remotes, but for simplicity sake this guide just uses the easiest remote.
1.4) Pre-Installation Preparation
Before you start installing MP, there are a number of things you need to do to your basic windows installation to get it ready. These are not all essential, but are good practice to get the best results:
- On the Server PC (or Single-Seat Installation) I recommend that you install Windows on a small partition (about 70 GB is more than enough) and that this drive is used for your timeshifting files (the temporary video files that MP will generate when any of your clients are watching TV). However, I would then use a larger drive to record your TV programmes. The reason for this is because if your hard drive fills up, it won't stop you watching TV and slow your system down to a snails pace.
- Make sure that any system notifications (e.g Windows, update software, virus scanners) are disabled or set to “gaming mode”. This will stop you getting annoying update reminders popping up while you are watching your favorite movie!
- Ensure all your system drivers are up to date (Note: For ATI Graphics Cards there have been some problems with later versions of Catalyst Control Centre (CCC) and version 11.4 is recommended).
- Ensure your Windows auto-run is set to do NOTHING when any media is inserted. This will stop you getting annoying behavior when ever you insert a CD/DVD/Blueray into your machine.
- Set your system up to auto-logon when Windows starts up. If you are planning to use Task Manager to wake your PC up and run some scheduled programs (e.g. to download EPG data from the internet, or defrag your system over-night), then Windows will mandate that you have a password set. This will mean that the user is prompted for a password every time it boots-up. Use this registry edit guide to force the system to log on automatically: Create automatic Login to Windows*Account with windows registry.
- Set your HTPC BIOS up so that the computer turns on automatically after the loss of power. This will mean that if you have a power cut while you are on holiday, the system will power up, then go back to standby/hibernate and be ready for your next scheduled recording.
- Make sure your media is stored in sensible locations. MP can catalogue your media from many different locations, but it is best if you can group your media types together on the hard drive(s) before you start as it will make life much easier for you. If you need to arrange your music and associated CD art, then a separate tool is available from the MP website to help: MEDIAPORTAL - MPTagThat: Tag Your Music.
- The fact that MP is designed to work in a Client/Server Installation means that it must see a valid network connection to enable it to work. This connection should ideally be a wired network so that there is always a fully working network as soon as the HTPC wakes up (without which you might get some problems). If you don’t have a wired home network and are installing MP on a wirelessly connected PC or a completely standalone PC, then all is not lost, this guide will help you: MSLoopback Device for Singleseat users | MediaPortal Forum
- Make sure your system is power-saving correctly (particularly important for your server. I set my system up so that the display turns off after 3 minutes at idle and the hard drives park after 5 minutes at idle. I also then set the system to go into standby after 5 minutes. If for any reason you can't get the system to go into standby using windows, all is not lost as MP has a method of forcing the system to go into standby for you (we will talk about power-saving settings in MP later on in the guide). You will also want to make sure you can get your remote control to wake the PC up from standby.
- If you are using Windows XP, you will need to install some additional software and patches before installing MP. Details can be found here: [Patch] Tuner Issue and channel-scan crash - Windows XP | MediaPortal Forum
In order for MP to display video in all the different formats on your hard drive and removable media, it will need to have access to audio and video codecs. If you are using Windows 7, then all you will need to install to get most (if not all) of your formats to work is the LAV Splitter: MEDIAPORTAL - LAV Filters. However, if you are not confident with what you are doing with codecs, then there is a codec pack called SAF specifically designed for MediaPortal which can be downloaded here: SAF v6 (based on LAVF) | MediaPortal Forum. When you install SAF it will prompt you to answer questions regarding your setup (e.g. is your HPTC connected to an AV Amplifier) which will help you get the right settings for your systems. SAF will also allow you to configure your system to output HD Audio (such as DTS-HD). The SAF hyperlink above also shows how to configure the codec section in MP setup, but we will come to that later.
2) Downloading and installing MediaPortal
Now that your system is ready, you can download the installation files from the MP website: MEDIAPORTAL - Download MediaPortal for free!. The download includes all the additional software that MP needs, and so should not only install MP, but also install other required software.
2.1) Single-Seat Installation with live TV Support (or a Client/Server Installation where the you would also like the server to have the client-side software installed)
- When you run the installation file you will be greeted by an initial welcome screen where you are asked to select your preferred language - select what you wish and click NEXT.
- The second menu will ask you if you wish to start with the installation now, or if you just want to download the required files. Normally you would choose to "start with the installation now" and click NEXT.
- The next screen will ask you if you wish to use MediaPortal to watch TV. Select Yes and click Next.
- The user is then prompted with the following screen:
- For the Single-Seat Installation the "one click installation" option should be chosen, and then Next selected.
- The following screen is then displayed, for which you should select "Install"
- The MP deploy tool will now install all the required components for both the server-side and client-side software. When it is complete a screen is presented telling you the installation is complete and allowing you to exit the deploy tool.
- After the deploy tool closes, your browser will open with a MP welcome screen (this can be closed after you have read it).
- When making a Client/Server Installation the basic installation process is the same as described above in the Single-Seat Installation section for both computers, up to (and including) point 4, where the following screen is presented:
- At this point, the user should select the Advance Installation option and click Next. The following screen is then displayed:
- This is the point in the installation where the actions differ depending upon whether you are installing the client-side or the server-side software. However, it is self explanatory and the appropriate option should be selected and then click Next.
- If you have selected the client-side installation, the installation will now proceed as per the Single-Seat Installation from item 6 onwards. However, if you have selected to install the server-side you will be provided with a list of other options (which effectively you want to just select the default options and select Next each time. Initially you will be presented with the following screen:
- Basically, all you need to do is to keep clicking next until you reach the installation screen shown in point 6 of the Single-Seat Installation.
- Repeat the process for each of your clients and for your one server as required until you have the right element of MP installed on the appropriate PCs