Badut: Home Theater Media Browser

Badut is a Home Theater PC media browser application, an audio and video jukebox. It is preconfigured to play video and audio files using mplayer or xine. The configuration can be easily changed and extended by the user. CDRDAO audio CD images can be played natively. Badut can show thumbnailed screen captures for the selected item.

Badut has direct support for the Soundgraph iMON LCD+IR module, e.g. found in recent Silverstone GD01 chassis.


Why another HTPC software

Badut Screen Shot
Screen Shot

What's the advantage over, say, MythTV?

  • Badut can overlay directory trees and present them as one merged tree to the user.

    E.g. if you specify /media/* as a set of root dirs, the relative path /videos/ as shown by Badut will be expanded to /media/*/videos and all files found in those directories will be presented as one merged directory.

    This makes the organisation of your media files easier because you can distribute them over several directories (e.g. over several partitions and disks) and still have a consistent display.

  • Badut can play cdrdao audio images out of the box. This is for people who want the CD image as one big uncompressed file where track transitions without pauses cause no audible distortion.
  • The Soundgraph iMON-LCD, e.g. in a SilverStone GD01 (Grandia) chassis, is driven graphically with hand-optimised fonts that are narrow, yet very well-readable and have a high spouse acceptance factor. :-)
  • There is no initial, fully recursive scan of the browsed directories. Badut only scans what is necessary for showing the current directory. So it starts up quickly even with many files in the directory structure.
  • The configuration files are easy to read and write because they are kept simple and are well documented.
  • You can easily write plugins for special purposes easily. The interfaces are documented well, and kept to a minimum.
  • It is hard to accidentally exit the GUI and by default no applications will be started that cannot handle infrared remote signals. You are able to control the HTPC box with LCD + IR remote alone without the accidental need for a keyboard or mouse.
  • Badut supports recording CDs/DVDs from the normal menu and is extensible by arbitrary user actions.

What does it not do?


What does it do?

Badut LCD Screen Shot
LCD Screen Shot

The Story

HTPC Photo
HTPC Photo

Thu, 2008-08-07: I wrote this whole stuff mainly because the iMON LCD I was using was not properly supported: you still needed a patch for LIRC even for the CVS version. You still need a patch for LCDd.

The patches which are available in some form or another from several fora work quite fine but LCDd only handles text, but my LCD display is graphical, and also I found the font quite displeasing and wasteful of space.

Another reason was that MythTV, which I tried first, would not read my CDRDAO images out of the box.

Further, I was displeased by the speed of MythTV's media browser, because it recursively searches the whole directory tree when starting, which takes a considerable amount of time.

Moreover, MythTV opens applications that cannot not handle remote control commands when you accidentally open the wrong item in the MythTV menus.

Finally, the MythTV configuration was partly done via huge menues in the GUI and partly, e.g. for some ALSA stuff, in good-old config files. I decided that the good old way would be the way I want it: nice configure files, also because a consistent and complete configurability inside the GUI is very hard to achieve.

I exclusively need a media browser, so I only used one plugin of MythTV. This plugin's functionality did not fully convince me, so I started to write my own little browser, basically without bells or whistles, but with the functionality I need and with the possibility for expanding it to something fancy later.


Pieces

Badut LCD Photo
LCD Photo

This package consists of the following pieces:

With these pieces, it should be possible to turn a standard Ubuntu 8.04 box (and probably most other Linux boxes, too) into a media browser HTPC.


Installation

If you do not need LCD support, then the installation of Badut probably only takes a few seconds. Ok, maybe a few minutes. :-) If you have one of the very common mceusb2 remote controls, the remote control will work, too.

However, when installing Badut with support for the iMON LCD+IR, you still need some manual work, because that USB device is not fully supported by Linux distros yet, as mentioned above. You have to recompile LIRC, install the new modules, probably removing the old ones. I did this on Ubuntu 8.04 (actually, on Mythbuntu 8.04, which is derived from Xubuntu 8.04, but that should be no difference).

For the LCD to work, you need the following USB device (check 'lsusb'):

Bus 004 Device 003: ID 15c2:0038 SoundGraph Inc.

The other stuff will work with any other hardware, too.

For other remote controls than the two packaged, you need to write a config file to configure the keys, however. This is due to an awkward configuration philosophy of LIRC, which calls the keys different on each remote control. There are no standard names, so you need to check with 'irw' what the control codes are for your remote control.

For installation instructions, download and unpack Badut and read the INSTALL document.


Features


Download


Bugs

Report Problems

Please be so kind to give me feedback on all bugs and quirks. Compilation issues, failures, crashes, missing features.

Feedback:
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E-Mail would be nice so I can ask if anything is unclear. The address will be treated strictly confidential.

Changes

Version 5 (not yet released)
bug fix
After playing raw audio toc files, gfilesel would consume 100% CPU. This is fixed; it was caused by a misinterpretation of the GTK documentation.
feature
gfilesel knows more actions now to make it easier to cope with different types of remote controls and still do the right thing(tm) in the different situations. The navigation keys 'left','right','up','down' are all native actions now. The user actions can be entered by a new 'user' action + '0'..'9' keys, so you don't need an extra key for each user action.
feature
DVD playback of raw files was improved: for DVDs where the navigation does not work in mplayer for some reason (actually, for me those are most DVD images), the DVD is now opened as a virtual directory, showing the titles and their size is MB. The titles can then directory be played. The old dvdnav playback is still accessible as user action 1.
feature
When starting audio playback, some hardware needs a certain time to be initialised. To cope with this, gtocplay can be configured to send silence before actually starting to play the payload.
Version 4
feature
PNG screen captures are searched in the .caps subdirectory and displayed on the right edge.
Version 3
bugfix
Bad command line option for mplayer fixed in predefined config file rules.
feature
Directories can be inserted at any point in the virtual directory hierarchy.
feature
'record' actions can be defined. For audio.toc, a default action invoking 'cdrdao write ...' is included.
feature
user actions can be defined.
feature
menu entries can be defined: i.e., an action (=shell command) can be assigned to any virtual directory entry.
feature
'gfilesel' reads command line options from config files.
feature
'gfilesel' can display a clock.
feature
DBus/Hal notification for mounting/unmouting to automatically refresh the display.
Version 2
bugfix
audio.toc files play (hopefully): there was a bad config file left from an alpha test version that has been repaired.
bugfix
.toc parser: the last track was not listed.
bugfix
'gtocplay' does not claim anymore to be able to resample the stream, so it drives ALSA devices correctly that do software resampling.
feature
Clauses in the config files (unfold{}, run{}, and slave{}) can have user-defined labels that can be matched in prefer{} clauses.
clean-up
gfilesel tries to not crash if the connection to lcdgraph breaks off, e.g. when the daemon is restarted. It will then try to reconnect.
clean-up
Make the config files more self-explanatory; improve the README files.
Version 1
initial release

Content

Index

January 31st, 2009
Comments? Suggestions? Corrections? You can drop me a line.
zpentrabvagiktu@theiling.de
Schwerpunktpraxis