Raspbmc & Wireless

So – now that I have my wireless dongle working I figured I’d give a media server a bash again. I picked Raspbmc as I felt this was a little more dedicated to the Pi, but I think OpenELEC would be a pretty strong contender too, so will give it a go some time.

EDIT 23/03/2013: While I initially had some issues when first installed Raspbmc RC5 (I had to dig around a bit, but the guys over at Raspbmc have got a great forum and I was up and running within a few hours), these are no longer present on the new version.  I’ve therefore updated this post to focus on the new version – if you need more information on what problems I had and how I resolved them, let me know.

So – high-level overview? Very nice UI, responsive, feature-rich. It scanned my Movie, TV & Music shares without any issue and I have a nice remote running on my Android phone. This is all a BIG step up from my previous PS3/MediaTomb solution!

First thing I should point out is that I’m not going to write this as a complete beginners guide, covering old ground. If you’re taking this on as a project I’ll assume that you’ve got a basic working knowledge of your Pi. If you think this is a bit advanced I’d suggest running through some earlier posts first.

First off, you’ll need to know how to apply an image to your card – take a look here. For this project I used the Standalone image – RC5 of Raspbmc. Available from the Raspbmc Downloads page. Alternatively you could use the installers produced by the guys at Raspbmc – they work very well!! Just be aware that I’ve only tried the manual image approach.

EDIT 23/03/2013: No requirement for SSH via Putty anymore.

As mentioned before, I’ve found a cheap, reliable WiFi USB dongle using a Realtek 8188C chipset.  I sell them here for £6.99.  Alternatively the N150 WiFi dongle from Maplin also appears to work out the box.

One last thing to point out here – I first booted up an image of the latest Rasbian distro. The wireless worked straight off the bat. Might be worth trying that just to make sure you’ve got no other issues that might interfere here (again, details here if you get stuck).

Getting Started
Not much to do – write the image to the card, boot it up.

Wireless Configuration
Once I booted up into Raspbmc and was taken to the main menu. I started with a keyboard connected – use the arrow keys to navigate around and Enter to make a selection.

Scrolling to the right, I found the Programs menu items, under which was the Rasmbmc Settings icon – select this.


Once open, select Raspbmc Settings again.

This opens up the Raspbmc Settings program, displaying the Network Configuration tab by default. You’ll see from the screenshot below the Network Mode is Wired by default, with a number of other default settings.

Go through each of the settings in this screen, configuring them to suit your network configuration. Change Network Mode to Wireless (WIFI) Network. I’m using DHCP so have selected that. I’ve entered my SSID (shamefully still stuck on linksys). I don’t have encryption (I find MAC filtering secure enough) and therefore need to take out the value in WIFI KEY (now sure what this defaulted to).

Once all that has been set, move down and select ‘Update Now’, and select OK. You’ll be taken out of the configuration screen, see a brief message about applying the new configuration followed by a message confirming it has been successfully applied.

And that’s pretty much it! Scroll to System on the far right and select System Info – this should display an IP Address now.

So – I hope this has helped get your wireless up and running. I’ve been playing around a bit and have found some really good features like my Android remote, standard TV Remote (i just works!) and setting up Libraries (SMB shrare) – I’ll put these all in a new post soon.


23 thoughts on “Raspbmc & Wireless

  1. Pingback: Right – let’s get on with this Raspbmc malarkey | My Raspberry Pi Experience

  2. anon

    Just to say, if you use the raspBMC installer, you have the option to input the wireless network settings prior to imaging the disk. Once booted you can use SSH to sort out turning on the web service for the android remote control.
    Doing this I was able to set up raspBMC without a mouse, keyboard or ethernet cable.

  3. Anonymous

    I found this helpful for a quick tutorial to find the wireless network settings but looks like your site has been hacked and the images replaced with other with a hyperlink that is being blocked by my mcafee filter as being malicious.

    1. admin Post author

      Glad you found it helpful and thanks for the heads up. What’s happened is my photobucket account (which is where all my images are hosted), is exceeding the free monthly 10GB limit. For a day or two each month all images revert to a generic photobucket advertising image! I’m in the process of moving all images to my hosting server – check back in 48 hours and it should all be back online!

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    I have study much about free of charge blogging web pages, however I have no clear idea concerning that, can any one advise me which one is finest in favor of free blogging and site-building?

  5. Darren

    Hi when I use WIFI the videos stop and start, but when I connect to the Internet with cable they play fine. What is wrong?

    1. admin Post author

      Hi, sorry for the delayed response. I’m hoping you’ve resolved it by now? Unfortunately a difficult thing to diagnose without having the same issue here. If you’re still stuck the forums at raspberrypi.org would be a good place to look for a solution.

  6. Andy

    Hi I ve just bought a rasperry pi box and when I upload the raspbmc os, then it’s says step 1 of 2 then in the corner it has. ( user added pi.) then a minute later it reboots and goes to the list of os to choose from. What am I suppose to write???

    1. admin Post author

      Hi, sorry for the delayed response. I’m hoping you’ve resolved it by now? The Raspbmc OS has changed a bit since I wrote this blog, so am not too sure what option you need to choose. I really should download the latest version, try it out and update my post…

  7. W

    Hi, thanks for the easy stepbystep
    I installed my dongle, found my network
    I want to connect to a public network that’s open but when connected asks for a login and password (which I have but don’t know where to put it..)
    Do I have to download a browser-program first (somehow) to be able to connect? or can I put those login+password somewhere in the settings so it logs on automatically each time?

    thx in advance!

  8. turkles

    Hi there,

    Thanks for blog, helped me out no end.
    Did you use a USB port on the pi, or did you use a powered usb?

    1. admin Post author

      Yes, I just use the USB for my wireless dongle. I currently use it mainly for my media centre (Raspbmc), so don’t need a keyboard or mouse. I juggled the keyboard and mouse to get it all running, but don’t think I’ve needed to plug anything in for at least 6 months as my TV remote works well over HDMI-CEC.

  9. T

    Hi there,

    Thanks for all the info. It’s be helpful.
    Just wondered if you had the wifi dongle plugged in the pi or a powered usb?

    Thanks again

  10. Jos


    Some WiFi dongles can scan the available networks around but they can’t connect.

    I solved this problem changing the wifi encription in the router to
    WPA2 PSK.

    Raspbmc wifi dongle was not working when the encription was WEP


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