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Friday, January 28, 2011

Customized XBMC Transparency Skin for MythBox

I’ve been a long-time XBMC user and recently started using MythTV as well after dumping my satellite subscription.  The MythBox integration with XBMC is awesome, but one thing I felt was lacking was an XBMC skin with an easy front-page option to click directly into MythBox.


Most XBMC skins offer the ability to customize submenus one or more levels deep in their menu system, but if you’re trying to convince your wife or kids that MythBox is the best thing since sliced bread, you don’t want to frustrate them by asking them to remember a complicated set of button clicks to get into live TV (MythBox).  The way around that is to customize a skin to allow the MythBox script to be called from the home screen. (note that the Transparency skin does the option to add custom buttons to the front screen, but only if they call up a favorites.xml file, it does not allow a script to be called from the custom button, at least not currently)


Since a picture is worth a thousand words, below is what the customized Transparency skin looks like.  As it turns out, making this work only requires changes to one file and the addition of the mythtv background file. 


Download the required files here if you’d like to make these changes yourself.


You’ll need to unzip the files and copy them into your xbmc userdata folder.  Navigate to: userdata –> addons –> skin.transparency and then mimic the file structure in the zip file.  The file Includes_home.xml goes into the 720p folder and the mythtv.jpg file goes into the backgrounds folder. 


To enable the view from within Transparency, you need to have the following enabled: 

Settings –> Skin Settings –> Menu –> TV


“TV” in this case has been replaced by MythTV and will be called “Live TV” in the Menu.  If you want to name that something different, navigate to line 2037 in the Includes_Home.xml file and change “LIVE TV” to whatever you want it to be.





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  1. Great guide, thanks for this. I am currently losing the argument that MythTV and XBMC are the greatest thing since sliced bread. I'm based in the UK and am using a single tuner PCie card which supports DVB-S2 (just for future proofings sake). I am having an absolute 'mare getting mythbox inside XBMC to play nice and my tuner locks up (tuners busy) almost all the time. I've looked into the issue ad-nauseum and each 'solution' hasn't worked. Additionally, all the stuff like Cartoonito that the kids would enjoy is gone from my and the add-ons from within Myth only work in the US!!! I'm perserving however but it's only a matter of time before the wife loses it...

  2. Have you tried PlayOn (from Media Mall) for more content that the kids/wife might enjoy? That's another UPNP service that you can run in your house and that can be played back through XBMC.

    re: the 'tuners busy' problem, I had a similar problem when I first started, and the issue then seemed to be alleviated when I added the backend server name/IP to my hosts file on the frontend computer. (or maybe this was just circumstantial... either way, I'm guessing you've already tried this given the way you describe it above)

    You could also try a 2-tuner card which would give you a bit more flexibility with the tuner locking since you'd always have one extra. I bought the HD HomeRun dual tuner and it works flawlessly with Myth.

  3. How is this different than making MythBox a favorite and then using one of the custom buttons?

  4. Hah, good point, I didn't realize you could add a script to your favorites. In that case, the main difference is that this version gets you the custom background above. If you don't like that background or don't mind the standard image in the skin you are using, that method works just fine as well.

  5. Awsome little Mod. I've tweaked this slightly to run MythTV frontend itself and this is tidy menu item is very cool. :-)

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Great idea. Do you mind sharing how you did it? I'm guessing a script that kills XBMC and launches mythfrontend, but I'm curious how exactly you accomplished it, and also how you switch back from Myth to XBMC if you've figured that out as well.

    I've been considering something similar so it'd be nice to see how you tackled it.

  7. Hey TechNazgul,

    Just thought I'd post back on my 'fix' - I scrapped Mythbox in the end as, to be perfectly honest, my needs were more Live TV based rather than an all singing and dancing PVR solution so I was more than willing to forgoe the features of MythTV for something cut down and simple to use.

    Instead, I'm running XBMC + VDR + StreamDev based on the XBMC+PVR_Testing trunk from a developer, "HenningPingel". It's got Live TV (of course) - super quick channel zapping + an EEPG and basic recording functionality. It all ties into the swish Confluence skin on XBMC and the finished result is something I'm very happy to use. (Lets hope the wife thinks so too - that's when it counts).

    I'm currently going through some minor niggles with shutting down the box from the option menus in XBMC but it's a small price to pay and will no doubt be fixed shortly.

    It's a world away from my last post and it took some research as I was totally new to it all but again, it's a result and I'm as happy as Larry!


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