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Ask How-To Geek: Restoring XBMC FTP, Renaming TV Shows, and Android Market in Emulation

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Once a week we dig into our reader mailbag and answer your burning questions. Today we’re taking a peek at how to enable the missing FTP functionality in XBMC, rename your downloaded TV shows, and get access to the Market when emulating Android.

Restoring The FTP Service in XBMC

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Dear How-To Geek,

I recently ditched my old Xbox-based XBMC units in favor of a modern nettop-based XBMC unit (HD video, here I come!) only to be dismayed that there is no FTP support? I’m so used to editing files and working with my Xbox through FTP! I’ve searched high and low in the setting menus and I can’t find a single reference to FTP anywhere. What gives?

Searchin’ for the FTP

Dear Searchin’,

Your inability to find the FTP function in the new versions of XBMC isn’t actually a failure on your part. Since XBMC jumped ship from the actual Xbox they’ve removed built-in FTP. Now, they presume, you’ll simply use the FTP functionality of the underlying operating system. While we happen to think it’s a bit of an oversight to not include the FTP server by default in any XBMC live-based installation (since it’s a bit of a hassle to get in there and install it yourself), we understand where they are coming from. In order to get access to your XBMC install via FTP you’ll need to install an FTP server on the machine.

To keep things simple, we’d suggest using FileZilla. There are lighter weight applications out there, sure, but if you’re new to messing around with FTP servers (especially installing them on Linux if you’re primarily a Windows user) the ample installation documentation for FileZilla will be invaluable.

Renaming Downloaded TV Shows

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Dear How-To Geek,

I have tons of downloaded television shows with all kinds of wonky naming conventions. I’d really like to get everything uniform, partially because I’m a bit OCD about it and partially because it makes scraping for TV show data and covers so much easier. I have some renaming applications but they’re all intended for bulk renaming files and none of them have any tools for dealing with tricky subjects like television shows. Help! I don’t want to do this all by hand.

OCD Downloader

Dear OCD,

You’re right to ask for help before submitting your media collection to the mercy of a generic renaming tool. While there are more than a few tv-renaming tools floating around one of the simplest is TVRenamer. It can help you rename your files (as well as automatically renaming other important files that are stored along with it such as subtitles and artwork). Check out our guide to using TVRenamer here.

One thing we would strongly advise you to do before renaming is to download any subtitles you’d like for your shows. Subtitles are almost always synced (down to the fraction of a second) to very specific releases. If you strip all that information out of the file name and reduce it to SomeShow S01E01.mkv instead of SomeShow S.01 E.01 CrazyBoysRipPalace HDTV SomeJibbaJabba H264 720p.mkv it makes it almost impossible to find good subtitles. Grab your subtitles first, then go through and rename everything.

Android Market in Emulation

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Dear How-To Geek,

Sometime last year I followed your guide to setting up an Android emulator. I did it mostly because I wanted to mess around with Android before getting a new Android phone. Recently I went back to play with the emulator again as a way to try out apps before installing them on my phone and (if I’m being totally honest) play a couple games I’ve gotten addicted to from my desktop. Unfortunately I can’t seem to even find the Market to get to all those fabulous games. What gives?

Longing for UniWar

Dear UniWar Lover,

First, you better email your UniWar screen name. We shall smite you with the rage of a thousand Titans. Second, you can’t find the Market because it isn’t there. We’ll lump this in the same “What were they thinking?” category that we lumped the lack of FTP in XBMC in earlier in this edition of Ask How-To Geek. It sure would be nice if the Market was enabled by default. Have no fear, however, so many people wanted to know how to set up the Market after we posted that Android emulation guide that we posted a follow up article on how to enable the Market. Now seriously, send us your UniWar screen name; we’ve laid so many bases to waste nobody will play with us anymore.


Have a question you want to put before the How-To Geek staff? Shoot us an email atask@howtogeek.com and then keep an eye out for a solution in the Ask How-To Geek column.

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/24/11

Comments (1)

  1. Luigi Capriotti

    Pls note that in XBMC Live FTP has been replaced by the more secure sftp. Just use a proper ftp client (like Filezilla) and use “SFTP – SSH File Transfer Protocol”. Nothing to install or configure.

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