I’ve just gotten back into using Kodi and got my library managers set to monitor things again. God this is so much better than manually downloading things and just playing them in VLC.
For those unfamiliar, Kodi is an open source media center application created in the early 2000s for the original Xbox as Xbox Media Center or XBMC. Over time it got ported to all major desktop and mobile operating systems, Xbox support was dropped, and in 2014 they renamed the project to Kodi so that they could protect their branding through trademark law against those selling prebuilt piracy boxes based around the software. There’s been a lot of conversation about Kodi and streaming of pirated content, but those streams are made by third parties who make libraries of content available to add as a network media source or make plugins to browse pirated streams.
Of course I’m also using it for pirated media but I’m using local downloads instead. To manage this I use Sonarr, Radarr, Jackett, uTorrent, and SABnzbd. Sonarr (formerly NzbDrone) is a TV show library manager that can search for episodes on from both torrent and usenet indexers, send them to your download clients (where uTorrent and SABnzbd come in), move them into your library location (for me a 1 TB external hard drive) and download metadata and artwork formatted for a few different media centers. Radarr is a fork of this modified to manage movies that I’m glad exists because before I found it I used CouchPotato which in my opinion is garbage. Jackett provides API access to torrent trackers through both Torznab and TorrentPotato APIs, and is how Sonarr and Radarr access most of their torrent indexers. Usenet binary uploads are pulled from NZBFinder (where I have a Basic paid plan) and downloaded through SABnzbd, Sonarr and Radarr run on my desktop as Windows services, and along with SABnzbd and Jackett are primarily controlled in the browser. Radarr and Sonarr also both are set to send notifications to and automatically update the library of Kodi when it’s running.
I first started using Kodi itself at some point in 2016. At that point I had my desktop set to use my TV as a secondary display and launched Kodi through Steam Big Picture, navigating with my Steam Controller. I moved later that year, and my current bedroom setup doesn’t allow me to connect my TV to my desktop. However, with the long cable of my headphones and the extremely short gap between my bed and desk, I can simply watch while laying/sitting on my bed. Instead of using the Steam Controller like I used to, I use an Android app called Yatse which acts as a remote for Kodi (and works for some other media centers too, apparently). I’ve got it set up on both my phone and Fire tablet.
If I don’t want to watch on my desktop itself, I also have Kodi installed on my Fire TV Stick and my laptop and can stream videos and music from my desktop as long as Kodi is running there with universal plug and play (UPnP) over the local network. There’s limitations though, as my video library is not optimized for streaming. I’m not going to be streaming a 1080p60 video I recorded with my camcorder to my Fire stick, for example. But for the most part it works well enough with maybe a bit of buffering at the start. I have yet to test streaming the comically large Star Wars Despecialized Editions though and am interested to see how that plays out (A New Hope clocks in at 20 gigs, but these full version MKV files contain a wonderfully large selection of audio tracks including an isolated musical score).
Ideally I’d have a dedicated home theater PC for this and maybe a NAS for storage but lol I’m on a Kroger paycheck and can’t afford that. This system on my existing PC works and I’m stupidly proud of it, hence this rambling write up on it. If you want actual instructions on how to set this stuff up, there’s each project’s own documentation and countless tutorials from cordcutter and HTPC enthusiast sites. And if you want to use Usenet downloads you’re going to have to find a paid provider, recommendations for which can be found on r/usenet (as much as reddit is a toxic hellhole of a site to participate in, some subs such as this one are wonderful for gathering information).
Now enough talking, it’s movie time