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I want to put my Raspberry Pi upstairs and connect it to the network via Homeplug. On my main computer, I would like to play music via VLC using something like the MMC protocol. What do I need to do in order to get my raspbmc-enabled Raspberry Pi to automatically play the stream stream on startup, without needing an input device of any sort or even a display device after configuration?

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It's simple, just write startup script for your distribution.
There are plenty guides on Internet for that.

Make sure that it starts after all required services are up.
Command may look like:

cvlc mmc://something > /path/to/log/file.log

cvlc would start vlc headless and standard output would log into your logfile so you can keep track of what is going on if something goes wrong there.

  • This seems specific to VLC playing, rather than Rasmbc playing, but I'll look into getting VLC installed onto the Pi rather than Raspbmc. – Nicholas Hill Oct 20 '14 at 11:18

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