The ZOTAC ZBOX ID41 Plus Linux (and XBMC)

As most of you know, XBMC began as a hackers project for the original MS Xbox way back in 2002. It’s now 2012, and in all that time not a single major manufacturer has ever shipped hardware that came with XBMC pre-installed. Until 2008, that was virtually guaranteed, as the only way to run XBMC was to have a modded Xbox, which was debatably legal at best. I STILL remember nervously looking around the guy who offered to solder my board, waiting for the feds to show up.

It wasn’t until fairly recently that the idea of “jailbreaking” hardware was deemed legal under the DMCA by the Library of Congress and even that was exclusively targeted at wireless telephones. Most people would find themselves hard pressed to argue that the original Xbox was, in any shape or form, a wireless telephone.

With that said, much has happened since 2008. XBMC is now on numerous platforms beyond the original Xbox. Indeed, Team XBMC no longer recognizes the original Xbox as a valid modern platform. Honestly, the only way to to make an original Xbox really GOOD at modern tasks is to do a full on hardware revamp.*
*Speaking of which, how many people have seen the below video? It’s absolutely incredible.  I deeply, deeply want to do something like this. Anyone know anybody at Newegg who wants to sponsor an XBMC on the NEW Xbox 1 rebuild? I have an old, broken Xbox lying around just begging to be put to use for a project like this.

Today, XBMC is on OSX, Windows, iOS… It’s running its own version of LXDE Ubuntu. And, of course, it works on a traditional version of Ubuntu.

That last bit is crucial. Continue reading

Users of XBMCbuntu have not gotten to enjoy the recent labors of the XBMC team, as all major alpha releases have been exclusively built for OSX and Windows. While no official alpha releases are available from the Team, sraue and XBMC Freak are currently offering up an extremely alpha release, if you are comfortable dealing with some almost guaranteed bugs. This release includes the already discussed AudioEngine goodies, XvBA for AMD Radeon users, and more.

You can download it from XBMC Freak.

The last item necessary to fully pull all versions of XBMC into par with AirPlay support has been added in the June dev cycle. Thanks to the work of Memphiz and WiSo, Windows XBMC users can now receive AirPlay video, which has been an option for a while, and music, which has not. This added functionality should already be available in a nightly build, but, unless you are extremely comfortable debugging, at the very least it is recommended that you wait until the June cycle is completed.

Getting to feature complete in this category is a very important step for XBMC in much the same way Addon Rollbacks were a big step. Over time it’s becoming ever more clear that users value easy of use and control over any other thing.

Consider the original Xbox Media Player. Why did people like it? It had attractive menus. It was vaguely reminiscent of TiVo. But most importantly, it did an absolutely amazing job of giving you an easy way to access your movies, pictures, and music in the way you wanted to access them.

As time rolls on, XBMC (or a derivative) remains the single best way to to view your local content on the big screen. But with the passage of time, the innovation comes, not from bigger and better screens or faster and more accurate menus, but from new, alternative (and easily setup) ways to interact with media altogether.

People often make fun of the Nintendo Wii as being a kids toy, but can anyone deny Continue reading

XBMC on the new iPad*

With the recent iOS 5.1.1 jailbreak, XBMC is finally supported on the .  Unfortunately, for the past few days using the new iPad was an awful lot like using the old iPad. Because resolutions are so uniform on the iOS devices, it was unnecessary to code for imaginary higher resolution devices and so XBMC continued to use the old, ugly resolution on the shiny, new retina display.

However, as you can see from a quick browse of this thread and a casual glance at recent commit history (for e.g. here) by Memphiz, a rapid shift has taken place. As of this writing, both the XBMC interface and video playback should actually support the much higher iPad 3 resolution. Good work Memphiz, and thanks to all the users who contributed to testing.

*Credit to Jordan on Twitter for the Photo.

huge crowd
The first thing I tell people when explaining what it’s like to work with the nice people at Team XBMC is that one guy is a butcher in Germany, another guy is from eastern Europe and lives in Dubai, and the President of the foundation lives in New Zealand.

Needless to say, the organization has an extremely international flavor.

So the decision to make translating XBMC an easier and more collaborative process is, no doubt, a fantastic one in my opinion. Here, at last, is a project that people who don’t know the first thing about coding can actually participate in to make XBMC better.

With a mere 10,000 Raspberry Pis out in the world, actually getting to see them in action can be difficult in the best of situations. Which is why everyone visiting LinuxTag in Berlin this year were so lucky to see Edgar “Gimli” Hucek and the rest of the members of Team XBMC who could make it to the showroom floor, as a demo of the R-Pi in action was readily available to all onlookers. The blog Linux Und Ich were there to catch a quick interview with Gimli, along with video of XBMC on the Raspberry Pi in action.

Rather than focusing on developer work within the team, we thought we’d switch this post up to focus on work by the community at large. But before we do, a quick announcement.  For those of you who don’t already know, we’ve decided to name XBMC 12 (the one coming after Eden*) Frodo, after one of the three XBMC founders.  You can learn a bit more about Frodo here. As always, the Team wishes him well over at MediaPortal.

Now, let’s take a look around the community:

TV Guide

The Simplicity TV Guide

First, continuing our discussion of XBMC remotes we had last week, Heiner Bach has created the XBMC Commander app for iOS.  Check the link for all kinds of picture goodness, and visit the XBMC Commander forum post to learn a bit more of how XBMC Commander came to be. The important bit is that XBMC Commander is at v2.0+ and stable. Most reviews of this software remote appear to be positive, and Heiner does a great job of keeping up with JSON-RPC to keep his remote as up to date as possible.

A few caveats: due to recent code changes, XBMC Commander won’t work with XBMC nightlies, so it is recommended that you use the officially supported XBMC 10.1. Also, XBMC Commander costs $3.99, which isn’t a terrible price in the iOS universe, particularly not when you get some well coded software. However, if you don’t have an iOS device, that price could swell a little.

Also, if you do have an iPad, we hear jailbreaking it might be fun…

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A primary goal of Team XBMC has always been to make the user experience as straightforward as possible.  The theory goes that I should be able to accomplish nearly everything I want from within the XBMC interface.With that focus in mind, as some of you may know if you troll the message boards enough, the team has been seeking to improve and streamline the way additional applications and skins are installed into the XBMC system. While it isn’t exactly painful for a user of Windows Vista to figure out how to get to the appdata folder, forcing her to do so for the sake of installing a prettier skin or a method of viewing trailers just doesn’t seem to fit the XBMC mantra.

Continue reading