XBMC hits version 10.0

Putting together a home-theater PC and don’t have a spare Windows license kicking around? Looking for a slick 10-foot UI to run on top of an existing operating system? Check out XBMC, which has now reached version 10.0. Dubbed Dharma, the latest version of XBMC is quite the milestone for a project that began aboard the original Xbox console. 10.0 won’t run on an old Xbox, but versions are available for Windows, OS X, Linux, and even the Apple TV. XMBC can also be downloaded as a standalone live CD that runs off optical media or a USB drive.

Dharma brings an numerous changes to XBMC, the most important of which seems to be the addition of an add-on manager. Previously, users had to scour forums and deal with separate downloads to add skins or other features to XBMC. In the words of its developers, “those days are over.” The add-on manager allows you to change the look and functionality of XMBC without leaving the couch or dropping the remote.

On the playback front, XBMC 10.0 adds WebM/VP8 codec to its already impressive list of supported formats. The software’s support for hardware-accelerated video decoding has also been expanded to include Broadcom’s Crystal HD decoder, and the Live CD has been optimized for Nvidia’s next-gen Ion GPU.

I’ve used XBMC on and off since its early Xbox days, and I have to admit that I’ve missed it since moving my home-theater PC over to Windows 7 and Microsoft’s MCE interface. XBMC’s interface feels snappier and more refined, and its music visualization plugins are light years ahead of what comes bundled with Windows. Dharma will probably lure me back to XBMC before long, especially if the add-on manager is as slick as it sounds. Already, the developers claim they’re seeing an average of 50,000 add-on downloads per day.

Comments closed
    • MaxTheLimit
    • 9 years ago

    Loaded it up on my media center. No major issues so far. Corrected a small annoyance it seems.
    I use it because it’s a quick and easy way to access my media, and I’ve got it customized to work easily and seamlessly. I have company over a lot, and fiddling around a bunch with a mouse isn’t exactly ideal, when I could just grab a remote and navigate quickly to what I need.

    • Pettytheft
    • 9 years ago

    Isn’t it just easier to get one of those little boxes that plays every format and a couple of external 2TB drives and be done with it. I want to rip some of the stuff I own soon and pack them up but all I need it to do is play.

    §[< http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?nm_mc=AFC-TechBargains&cm_mmc=AFC-TechBargains-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA&Item=N82E16822148585<]§ Seems like much less of a headache.

      • cynan
      • 9 years ago

      Yeah. Plus they come with the remote (which you need to source separately for XBMC)

      The only obvious problem with those desktop boxes is that when a new format comes along in a year or two that either the chipset can’t support, or the manufacturers have neglected to release a firmware update for and you’re SOL.

      But I think that now that bluray/HD programming has been out for while, the rapid turnover of all of these formats and increased hardware demands will slow and this will become less and less of an issue.

      What would really be nice is if something like XBMC and a set top box manufacturer got together and released a cheap XBMC box, which would have a more die-hard firmware support, etc. I suppose not unlike what is being done with WD live homebrew firmware, etc, except, hopefully a bit more user friendly (don’t have to be a linux programmer) to tailor to your own needs.

    • demani
    • 9 years ago

    Yeah- for me as well, the lack of tuner support is the one major omission. Outside of that it has been a nice package, but WMCE7 has Tuner support and just enough plug in support to get to the other major web stuff to make it a better option.

    • Hattig
    • 9 years ago

    Does this support hardware acceleration on Radeons under Linux?

    Not that I’m thinking of a Brazos based mini-ITX system early next year…

    • Arominus
    • 9 years ago

    Oooo my htpc may be getting a funky upgrade… Grab a 16gb kingston s100 SSD off the egg for 55 bucks and load XBMC on it. Then stream in from the raid array in the server. So sexy.

    • HighTech4US2
    • 9 years ago

    I agree with max’s comment that if it doesn’t have native support for tuners then I also do not count it as a home-theater PC.

      • Deanjo
      • 9 years ago

      With XBMC you can use MythTV’s backend via an easily downloadable plugin

        • HighTech4US2
        • 9 years ago

        MythTV is perpetually in BETA and thus contains numerous bugs or omissions. Come on its version number after 8 years of development is only 0.25.

        7MC in Windows 7 works great and I see no reason to go to XBMC if it relies on (never finished and buggy) MythTV for OTA tuner support.

          • Deanjo
          • 9 years ago

          lol, like version numbers are any indication of an apps state of completeness. MythTV has features that that 7MC could only dream about not to mention far superior hardware support then 7MC. Trying to compare 7MC to MythTV is like trying to compare stripped but shiny Ford Festiva to a Aston Martin tricked out by Q.

            • Forge
            • 9 years ago

            Aston Martian? The new British flying saucer?

          • CasbahBoy
          • 9 years ago

          Version numbers are arbitrary. Technically they have always been, but the rise of Linux and Free and Open Source Software has only made it more obvious in the past decade.

          The lack of a guarantee of stability or functionality is not a guarantee of instability or lack of functionality. You shouldn’t need us to tell you this by now. The only time I give a damn about stability and completion guarantees is when I’m at work in an enterprise environment and even then, “unsupported software” is hardly off-limits in appropriate situations.

          • provoko
          • 9 years ago

          So you haven’t actually used it lately? Haha.

      • DaveSylvia
      • 9 years ago

      I use XBMC for watching Movies and Shows. I don’t watch or record TV (nor is there a tuner in my little Acer). Does that mean it isn’t a home-theater PC? It’s a PC, at home, that I use as a “theater”. Hence, home-theater PC. XMBC handles that extremely well – minus tuners.

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    I’ve never had a reason to use any of these programs. I always found that browsing with a mouse, and using basic windows, and vlc, a much better solution. Can anyone tell me the major advantages?

      • derFunkenstein
      • 9 years ago

      The big thing is using a remote and sitting on your couch. If you’re at your desktop, it’s, as you say, easier to browse with the mouse.

      • zdw
      • 9 years ago

      It’s nice to have one remote control that does everything (assuming you have a programmable one like a Logitech Harmony), especially if other people are going to be using the system.

      XBMC works great with an embedded device – for example, on top of a slim linux installation on an atom/ion combo machine, or on an old Xbox you can pick up for $20 at a yard sale.

        • sweatshopking
        • 9 years ago

        An old xbox wouldn’t be HD, so i guess if you were looking for using it with an old tv or something, that wouldn’t be bad. I can see this being an excellent product with an xbox, but with a pc, I’m not sure it’s better.

        As for a remote, I always just used a wireless mouse. I guess if you had something like harmony kicking around, but if you don’t they’re damn expensive.

          • swaaye
          • 9 years ago

          Actually the old Xbox can output up to 1080i but its CPU isn’t fast enough to play HD video.

          It’s great for emulators however. Better to let it scale them than the TV. And I’ve got Quake 2 on my Xbox running at 1280×720 with 4X MSAA. If it had 128MB of RAM, I think there would have been more 720p games.

      • poulpy
      • 9 years ago

      In a nutshell XBMC:
      – is way easier to use for non-geeks or from a sofa with a remote
      – regroups all your Movies/Pictures/Music under one umbrella
      – add lots of metadata to your movies/series with various scrappers that automagically go get jackets/storyline/ratings/etc..

      My mum managed to use it without a sweat when she visited me and, without getting into details, that’s saying a *[

        • sweatshopking
        • 9 years ago

        lol!

      • Corrado
      • 9 years ago

      This is one of the only DLNA CLIENTS for desktop computers. This means I can VPN into my home network and have it see my DLNA server (Play On, which will compensate for bandwidth by lowering quality, making it ideal on less than great connections) and I can still view my movies without having to carry them on my local laptop.

      • DaveSylvia
      • 9 years ago

      For me there are two huge reasons:

      1. Users other than me prefer XMBC (users that don’t get file structure/hierarchy and hate using mice and prefer remotes).

      2. Text/font visibility from 6 feet away – it can be hard to read the filenames of the movies – then again, I only have a 32″ 720p TV so that might be my issue.

      Otherwise there’s no other significant advantages. I actually prefer watching movies and shows from 1 feet away on my 24″ monitor. From that standpoint XBMC doesn’t do it for me. For my fiance, it’s huge as she doesn’t know how to go to the mapped drive and drill down into movies or shows folder.

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