OpenELEC puts Linux in the living room

XBMC is by far my favorite media-center software. Recommending XBMC is easy, too, because it runs on Windows, OS X, and Linux. In fact, the OpenELEC folks have even crafted a bespoke Linux distribution designed specifically for XBMC. I played around with a beta version when testing Zotac’s awesomely tiny Zbox nano nettop, and now the official 1.0 version has been released to the public.

If you’re unfamiliar with Linux, don’t worry. Configuring OpenELEC to run off a hard drive or other media is no more complicated than flashing a motherboard BIOS. I could walk my mother through the process and be done in less than 10 minutes, download time included.

OpenELEC 1.0 is available in multiple flavors for different hardware platforms. There’s one specifically for AMD Fusion APUs, for example, and another for systems running Ion-enhanced Atom CPUs. You can even grab a variant tailored for the Apple TV.

Smooth video playback is kind of important for a home-theater PC, and OpenELEC uses the decode logic built into recent Intel, AMD, and Nvidia graphics hardware. The Broadcom decoder chip found inside some Atom-based systems is supported, as well. So is a wide range of network adapters and remotes, making this one sweet little operating system for the living room.

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    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 8 years ago

    It would be really cool if they had a make your own build feature on their website. Pick your components from a list and it includes the drivers you need.

    • Dygear
    • 8 years ago

    “<Thing> puts Linux in the living room”. Can’t tell you how many time’s I’ve heard this one before.

      • poulpy
      • 8 years ago

      Linux is sitting in mine so it must be working!

    • floodo1
    • 8 years ago

    I prefer Plex

    • PenGun
    • 8 years ago

    MythTV is really good at this kind of thing.

    [url<]http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/Packages[/url<] I don't feel the need anymore since I quit my satellite shenanigans but if you want a PVR etc and have a tuner card it kinda is the bomb.

      • HighTech4US2
      • 8 years ago

      MythTV Current Release:
      0.24.1 on 15-May-2011

      Not even at a BETA release yet.

      buggy, missing key features and perpetually alpha code

      Still a toy for geeks and not ready for prime time.

      7MC (WMC) Windows Media Center is really the bomb.

        • kc77
        • 8 years ago

        Missing key features? What would those be? Myth’s slow development is partly because of the complexity of the program itself. It falls behind in looks but it’s probably one of the most scalable systems I’ve come across.

        • Veerappan
        • 8 years ago

        Just because the version number is <1.0 doesn’t actually mean that it’s alpha-quality software. I’ve been using MythTV for years as a primary HTPC solution.

    • Duck
    • 8 years ago

    I really hate XBMC. File browser and MPC-HC FTW.

      • QLO
      • 8 years ago

      And that’s the truth Ruth!

      • Norphy
      • 8 years ago

      A file browser and MPC-HC won’t work too well when you’re sitting on the sofa with a remote control though, will it? That is what XBMC and its derivatives are for, not so much for playing media back from your desktop.

        • DarkUltra
        • 8 years ago

        I find it much faster and easier to use the keyboard and mouse to show video, funny text logs, browse and search for pictures (*.jpg and sort by date for instance) when I have friends over. Browsing and searching for youtube videos even more so.

        For instance, one guy wanted to show me the new music video for a song his band had made
        [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF-2rp9tiiE[/url<]

    • HighTech4US2
    • 8 years ago

    No tuner support == FAIL

    Media Center Software that doesn’t support OTA ATSC is absolutely useless.

    Come on how is grandma supposed to watch her favorite shows (download them illegally using P2P).

    I am using Windows Media Center (7MC) that is freely included with Windows 7 Home Premium for about a year and it does everything I need it to do. Lots of extensions are available to play popular media formats including MKV. And the DVR in it is fantastic.

    I tried all of the previous Linux versions of PVR but found them to be buggy, missing key features or perpetually alpha code. Not ever ready for actual use.

    And OpenELEC fits right into the “Not Ready” category.

      • xeridea
      • 8 years ago

      Yeah some people just don’t wanna shell out thousands of dollars for cable/satellite (which is a total rip-off). There are other ways to get your media. Would be good for digital air broadcast (if close enough to civilization), but not like you can’t turn on your regular tv until that is supported.

      • dale77
      • 8 years ago

      Experimental tv support is available for multiple backends

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 8 years ago

      This isn’t really a PVR, more of a media hub like a PS3 or xbox.

    • Corrado
    • 8 years ago

    What I want to see is more Windows Media Center Extenders. The only ones you can still buy are XBox 360’s. I don’t need the gaming, the disk drive, etc, I just need something to be a cable box for my Win7 MCE + Centon 4 tuner card. It works FANTASTIC when I can get a reliable WiFi. Once I move into my new house, everything will be hardwired, so that issue will go away, but so far the whole experience has been great other than networking. I can’t have 2 xboxes on at the same time viewing HD content. In fact, I can’t do much of anything except stream live HD. Its come down to me configuring a separate Wireless network on channel 2 (TV network is 12) for all the devices to try and segregate traffic.

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 8 years ago

      Why not use the more open DLNA protocols?

        • Corrado
        • 8 years ago

        I’m using them as a cable box with live tv. I get a guide, DVR, etc. I’m not trying to stream media that’s already saved.

    • PeterD
    • 8 years ago

    “no more complicated than flashing a motherboard BIOS”

    ???????????

    who does ever do that?

    not my mother, for sure

      • dashbarron
      • 8 years ago

      This is a tech enthusiast site…but agreed. Some of us probably have never done that either.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 8 years ago

        Even if you’ve never done it, it’s not very complicated.

        • jcw122
        • 8 years ago

        Sometimes I wonder whether it’s really an enthusiast site or not.

    • dpaus
    • 8 years ago

    The site doesn’t mention TV tuner support; anyone know?

      • maxxcool
      • 8 years ago

      tv card support is slated for 10.something later on. currently it does not natively support tuners. its more a media server \ player. with some really cool plugins for web content (day 9 streams, tv shows etc). and it has tons of forum and dev support.

      • dale77
      • 8 years ago

      [url<]http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=HOW-TO:Watch_TV_in_XBMC[/url<]

    • codedivine
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<] OpenELEC 1.0 is available in multiple flavors for different hardware platforms. There's one specifically for AMD Fusion APUs, for example, and another for systems running Ion-enhanced Atom CPUs.[/quote<] Good move. With prepared custom packages, should be a breeze to get it up and running without wasting time on things like video drivers.

      • ew
      • 8 years ago

      There really isn’t any good reason not to have just one flavor that supports all the different hardware.

        • xeridea
        • 8 years ago

        The code can be custom compiled to be optimized for specific hardware.

        • Flatland_Spider
        • 8 years ago

        They do. The custom builds strip out everything that’s not need to run on that platform to save space reducing the install footprint. For instance, the Ion build doesn’t have drivers for the AMD GPU.

        Linky:
        [url<]http://www.openelec.tv/get-openelec[/url<]

      • dale77
      • 8 years ago

      But none for AMD hardware, strangely enough. AMD users have a choice of 386 or intel x86_64 builds…

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