XBMC 11.0 now ready for your HTPC

Almost exactly three months after its first public beta release, XBMC 11 has gone gold. Dubbed Eden, this first major release in over a year is now available in a multitude of flavors, including Windows, Linux, OS X, and iOS. There’s also a standalone XBMCbuntu version that runs off a bootable thumb drive. Unlike previous standalone versions of the OS, XBMCbuntu includes a full Linux desktop environment with a package manager and a Flash-enabled Chromium web browser. XBMC still runs by default, but users now have access to the underlying OS.

In addition to a more robust standalone implementation, Eden includes a number of other enhancements. The default skin has been modified to display more information on the home screen with fewer clicks, add-ons can be rolled back to previous versions at the touch of a button, remotes are supposed to work better in Windows, and forecasts are now provided by the Weather Underground. VAAPI support also promises improved video decoding support for AMD GPUs under Linux. A full changelog can be viewed here.

As someone who has been using XBMC since it debuted on the original Xbox, I’m happy to see the media-center app continue to evolve. Apart from a lack of PVR functionality, it’s miles ahead of any other home-theater PC software out there—and completely free. Especially impressive is the fact that XBMC now runs on inexpensive devices like the Apple TV. Jailbreaking is required for iOS devices, though.

Comments closed
    • Deanjo
    • 8 years ago

    Dupe

    • Deanjo
    • 8 years ago

    One other item that isn’t mentioned here is the HDMI-cec support.

    • Tamale
    • 8 years ago

    help me, fellow TR readers.. I can’t be the only one with this usage model, so I’m curious what you guys use to accomplish generic media consumption.

    Typical evening – we sit down on our couch, fire up my aging HTPC, and use a wireless keyboard with built-in trackball to launch a browser to watch some hulu plus, open some folders to browse my network shared drive with downloaded movies/episodes (all legally-obtained, of course), open windows media center to watch some live TV with my USB tuner / over-the-air antenna, or open a different browser to just, well, browse… read some TR or lolcats.

    How can none of these software packages or new-fangled hardware devices combine all of these functions into an easy-to-use interface? I’m tired of using the bulky keyboard with trackball, but there doesn’t seem to be a real alternative yet.. or maybe I’m just ignorant. Please tell me I’m just ignorant and show me the light I’ve been waiting for!

      • dpaus
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]Please tell me I'm just ignorant [/quote<] Can't bring myself to do it....

    • eitje
    • 8 years ago

    i’ll give it a shot.

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    Just downloaded it and tried to run it via CD on my desktop. Not sure how it works though. It can’t see my hard drive and can’t connect to our Wi-fi network. Plus, can it function as a regular OS? Tried it on my Lenovo laptop but after clicking on the ‘Try Ubuntu’ button, the screen just goes blank after a while and that’s it.

    Desktop : AMD Phenom II X4, ATI HD5670 1GB, MSI 785GM-E65, 8GB DDR3, 1TB HDD, D-link DWA-510 Wi-fi adapter.

    Laptop (Lenovo G470) – Core I5-2450M, AMD HD6370M (switchable graphics), 4GB DDR3, 750GB HDD, Realtek Wi-fi adapter.

      • stdRaichu
      • 8 years ago

      If you’ve already got a running windows install, you’ll find it easier to just install the windows version. The linux distro is more intended for installing on a dedicated XBMC appliance, and whether wireless works or not will be dependant on whether there are linux drivers available or not.

        • ronch
        • 8 years ago

        Ok, I disabled Switchable Graphics on my laptop and that allowed me to reach the XBMC desktop environment. Still, I can’t seem to connect to the Wi-Fi network, nor can XBMC see my hard drives (NTFS, of course). Same scenario as with my desktop.

        What I wanna do is, scrap Win7 on my laptop, put XBMC in, and use XBMC (on top of Ubuntu) as though it’s my OS, launching office apps as well as perhaps an antivirus (Avast! for Ubuntu). Can it do that? With the problem of not being able to see my hard drives, I’m a bit hesitant to scrap everything on my laptop and swap XBMC in. I don’t wanna go through the trouble of erasing everything and putting everything back in for nothing.

        EDIT – I posted my experiences with XBMC in the forums. I’m aware that this isn’t the place to discuss these things, and so it’s off to the forums for me.

          • stdRaichu
          • 8 years ago

          I’m not familiar with the XBMC distro myself so can’t really speak as to its compatibility with various wireless chips (I only use wired myself – never found any wireless hardware combo that can reliably play even DVD streams on windows or linux) or NTFS hard drives or office software; all my HTPC’s are dedicated “appliances” running Debian + XFCE with XBMC on top with a centralised NAS for all the files.

          I’m as much a linux fanboy as anyone but there’s no sense in nuking a perfectly good Win 7 install for the sake of XBMC – I run it on my windows boxes as well – especially if you’re not familiar with linux. IME XBMC seems to be one of those blessed cross-platform apps where it really does Just Work on all platforms, but mixing it up with stuff like office applications is probably beyond the scope of a dedicated distro like XBMCbuntu.

    • mcnabney
    • 8 years ago

    Never had a problem with Windows Media Center running Media Browser. All the tuning, recording, and PVR functions of WMC plus the outstanding stored content experience with Media Browser. Attractive, fast, and always updated. Lots of skins available if the defaults don’t float your boat.

    • carburngood
    • 8 years ago

    Still use Media Portal over this anyday – much better plugins and has TV / PVR functionality out of the box…

      • Deanjo
      • 8 years ago

      and requires Windows. No thanks, not interested in spending money on a windows license.

        • ronch
        • 8 years ago

        How about XBMCbuntu?

          • Deanjo
          • 8 years ago

          What about it? I spin my own openSUSE xbmc build. Doesn’t cost me a cent.

      • dale77
      • 8 years ago

      Likewise, mediaportal for PVR support.

    • adisor19
    • 8 years ago

    I updated last night and noticed some playback slowdowns when XBMC is updating my library at the same time. This didn’t use to happen in the previous version.

    Anybody else experience this ?

    Other than that, this is a great release ! I will test slingbox local network playback and airplay target mode with the iPad 2 to see how well that works.

    Adi

      • ronch
      • 8 years ago

      Hi Adi. I’m having slowdowns on the desktop itself. Sometimes the system would just stop for a few seconds then resume again. Are you also having this kind of issue? I don’t know what XBMC is doing to cause such momentary pauses.

      EDIT – I tried both XBMC for Windows and XBMCbuntu on two different computers (one AMD, the other Intel). Both exhibit the same momentary pauses. It’s enough to convince me that I’m not the only one experiencing this issue.

        • Deanjo
        • 8 years ago

        Can’t speak for the *untu live distro but here on openSUSE 12.1 it’s smooth as silk which would lead me to believe the lag you are experiencing has to do with the distro implementation.

          • ronch
          • 8 years ago

          Exactly the same pauses under Ubuntu and Win7 64-bit. All hardware between the two systems are also different. I’m inclined to think there are some kinks left with XBMC itself. It’s buttery smonth, alright, just the occasional pauses that last a few seconds.

            • Deanjo
            • 8 years ago

            Interesting. What video cards are in the system?

    • dpaus
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]Apart from a lack of PVR functionality, it's miles ahead of any other home-theater PC software out there[/quote<] Does it include tuner support yet? To me, that's a glaring hole, especially now that every station in the U.S. and Canada is transmitting TV in glorious (most uncompressed HD) digital.

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 8 years ago

      I think you can install MythTV and pipe the stream through to XBMC, but I don’t believe it has built in support.

        • atryus28
        • 8 years ago

        Who watches live TV aside from sports? I know the HDHomeRun can be used via UPnP mode with XBMC for live TV viewing.

        Oops replied to the wrong person.

          • superjawes
          • 8 years ago

          Well…plenty, but it’s going down. News should be strong for awhile, even though newspapers are virtually dead. Sports should stick around, although more games seem to be streamed. Then you have plenty of people watching shows live, even though many use DVR/online services.

          Tuner support basically just fills the gap between modern/internet television and all that leftover stuff that’s still live.

          • dale77
          • 8 years ago

          Errm. We record a lot of it.

      • GTVic
      • 8 years ago

      Over the air? Or are you ridiculing the compressed coaxial cable crap from Rogers/Shaw/etc?

        • HighTech4US2
        • 8 years ago

        > are you ridiculing the compressed coaxial cable crap from Rogers/Shaw/etc?

        How about ALL of them.

        My OTA HD WTV recordings (Windows Media Center 7) using Hauppauge tuners results in these fantastic bit-rates:

        Bit rate mode : Variable
        Bit rate : 12.1 Mbps
        Maximum bit rate : 65.0 Mbps
        Width : 1 920 pixels
        Height : 1 080 pixels

        or

        Bit rate mode : Variable
        Maximum bit rate : 14.1 Mbps
        Width : 1 280 pixels
        Height : 720 pixels

        I have received many comments in how fantastic my recorded picture quality is vs what what my friends/family have. And it doesn’t matter if they have Fios, Cable or Satellite.

        I use VideoReDo to edit out commercials which reduces the files sizes by about 1/3 while keeping the above bit-rates.

        If I really want to save some space I again use VideoReDo to produce a h.264 720p AVC MKV that produces files such as this:

        Overall bit rate : 4034 Kbps
        Bit rate mode : Variable
        Maximum bit rate : 19.2 Mbps
        Width : 1 280 pixels
        Height : 720 pixels

        Quality is still so much better than the over compressed crap from the Cable/Satellite providers.

      • Deanjo
      • 8 years ago

      There is a separate PVR branch that one can use. Bringing in full PVR capabilites is on the TODO list.

      [quote<]is transmitting TV in glorious (most uncompressed HD) digital.[/quote<] All digital HD signal is compressed just at various compression levels and bitrates.

        • dpaus
        • 8 years ago

        I stand corrected; but it’s still [i<]less[/i<] compressed than the Rogers/Telus/Bell/Cogeco/et al crap.

          • tay
          • 8 years ago

          Yeah the differences in compression and image quality are startling. One can check the bandwidth available to each channel on OTA vs a particular cable provider. Hell, there are huge differences between cable providers. Comcast is better than my parents’ municipal TV provider for example (as much as it pains me to say anything good about Comcast). In turn, over the air is clearly (lolz) better than Comcast.

            • demani
            • 8 years ago

            Yeah-we make commercials, and our clients have a hard time understanding why all the work we put into making pristine files doesn’t appear when they watch their spots on cable. We have to explain this all the time-and for some spots/channel combinations a DVD is pretty close expectation (particularly in resolution of fine detail) which is pretty shameful (these are HD spots to begin with).

            We even make recordings from the OTA broadcasts when possible just so we can get good results. We keep asking them to pressure the stations and carriers for less compression since we hope that Fortune 100 companies will have more influence on fellow members than tiny us. Obviously the cable companies don’t give a crap.

            I may check this out- I’ve been thinking I need to get get HomerunHD anyway 😉

            • Deanjo
            • 8 years ago

            A few things that I noticed during the digital cross over was that it seemed like cable companies were making their standard def signals especially bad by compressing the snot out of them in an effort to push people towards HD. If you had a good old regular TV antenna you could flip the channel to the old analog signal and it looked many times better in color, sharpness and of course artifact free. When we later switched over to an IPTV provider, standard def did look better but still paled in comparison to the analog signal. Since it was IPTV I could open the UDP stream with vlc and look at the bitrate that was being received. It was 350kbit/s on the standard def channels. You get better bitrates from regular youtube.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 8 years ago

            They have limited bandwidth, and focused more on HD. I don’t think it was trying to push people to HD so much as the higher paying customers were using HD and wanted it to look nice.

            • Deanjo
            • 8 years ago

            Well the digital cross over just happened here a few months ago (CBC in fact is still analog only here). Once that happened they switched over to h264 and now streams @ 1.5 Mbit for standard def instead of mpeg2 @ 350kbit. Bandwidth hasn’t been a problem here for quite a while considering most cable providers broadcast their streams around the 5 mbit range.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 8 years ago

            Ah, well I’m not really familiar with Canada.

            I know where I live, there is simply not enough bandwidth for Comcast to have every channel at an ideal bit rate.

            • Deanjo
            • 8 years ago

            Lots of bandwidth here. They are upgrading my 25/2 connection to the new 200/60 connection next week.

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