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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

XBMC - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

XBMC Media Center
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XBMC - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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XBMC Media Center
XBMC logo.svg
Xbmc 911.png
XBMC Media Center Home Screen
Developer(s) Team XBMC
Initial release 2003
Stable release 9.11 (Camelot)  (24 December 2009)
Preview release Neutral build from SVN / Nightly (codename: "Dharma")
Development status Active
Written in C++ (and with Python Scripts as plugins)
Operating system Xbox, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and Apple TV OS
Platform PPC (PowerPC), IA-32/x86, and x86-64 architecture, (ARM architecture support is also in development)
Available in International (multiple languages)
Type Media Center, Media Player, Digital media receiver
License GNU GPL (GPLv2 or later)

XBMC Media Center (which was formerly named Xbox Media Center) is a free and open source cross-platform media player and home entertainment system software with a 10-foot user interface designed for the living-room TV. Its graphical user interface allows the user to easily manage video, photos, podcasts, and music from a computer, optical disk, local network, and the internet using a remote control.[1][2][3]

It is a popular alternative to Microsoft's Windows Media Center and Apple's Front Row for HTPC (Home Theater PC) use,[4][5][6][7][8] and similar to competing software like MediaPortal and MythTV it has a skinnable and user-configurable interface and plugin support.[9][10][11]

XBMC was originally created as a media center application for the first-generation Xbox game console[2][3][12] but is now, since 2010, officially only available as a native application for Linux, Mac OS X (Snow Leopard, Leopard, Tiger, first-generation Apple TV), and Microsoft Windows operating systems.[13] Also available is a bootable Live CD and Live USB standalone version referred to as "XBMC Live" which is made for easy bare-metal installations to quickly get up-and-running, as well to be used for interactive demonstrations.[14][15][16]

In addition, as a leader in niche market of media center software, the source code from XBMC is used as a application framework and technological convergence platform for others projects to base their entertainment system or media center software on, and today at least Boxee, MediaPortal, Plex, 9x9 Player, and Voddler are separate derivative products that are all openly known to initially have forked the GUI (Graphical User Interface) and media player parts of their software from XBMC's source code, all still using their own brand and customized interface but a few, like Boxee and 9x9 Player, are also affiliate marketing their software/devices as "Powered by XBMC" with official XBMC logo by certified approval from the Team-XBMC developers.[1][7][17][18][19]



[edit] Overview

XBMC (which has officially been rebranded to simply "XBMC" from its previous old name; "Xbox Media Center") supports most common audio, video, and image formats, playlists, audio visualizations, slideshows, weather forecasts reporting, and third-party plugins. It is network-capable (internet and LAN shares). Unlike proprietary media center applications like Windows Media Center from Microsoft, or other free-software media center applications such as MediaPortal and MythTV, XBMC Media Center does not yet include native DVR/PVR TV-recording functionality or an EPG TV-Guide interface of its own, it does however offer the possibility to integrate such functionality through third-party plugins.[1][7][10][13]

Through its plugin system, which is based on the Python programming language, XBMC is expandable via add-ons that include features such as television program guides, YouTube, Veoh, online movie trailer support, and SHOUTcast/Podcast streaming. XBMC also functions as a gaming platform by allowing users to play mini-games developed with Python, on any operating system.[1][7][13][20][21][22]

XBMC source code is distributed as open source under GPL (GNU General Public License),[13] and is developed by a global community of volunteering people working on XBMC for free in their spare time on behalf of others without being motivated by financial or material gain[21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28]

Even though the original XBMC project no longer develops or supports XBMC for the Xbox, XBMC on the Xbox is still available via the third-party developer spin-off project "XBMC4Xbox", who have completely taken over the development and support of XBMC for the old Xbox. The ending of Xbox support by the original project is also the reason that it has officially been renamed to simply "XBMC" from the old from "Xbox Media Center" name.[29][30][31][32] The Xbox version of XBMC also had the ability to launch console games, and homebrew applications such as emulators. Since the XBMC for Xbox version was never distributed, endorsed, or supported by Microsoft, it means that XBMC for Xbox has always required a modchip or softmod exploit to be able to run on the Xbox game-console.[2][3][12][13]

[edit] User interface screenshots from XBMC

[edit] Hardware requirements

XBMC has greater basic hardware requirements than a traditional 2D style software applications, this basically means that it needs 3D capable GPU graphics hardware controller for all rendering; on the other hand, powerful 3D GPU chips are common today in most modern computers, and even some set-top boxes. Other than that, XBMC has from the start been designed to be resource efficient and runs extremely well on what (by Intel Atom standards) are relatively underpowered OpenGL 1.3 (with GLSL support), OpenGL ES 2.0 or Direct3D (DirectX) 9.0 capable systems that are IA-32/x86, x86-64, ARM, or PowerPC CPU based.[1]

In order to allow for smooth playback and of 1080p high-definition video content without dropping frames that can give a stuttering experience, an Intel Core 2 Duo 2GHz system CPU or better is required when all video decoding is loaded on the system's CPU, however XBMC does support hardware accelerated video decoding, so using Nvidia's VDPAU (which is supported from XBMC 9.04), or Microsoft's DXVA, Apple's VDADecoder, Intel's VAAPI, OpenMAX, or Broadcom Crystal HD Enhanced Media Accelerator (which are all supported from the pre-releases of the upcoming "Dharma" version of XBMC) via their respective API for hardware accelerated video decoding, XBMC can offload most of the video decoding processor onto a GPU graphics hardware controller that support those.[33]

[edit] Language support

XBMC includes support for many different languages. XBMC's structure is such that if the language is not available, or not up-to-date, it can be made by editing an XML-file, which can be submitted to XBMC's project management and bug tracking system tool for use by others. Currently the existing supported languages are Brazilian Portuguese, Catalan, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Esperanto, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Maltese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish and Ukrainian.[3]

[edit] Features

[edit] XBMC's Addons Manager and addons

XBMC features several open APIs to enable third-party developers to create capabilities which extend XBMC with a multitude of addons, such as plugins, scripts, skins/themes, visualizations, screensavers, web scrapers, web interfaces, and more. XBMC developers encourages users to make and submit their own addons to add additional content accessible from within XBMC.

Beta releases of XBMC's uppcoming "Dharma" point-release features a new Addons Framework and Addons Manager GUI client that connects to a digital distribution service platform that serves add-on apps and plug-ins that provide online content to XBMC, the "Addons Manager" allows users to browse and download new addons directly from XBMC's GUI Many of these sources are in high definition and use streaming sites and Adobe Flash based content. XBMC has extensibility and integration with online sources for free and premium streaming content, and offers content including commercial video, educational programming, and media from individuals and small businesses.

[edit] Plugins and scripts (widgets/gadgets)

XBMC features a Python Scripts Engine for addons externtions, WindowXML application framework (a XML-based widget toolkit for creating a GUI for widgets) in a similar fashion to Apple Mac OS X Dashboard Widgets and Microsoft Gadgets in Windows Sidebar. Python widget scripts allow normal users to add new functionality to XBMC themselves, (using the easy to learn Python programming language), without knowledge of the complex C/C++ programming language. Current plugin scripts include functions like Internet-TV and movie-trailer browsers, weather forecast and cinemaguides, TV-guides (EPG), e-mail clients, instant messaging, train-timetables, scripts to front-end control PVR software and hardware (like: MediaPortal, MythTV, TiVo, ReplayTV, Dreambox/DBox2), Internet-radio-station browsers (example SHOUTcast, Xm radio, Sirius Satellite Radio), P2P file-sharing downloaders (BitTorrent), IRC, also casual games (sometimes also referred to as mini-games or party-games) such as Tetris, Snake, Space Invaders, Sudoku, and much more.[1][7][20][21][22]

[edit] Skins (themes)

Same as the majority of most applications that originated from a 'homebrew' scene, is skin-ability in the tradition of modifications and customization very popular among XBMC users. "Confluence" and "Project Mayhem" are the two official skins; "Confluence" is the default since version 9.11, and "Project Mayhem" was the previous default which is now in its third version, commonly known as "PM3.HD" (PM III High-Definition).[10]

Users can also create their own skin (or simply modify an existing skin) and share it with others via public websites dedicated that are used for XBMC skins trading and development.[1][22][34][35][36][37] Many such third-party skins exist that are well mainatined by the community, and while some skins are originals with unique designs, most initially begin as a clones or an exact replica of other multimedia software interfaces, such as DivX Connected, Apple Front Row, Windows Media Center Edition (MCE), MediaPortal, Meedio/MeediOS, HDeeTV, Kaleidescape, Wii Channel Menu (Xii), Xbox 360 Blades (MC360), Xbox 360 New Xbox Experience (Xperience), and others.[9]

[edit] Scrapers (web scraping for metadata)

XBMC has the built-in optional function to automatically download metadata information, cover art and other related media artwork online through its scrapers.

Scrapers use sites like or to obtain thumbnails and reviews on movies, for TV show posters and episode plots, CDDB (via freedb and Discogs, etc.) for audio CD track listings, and AMG for album thumbnails.[33]

[edit] Application launcher

XBMC has a "My Programs" section which is meant to functions as an application launcher for third-party software such as computer games and video game emulators, all from a nice GUI with thumbnail and different listings options. However while this feature is fully functioning on the Xbox version of XBMC, it is still in its infant stage on Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows, thus currently requiring third-party launcher plugins to function properly.[12]

[edit] Audio, video, and pictures playback and handling

XBMC can play media from CD/DVD media using an internal DVD-ROM drive. It can also play media from an internal built-in hard disk drive and SMB/SAMBA/CIFS shares (Windows File-Sharing), or stream them over ReplayTV DVRs/PVRs, UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) shares, XBMSP (Xbox Media Stream Protocol) shares, or stream iTunes-shares via DAAP. XBMC can also take advantage of a broadband Internet connection if available to stream Internet-video-streams, and play Internet-radio-stations (such as SHOUTcast). XBMC also includes the option to submit music usage statistics to and plus a weather-forecast (via It also has music/video-playlist features, picture/image-slideshow functions, an MP3+CDG karaoke function and many audio-visualizations and screensavers. XBMC can in addition upscale/upconvert all standard-definition (480i/480p/576i/576p) resolution videos and output them to 720p, 1080i, and 1080p high-definition resolutions.[1][13][38]

[edit] Format support

XBMC can be used to play/view all common multimedia formats. It can decode these in software and optionally pass-through AC3/DTS audio, or encode to AC3 in real time from movies directly to S/PDIF digital output to an external audio-amplifier/receiver for decoding.[1][13]

Supported formats:

[edit] Video playback in detail

[edit] Video Library

The Video Library, one of the XBMC metadata databases, is a key feature of XBMC. It allows the organization of video content by information associated with the video files (e.g. movies and recorded TV Shows) themselves. This information can be obtained in various ways, like through scrapers (i.e. web scraping sites like IMDb, TheMovieDB, TheTVDB, etc.), and nfo files. Automatically downloading and displaying movie posters and fan art backdrops as background wallpapers. The Library Mode view allows users to browse their video content by categories; Genre, Title, Year, Actors and Directors.[1][10]

[edit] Video player cores

XBMC uses two different multimedia video player 'cores' for video-playback. The first video-player 'core' for video-playback is an in-house developed cross-platform media player, "DVDPlayer", originally designed to playback DVD-Video movies, and this includes support native for DVD-menus, (based on the free open source libraries code libdvdcss and libdvdnav).[7] This FFmpeg based video-player 'core' today supports all widespread mainstream formats. One relatively unusual feature of this DVD-player core is the capability to on-the-fly pause and play DVD-Video movies that are stored in ISO and IMG DVD-images, DVD-Video movies that are stored as DVD-Video (IFO/VOB/BUP) files on a harddrive or network-share, and also ISO and IMG DVD-images directly from uncompressed RAR and ZIP archives.[1][10]

The second video-player 'core' for video-playback is a another in-house developed open source player, "DSPlayer", which today is only used as a expremental video player in a SVN development branch of XBMC for Windows and not in any other versions of XBMC. This "DSPlayer" is a Direct Show based media player which with the help of FFmpeg can play practically all common media formats and in addition also make XBMC for Windows handle all formats and containers normally supported in Windows with the help of third-party proprietary Direct Show filters installed on the system.

[edit] Audio playback in detail

[edit] Music Library

The Music Library, one of the XBMC metadata databases, is another key feature of XBMC. It allows the organization of a music collection to allow searching, and creating smart playlists by information stored in music file ID meta tags, like title, artist, album, production year, genre, and popularity. Automatically downloading and displaying album covers and fan art backdrops as background wallpapers.[1][10]

[edit] Audio player cores

For music playback, XBMC includes its own in-house developed audio-player, "PAPlayer" (which stands for "Psycho-Acoustic Audio Player"), and this audio-player core's most notable features are on-the-fly resampling of the audio frequency, gapless playback, crossfading, Replay Gain, cue sheet and Ogg Chapter support. The "PAPlayer" audio-player handles a very large variety of audio file-formats, and it also supports most different tagging standards. XBMC also have support for most popular karaoke computer file formats, and is able to play and display timed song lyrics graphics/text from CD+G, LRC, and KAR files.[13]

[edit] Digital picture/image display in detail

XBMC handles all common digital picture/image formats with the options of panning/zooming and slideshow with "Ken Burns Effect", with the use of CxImage open source library code. XBMC can also handle CBZ (ZIP) and CBR (RAR) comic book archive files, this feature lets users view/read, browse and zoom the pictures of comics pages these contain without uncompressing them first.[3]

[edit] Official Team-XBMC ports of XBMC

Due to the dated hardware of the Xbox and a desire to expand the project's end-user and developer-base many official ports of XBMC to computer operating-systems and hardware platforms now exist. Through the processing power of modern computer hardware, XBMC is able to decode high-definition video up to and beyond 1080p resolutions, bypassing hardware limitations of the original Xbox version of XBMC.

In most cases XBMC current release does not provide hardware accelerated video decoding, thus placing the entire load of the video decoding process on the system's CPU. However, in the very latest nightly builds of the XBMC SVN does support DXVA, VDPAU, VAAPI, GPU hardware video decoding, and there is even support for 1080p hardware accelerated video decoding via Broadcom Crystal HD on all platforms except Xbox.[7][39][40] The source code for XBMC is constantly updated on a daily basis by developers in a public subversion repository, this public subversion repository does therefor always contain more features and function than the most recent 'stable' releases.

[edit] XBMC platforms

[edit] XBMC Live

XBMC Live is a free Ubuntu-based Linux distribution with XBMC for Linux already installed and pre-configured, providing a complete packaged media center software suite for all IA-32/x86-based personal computers. XBMC Live uses XBMC Media Center for all media playback and is implemented as a bootable Live CD primarily designed for bare-metal installations to achieve instant on type boot, as well as for interactive demonstrations.[14][15][16]

As a Live CD, the system does not need to be permanently installed to a hard disk drive, as most operating systems would. Instead, the computer can simply be booted with the XBMC Live CD when media playback is desired. This is a reasonable approach for those who do not need media playback services while performing other tasks with the same computer, or for users who wish to repurpose older computers as media center, and for those seeking a free alternative to Windows Media Center, or for those who simply want to try out the XBMC Media Center software for the first time without having to install anything. The Microsoft MCE Remote and IR-receiver dongle for Windows Media Center works with XBMC Live directly out of the box, which mean that Windows Media Center users with these can try out the XBMC Live without requiring any additional hardware.[14][15][16]

Following the principles of Mythbuntu, KnoppMyth, Mythdora, and GeeXboX, XBMC Live is also designed to simplify a permanent installation of XBMC Media Center onto a computer to be used as a dedicated HTPC (Home Theater PC) in the living-room, as such the user can directly install XBMC Media Center from the bootable XBMC Live CD to either a USB flash drive or to an internal hard disk drive as it comes with a complete instant on (Linux based) embedded operating system. When installed onto a USB flash drive or internal hard disk drive, XBMC Live has the ability to save settings and make updates to XBMC Media Center and the operating-system back onto the USB flash drive or hard disk drive that it is installed onto. This is not possible when running XBMC Live off a CD-ROM as they are read-only and any changes to settings are only temporary meaning that they get reset back to defaults once the system is rebooted.[14][15][16]

[edit] XBMC for Linux

XBMC for Linux is primarily developed for Ubuntu Linux and XBMC's developers' own "XBMC Live" (Live CD Linux distribution prepackaged with XBMC as a preconfigured media center software appliance operating-system). Third-party packages for most other Linux distributions are however available, and it is also possible to compile XBMC Media Center from scratch for any Linux distribution. XBMC for Linux is currently the only stable version of XBMC to support hardware accelerated video decoding, and this is achieved via VDPAU (on Nvidia's GPU). XBMC for Linux also supports via hardware accelerated video decoding Broadcom Crystal HD in the latest unstable nightly builds from the XBMC SVN.[39][40] Development version of XBMC for Linux is available at Launchpad as PPA (Personal Package Archive) for the standard Ubuntu Desktop version 8.04 and later, as well as DEB packages for Debian.

[edit] XBMC for Mac

XBMC for Mac runs natively on Mac OS X (Snow Leopard, Leopard, Tiger), as well as on the first-generation Apple TV. 1080p playback can be achieved on Apple computers either via software decoding on the CPU if it is powerful enough, or by hardware accelerated video decoding via Broadcom Crystal HD.[39][40]

1080p playback on the Apple TV (a.k.a. "ATV") can only be achieved by hardware accelerated video decoding via Broadcom Crystal HD, the user must replace the ATV's internal WiFi adapter with a Broadcom Crystal HD PCI Express Mini (mini-PCIe) card in order to activate this functionality.[39][40]

[edit] XBMC for Windows

XBMC for Windows runs natively on Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7, it is a 32-bit application but runs on 64-bit Windows and hardware as well, however it is not yet optimized for that architecture so there is no performance gain when running on 64-bit Windows. 1080p playback can be achieved on Windows based computers either via software decoding on the CPU if it's powerful enough, or by hardware accelerated video decoding.

Hardware video decoding via DirectX Video Acceleration [41][42] is now supported in the nightly builds although this enhancement currently only runs on Windows Vista and Windows 7 due to the author's currently using the DXVA 2.0 API which is not supported in Windows XP, this enhancement is likely to move into the stable release.[43]

[edit] XBMC for Xbox

XBMC for Xbox. The 9.04 (codename: "Babylon") point-release version of XBMC for Xbox which was released on May 6, 2009 is the last 'stable' version, the original developers of XBMC have said that they will no longer developed XBMC for Xbox as part of the XBMC project because the focus for most XBMC developers has completely shifted to the Linux, Mac, and Windows versions instead.

Even though the original XBMC project no longer develops or supports XBMC for the Xbox, XBMC on the Xbox is still available via the third-party developer spin-off project "XBMC4Xbox", who have completely taken over the development and support of XBMC for the old Xbox.[29][30][31][32]

XBMC for Xbox was never an authorized/signed Microsoft product, therefore a modification of the Xbox is required in order to run XBMC on a Xbox game-console. XBMC for Xbox can be run as an application (like any Xbox game), or as a dashboard that appears directly when the Xbox is turned on.[2][3][12][13] Since XBMC for Xbox was part of an open source software program, its development source code was stored on a publicly accessible subversion repository. Accordingly, unofficial executable builds from the subversion repository are often released by third-parties on sites unaffiliated with the official XBMC project. It should be noted, however, that executable builds from development versions typically contain bugs not present in the most recent 'stable' release versions of XBMC for Xbox.[3][12]

[edit] Commercial XBMC Systems

The developers of XBMC state that as long as the GPL licensing of the XBMC software is respected they would love for XBMC to run on as many third-party hardware platforms and operating systems as possible, as "Powered by XBMC" branded devices and systems. With XBMC being pre-installed as a third-party software component that commercial and non-commcecial companies and ODM/OEM's can use royalty-free on their own hardware, hardware such as set-top boxes from cable-TV companies, Blu-ray Disc and DVD players, game-consoles, or embedded computers and SoC (System-on-a-Chip) built-in to television sets for web-enabled TVs, and other entertainment devices for the living room entertainment system, home cinema, or similar uses.[44]

Below is a list of third-party companies who sell hardware bundled with XBMC Media Center or XBMC Live pre-install, or sell uninstalled systems that specifically claim to be XBMC-compatible. Many of these third-party companies help submit bug fixes and new features back upstream to the original XBMC project.[44]

[edit] AIRIS Telebision

AIRIS Telebision, sold by Telebision in Spain and designed specifically for the Spanish market, is a nettop based on Nvidia Ion chipset, preinstalled Ubuntu base with XBMC for Linux and a customized AEON skin and Spanish plugins. Other than the modified skin, what is unique with the AIRIS Telebision's XBMC build is that it comes with a digital distribution service platform that they call their "App Store" which lets users download new Spanish plugins and updates for existing plugins. Telebision also lets users download a Live CD version of their software as freeware, which lets users install their Telebision distribution on any Nvidia Ion based computer.

[edit] Lucida TV II

Lucida TV II, made by LUCIDQ inc, is a nettop based on Nvidia Ion chipset which can be ordered with Xubuntu and XBMC software installed.

[edit] Marusys MS630S and MS850S

Marusys MS630S and MS850S are high-definition PVR-ready set-top-boxes with the ability to run Linux-based media players like XBMC, and Marusys is advertising these two devices as compatible with XBMC.[45][46][47]

[edit] Myka ION

Myka ION is an fanless Nvidia Ion based set-top device designed to bring internet television and media stored on the home network to the living-room, it comes pre-installed with XBMC Media Center, Boxee, and Hulu Desktop as applications that can be started from the main menu.[48][49][50][51][52][53][54]

[edit] Modified Konstructs MK-X1

The MK-X1 by Modified Konstructs is an Nvidia Ion based set-top device based on Acer Aspire Revo that comes pre-loaded with XBMC, and the device has a recommended retail price of $300(US).[55]

[edit] Neuros LINK

Neuros LINK made by Neuros Technology is an open Ubuntu-based set-top device and media extender designed to bring internet television and other video to the television, it comes pre-install with XBMC Media Center.[7][56]

[edit] Zotac MAG and ZBOX series

Since September 10 of 2010, ZOTAC is shipping a software bundle that they call "ZOTAC Boost XL" with all their new motherboards and Mini-PCs, such as Zotac's "ZBOX" and "MAG" series of Nettops which Zotac also does demos of with XBMC.[57][58] This "ZOTAC Boost XL" software bundle consist of the software applications; Auslogics BoostSpeed, Cooliris, Kylo (HDTV-optimized Web Browser), and XBMC Media Center[59][60]

Zotac's "ZBOX" and "MAG" series of small Mini-PCs are all NVIDIA Ion based Nettop, and they are all sold in both as complete ready-to-use computer and as barebone computers (without memory and harddrive). Zotac Zbox ID33 and Zbox ID34 are specifically marketed towards the HTPC market, where Zbox ID33 is the barebone model and the Zbox ID34 comes with a slot-loading Blu-ray Disc optical disc drive, 2GB RAM, and a 250GB harddrive with Windows 7 pre-installed, niether does however come with a remote control.[61][62]

[edit] Third-party forks and derivative work of XBMC

XBMC Media Center source code have over the years become a popular software to fork and use as a application framework platform for others to base their own media center software on, as if XBMC were a GUI toolkit, windowing system, or window manager. Today at least Boxee, MediaPortal, Plex, 9x9 Player, and Voddler are separate derivative products that are all openly known to initially have forked the GUI (Graphical User Interface) and media player part of their software from XBMC's source code. Most of these third-party forks and derivative work of XBMC is said to still assist with submitting bug fixes upstream and sometimes help getting new features backported to the original XBMC project so that others can utilize it as well, shared from one main source.[1][19]

Recently different independent third-party developers also announced their development on ports of XBMC to Linux on the PlayStation 3 (for Cell microprocessor) and Networked Media Tank (for MIPS architecture).[63][64]

[edit] 9x9 Player for 9x9CloudTV

9x9 Player (by Chinese 9x9Network) is a open source software media player client for 9x9Network's 9x9CloudTV peer-to-peer TV delivery network over internet. The frontend of this media player client uses XBMC's source code as its application framework platform,[65] and 9x9Network as a company is also an official sponsor of the XBMC development project.[66][67]

[edit] Boxee

Boxee, (produced by startup company Boxee Inc.), is a freeware and partially open source software cross-platform media center and entertainment hub with social networking features that is a commercial fork of XBMC software.[68][69][70] Boxee now supports Windows, Linux, and OSX, with the first Alpha made available on June 16, 2008. Boxee as a company is also an official sponsor of the XBMC development project.[1][19][71]

[edit] iConsole

iConsole (formerly known under the project codename "Full Circle"), produced by startup company MechaWorks, is a freeware and partially open source media center and entertainment hub with video game console features that is initially a fork of XBMC and Boxee software.[72][73][74][75][76][77] The first public Alpha release will be as a Linux based distribution, primarily designed to be installed on a computer's empty harddive to make a computer in to a dedicated HTPC, similar to that of the XBMC Live distro but specifically targeted to a minimum set-top box hardware setup.[72][74][76][77][78]

[edit] MediaPortal

MediaPortal is free and open source software media center written for Microsoft Windows that is initially based on forked XBMC source code by Erwin Beckers (a.k.a. Frodo, who was also one of the original founders of XBMC) in February 2004. The reason for this fork to Microsoft Windows was to get away from hardware limitations of the Xbox platform that XBMC development started on, mainly because of the Xbox inability to support TV-tuner adapters natively as Erwin wanted PVR functionality. Now after several years and innumerable feature changes there has been almost a complete re-design of the source code, however the skinning engine of MediaPortal 1.X.X still remains very similar to that of the original XBMC software making it relatively easy for people to port skins/themes back and forth between the two projects, something that is done quite frequently.[1][19][79]

[edit] Plex

On May 21, 2008, Elan Feingold (Plex founder) initially forked the source code of XBMC and started a new project called Plex, (previously this Mac OS X port of XBMC was informally known as the "OSXBMC" project). Elan said that he would still try tocollaborate with most Team-XBMC members behind the scenes and at least try to keep Plex skinning engine compatible with XBMC skins.[1][18][19][80][81] While Plex began as a free software hobby project however since 2010 it is a commercial software (freeware) that is today owned and developed by a single for-profit startup company, (Plex, Inc.), and today parts of what Plex offers is closed source proprietary software for a cost.[82][83][84]

Elan Feingold [Plex founder and today CTO of Plex Inc.) was actually part of the official XBMC development team for a short while as he then was the Team-XBMC member who first initiated the Mac OS X port of XBMC, but soon after he left the original XBMC project due to what was arguable a falling-out with rest of Team-XBMC's developer members over the team's majorities feeling that the XBMC project should aim for strict adherence to the GPL and always keep to an open-source software mindset, and this disagreement is claimed to be one of the main factors that led Elan to leave the XBMC project and create the Plex fork.[19][85][86] Some Team-XBMC members are still quite vocal in the XBMC community forums about the fact that they still think that Plex developers continue to be on the boarder of violating the GPL and other open source licenses, not to mention that they often feel that Plex developers are violating the spirit and innate essence of open source software development when they do so.

[edit] Voddler

Voddler is a commercial video-on-demand service and client software streaming movies and television programming, similar to Spotify and Grooveshark but for video. The service in its ad-driven version is only available in parts of western Europe during the ongoing testing period although the subscription model should be available in almost all countries. Voddler's first media player software was called "Voddler Player" (also referred to by Voddler as the "Voddler Client") and was initially a fork based on the XBMC open source code.[87][88][89][17][90][19] All the time while they were using XBMC source code in their application, Voddler have been publicly criticized for violating the GPL since they did not release their modifications to the code which they used in their application.,[91][92][93][94][95] and in the end due to these conflicts with the GPL Voddler has since 24 February 2010 stopped using XBMC and instead moved to using Adobe's Air proprietary framework, however they still have not released all the source code that they are required to by the GPL[96][97][98][99]

[edit] ("Open Embedded Linux Entertainment Center") is a free embedded operating system providing a complete media center software suite that comes with a pre-configured version of XBMC and third-party addons with retro video game console emulators and PVR plugins. OpenELEC is an extremely small and very fast booting Linux based distribution, primarily designed to be booted from flash memory card such as CompactFlash or a solid-state drive, similar to that of the XBMC Live distro but specifically targeted to a minimum set-top box hardware setup based on an Intel x86 processor and graphics.[100][101]

[edit] Element OS

Element OS is a free embedded operating system designed for Home Theater PC (HTPC) which is connected to a HDTV. Element OS is a Linux based distribution similar to that of the XBMC Live distro, however it comes comes preloaded with dozens of applications that for listening to, viewing, and managing music, videos, photos, and internet media, of which XBMC is the main media center that comes preinstalled, but it still gives the option to also install Boxee and Hulu Desktop or all of them.[102]

[edit] Sabayon Linux

Sabayon Linux is a full Linux distribution that among other applications comes with a preinstalled and preconfigured "ready-to-use" version of XBMC Media Center.[103]

[edit] XBMC4XBox

XBMC4Xbox is a third-party developer spiff-off project of XBMC for Xbox, with still active development and support of the Xbox. This project was created as a fork of XBMC for Xbox as a separate project to continue having a version of XBMC for the Xbox hardware platform, and was started by official members of the official XBMC project with the breakout and removed of Xbox branch support from the official XBMC project which as announced on the 27 of May 2010.[29][30][31][32]

[edit] Programming and developing

XBMC is a non-profit and free software community driven open-source software project that is developed only by volunteers in their spare time without any monetary gain. The team of developers leading the development of XBMC, "Team-XBMC", encourage anyone and everyone to submit their own source code patches for new features and functions, improve existing ones, or fix bugs to the XBMC project.

The online user manual and is wiki-based and community driven, and it also works as a basic developers guide for getting an good overview of XBMC's architecture, however to as with most non-profit software project, to delve deeper into programming, looking at the actual source code and the comments in that code is needed.[3]

[edit] Architecture

XBMC Architecture Overview Schematic.

XBMC is a cross-platform software application programmed mainly in C++, XBMC uses SDL (Simple DirectMedia Layer) multimedia framework and OpenGL graphics rendering under XBMC for Linux, Mac OS X, and Microsoft Windows based operating system, however XBMC for Xbox instead uses Microsoft DirectX multimedia framework and Direct3D rendering as the Xbox does not support OpenGL. Some of XBMC's own libraries as well as many third-party libraries that XBMC depend on are also written in C programming-language, but are then most of the time used with a C++ wrapper or loaded via XBMC's own DLL loader.[7][33]

Because of XBMC's origin with the constraints on the hardware and environment of the old Xbox platform, all software development of XBMC has always been focused on reserving the limited resources that existed on the Xbox hardware and an embedded system, (which was only a 733Mhz Intel Pentium III and 64MB of RAM in total as shared memory), the main hindrance of which has been the amount of available system RAM and graphics memory at any one time. Due to this it means that XBMC is programmed to be very resource efficient and can therefore run on very low-end and cheap hardware, especially when compared to other media center software design for HTPC use.[3]

[edit] Python scripts as plugins and addons (widgets/gadgets)

XBMC features an embedded Python Scripts Engine (currently based on Python version 2.4) and its own WindowXML application framework, which together form an XML-based widget toolkit for which can extend the capability of XBMC by creating a GUI for widgets in a similar fashion to Apple Mac OS X Dashboard Widgets and Microsoft Gadgets in Windows Sidebar. Python widget scripts allow non-developers to themselves create new add-ons functionality to XBMC, (using the easy to learn Python programming language), without knowledge of the complex C/C++ programming language that the rest of the XBMC software is written in. Current plugin scripts add-ons include functions like Internet-TV and movie-trailer browsers, cinema guides, Internet-radio-station browsers (example SHOUTcast), and much more.[7]

[edit] GUI-engine and skinning (themes)

XBMC is noted as having a very flexible GUI toolkit and robust framework for its GUI, with its underlying complex graphical design and layout library (named "libGUI" in XBMC) it provides an simple abstraction layer between the application code and the interface, while allowing an extremely flexible dynamic layouts and animations that is easy to work with and make it possible to create completely unique skins for XBMC. Using a standard XML base, making theme-skinning and personal customization very accessible.[1][9][10][22][34][36][37][104]

[edit] Limitations

This is a list of software limitations currently in the XBMC source code.

[edit] Reception

XBMC won two SourceForge 2006 Community Choice Awards.[109] In the 2007 Community Choice Awards, XBMC was nominated finalist in six categories.[110] Also in the 2008 Community Choice Awards XBMC won an award for Best Project for Gamers.[111]

[edit] History

XBMC Media Center is the successor to the popular Xbox Media Player (XBMP) software. Xbox Media Player development stopped on December 13, 2003, by which time its successor, XBMC, was ready for its debut, renamed as it was growing out of its 'player' name and into a 'center' for media playback. The first stable release of XBMC was on June 29, 2004, with the official release of XboxMediaCenter 1.0.0. This announcement also encouraged everyone using XBMP or XBMC Beta release to update, as all support for those previous versions would be dropped, and they would only officially support version 1.0.0. Some new things in XBMC 1.0.0 included the addition of the Filezilla FTP Server, DHCP Support, a newer version of MPlayer was packaged and the embedded Python was given the ability to draw interface elements.[3][10]

With the release of 1.0.0 in the middle of 2004, work continued on the XBMC project to add more features, such as support for iTunes features like DAAP and Smart Playlists, as well as lots of improvements and fixes. The second stable release of XBMC, 1.1.0, was released on October 18, 2004. This release included support for more media types, file types, container formats, as well as video playback of Nullsoft streaming videos and karaoke support (CD-G).[3]

After two years of heavy development, XBMC announced a stable point final release of XBMC 2.0.0 on September 29, 2006. Even more features were packed into the new version with the addition of RAR and zip archive support, a brand new player interface with support for multiple players. Such players include PAPlayer, the new audio/music player with crossfade, gapless playback and ReplayGain support, and the new DVDPlayer with support for menu and navigation support as well as ISO/img image parsing. Prior to this point release, XBMC just used a modified fork of MPlayer for all of its media needs, so this was a big step forward. Support for iTunes 6.x DAAP, and Upnp Clients for streaming was also added. A reworked Skinning Engine was included in this release to provide a more powerful way to change the appearance of XBMC. The last two features include read-only support for FAT12/16/32 formatted USB Mass Storage devices, and a "skinnable" 3D visualizer.

The release of XBMC 2.0.1 on November 12, 2006 contained numerous fixes for bugs that made it through the 2.0.0 release. This also marked the change from CVS to SVN (Subversion) for the development tree.

On May 29, 2007, the team behind XBMC put out a call for developers interested in porting XBMC to the Linux operating system. Since a few developers on Team-XBMC had already begun porting parts of XBMC over to Linux using SDL and OpenGL as a replacement for DirectX, which XBMC was using heavily on the Xbox version of XBMC.

Development on the SVN codebase is continuing and the versioning scheme has been changed to reflect the release year and month, i.e. 8.10, 9.04, 9.11, 10.05, etc.

On May 27, 2010, the team behind XBMC announced the splitting of the Xbox branch into a new project; "XBMC4Xbox" which will continue the development and support of XBMC for the old Xbox hardware platform as a separate project, with the original XBMC project no longer offering any support for the Xbox any longer.[29][30][31][32]

[edit] Releases

Color Meaning
Red Old release
Green Current release
Blue Future release
Version Release date Codename Significant changes XBMC Live based on
1.0.0 June 29, 2004

1.1.0 October 18, 2004
  • Support for more file types.
2.0.0 September 29, 2006
  • Reworked skinning engine.
8.10 November 15th, 2008 Atlantis
  • Cross platform support
  • ATI/AMD Catalyst 8.9
  • Unified hard disk/USB flash disk installer
  • The XBMC profile
Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex)
9.04 May 6th, 2009 Babylon
  • PPC (PowerPC) support for Mac OS X
  • VDPAU (NVIDIA GPU Hardware Accelerated Video Decoding for Linux)
  • Updated Codecs
  • New Karaoke features
  • More Media Info Scrapers
  • Improved FanArt support
  • Enhancements to the XBMC Skinning Framework
Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope)
9.11 December 24, 2009 Camelot
  • Revamped user interface via the new default skin “Confluence“
  • DirectX support by default for the Windows platform
  • A complete reorganization of the settings menus
  • Automatic video information extraction
  • Smoother video playback
  • Updated scrapers
  • Out of the box support for new remotes
  • Updated codecs
Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala)
10.0 Release Target Date: 2010 Dharma
  • Addons manager

11.0 Release Target Date: 2011 Eden


[edit] Legality

The "XBMC Foundation", the non-profit organization behind the XBMC project, is legally represented by the SFLC (Software Freedom Law Center), which assists XBMC project and its developers legal matters such as copyright, trademark, and branding questions, as well as economical issues such as handeling donations and sponsors that help the project with expenses for dedicated hosting service, and activities such as going to trade fairs and computer expos to tech demo XBMC, meeting with potential new developers, gain publicity to attract additional users, and more.[113][114][115][116]

[edit] Copyright

XBMC's source code for all its supported platforms is made publicly available by the developers under an open source (GNU GPL) license, but the developers themselves are legally unable to distribute executable versions of XBMC for Xbox. This is because XBMC for Xbox requires Microsoft's commercial software development kit, namely the Xbox Development Kit, in order to compile into a binary format that the Xbox game-console can use, which is only available to licensed developers and the resulting code may only be distributed by Microsoft. Thus, the only publicly available executable versions of XBMC for Xbox are compiled and distributed by third parties, as a result, precompiled versions of XBMC for Xbox may be illegal to distribute in many countries around the world. XBMC binaries for all other platforms that XBMC supports (Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows) are however legal to distribute by the XBMC project.[2][3][12][13][33]

[edit] Patents

For most popular video and audio formats, XBMC includes native support through free and open source software libraries, such as LAME, libmpeg2, and libavcodec (from the FFmpeg project). Since these source code libraries are released under free and open source licenses they are legally redistributable. However, some of these compression method algorithms, such as the popular MP3 format, are in many countries protected by software patents. Without a licence, this could possibly make it illegal in certain countries to distribute compiled versions of XBMC which include support for these formats.[33]

[edit] Web scraping

XBMC has the ability to scrape websites through its scrapers and there could possible be some legal issues associated with web scraping on some of the web sites that XBMC has the ability to scrape. Web scraping may be against the terms of use of some websites, however the enforceability of these terms is unclear.[33][117]

[edit] Other

XBMC can also optionally be compiled with libdvdcss to support playing back DVD-Video movies encrypted using the CSS (Content Scramble System) encryption. Since it is not a member of DVD Forum, the XBMC project is not contractually obliged to insert user operation prohibition such as disallowing fast-forward or skipping during trailers and ads in DVD-Videos. However, without membership in the DVD Forum, the project also cannot make XBMC play DVD-Video's encrypted with CSS (Content Scramble System) except by using the libdvdcss library, which code was created by reverse-engineering. The legal status of libdvdcss is thus questionable in several nations, the distribution of executable versions of XBMC containing which was built with this library is likely to run afoul of the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) in the U.S. and the EU Copyright Directive in European Union member countries which have incorporated it into national law. For example, many Linux distributions do not contain libdvdcss (for example Debian, Fedora, SUSE Linux, and Ubuntu) due to fears of running afoul of DMCA-style laws, however they still often provide the tools to let the users install it themselves.[7][33]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

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  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Patrick Schmid (2004-11-05). "Modding The Xbox Into The Ultimate Multimedia Center". Tom's Hardware.,807.html. 
  4. ^ Adam Pash (2008-12-09). "Hive Five Winner for Best Media Center Application: XBMC". Lifehacker. 
  5. ^ Adam Pash (2008-12-07). "Hive Five Best Media Center Applications". Lifehacker. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ryan Paul (2009-05-10). "XBMC 9.04 delivers impressive media center experience". Ars Technica. 
  7. ^ Jason Fitzpatrick & Kevin Purdy (2010-02-02). "Which Media Center Is Right for You: Boxee, XBMC, and Windows Media Center Compared". Lifehacker. 
  8. ^ a b c Jason Fitzpatrick (2009-04-05). "Customize XBMC with These Five Awesome Skins". Lifehacker. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Ryan Paul (2009-12-29). "XBMC 9.11 makes your open source home theater look shinier". Ars Technica. 
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  111. ^ XBMC blog
  112. ^ XBMC Gains Representation
  113. ^ Welcome Sponsor: 9x9 Networks
  114. ^ Results of XBMC Developers Conference
  115. ^ Announcing XBMC DEV CON 2008 hosted by boxee
  116. ^ "FAQ about linking - Are website terms of use binding contracts?". 2007-08-20. Retrieved 2007-08-20. 

[edit] External links

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