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GeeXboX 2.0-alpha1 release

February 14th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

This has been announced for years but we’re finally stepping forward to the so long awaited for 2.0 release of GeeXboX. Today, we’re proud to let you have a first try at this new version, based on the Enna Media Center application that we have developed.

Enna is a standalone application that one can use on any Linux distribution (soon to be available for MacOSX and Windows users, who knows …) that replaces the old and dying MPlayer OSD interface we’ve been using for so long. The GeeXboX distribution you all know about will then become the Enna Live-CD project, but with all optimizations, configuration and tweakings that one may be able to do on his regular computer.

With Enna, GeeXboX now looks promising again, with this new shiny look and feel interface. Also being much more nicer, Enna allows us to add so many new features that you all were waiting for (check out the Enna website for that) so future looks bright again.

Also, Enna has been designed to be simple and intuitive to be used. It can be controlled either through keyboard, mouse or remote control. Mouse support is quite new in GeeXboX but its usage is kinda trivial. As for keyboard, we have tried to make usable with as few keys as possible. As a result, one can control Enna the following way:

  • Arrows: used to navigate between the different menu lists.
  • Enter: used to validate your selection.
  • Backspace: used to cancel or browse back to previous menu.
  • Escape: if you ever wanna stop Enna (and shutdown GeeXboX as well).

As you might have understood, Enna and GeeXboX v2.x design is the result of years of development and deep architectural changes. Things now are getting stabilized but we’re still lacking of manpower to enhance it the way we’d like it to be. So if you’re a Linux developer, feel free to join our team. If you’re interested in GeeXboX v2.x architecture, you’d be glad to know that it was presented to FOSDEM (Free and Open Source Software Developers’ European Meeting) a week ago and both slides and video are available.

We all hope you’ll enjoy this first alpha release of GeeXboX 2.x series. Though, keep in mind that, as the name suggests, it’s an alpha version only. This means that unfortunately, it still suffers a lot of bugs and many regressions towards 1.x series. The availability of final stable release over requires you to test it the most you can, reporting any trouble one can find.

As a consequence, some stuff are already know to be broken or missing:

  • Some features are disabled, including TV and netstreams support.
  • Generator needs a huge rewrite and will be part of alpha2 release only, sorry folks.
  • Audio OGG files are seen as video files (!!) and playing them back results in a black screen with uncontrollable Enna (you’ve warned).
  • The framebuffer-based console mode has been disabled until being fixed. HDTV mode only (i.e. using X.Org server) is supported in this version.

On the bright side, new features have been added or enabled by default:

  • The proprietary nVidia video driver has been integrated. Every nVidia GPU should now be supported. With those cards, Enna should also be using its OpenGL rendering engine, providing a smooth rendering.
  • The VDPAU hardware decoding engine has been integrated. If you’re the lucky owner of an nVidia card higher than GF8800 series, than you should be able to decode MPEG-2, MPEG-4 (i.e. DivX), H.264 and VC-1 streams using your video card, offloading your CPU. This of course includes ION-based Set-Top-Boxes that are now able to decode 1080p videos.
  • For non-nVidia users, the multi-threaded decoding feature now has been enabled by default. MPlayer will then uses all of your CPU’s cores to do software video decoding.

In order to allow us to enhance GeeXboX to our users’ configuration, we’ve also setup a statistics utility that provides us with some information regarding your hardware configuration. It has been enabled by default but we know that it can be intrusive for some users. So if you’re not willing to provide these info (CPU model, amount of memory RAM, video board type, and such …), you can disable it by adding nostats to the boot command-line.

That said, feel free to download our new 2.0-alpha1 release. It had been made available for i386 and x86_64 computers. The light and full sources of this release obviously are available too.

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