GeeXboX 2.0 has landed …

After countless years of development, the 2.0 release of GeeXboX (codename “Love It or Shove It”) finally has landed. The GeeXboX project was created in December 2002, 9 years ago, to become the major HTPC / MediaCenter dedicated Linux distribution. From a ridiculous 3 MB ISO image, using an ultra-simple customized version of MPlayer OSD, GeeXboX now has evolved into a much more mature system. Our objective always has been to provide you with a Linux distribution, so easy to use, that anyone, regardless of any computer skill, would be able to make use of it.

Over the years, the project has evolved to always provide more features and bring support to more and more hardware devices, which we managed to do, at some cost. The architecture that has been originally designed, with the whole UI being MPlayer’s OSD, prevented us from easily adding major features and the look&feel started to look deprecated within the years. We’ve then been struggling for months and years to design this v2.0 version, switching from one Media Center project to another (or even creating our own), using MPUI, Freevo and then Enna, to finally stick with the most powerful one, the reference: XBMC. Our team always has been too small numbered and managing a distribution takes resources. We had no other choice but to understand that we just can’t compete, so let’s just integrate the best components to make one nice product.

So here we are now, and we’re here for good. This new GeeXboX 2.0 release is the accomplishment of hours, days, months of efforts from a lot of people. It is radically different from the 1.x series and, sorry to disappoint some of you, will not provide the same level of services. We are now doing much more things than we used to do with 1.x but unfortunately, a few things have to be left over. But GeeXboX philosophy remains the same and we still aim at targeting the most PCs and devices as possible, in an as lightweight as possible way. The ISO image of “GeeXboX for PC” edition now hits 72 MB, much bigger than it used to be, sure, but still probably one of the lightest distributions you may have seen. GeeXboX now also support many embedded devices running ARM SoCs (such as TI OMAP4 Pandaboard and nVidia Tegra 2) and many much more will be added in the months to come. These devices just make the perfect fanless, energy-efficient HTPC and GeeXboX just make the perfect MediaCenter distribution for those.

But enough with the speech and let’s see what’s behind the hood:

Supported Architectures:

  • x86 32 and 64 bits PCs
  • ARM TI OMAP4 Pandaboard
  • ARM nVidia Tegra2 Harmony

System:

  • Linux Kernel v2.6.38.8.
  • Systemd v29.
  • BusyBox v1.19.2
  • Connman Network Manager v0.76.
  • Xorg Server v1.10.3.
  • Mesa v7.11.
  • OPKG Package Manager v0.18
  • USB persistent user data storage.

Audio Drivers:

  • ALSA v1.0.24.1.
  • Support for Analog, SPDIF and HDMI output devices.

Video Drivers:

  • Support for Intel, nVidia, ATI, Matrox and VIA GPUs.
  • Support for CRT, LCD and HDMI output devices.
  • OpenGL and OpenGL|ES hardware assisted graphics acceleration.
  • VDPAU, VA-API and Crystal HD hardware assisted video decoding for nVidia, Intel and Broadcom GPUs.

Input:

  • Mouse and Synaptics touch pads.
  • HID Keyboards.
  • Remote Controls.

Networking Features:

  • NFS shares.
  • Samba auto-discovery.
  • UPnP / DLNA media discovery.
  • ZeroConf services announcements.
  • HTTP server.
  • FTP server

MediaCenter:

  • XBMC Media Center 10.1 “Dharma” frontend.
  • Movies and TV Shows, with subtitles support.
  • Music Collection
  • Pictures and Slideshows
  • CDDA, DVD and (unencrypted) Bluray support.
  • Media Database Support.
  • Internet MovieDB / TVDB metadata and covers grabbers.
  • Skins

Some features however have vanished. among them, one can note that support for DVB Digital TV cards has been removed (but will come back shortly), support for V4L Analog TV cards has been deprecated (this time dead once for all), GeeXboX unique ISO generator also has perished (not that useful anymore), as well as legacy HDD installation (which has been superseded Live USB support with persistent data storage).

GeeXboX for PCs still is provided as a directly burnable ISO image though it is much more common these days to use it as a Live USB distribution instead of a Live CD one. We extended this feature with a persistent user data storage capability that allows you to keep your configuration, media database, downloaded media covers, lyrics … among reboots. No configuration is needed and everything can be done quite easily through Unetbootin.

We’ve put a lot of hard work into this new GeeXboX release and we truly hope it’ll suits all of your geeky needs. Next steps are up to you: download it, put it on some USB key, reboot your PC and sit on your couch 🙂

125 thoughts on “GeeXboX 2.0 has landed …”

  1. Tested on Pandaboard : very good work it is running quite well ! Congratulations to Geexbox team !

    What I tested :
    – boot : everything is ok and quite fast
    – settings menu : french locales
    – reading lot of videos from samba shares by Ethernet

    Some issues on Pandaboard :
    – UI is a little bit laggy
    – HD not supported (big lags) on 720p and 1080p
    – sometimes SD video files are a little bit laggy
    – I was unable to find how to get french keyboard settings. Maybe I have to do this manually?

    I encoutered some difficulties to install boot partition according to your documentation, I dont know why. Running well with the procedure detailled here : http://omappedia.org/wiki/Minimal-FS_SD_Configuration and here : http://omappedia.org/wiki/Minimal-FS_SD_flashing (but using your boot files).

    Questions :
    – it seems that OMAP4 hardware acceleration isn’t enabled, right?
    – is Enna discarded ? I like Enna, because it is more simple to use by newbies (my family for example!), not really the case with XBMC.

    1. OMAP4 acceleration is supported but XBMC just can’t make use of it (yet!). Will come some day though (but this explains some lags on HD movies).
      Enna still can be used if built from scratch though it was a bit buggy and is not maintained anymore.

  2. The session (or whatever happens when the menus appear) keep restarting every time I try anything different from changing settings and checking the weather (no error message whatsoever), so I cant even watch videos.
    I am using PII processor and Radeon 9250 videocard.
    Also Geexbox now needs 320MB RAM!!!!!! What happened to lightweight?

    P.S.
    At least s-video is finally back.

  3. @dany90tm

    Well, tell XBMC about lightweight …
    GeeXboX 2.0 however is not meant anymore for such low-end PCs.
    It supports old PCs, that’s a fact, but old get even older … I’m not expected a PII CPU to actually be able to play anything these days, so you’d have to stick with 1.x series for such old devices.

    Regarding s-video, I have no idea how this works again, there’s really no reason for that 🙂

  4. what’s the procedure for manual usb install? i don’t want to use unetbootin and prefer not to (re)format. my usb disk is already bootable with grub4dos, slitaz and tinycore.

  5. Congratulations on releasing the 2.0 version. I’ve been using older version on my parents p3 800 and it did well for them.

    I’m on MOCA-AR (mini-itx i945 witch C2D t7000 GHz and 1GB RAM) – will I see any performance difference between 32 and 64 versions?

    But probably to see any difference I should get it running first…

    Following problem – USB Stick created with unetbootin. USB keyboard is working on boot (I can get into bios and so on). XBMC interface loads, plugins update (so network is working) RSS feed is beeing updated but the keyboard is not working. I had the same problem using OpenELEC (a different media center distro). Keyboard is working normally when I use the xmbc live usb version.

    Any ideas? Any magic boot parameters?

  6. 1. Congarts on the new version!
    2. 32bit and 64bit ISO working ewll on both CD and USB

    However, running from USB, no settings are kept. Every boot starts over from sctarch. How do i correct this on a USB installation?

    Thanks.

  7. This new version looks awesome! Congrats.

    I test it on a Laptop (Lenvo T400) and worked as a charm, but I have a small PC, called fitPC http://www.fit-pc.com/web/ and I can boot from a USB this new version but the interface is really really slow. You cannot even hit a key and get a fast response.

    I’m not sure if should work, this “PC” only has an Intel Atom Z510 1.1GHz, 1GB RAM, Intel GMA500 graphics acceleration, it does play flawless 720p mkv files, but I have to use windows.

    If I could just use Geexbox I’ll more than happy, I installed once ubuntu with XBMC and kind of worked, the restriction were the drivers, they are not acceleration enabled. If I could help you make it work just please let me know.

    Thanks and again congrats for this really good distro.

  8. @soad1982
    GMA500 == Poulsbo. To work on Linux it requires a binary driver, which only works with an ancient Xorg version. Unless Intel releases a driver for Xorg 1.10, it’s unlikely to ever be supported. For Ubuntu, there seems to be a PPA with the binary drivers and a downgraded X; don’t know if it actually works.

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