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:
- x86 32 and 64 bits PCs
- ARM TI OMAP4 Pandaboard
- ARM nVidia Tegra2 Harmony
- Linux Kernel v126.96.36.199.
- 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.
- ALSA v188.8.131.52.
- Support for Analog, SPDIF and HDMI output devices.
- 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.
- Mouse and Synaptics touch pads.
- HID Keyboards.
- Remote Controls.
- NFS shares.
- Samba auto-discovery.
- UPnP / DLNA media discovery.
- ZeroConf services announcements.
- HTTP server.
- FTP server
- 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.
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
Today’s last commit just brought complete support for Boxee remote control. While originally shipped with BoxeeBox, the remote control is available since a few months as a standalone device (for 39$ only on Amazon).
The Boxee Remote comes as nice and shiny 2 faces remote control. Front face provides simple media controls (arrow keys, ok, play/pause, menu) while the back face features a full QWERTY keyboard. Support for this new remote control now provides you with the perfect input for your multimedia experience.
The remote is USB-HID compliant and seen as a regular keyboard, making it of course independent of Boxee front-end itself and, as such, is recognized on any front-end we support, being XBMC, MythTV, Freevo or Enna.
For quite a long time, there used to be pretty much no news at all about the project status, with no major release coming out, ending up in either user frustration or disappointment. Beneath the surface, development never was discontinued at all but was more oriented over the OpenBricks framework, a generic embedded Linux build system which now sustains the GeeXboX project.
The good news is that the project went well and should soon be delivering its very first release, meaning we’ll be able to finally deliver a new major GeeXboX release. A lot of things have changed and we’ve been sponsored with a new web server, providing us more possible services.
As a result, the GeeXboX project is now able to run multiple HTPC frontends (including Enna, Freevo, MythTV, VDR, QtMediaHub, XBMC and Boxee). GeeXboX’s new default media center frontend now is the award winning XBMC project, that we’re very proud to integrate. We now provide support for the most up-to-date audio/video technologies with complete GPU hardware video decoding support on x86 desktop PCs. Support also has been extended to port GeeXboX on all new ARM-based SoC (e.g TI OMAP 3 & 4, nVidia Tegra2 …) as you can find on our platform compatibility matrix. As for regular PCs, the distribution still support LiveCD booting with improved support for USB-key boot, including persistent data storage (have a try at unetbootin for that). The whole thing comes with a packaging system so that upgrades will be much easier in the future.
That being said, the new release is not yet here but thanks to our new host, we’re able to provide you with pretty stable GeeXboX/XBMC development snapshots for all the major platforms we do support. Actually, as you may have seen, the whole web server has been upgraded to be faster and safer and the old un-maintained forum has been deprecated and replaced by a more integrated version (though forum’s history has been wiped out).
That’s all for today folks, and just remember to enjoy our brand new services:
The GeeXboX project has recently been granted a new dedicated server from Colocation America. Special thanks to them for this nice partnership offer that wil helps provide more features to our user base. As a result, we’ve started the migration of a few services to this secondary server and you’ll probably experience much faster running of the website in the days to come.
Thanks to its much biggest HDD, we’ll soon be able to provide new services over the weeks/months to come. We’ll soon be able to provide you with snapshot archives, that will be daily (or weekly, to be decided) generated from our Mercurial development tree for several hardware architectures. Next to come will also be the support for pre-built packages, which will allow you to either avoid building everything when building from sources, or be able to update your GeeXboX distribution online.
Oh and last but not least, stay tuned, as a the so-long-awaited-for release is going to be out pretty soon
Sorry for the inconvenient but our mailing lists are down due to some server upgrade issue. We’ll working hard on fixing them along with a new server upgrade. Stay tuned !!
Since July 2011, the OpenBricks mailing lists are now handled by Google Groups for various reasons. Everything should now be back to normal. All already subscribed users should have received a mail to subscribe back to the new lists. If it ain’t the case or if you’ve haven’t already subscribed, it’s never too late, so feel free to check our Mailing Lists page.
Linaro was kind enough to invite us to attend the recent Linaro Development Summit (colocated with Ubuntu Developer Summit in Budapest, May 9-13 2011). I showed off our latest developments during the Linaro Technical Showcase, demoing GeeXboX running on IGEPv2 (OMAP3), PandaBoard (OMAP4) and x86, with different media center frontends. I noticed that the view of XBMC smoothly running on PandaBoard drew a lot of interest from the public There was also a contest: the GeeXboX demo was voted “2nd best”, and I went home with a couple of nice prizes… hopefully you’ll soon see GeeXboX running on the brand new Snowball board by ST Ericsson.
Thanks again to Linaro for sponsoring the trip and arranging an awesome conference and showcase!
We plan to release shortly the images used during the demo, so stay tuned
After reading the OpenBricks announcement you may be wondering what will happen to GeeXboX now. In short: we will continue to develop GeeXboX as before and nothing should change for our users. What will happen though (has already happened actually) is that the day-to-day GeeXboX development will move into the OpenBricks repository – the GeeXboX repository will now be updated for releases only. For details on how to access the new repository please refer to the Development page on the OpenBricks website. The GeeXboX mailing lists will remain active, but we invite you also to subscribe to the OpenBricks lists to remain up-to-date with the developments.
The GeeXboX team is happy to announce the “Day 1″ of the OpenBricks Embedded Linux Framework project. Formed by members of the GeeXboX multimedia distribution, OpenBricks is an enterprise-grade embedded Linux framework that provides easy creation of custom distributions for industrial embedded devices. It features a complete embedded development kit for rapid deployment on x86, ARM, PowerPC and MIPS systems with support for industry leaders.
OpenBricks is a complete OpenSource and non-profit project which aims at bringing a coherent Linux distribution to run on as many embedded devices and architectures as possible. As much as possible, it tries to rely on standardized technologies, protocols and FOSS as to provide the most code re-usability. It can be used as a framework basis to build your very specific Linux distributions, corresponding to your exact and specific needs, whichever you’re trying to build a Set-Top-Box, a touchscreen based multimedia tablet, a NAS, a router or whatsoever. Porting your board to Linux and adding your specific programs never has been so easy and one can easily create its own distribution flavour.
The OpenBricks project targets various hardware architectures on runs on most of the embedded boards reference design. It has been sponsored and helped by various semi-conductor manufacturers such as Texas Instruments (TI) on OMAP3 and OMAP4 chips and nVidia with Tegra250. We’re continuously looking for new devices and boards to be supported by OpenBricks and sponsoring is the way to go. Having your board or SoC supported by the OpenBricks project is only a matter of sponsoring reference designs. We’re currently looking ahead to support some additional chips, including but not limited to Intel CE4100 and CE4200, Marvell Dove and Armada, Freescale i.MX5x and Qualcomm SnapDragon. If you can provide us any help with accessing to such devices and reference boards, we’ll be glad to have them supported.
There are new stable releases for our libraries. For libplayer and libvalhalla there are many changes. Note that the major versions of both libraries were increased because the changes affect the ABI. The previous stable releases can be still used safely, but it is encouraged to update your applications against these new versions.
- Support was added for Darwin and MS Windows.
- Fixes and enhancements were made in the Makefile and the configure script.
But where is the version 2.0.0 ? It is a good question, this one has existed only some hours. A major bug in the X11 part of the library has been fixed between 2.0.0 and 2.0.1.
- XCB is used instead of Xlib.
- VDPAU is supported with xine and MPlayer.
- Support for VAAPI and DirectFB was added in some backends.
- Improvements were made in the GStreamer and VLC backends (which are still experimental).
Full ChangeLog here.
For people with a NVidia card supported by VDPAU, you should look at the –enable-xlib-hack option provided by the configure script for a full VDPAU support under MPlayer and xine. Without this trick, only the video output with MPlayer can use VDPAU. For the developers, note that with this option you must use XInitThreads() in your application!
- Shutdown on force-stop was made faster.
- Concurrent grabbers are now supported.
- A ChartLyrics grabber was added.
- Languages and priorities are supported with the metadata.
- Many public functions were reworked.
- Support was added for MS Windows and Darwin.
Full ChangeLog here.
So Linux 2.6.35 is barely out and has already been integrated to GeeXboX. We planned to stick on previous kernel but this one really has some major improvements. It came with many changes over ARM architecture and allowed us to get rid of an incredible number of patches for OMAP3 boards. Also it now supports upcoming OMAP4 boards which soon will be supported by GeeXboX too.
Last but not least, there was a major improvement over x86 Intel DRM drivers that now supports H.264 hardware video decoding for newest G45 GPUs. As a result, we also update our VA-API framework and enabled it within GStreamer and VLC players, providing hardware video decoding capabilities.
As for embedded space, one may also notice the introduction of DirectFB, an accelerated framebuffer interface that allow us to provide non-X support for some devices. Enna still has to be updated to take profit of that but this will open our media center to a bunch more devices.