FLOSS Weekly 57

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FLOSS Weekly
Episode 57

FLOSS Weekly 57: XBMC

XBMC Media Center, the free, open source, cross-platform media-player and entertainment hub.


Scott Davilla and Jonathan Marshall for XBMC

Scott Davilla: Entrepreneur, hardware and software developer

Scott has been working with hardware and software since the emergence of 8080A and Z80 processors in the late 70s. His day job is CEO and chief scientist at 4pi Analysi, which creates hardware and software for Energy Dispersive X-Ray Analysis using Electron Microscopes. While unrelated to Media Center Technology, 4pi Analysis deals heavily with images using both x-ray and electron sources.

XBMC for Mac is his primary focus as a member of TeamXBMC with the goal of creating the best Media Center application for all their targeted platforms. The XBMC project serves to underline the power of open source code to enable the rapid evolution of existing software to other hardware platforms such as the AppleTV. Without the numerous open source developers and other open source projects that range from the Linux kernel to the XBMC team, the porting of XBMC for Mac to the AppleTV would have taken years. Instead, it took less than 30 days.

Jonathan Marshall: Mathematician, currently pretending to be a statistician

In his day job he's a lecturer in statistics at Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand. His research interests are primarily in the theory behind various mathematical and statistical problems. He also has a research role in the epidemiology department, where he applies mathematical and statistical analysis to epidemiological problems.

His primary focus is on the user interface side -- maintaining and extending the skinning engine and making things work nicer for the end user, the skinners, and scripters. He develops and tests using Visual Studio on Windows primarily, although he actually uses XBMC on a Mac Mini.


XBMC is a free, open source (GPLv2+) media center application available for Linux, Mac OS X, AppleTV, Windows and the original XBox. It allows users to view, organize, and play back media from an attractive user interface. It utilizes many other FLOSS projects in order to play back almost any media available, and can obtain additional metadata information for albums, artists, TV shows and movies from online sources. And all of this can be achieved from the the couch via a remote control.

There are many skins that allow users to theme the look and feel of XBMC to fit into a user's current system, and many plugins and addons that extend functionality, offering access to online content such as Hulu or Apple Movie Trailers from within XBMC.

The project originated in 2001/2002, with XBox Media Player being developed for the original Microsoft XBox. XBox Media Center was a rewrite of this in 2003, and in 2007 it was ported to Linux and later to Mac OS X, Windows, and the Apple TV, becoming known simply as XBMC. The first, official stable release of XBMC in its current incarnation was XBMC 8.10 (Atlantis), released at the end of October 2008. XBMC 9.04 Babylon Alpha 1 was made available on April 5, 2009. XBMC seems to be following Ubuntu's April/October 6 Month release cycle (8.10 and 9.04 so far).

Boxee was also discussed. Boxee is a freeware cross-platform media center software with social networking features that is a fork of the open source XBMC media center software with some custom and proprietary additions. Marketed as the first ever "'Social Media Center", Boxee enables its users to view, rate and recommend content to their friends through many social networking features. Boxee is still under development and is currently only available as Alpha releases for Mac OS X (Leopard and Tiger), Apple TV, and Linux for computers with Intel processors, with the first Alpha made available on the 16th of June 2008. A Microsoft Windows Alpha version of Boxee was released in January 2009, but is currently available only by private invitation.

External Links

Questions from the audience

At 41:42 the Randal talks about a TiVo program the allows him to stream the content. What program(s) is used to do this?

How is development coming along for Windows 7 support?

At 31:18 Scott Davilla mentions a motherboard to use NVidia VDPAU Dual Core Atom in ITX format (Ion Look-Alike), what is the motherboard and CPU he's using?


Production Information

  • Recorded Date: February 18, 2009
  • Release Date: February 21, 2009
  • Duration: 1:04:09
  • Log line:
  • Edited by: Tony
  • Notes: Edited out calling the guest at 7:37