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Xbox media centre on a linux PC

Xbox media centre on linux

I've made up my mind. Forget the XboX 360 and PS3, they suck for a home entertainment centre. MythTV and Windows Media Centre are too heavy and too focused on replacing the DVR/PVR era of devices. To hell with the seriously underpowered AppleTV and Wii, I might as well stick to the Xbox if I was consider one of those. Nope its all about Xbox media centre on Linux, Mac and even Windows. Jon's experience of the next XBMC is certainly of interest to myself, however Jon doesn't go into details about how to install it.

It's been a long time. I haven't even been an XBMC user since May. In May I got a new HDTV so I needed to move to something that could render my HD content. That path brought me to MediaPortal. The old xbmp fork. And well… its garbage.

I don't mean to sound like an ass, but compared to the codebase of XBMC, MediaPortal is junk. Its full of bugs and just feels terrible. The devs at least know this, and are working on MediaPortal 2. So that should be interesting to watch. But all in all, running my mediacenter on Windows just blew.

So last Saturday I decided to check on XBMC for Linux's progress. And to my surprise it is practically feature complete! It all works! Now, for how long is another question. Lets just say that I wrote a trusty Ruby script to watch for XboxMediaCenter, and if it crashes, it gets relaunched. So yeah, its not really primetime, but it works great and is fast.

So I decided to go check it out myself. First port of call was the xbox media centre linux wiki. For Windows users the easist way to get XBMC is to run VMware's Player and grab the virtual environment images. Theres a few staticly hosted files or a torrent file. There's a whole thread here on setting it all up in VMware. I opted for the compile your own which is detailed in a readme file in the VM image.

The steps are pretty simple for Ubuntu 7.x

  1. # sudo apt-get install subversion
  2. # cd $HOME
  3. # svn checkout https://xbmc.svn.sourceforge.net/svnroot/xbmc/branches/linuxport/XBMC
    1. For Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn):

      # sudo apt-get install make g++-4.1 gcc-4.1 libsdl1.2-dev libsdl-image1.2-dev libsdl-gfx1.2-dev libsdl-mixer1.2-dev libsdl-sound1.2-dev libsdl-stretch-dev libcdio6 libcdio-dev libfribidi0 libfribidi-dev liblzo1 liblzo-dev libfreetype6 libfreetype6-dev libsqlite3-0 libsqlite3-dev libogg-dev libsmbclient-dev libsmbclient libasound2-dev python2.4-dev python2.4 python-sqlite libglew1 libglew-dev libcurl3-dev g++ gawk x11proto-xinerama-dev libxinerama-dev libxrandr-dev libxrender-dev libmms-dev pmount
    2. For Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon):

      # sudo apt-get install make g++-4.1 gcc-4.1 libsdl1.2-dev libsdl-image1.2-dev libsdl-gfx1.2-dev libsdl-mixer1.2-dev libsdl-sound1.2-dev libsdl-stretch-dev libcdio6 libcdio-dev libfribidi0 libfribidi-dev liblzo1 liblzo-dev libfreetype6 libfreetype6-dev libsqlite3-0 libsqlite3-dev libogg-dev libsmbclient-dev libsmbclient libasound2-dev python2.4-dev python2.4 python-sqlite libglew1.4 libglew1.4-dev libcurl3-dev g++ gawk x11proto-xinerama-dev libxinerama-dev libxrandr-dev libxrender-dev libmms-dev pmount
  4. # ./build.sh
  5. # ../BUILD/Xboxmediacenter

Its not working for me right now, because (I think) Compizfusion is screwing up the display. But I'll know for sure once I try it on another machine. Stay tuned…

IT WORKS! Ok its 4am and I've just got Xbox media centre working on my workstation which doesn't have compizfusion enabled or installed. Like Jon said its all there except 3d and special effects. I found it very slow at larger resolutions and unstable at anything over 800×600 but it could be my cheap onboard graphics or slow single 2.8ghz AMD processor. I've uploaded a load of screenshots on to Flickr before going to bed. More about this when I get home tomorrow.

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