Why XBMC is the best thing on TV

When people come to my flat there usually amazed by my mediacentre setup. They never knew XBMC could look so beautiful. Problem is I can describe the experience but its never the same as when you see it in action. So here's a video speeded up of XBMC in my living room.

So people keep asking what's the specs of the machine I'm running XBMC on? Well its pretty simple, so I'll do a detailed spec sheet.

Software wise I'm running Ubuntu Linux 8.04 on the 2.6.24-24-generic kernel. XBMC runs as the default option when Ubuntu logs in under the under-privileged user xbox. So the Gnome or KDE backend is not loaded. I would upgrade to 9.04 but there's issues with Pulseaudio which I know have been solved but I don't really mess with my XBMC box too muc

Hardware wise, I'm using a slightly under powered Compaq EVO D510 which is a Intel Pentium 4 with 512meg of Memory and 13gig of hard drive space. I tried to switch to using just a Flash drive but found it was actually much slower that using the hard drive (maybe obvious now). I use Samba Shares (SMB) for everything, so the box does nothing but play back media. Other boxes take care of the downloading and storing of media. I'm holding close to 4.25 Terrabytes across my network. Inside the XBMC box, I'm using a standard PC with a old 5x speed creative (no-region) PC DVD drive and GeForce 6200 128meg AGP card. The DVD drive plays everything pretty much and believe it or not is almost 10 years old, the AGP card is simply because the machine doesn't support PCI-Express and XBMC requires a card which supports OpenGL 2.0. The GeForce card can handle most things but doesn't really like 1080p.but 720p and 1080i isn't a problem. The whole thing is hooked up to my Samsung 40inch TV using a DVI to HDMI connection and the sound to my Onkyo 7.1 Surround sound reciever from a Trust 5.1 soundcard using a single optical cable. I have gotten Dolby Digital, DTS, Dolby Digital EX and DTS ES 6.1 out of XBMC, without too much problem. Finally I use a Bluetooth dongle with a wii-remote to control the whole thing. It looks impressive but requires little fiddling if none at all.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.