|XBMC Media Center|
XBMC Media Center Home Screen
|Stable release||11.0 (Eden)|
|Written in||C++ core, with Python scripts as add-ons from 3rd parties|
|OS||Linux, BSD, Mac OS X, Windows, iOS|
|Platform||ARM, PPC (PowerPC), x86|
|Available in||40+ languages to date|
|License||GPLv2 or later|
XBMC Media Center is an award-winning free and open source cross-platform entertainment hub software for HTPCs (Home theater PCs). It uses a 10-foot user interface designed to be a media player for the living-room TV using a remote control as the primary input device. Its graphical user interface (GUI) allows the user to easily browse and view videos, photos, podcasts, and music from a harddrive, optical disc, local network, and the internet using only a few buttons. The XBMC project is managed by the non-profit XBMC Foundation, and developed by volunteers located around the world. More than 60 software developers have contributed to XBMC, and 100-plus translators have worked to expand its reach, making it available in more than 40 languages.
XBMC was originally created as a media center application for the first-generation Xbox game console (no longer supported) but is now officially available as a native application for Linux, Mac OS X, iOS (iDevices and Apple TV 2/3), and Microsoft Windows operating systems, running on most common processor architectures.
1 Video demo
Check out this excellent introduction video by Lifehacker.com:
2 Overview of features
Currently XBMC can be used to play almost all popular audio and video formats around. It was designed for network playback, so you can stream your multimedia from anywhere in the house or directly from the internet using practically any protocol available. Use your media as-is: XBMC can play CDs and DVDs directly from the disk or image file, almost all popular archive formats from your hard drive. XBMC will scan all of your media and create a personalized library complete with boxcovers, descriptions, and fanart. There are playlist and slideshow functions, a weather forecast feature and many audio visualizations. Once installed, your computer will become a fully functional multimedia jukebox.
The XBMC "Add-on Manager" has a growing list of community driven add-ons/plug-ins/extensions for online content like YouTube, Hulu, Grooveshark, Pandora Radio, as well as themes (skins) and more available from a common official repository, while still enabling third-party developers to also host their own unofficial repositories for add-ons that any user can choose to add themselves if they like.
2.1 Language support
XBMC includes full support for many different languages by default. XBMC's structure is such that if the language is not available, or not up-to-date, it can be made by editing simple strings in an XML-file, which can then be submitted to XBMC's project management and bug tracking system tool for use by others. Currently the existing supported languages are Afrikaans, Basque, Brazilian Portuguese, Bulgarian, Catalan, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, American English, Esperanto, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Maltese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Mexican Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish and Ukrainian.
3 Hardware requirements
XBMC needs a 3D capable GPU graphics hardware controller for all rendering. The required 3D GPU chips are common today in most modern computers, and even some set-top boxes. XBMC runs well on what (by Intel Atom standards) are relatively underpowered OpenGL 1.3 (with GLSL support), OpenGL ES 2.0 or Direct3D (DirectX) 9.0 capable systems that are IA-32/x86, x86-64, ARM, or PowerPC (G4 or later) CPU based.
When software decoding of a Full HD 1080p high-definition video is performed by the system CPU, a dual-core 2 GHz or better CPU is required in order to allow for perfectly smooth playback without dropping frames or giving playback a jerky appearance. XBMC can however offload most of the video decoding process onto GPU graphics hardware controller that supports one of the following types of hardware-accelerated video decoding: Intel's VAAPI, Nvidia's VDPAU, AMD's XvBA, Microsoft's DXVA, Apple's VDADecoder/VideoToolBox, OpenMAX, and Broadcom Crystal HD Enhanced Media Accelerator. By taking advantage of such hardware-accelerated video decoding, XBMC can run well on most inexpensive, low-power systems which contain a modern GPU.
4 Official Team-XBMC ports of XBMC
Through the processing power of modern computer hardware (by CPU or by hardware video decoding), XBMC is able to decode high-definition video up to and beyond 1080p resolutions, bypassing hardware limitations of the original (now discontinued) Xbox version of XBMC.
However in the latest official release of XBMC there is hardware accelerated video decoding for DXVA, VDPAU, VAAPI, VDA, and VTB GPU hardware video decoding, as well as hardware accelerated video decoding via ARM NEON, OpenMAX, and Broadcom Crystal HD.
- XBMC Live
- XBMC Live is a free Ubuntu-based Linux distribution with XBMC for Linux already installed and pre-configured, providing a complete packaged media center software suite for all IA-32/x86-based personal computers. XBMC Live uses XBMC Media Center for all media playback and is implemented as a bootable Live CD primarily designed for bare-metal installations to achieve instant on type boot. As of version 11.0 (Eden) XBMC Live will be based on Lubuntu instead of Ubuntu Desktop, (this is because Lubuntu is "lighter, less resource hungry and more energy-efficient" than the standard Ubuntu distribution).
- XBMC for iOS
- XBMC for iOS, which is a full port of XBMC to Apple's iOS operating-system, was first announced and released publicly on 20 January 2011. It supports both 720p and 1080p hardware accelerated video decoding of H.264 videos, and is compatible several Apple's iDevice's and Apple TVs (black) that uses Apple A4 or Apple A5 (ARM-based) SoC processors with a jailbroken iOS operating-system.
- XBMC for Linux
- XBMC for Linux is primarily developed for Ubuntu Linux. Third-party packages for most other Linux distributions are however available, and it is also possible to compile XBMC Media Center from scratch for any Linux distribution as long as the prerequired dependency libraries are installed first. Hardware video decoding is achieved via the VDPAU API on Nvidia's GPUs, and via the VAAPI API for AMD/ATI Radeon, S3 Graphics, and Intel's newer Integrated Graphics Processors, as well as hardware accelerated video decoding via OpenMAX, ARM NEON, and Broadcom Crystal HD on systems with supporting hardware.
- XBMC for Mac
- XBMC for Mac runs natively on Mac OS X, as well as on the Apple TV 1. 1080p playback can be achieved on Apple computers either via software decoding on the CPU if it is powerful enough, or by hardware accelerated video decoding via Apple's VDA API or Broadcom Crystal HD.
- 1080p playback on the first-generation Apple TV (a.k.a. "ATV1") can only be achieved by hardware accelerated video decoding via Broadcom Crystal HD, the user must replace the ATV's internal WiFi adapter with a Broadcom Crystal HD PCI Express Mini (mini-PCIe) card in order to activate this functionality.
- XBMC for Windows
- XBMC for Windows runs natively on Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7, it is a 32-bit application but runs on 64-bit Windows and hardware as well, however it is not yet optimized for that architecture so there is no performance gain when running on 64-bit Windows. 1080p playback can be achieved on Windows based computers either via software decoding on the CPU if it's powerful enough, or by hardware accelerated video decoding.
- Hardware video decoding via DirectX Video Acceleration is now supported although this enhancement currently only runs on Windows Vista and Windows 7 since it utilizes the DXVA 2.0 API which is not supported in Windows XP.
5 Commercial XBMC systems
The developers of XBMC state that as long as the GPL licensing of the XBMC software is respected they would love for XBMC to run on as many third-party hardware platforms and operating systems as possible, as "Powered by XBMC" branded devices and systems. With XBMC being pre-installed as a third-party software component that commercial and non-commercial companies and ODM/OEM's can use royalty-free on their own hardware, hardware such as set-top boxes from cable-TV companies, Blu-ray Disc and DVD players, game-consoles, or embedded computers and SoC (System-on-a-Chip) built-in to television sets for web-enabled TVs, and other entertainment devices for the living room entertainment system, home cinema, or similar uses.
6 Third-party forks and derivative work of XBMC
XBMC Media Center source code have over the years become a popular software to fork and use as an application framework platform for others to base their own media center software on, as if XBMC were a GUI toolkit, windowing system, or window manager. Today at least Boxee, MediaPortal, 9x9 Player, and Voddler are separate derivative products that are all openly known to initially have forked the GUI and media player part of their software from XBMC's source code.
- See: History of XBMC
8 XBMC Foundation
The "XBMC Foundation", tax-exempt registered non-profit organization behind the XBMC project, is legally represented by the SFLC (Software Freedom Law Center), which assists XBMC project and its developers legal matters such as copyright, trademark, and branding questions, as well as economic issues such as handling donations and sponsors that help the project with expenses for dedicated hosting service, and activities such as going to trade fairs and computer expos to tech demo XBMC, meeting with potential new developers, gain publicity to attract additional users, and more.
XBMC won two SourceForge 2006 Community Choice Awards. In the 2007 Community Choice Awards, XBMC was nominated finalist in six categories. Also in the 2008 Community Choice Awards XBMC won an award for Best Project for Gamers.
10 Programming and developing
XBMC is a non-profit and free software community driven open-source software project that is developed only by volunteers in their spare time without any monetary gain. The team of developers leading the development of XBMC, "Team-XBMC", encourage anyone and everyone to submit their own source code patches for new features and functions, improve existing ones, or fix bugs to the XBMC project.
XBMC's source code for all its supported platforms is made publicly available by Team XBMC under the open source GNU General Public License Version 2 license. The group currently maintains a Git repository for this source code.