HTPC Software

Mar 25 2013

News - OpenELEC 3.0 Released

OpenELEC 3

It seems like just yesterday that the OpenElec team announced that they were hard at work on OpenELEC 3.0 and were ready for people to begin beta testing. The final release of OpenELEC 3.0 is now available. OpenELEC 3.0 is based on the ambitious "Frodo" release of XBMC and actually ships with the recently released 12.1 version of XBMC which rolled in a number of improvements and bug fixes submitted by the OpenELEC team, particualrly for XBMC's new AudioEngine. With version 3.0, OpenELEC becomes the first XBMC distro with full XVBA support for AMD GPUs and with dedicated builds for Intel, Nvidia ION, AMD Fusion, Raspeberry Pi, Apple TV, Xtreamer, and the Arctic MC001 that the OpenELEC team recently partnered on, OpenELEC 3.0 is the most versatile release of the XBMC distro to date. Unfortuantley, for some of us, the release of OpenELEC 3.0 will also be somewhat bittersweet as the team has announced that this will be the penultimate release for 32-bit ION and Intel systems. My first generation ION nettop gained a new lease on life with OpenELEC, but its days may finally be numbered.

The OpenELEC team is proud to release OpenELEC 3.0.0

OpenELEC 3.0 is built to support XBMC Frodo 12.1 and almost every part of the core OS has been updated and improved since the 2.0 release. The project now supports a broader range of mediacentre hardware than ever before, including dedicated OS images for the budget friendly Arctic MC001 and ultra-low-cost Raspberry Pi systems.


Mar 25 2013

News - Linux Gets Plasma Media Center from KDE

Linux users have a new media center frontend option in the form of Plasma Media Center, a new release from KDE, the development team behind one of the more popular graphical desktop environments for Linux. PMC provides unified access to movies, photos and music across PCs, TVs, tablets and other devices capable of running KDE. The 1.0 version can access local files and network files, as well as access photos from Flickr and Picasa. PMC also includes a plug-in framework for developers to create custom plug-ins to extend PMC's functionality. The intial release might look a little barebones next to something like XBMC, but I suspect it will be a media center application worth watching.

Plasma Media Center

There is a new Media Center system for Linux users called Plasma Media Center. It’s from KDE the graphical desktop for Linux and is built on KDE’s Plasma and KDE technologies and is designed to be a rich media experience. KDE say the aim is to unify media experience on the PC,tablets, netbooks and TVs running KDE.



Dec 18 2012

News - Beta Roundup: XBMC 12 RC1, XBMC Live RC1, OpenELEC 3.0 Beta 5, MediaPortal 1.3.0 Beta, Beta

Beta RibbonIn our last Beta Roundup, I lamented the challenges of keeping up with new releases, and the last week has proven just how true that can be. Not only have the XBMC and OpenELEC teams been busy this week, so have the MediaPortal and Xbian teams.

XBMC 12 "Frodo" is coming periously close to a full release with the introduction of Release Candidate 1. As a release candidate, XBMC 12 RC1 is feature complete, so anyone holding off on a download in hopes of seeing everything that XBMC 12 will have to offer, now is the time jump in. There are still bugs to work out, but the forums are open to help and the XBMC team is taking tickets on Trac.

 At this point, XBMC 12 is entirely feature complete. All changes from this point forward will exclusively include fixes for replicable bugs necessary to reach final release.


 Of course, no XBMC project would be complete with a Live version. As with the XBMC 11 beta cycle, the Live release has been running a bit under the radar compared to the mainline, but that changed with the release of XBMC Live 9.04 "Babylon" RC1. With native MCE remote support and duduke's usplash theme for seamless visual startups, the next version of XBMC Live is looking quite nice.

Finally, the XBMC repositories sources are already configured and topfs2’s cool script “Aptitude” is included, so updating XBMC to follow the new releases will hopefully be easy!


Continuing their lockstep development cycle with XBMC, the OpenELEC team dropped Beta 5 of OpenELEC 3.0. The OpenELEC team may not be ready to declare release candidate status, but given their rapid progression, it probably isn't far off.

This Beta updates XBMC to XBMC Frodo Release Candidate 1, and fixes some issues found in our Beta 4 release like the issue where all our Addons are marked as "broken". 


The big new beta release of the week came courtesy of the MediaPortal team. MediaPortal 1.3.0 Beta is now available. MediaPortal 1.3.0 Beta brings new preloaded skins, including the highly anticipated Titan skin, preliminary Windows 8 support, and a greatly improved "Settings" section that allows users to change most of the client settings from within the MediaPortal 10ft interface. Unfortunately, this capablility does not extend to the TV Server settings, but there is alway 1.4.0 to look forward to.

Just in time for the holidays, we release theBeta Versionof our new major release,MediaPortal 1.3.0!

A lot has changed since the release of MediaPortal 1.2.3. Too much to fit everything into one news. So we will focus on what has changed since the 1.3.0 Alpha release. If you want to find out what was added in the 1.3.0 Alpha release, head over to it's release news, or view all the changes in our wiki: What's New > 1.3.x


Our last beta for this week's roundup is a bit off the beaten path. Xbian, one of the larger XBMC for Raspberry Pi projects, is getting a new website, and the Xbian team is inviting users to beta test the new site. The new site represents a significant overhaul, so if you have a few minutes, head over and click around and let the Xbian team know if something doesn't work.

XBian is developing a new website that might replace the current one. There are still some things to work out, but we would like to receive some feedback in the proces. Please have a look at Beta 


Dec 11 2012

News - Beta Roundup: XBMC 12 Beta 3 and OpenELEC 3.0 Beta 4

The best part about beta software is getting access to exciting new features, even if they aren't always ready for primetime. The worst part is trying to keep up as new releases get pushed out. The XBMC team dropped the first beta for XBMC 12 "Frodo" in mid-November, but over the last week-and-a-half, have moved through Beta 2 onto Beta 3. The Beta 2 release brought a bunch of fixes and the first Android APK release of XBMC, which immediately got me contemplating the future of an XBMC-enabled Ceton Echo. Beta 3 includes more fixes, particularly for the aforementioned Android release, and the inclusion of the new PVR addons. Documentation for XBMC 12 has also taken a giant leap forward in the last week, with new FAQs and support wiki pages coming online and getting fleshed out.

Hot on the heels of Beta 2, we are excited to release Beta 3. This release includes a number of fixes as we work to resolve issues that have cropped up since Beta 2 and also attempt to isolate some issues that still exist.


Running parallel with the XBMC team, the OpenELEC team has been working furiously on the release of the Frodo-powered OpenELEC 3.0. We commented on the rapid transition from OpenELEC 2.0 to OpenELEC 3.0 when the first beta release came out a few weeks ago, and the OpenELEC team isn't showing any signs of slowing down as they have already advanced to Beta 4. The second beta release incorporated OpenELEC-specific bug fixes, while the two more recent beta release have included bug fixes and provided updates to new Linux kernel point releases and the latest beta releases of XBMC 12.

This Beta updates XBMC to XBMC Frodo Beta 3, the kernel to linux-3.6.9 and fixes some issues found in our Beta 3 release like Samba Windows filesharing issues and issues with ffmpeg which is now fixed after a closed cooperation with the ffmpeg developers upstream too. Many thanks for the help!


It's also worth noting that the OpenELEC team is promoting the Raspberry Pi support that comes with OpenELEC 3.0 by teaming up with The Pi Hut for a giveaway, so if you are interested in getting your diminutive DIY media streamer action on, be sure to throw your name in the social network hat.

Nov 27 2012

News - OpenELEC 3.0 Beta 1 Now Available

OpenELEC 3.0 Beta

It took a year for OpenELEC, the super-lightweight Linux distro optimized to run XBMC on low-power HTPCs and embedded devices, to go from 1.0 to 2.0. It doesn't look like we will have to wait nearly as long for 3.0. It has been barely a month since OpenELEC 2.0 was released to the world, and already the OpenELEC team has announced the release of the first beta version of OpenELEC 3.0. OpenELEC 3.0 is based on XBMC 12 "Frodo", which itself just recently went to beta. Being based on XBMC 12 means that the next version of OpenELEC will support XBMC's new AudioEngine for HD audio support, improved PVR support, and advanced UPnP sharing, the XBMC feature that will probably see the most improvement as it works its way through beta. OpenELEC 3.0 will also be the first version to offer official support for the Raspberry Pi, joining a growing list of XBMC projects targeting the diminutive ARM system. With the XBMC team rumored to be targeting a December release for Frodo, perhaps we will see OpenELEC provide a New Year's treat.

Shortly after our OpenELEC 2.0 release we are proud to present our first OpenELEC 3.0 beta. With this new version comes many exciting updates. Based on XBMC 12.0 Frodo, OpenELEC 3.0 brings official support for our first ARM devices the Raspberry Pi, Linux kernel 3.6, improved PVR support and of course, the long awaited Audio Engine.


Nov 27 2012

News - MediaPortal 2 Alpha Autumn Release Available, MediaPortal 1.3.0 Beta in Final Testing

While most of us were cleaning our houses in anticipation of the wave of Thanksgiving visitors, MediaPortal fans were busy jumping on the alpha bandwagon with the release of the MediaPortal 2 Alpha 1 Autumn release. The MediaPortal team teased the MP2 Autumn release last month. The Autumn release is noticeably more stable than the MP2 Summer release and with support for movie collections and .nfo metadata files, MediaPortal 2 is starting to feel like a complete media center package. There are still some obvious feature gaps, but then that is to be expected with alpha software and anyone interested in the future direction of MediaPortal should definitely give the new release a try.

Team MediaPortal is proud to release yet another alpha of the upcoming HTPC revolution - MediaPortal 2!

A lot of work has been done since the summer release of MediaPortal 2. 

MediaPortal Blog

While MediaPortal 2 might not be ready for most people's full-time HTPC, there is still MediaPortal 1.3.0 to look forward to. At the same time that the MediaPortal team was teasing the MP2 Autumn release, they were also announcing that MediaPortal 1.3.0 would be coming with a new deafult skin named Titan. The team has announced that the MediaPortal 1.3.0 beta is in final testing and they are stoking anticipation with more images of the Titan skin and talking up Titan Extended, a version of the Titan skin equipped to extend the Titan experience to compatible MediaPortal extensions. As MediaPortal 2 development has creeped along, the most striking improvement over MediaPortal 1 has been the visual upgrade, but with the latest collection of Titan screenshots, the MediaPortal team looks to change things rather dramatically.


A few of you might feel a sweet shiver crawling down your spine after reading that news title.

I am extremely happy to announce that after many months of hard work, MediaPortal 1.3.0 Beta is in final testing! So the release is now very close!

MediaPortal Blog

Nov 23 2012

News - Plex Media Server v0.9.7.3, Plex/Web Released

A couple of months ago, coinciding with the release of Plex Media Server version, the Plex team made a couple of big announcements. The first announcement was the introduction of PlexPass, a new subscription system that would provide Plex supporters with early access to new features in develpoment. The second announcement was the introduction of a new Plex web client, which would also be the first new beta feature made available to PlexPass members. The new web client, dubbed Plex/Web has evidently been given a thorough working over by the PlexPass community and is now ready to break cover into general availability with the release of Plex Media Server version There are new multi-selection options, remote playback tools, and universal search all on tap with Plex/Web, and the Plex team is touting a greatly improved first-run experience with a new setup wizard. As for Plex Media Server, there are updates to support Plex/Web, but more importantly, a brand-new transcoder that should be more efficient in how it uses CPU resources and a host of API updates to improve metadata management. The Plex team is pretty excited about this new release, and with so many new features it is easy to see why.


We’re super excited about Plex/Web, and we suspect you will be too. It’s the fastest and richest Plex client that exists today for managing, browsing and playing your content. No, it’s not a replacement for the gorgeous Plex Media Center, but you can run Plex/Web from anywhere in the world in any (reasonably modern) web browser.

Plex Blog

Oct 31 2012

News - Windows Media Center Free for Windows 8 Pro Until January 31st

Metro WMCMicrosoft broke a lot of hearts when they announced that Windows Media Center was not going to be included with Windows 8. It was frustrating enough that WMC development was languishing, but turning it into an optional add-on, and only for Windows 8 Pro at that, seemed to be Microsoft's passive-aggressive way of letting HTPC fans know that WMC was well and truly dead. Fortunately, Microsoft has decided to throw us a bone, if only temporarily. Until January 31, 2013, Microsoft is giving the Windows Media Center Pack away for free. All one needs to do is visit Microsoft's "Add Features" website and supply an email address to receive a product code. Folks running the standard version of Windows 8 will still need to pony up for the Windows Pro Upgrade Pack for $59.99 which includes WMC. After January 31st, the WMC Pack will presumably return to the regular $9.99 price tag. On a side note, the WMC Pack product code apparently only works on retail versions of Windows 8 Pro. MSDN subscribers are reporting issues using the product key and I should find out about Technet copies this weekend.

Of course, Windows Media Center is still widely available for Windows 8 users, but it doesn’t come with the OS itself. Users must purchase it as an add-on in the Windows Store for $10. Granted, that’s not a lot of money at all, especially for all the features that you get, but considering that it was once a free feature that came with Windows, we can see how HTPC enthusiasts would be upset.


Oct 18 2012

News - MediaPortal Adopts New Default Skin, Prepping CableCARD Support and MP2 Autumn Build

There was a time when I would bounce from one media center frontend application to the next, always seeking out the perfect blend of eye-candy, customizability and functionality. One application that continues to find its way to my test system is MediaPortal. The MediaPortal team has been fairly quiet the last several months, but they recently broke cover with a collection of updates. First up, there is a new default skin. MediaPortal 1.3 is still in beta, but one of the more significant features is a new skinning engine. MediaPortal has traditionally started out with a rather crusty XP-era WMC style skin. The new skin is more reminiscent of an Aeon-style skin for XBMC. In other words, it's looking sharp. The team also gave an update on the long in gestation MediaPortal 2. MediaPortal 2 is still quite definitely alpha software, but the intrepid can look forward to the release of the MP2 Autumn Build in the near future.

MediaPortal 1.3

Finally, because sometimes I enjoy burying the lead, the MediaPortal team has introduced support for CableCARD. The team is being quite up-front that there is no chance of MediaPortal receiving CableLabs certification, so MediaPortal will only be able to provide access to non-DRM channels and "Copy Freely" content, but it is certainly welcome news for Windows-based HTPC owners still pining for the loss of SageTV and looking for an alternative to WMC. The team is also being quite up-front that MediaPortal's CableCARD support is a work in progress and they are looking for testers to help provide feedback for continued development.

Well howdy, folks! We here at MediaPortal have been getting quite a lot of feedback from everyone, and have found that 3 questions keep being asked:

  1. Why not a new default skin for MP? The old one is a bit outdated and you have some awesome skinners on the team.
  2. Why is getting your non DRM digital cable content into MediaPortal so hard? Specially if you live in the U.S. as Set-Top-Boxes make it even harder.
  3. What is the hype with MP2? Why is better? What is it going to look like?

MediaPortal Blog

Oct 18 2012

News - Open ELEC 2.0 Released

OpenELEC 2.0 is here. The heavily customized Linux distro built around offering a lightweight XBMC frontend has pushed out two release candidates over the last few weeks, and the team confidently predicted with RC2 that the final version was near at hand. OpenELEC 2.0 is based on XBMC 11 "Eden" and incorporates the official XBMC PVR code branch and the PVR-optimized version of the default Confluence skin. Version 2.0 also brings CEC adapter support and promises vastly improved performace with AMD Fusion-based systems. With no Linux desktop lurking in the background, OpenELEC offers an experience about as close to an XBMC settop box as I have experienced with support for a wide range of XBMC add-ons, including a selection of OpenELEC specific add-ons.

OpenELEC 2.0

 OpenELEC was specifically created to run XBMC optimally and provide a seamless media consumption experience without all the normal installation or upgrade hurdles. Its add-on architecture allows you to customize XBMC to your preferred look-and-feel along with adding new functionality as required. OpenELEC is extremely light weight (less than 130 MB installed) and supports a diverse array of hardware platforms.

OpenELEC Blog

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