Smarthome Blog returns back!

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Long time I didn’t post anything. But now Smarthome Blog returns back! And the first post after the break will be about new release candidate 3 of Kodi 14.0 Helix – new name of XBMC project. Main changes of that version are:

  • fix crash during video playback on Android 5 devices such Nexus Player and ADT-1;
  • a few fixes of PVR system included into XBMC since version 12 (Frodo);
  • some fixes for specified OS and GPU

It can be downloaded from here. Just choose desire platform or OS.

In the mean time OpenELEC – IMHO the best Kodi/XBMC based distribution to build HTPC, announced its own release candidate 2 based on Kodi Helix. Personally I prefer OpenELEC for my home PC based media centre and especially for my Raspberry PI HTPC.

OpenELEC released version 2.0: XBMC Eden + PVR

A few years ago I used LinuxMCE and VDR to watch and record Live TV on my Linux-based media center. But later I found the service which streams all Russian channels over Internet in good quality and switched to XBMC + special plugin to watch it. So far it’s ok. But USB DVB-S2 card near the box time to time remind me about Live TV and especially HD channels. So, I started thinking to try XBMC with PVR support. But I was too lazy to replace stable working XBMC Dharma installed from LiveCD by experimental PVR version. It looks like now I don’t have any excuse anymore. Because OpenELEC released a new stable version combining the latest XBMC Eden and PVR. Moreover, that version should support the CEC Adapter which I bought half year ago to control my TV from the XBMC box over HDMI. OpenELEC offers almost any well known PVR systems – TVHeadend, VDR, Njoy N7, MythTV, Mediaportal, HDHomerun and VU+. I think I’ll choose my favorite one – VDR. I’ll try first to install OpenELEC 2.0 on the flash drive to do not break current system because it’ll be many interesting football games this weekend :) Will post my experience with new system next week. So, stay tune!

Control X10 devices from XBMC

XBMC is the most popular and the best option for DIY media center I think. But it doesn’t cover any smarthome areas except entertainment. Luckily XBMC provides plug-ins and scripts which allow en easy way to extend basic XBMC functionality. So, to add possibility to control X10 devices to your media center you may use either heyu + some scripts or plug-in X10 Commander Lights. Which one to use is up to you. The first way is more difficult but it’ll give you a full control and understanding the low-level logic while plug-in provides easy way way. Even for non-geeks. It’s always good when you have more then one way to do something.

Release of embedded Linux media distribution OpenELEC

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OpenELEC – just another embedded Linux distribution to build HTPC, recently was lunched in version 1.0. It uses XBMC as a front-end and customized back-end. OpenELEC is designed for Intel-based, Nvidia ION-based and AMD Fusion-based systems and run from USB stick or memory card. Special build will be available for Xtreamer Ultra platform (Xtreamer is a partner of OpenELEC). The size of ISO is just about 100MB (depends of the platform type) and it requires less than 130MB on the HDD.

Except a small size and nettop application OpenELEC offers a very simple way for configuration, extending by add-ons (such PVR for LiveTV, Torrent clients, rsync, LCD/VFD display support), an open add-on framework, GPU acceleration (Intel VAAPI, nVidia VDPAU, AMD XVBA (via VAAPI), Broadcom CrystalHD).

So, get OpenELEC 1.0 ISO, make bootable USB and try new HTPC software.

Release of XBMC Eden is coming very soon

XBMC Eden

XBMC team started prepare to release Eden. No any new features will be added except very important for the new version. There is a lot of changes. One of them are following:

  • Files Mode will be moved under Library Mode as Files view.
  • Default skin will be with horizontal layout.
  • Improvement of CPU/GPU utilization and support of iOS-based devices.
  • Ability to add Add-ons to the home screen.

The last feature is simple but very useful. Cause it isn’t so handy go to every time to third menu level to access Youtube or KartinaTV.

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