Raspbmc Release Candidate 5 released!

I remember saying RC4 would be the last release candidate before release. I lied. Seems a lot of immature code still lies in the Pi codebase and it’s wiser to keep testing stuff as it moves on. Performance enhancements are achieved almost weekly, so it’s definitely not right to call anything stable or mature yet. Sorry about the delays, Turbo Mode has not helped that — read more about that below.

Release Candidate 5 brings a lot to the table, and as usual fixes the small niggles.

Apologies for downtime

Apologies for the recent downtime that occurred on the 9th September.

Web interface enabled by default

Some users made it clear they didn’t have a keyboard or USB IR receiver at hand and wanted to use their smartphone out of the box. That’s now possible, as the web server is enabled by default without the user needing to configure this.

USB installs supported

Raspbmc can be installed on to a USB drive, however, an SD card is still needed to kick off the boot process. Simply plug in a USB drive as well as an SD card when you install. You’ll get a big warning so that you can confirm whether you want to do this or not.

TVHeadend included

TVHeadend and kernel modules for most USB DVB adapters are included. TVHeadend is disabled by default, and must be enabled manually, through Raspbmc Settings. After that, you have your very own TV tuner and playback device on your Raspberry Pi. Raspbmc now includes the HDHomerun modules so that this will be detected by your Pi. To get started with TVHeadend, visit the web page at http://YOURIP:9981

4TheRecord plugin included

PVR support now supports 4therecord TV backends thanks to some hard work from Red-F, the 4therecord XBMC plugin developer.

Additional filesystem support

Raspbmc now supports exFAT, which is useful for those who use Windows and want to store files larger than 4 gigabytes on their device.

Possible to write to attached devices through FTP

Previously, you’d find USB devices mounted at /media. What that meant was that FTPing to your device didn’t allow you to write to the device. No more! Now, you can write to a USB device attached to your Pi via FTP as devices are now found in /home/pi/media. Mounting is now completely persistent across reboots.

Kernel headers available

Raspbmc tries to include modules for common hardware, but there will always be a case where a module isn’t included. Kernel headers are now included in the kernel package.

CPU governors in use

Raspbmc now has a CPU governor — meaning that the system will reduce its clock frequency and scale upwards only when necessary. This reduces system heat, prolongs life, and probably shaves 5 pence off your electric bill every year (read: it’s all about the other two reasons). Due to turbo issues, this is off for now.

Samba share

A few of you don’t like FTP and want a Samba share available. Your home directory has now been made available over SMB. This service can be managed from the Raspbmc settings program, although as part of xinetd, it won’t waste resources.

New libCEC update

This update brings the Pulse Eight CEC library to version 1.9. Many thanks to Lars Opdenkamp for continued work on the project.

‘helpme’ is improved

With RC4, I launched helpme, which when ran from the command line, uploads several logs so that debugging can be done and improvements can be made. The issue was that helpme would not work with logs larger than 2MB. This is now fixed, and large logs are split across multiple links.

Turbo clock frequencies

Turbo Frequency has held this release back. It was and still is causing corruption on SD cards installations. Thus, for now, Raspbmc uses a high, but static clock frequency that does not void your warranty. Turbo frequencies can be configured within Raspbmc Settings, however it is likely it will corrupt your installation. It is thus best to stay away from this.

Fast is the recommended setting and will not cause corruption!

You can choose Advanced Settings if you wish to specify a custom clock — beware that you may void your warranty if you overvolt.

By default, only your CPU is overclocked to 800Mhz, you must specify Fast manually if you wish to do so.

RTMP update

libRTMP has been updated again to provide more compatibility with streaming.

New kernel

Raspbmc gets updated to the 3.2.x kernel. This provides better performance, but also, maintainability, as the 3.1.x kernel is no longer maintained and contains a security vulnerability. USB patches are integrated and this increases performance and fixes Logitech DiNovo issues.

Improved analogue audio

Audio through the 3.5mm analogue jack is much improved due to improvements in the Raspbmc firmware.

IO optimisations

Raspbmc takes advantage of an IO optimisation that brings significantly improved read speeds.

Upgrading packages issue fixed

It seems that running apt-get upgrade was causing issues. This is because the Upstart init system was being replaced by insserv. By holding this package back, the issue is resolved.

Improved update system

Our update system now takes advantage of MD5 checksums and improved logging to ensure there is no such thing as a ‘brickable’ update.

XBMC updates: PVR support, MPEG2, DVD, bug fixes, deinteracing.

In case you haven’t read, PVR support has been added as a nightly build, installable from Raspbmc Settings. Furthermore, MPEG2 support is now available. DVD menu support is preliminary and now implemented. Deinterlacing is in an early phase, butnonetheless, implemented too.

Remote support

As usual, remote support is given the usual tweaking and the Snapstream Firefly X10 remote is now supported.

Better service handling

Services can be manually controlled from the Raspbmc Settings addon. Some services are now controlled by xinetd for memory, stability and performance improvements. This is advantageous over standalone, and more resource consuming services.

Dropbear replaces OpenSSH

For a smaller footprint, dropbear replaces the standard OpenSSH server. SCP file transfer is available, however, SFTP is not. Please remember that Raspbmc has a built in FTP server for high speed transfer.

Better time management

Chrony replaces ntpd for better time handling and less resource consumption.

FAT partition preserved during install

In previous installs, the FAT partition would get nuked, making it impossible to set persistent config.txt settings and have them remain after the install unless reconfigured again. This is resolved. Anything you put in config.txt, stays, in config.txt.

Improved Raspbmc Settings

The improved Raspbmc Settings addon now allows you to configure MPEG2 and VC1 codecs, manage services, manage the clock frequencies of your device, set config.txt values and manage overscan.

memset + memcpy routines

New routines from Simon J Hall should improve XBMC’s menu performance a fair amount. There appears to be a Raspbian bug that currently stops these from optimisations from working, hopefully, this will be resolved shortly.

Wrap up

As you can see, a lot of work has gone into this release, and it shows! It’s now your job to test it, enjoy it, and help improve it! To install this release you’ll need to re-image your SD card, as the changes are significant and evaluative releases do not receive filesystem updates, just kernel, service and XBMC updates. Make sure you download the new installer when prompted to do so by the UI applications, as the new installer is improved.

Enjoy!

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