Raspbmc is becoming a very stable and refined product as I’m sure you have seen in the last couple of weeks. There’s still plenty of room for improvement and here’s what’s new:
XBMC is now in Beta
XBMC Frodo is now gearing up for release as we enter the Beta stage. This means an improvement in reliability, but most likely a few bugs to be ironed out. By reporting issues to Team-XBMC, you’ll make the final release of XBMC be amazing, be it on Raspberry Pi or your desktop.
Treating external drives better
Raspbmc will treat your external hard drive better. It does this by spinning it down after 20 minutes of inactivity. This will reduce your power usage as well as prolonging the life of your hard drive.
Resolution cap made togglable
Earlier in October, XBMC decided to clamp the resolution of the UI on the Pi to 720p. While this does speed up the UI and reduce the incidence of GPU Out of Memory events, it also blurred the UI horrendously. Other XBMC distributions targetting Raspberry Pi were quick to adopt this patch, however, we here at Raspbmc were less reluctant to do so. While we acknowledge the benefits of such a cap, we feel the user should still have a choice in the matter. Thus, while we have restricted the UI of new builds to 720p, we have allowed you to toggle this in Raspbmc Settings (to restore a 1080p UI). Raspbmc is the only distribution for Raspberry Pi that allows this.
It’s in early stages for the moment, but Raspbmc Settings will now allow you to restore your installation of Raspbmc to its original state. This restores your Raspbmc install to a completely vanilla state. We’re currently looking at ways to preserve your settings across reinstalls while still providing you the convinience of not having to reimage your card on a computer.
Prebuilt images are now offficially available
We understand that the installer does not suit everyone. Some people live in rural areas without broadband, don’t like the idea of a dynamic installer or never had any luck with our installation process. Pre-built images floated around the forum thanks to Mark but were never officially supported. Now, we are happy to announce support for pre-built images, available from our Download pages. These images will automatically resize themselves to make use of any size card on the first boot and ship with automatic updates disabled by default. Note: the official, dynamically installing image is still recommended, and the latter should only be used if you have issues with the installer.
Improvements have been made in how we deal with the framebuffer. This means more RAM for the GPU (essential on those 256MB boards), as we’re not unnecessarily rendering to the framebuffer, and, a quieter XBMC (no system chatter when the screen dims)
CEC support updated
CEC support has been updated yet again, this time to version 2.0.4. This brings improvements to LG and Panasonic TVs
Better PVR support
We’ve added further PVR support by introducing additional addons. Thanks to Christian for emailing us and telling us the default build system only builds addons without dependencies.
Improvements in image rendering
Dom aka. popcornmix (a Raspberry Pi foundation member) has been hard at work making improvements to how XBMC utilises the GPU’s integrated image decoding capabilities. He brings quality, reliability and speed improvements to the table. Thanks Dom!
TVHeadend has been updated. It is in a state of flux at the moment due to a new lead on the project, but it appears to be progressing rather well.
Not really something that will provide obvious benefit, but installation and factory restore will provide less system output on the screen due to a quicker and more effective way of triggering a restart.
The swap partition in Raspbmc is now removed. This is because it is not really necessary, and anyone who actually wants one can create one as a file and add it to fstab easily. This means a quicker boot, better performance and an additional 128MB of disk space.
Remote double-presses are fixed
fixed See what I did there.
This was oddly enough, caused by changing the prioririty of the XBMC process. Something that we were doing to optimise playback in XBMC. Nonetheless, it’s important to not have double presses on a remote, so that must come first.
Upgrade to Kernel 3.6.
Raspbmc now uses the kernel 3.6. You probably won’t notice much of a difference, however, it should be noted that the ALSA driver for the BCM2835 is broken in this release. We do expect this to be fixed in the near future.
Pulse audio and external sound card support
Support for this was available in RC4, and it’s been brought back by s7mx1 who has been hard at work. It’s too early for us to support it as a built-in feature, but you can grab a test build here. What’s great is you can toggle between PulseAudio and OMXPlayer via Raspbmc Settings in that build.
The usual question: how do I get all this?
As we are in Release Candidate stage still, you’re going to have to reinstall. The reason for this is because of the sheer number of changes (which will be less drastic in the final process), and incompatibilities with libraries that could potentially arise across versions. Rest assured, this will not be the case for the final release; but it’s better to err on the safe side of caution by not breaking existing installs.
How do I backup my XBMC stuff?
Recommended: Don’t. It’s not a good idea to do so with this release. If, however, you want to anyway (proceed at your own risk), check the Release Candidate 5 blog post for information on how to perform a backup.
A fresh install is really recommended.
Thanks, and, as usual, enjoy!