Happy New Year!

Hi,

First up, I’d like to wish a Happy New Year to everyone. This has been a good year for me personally and I hope it has been for everyone involved with the Raspbmc project from those that work on it to those that use it.

In this post I’d like to look back at some achievements this year, thank some people and briefly outline what we can look forward to in the future.

Raspbmc was released as stable in February 2013 and since then the user base has increased dramatically. Checking today, we’re now standing at around 63,000 daily users. That’s calculated by unique IP addresses synchronising with the update system, meaning the number of actual users is likely greater considering many people have multiple Pis and perhaps don’t reboot daily to check for updates.

I’d like to thank our mirrors for making this possible. We’ve served around 850TB of binaries now which is rather astounding. There’s no way this could have been possible without the entities and organisations listed on our Downloads page volunteering resources. A thank you is also deserved for UKFAST who have provisioned us with a web server and build server. I’m glad Raspbmc got a lot of media attention this year. Namely Raspbmc was featured on Engadget, Ars Technica, New York Times and various magazines and I was even able to talk about it at Campus Party Europe in London at the O2 and Joomla Day Spain in Albacete, Spain

I’d like to thank our moderators and testers for helping users on the forum and trying new features. This has allowed me to focus on development more and still manage to keep up with bug fixes and new features despite the project only having a single developer (that’s me) for the time being. Our forums are really an excellent and friendly place to get help, and so if you’re not part of them I strongly encourage you join! I’d like to thank upstream developers, such as those that work on Raspbian and XBMC and in particular the Raspberry Pi foundation and its volunteers such as Dom (popcornmix) who’s made great progress this year with XBMC and its playback as well as fixing issues in firmware.

This has been a good year for Raspbmc: I’ve put out an update each month and provided users with new features every time. At the close of this year we now have a web browser, USB sound card support again and various speed improvements that make Raspbmc a lot snappier. Rather than simply recite Raspbmc’s features and achievements this year — I’d like to focus a bit on what’s coming up.

First of all, as people keep asking about it. Netflix. This will indeed come to Raspbmc soon. As some of you have been curious as to how this is achieved I’ll briefly explain here. Another PC will unfortunately be needed to stream it. This PC will play the stream and capture the Netflix window, which will then be streamed over the network to the Pi. Although this sounds a little clumsy, it’s not that bad. You’re still able to browse all the Netflix content from your Pi, and when you select a video, your PCs browser will be opened, but playback will appear on your TV instead of your desktop. The issue that I am currently having is that I have no way of pausing, fast forwarding or rewinding the stream, so I need to think about how that can be made possible.

There are various other features I have pipelined, such as Chromecast-like implementation which will work similarly to how Netflix does. But the most important change will be how Raspbmc transitions into linXBMC. If you haven’t read about linXBMC yet, it’s a Linux distribution I’m working on that will run XBMC on many different devices instead of just the Pi. Supporting 1st generation Apple TV and Raspberry Pi as separate projects has led to a lot of duplication of effort. By maintaining the distribution as a single codebase, I’ll be able to target more platforms: namely the CuBox-i which is newly released, ION and AMD fusion platforms, Macs and hopefully in time even Android based appliances. You can read more about linXBMC here. This project will be more than just another XBMC distribution with features such as being able to order food from your TV, deep NFC and Bluetooth integration for control of house-hold appliances etc. I’m hoping to have a beta of it out by early (Q1) 2014. Although I will be supporting more platforms, I won’t be neglecting the Raspberry Pi and you’ll still have a fast and stable experience as you do with Raspbmc.

I hope you’re enjoying Raspbmc and continue to do so. I wish you a Happy New Year! I’m going to be quiet for the next couple of weeks as I have exams ahead of me.

Thanks

Sam Nazarko

(yes, I know my signature is ridiculous)

Raspbmc December update

Hi everyone!

I hope you’ve had a wonderful Christmas if you celebrate it and that you’re looking forward to a prosperous new year. In a few days I’ll talk about Raspbmc’s roadmap for the new year and reflect on what’s been achieved this year. I’ll be addressing some interesting stuff such as Netflix and Chromecast and the future of Raspbmc — so it’ll definitely be worth a read.

For now, here’s what this month’s update brings:

  • Fixed an issue where SD cards were not ready at boot
  • Updated web browser:
    • Fix issues with date and time
    • Allow static wired networking configuration (WiFi is still pending)
    • Update kernel for performance
    • Fix issues where closing or quitting the browser would not go back to Raspbmc
  • Added traditional ‘rootdelay’ option to initramfs to allow custom waiting time for device if truly necessary
  • Added ALSA for SoC audio support. This allows you to use high quality external sound cards such as the HiFiBerry Mini via I2S. This eliminates some of the problems with USB soundcards such as occasional popping.
  • Silence rpcbind message on reboot
  • Resolve issues with WiFi installs not completing correctly
  • Updated CEC library for better TV set support and bug fixes
  • Fixed a bug where external soundcard support in Raspbmc Settings was not toggling properly
  • Do not broadcast CEC init when booting so the TV only receives one CEC source from XBMC
  • Install using F2FS filesystem on USB drives <=64GB (as F2FS is a filesystem optimised for flash drives). Unfortunately F2FS does not allow us to use UUID labels, which means you will need to ensure your USB drive is in the top USB port. You can also fall back to the original ext4 filesystem: simply create a file called ‘ext4′ on the fat32 partition before installing.
  • Updated standalone image to the latest kernel, filesystem and XBMC version
  • Updated NOOBS image to the latest kernel, filesystem and XBMC version

To get the update, all you need to do is reboot your Raspberry Pi. If you’re running an XBMC nightly, be sure to switch to ‘xbmc release’ in Raspbmc Settings to get back on the stable Frodo build.

If you enjoy Raspbmc, and this update, and would like to support continued development, you can make a donation here

Enjoy!

Raspbmc’s November update!

I apologise for slightly slower development. I’ve been a little unwell. Anyway, this month brings plenty of new features and performance improvements. Here’s what’s new:

  • popcornmix has now completely fixed SD card corruption issues that occur when overclocking. This is excellent and much needed progress.
  • He has also fixed a bug where having DDS fanart enabled crashes the Raspberry Pi.
  • Installs now use the new F2FS filesystem by default which offers better performance. I’m staying with the ext4 filesystem for USB drive installs though, as many users won’t be able to mount F2FS on their desktop and may wish to do so.
  • USB soundcard support is available again. Simply select ‘Enable external soundcards’ in Raspbmc Settings. Thanks to ‘stupid-boy’ for working on an OpenMAX ALSA sink. This is much better than the previous Pulse Audio approach we had, because the audio and video are in sync. Be aware that this is experimental though. As such, I’d like feedback in this thread here.
  • AirPlay streaming is fixed for iOS 7 devices. Be sure to reboot your iOS device though. I’d like to thank Memphiz for letting me know where the issue was which made it easier for me to detect and fix.
  • Raspbmc now has a web browser! This is available under the Programs option where Raspbmc Settings is located. Note that for now only wired network connections that support DHCP will work. I’m also aware HTTPS is broken and am looking in to that — but it’s a good first attempt that showcases a browser is more than achievable on Pi. I’d like to thank Rob Bishop for his work on Arora, Karnage for developing the addon for XBMC and popcornmix for helping me work out what attributes ‘recovery.elf’ normally sets.
  • Speed improvements have been achieved via kernel backports and higher default overclock settings.
  • I’ve upgraded Windows Media Center PVR addon for Gotham and Frodo.
  • Fix for issue where WiFi cards disconnect after a period of time
  • Added support for IPV6 Privacy Options
  • Added support for LVM modules and RAID in the kernel (device mapper support)
  • Added IR to LIRC bridge support
  • Improve PPP support for users wishing to use VPN
  • Fix for a bug in XBMC 13 where the option to disable the 720p UI cap was not working
  • Fixed a message that would show above the splash screen
  • Add hotplugging to XBMC Frodo. This allows connection and disconnection of keyboards without having to restart XBMC
  • Fix incorrectly reported run time in the web interface.
  • Raspbmc no longer warns the user if /boot/config.txt does not match the settings addon.
  • Fix memory leak when playing multiple files from a playlist
  • 24 hour nightly builds are resumed again
  • Added V4L2 Raspberry Pi camera support in the kernel
  • iptables logging in the kernel for users who would like debugging
  • I’ve reverted to the classic Confluence skin as our Raspbmc skin developer is no longer maintaining it. You can still select it under Skin settings, but it’s no longer the default skin.

Unfortunately, Pebble have decided to upgrade their SDK and break compatibility with existing applications. That rules out the XBMC remote for now — but fortunately a good chunk of it is dedicated to a Python service I wrote, so only the HTTP request code from the watch must be changed, not the entire architecture.

To get the update, all you need to do is reboot your Raspberry Pi. If you’re running an XBMC nightly, be sure to switch to ‘xbmc release’ in Raspbmc Settings to get back on the stable Frodo build.

If you enjoy Raspbmc, and this update, and would like to support continued development, you can make a donation here

Enjoy!