XBMC, Now with Less XB!

Xbox Media Center (XBMC) is one of those projects whose name makes less and less sense as time goes on. Sure, people still are using XBMC on an actual Microsoft Xbox, but for the most part, XBMC now is run on computers. In fact, recent versions of XBMC installed on an ION-based nettop makes just about the perfect media center. Version 10 (Dharma) introduced a fancy plugin system that allows XBMC to be extended beyond its built-in media-playing abilities. The next version, currently in development, will focus partially on recording as well as playback.

When it comes to performance, it's hard to beat XBMC. It's faster and more responsive than a Boxee Box, has local media playback unlike the Roku, and is open source, unlike Microsoft's media center options. It does currently lack in premium on-line streaming, but that's largely because the live version is based on Linux. It's a trade-off I'm willing to make. (I actually keep a Roku for that purpose and use XBMC for everything else.)

Check out the latest features and download a copy for your operating system at http://xbmc.org.


Shawn Powers is a Linux Journal Associate Editor. You might find him on IRC, Twitter, or training IT pros at CBT Nuggets.


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I enjoyed your post on Roku.

Jason's picture

I enjoyed your post on Roku. I use it to save money on cable TV. My Squidoo lens has more information: How to Watch Tons of TV Without Cable or Dish.

Sorry Shawn, you lost me at

anonymous's picture

Sorry Shawn, you lost me at "more responsive than Boxee Box". Is that opinion based on when it first came out over a year ago or its current much improved state? I've owned one from the beginning and its initial rough edges (including responsiveness)have been greatly improved. In my opinion, the Boxee Box gives you all the streaming options you could want in one much smaller and quieter device.Vudu, Netflix, Youtube and all my local files on my network server play perfectly every time.

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Shawn Powers's picture

My experience with Boxee Box is that it looks amazing, and plays anything. But every time I dust it off and see if updates have improved the interface, it's still just as slow as it's ever been.

This may be due to my enormous video collection (many TB), but comparatively, XBMC flies through the files, whereas with Boxee I wait and wait and wait.

Shawn Powers is a Linux Journal Associate Editor. You might find him on IRC, Twitter, or training IT pros at CBT Nuggets.


cantormath's picture

I find it amazing that such a small application can do so much. Just installed this app on an apple TV 2 yesterday. A HTPC with XBMC+Mythubuntu is my preferred solution for home entertainment.