The XBox Media Center (XBMC) project was started as an alternative OS for the original modded XBoxes in 2002. It has since grown into one of the most functional media center applications out there.
Last year it was ported to Linux and it was reborn as one of the best media centers for the platform, doing many things that Front Row/AppleTV and Windows Media center can’t do.
Recently a team of programmers led by Elan Feingold decided that maybe an OSX version might have a market..as he puts it, "it seems like it’s a
9to5Mac: That sounds like a lot of amazing stuff. What functionality are you working on now?
Elan: We don’t support DLL loading on OS X yet (or linux, that i know of), but we CAN. Note that the Xbox version of XBMC supported Windows codecs through DLL loading for "closed" formats like RealAudio, WMV etc. We can use and enhance the existing DLL loading code which comes from MPlayer. We are also working on full support for the Apple Remote and other popular remotes out there like the wireless XBox 360 controller, etc. We also want to get Python working as soon as possible. As more people join the project, more interesting things get picked up.
9to5Mac: Speaking of other devices, do you have any plans to port XBMC to the AppleTV?
Elan: Unless Apple opens up a SDK for the AppleTV, it is very unlikely that our core group will do so. We are all huge fans of Apple and are trying to stay on their good side. We’ve talked to a lot of people lately who say they went and picked up a Mac Mini for the sole purpose of running the XBMC. Hopefully we are putting some money into Apple’s coffers for developing such a great operating system and hardware combination.
9to5Mac: (plays devil’s advocate) Why not just put XBMC on a cheap ShuttlePC with Linux and let it be the sole application? XBMC would appear to be almost everything you need in a mediacenter PC.
Elan: I happen to think OS X is a much better platform for XBMC than Linux. It’s got great OpenGL support and in the long term, desktop Linux (in my opinion) just hasn’t stuck. People who love Unix are moving to OS X. My grandmother is moving to OS X…and what better looking HTPC is there than the Mac Mini?
Oh, and Linux probably has more OpenGL driver issues. Ultimately, though, as compared to the original Xbox version, I think there is use for an OS. For example, you can install some headless bittorrent client, ssh into it, or put whatever you want there to work along side XBMC. Those little boxes that just turn on and run a media center as firmware are ultimately limiting.
9to5Mac: You mentioned BitTorrent. Are there plans to include other media-centric applications like a Vuze, Sling Client, Joost, or EyeTV support?
Elan: I think there are some interesting things going on with Bittorrent in the field right now. I am focussed on Mac support so I can’t say specifically what is coming up. Those other applications are great reasons why you want a full OS underneath the media center. Again, it is an open platform, if you want to build it in, you are welcomed to – a bit of Python code later and you’ve got it.
9to5Mac: That brings us to the XBMC team itself, how have you found the team, the code, and the atmosphere?
Elan: It was highly intriguing to be brought into their inner circle. The XBMC code is top-notch, compared to lots of other open source products i’ve worked with. It’s well written by smart people who know what they’re doing…and "pike", the project manager boss-man does a really nice job of managing the project – something that’s lacking with lots of other open source projects.
9to5Mac: Cool, that really comes through in the buzz around the project and the quality of the product. One last thing. The name. It seems like it would be a big turnoff for Mac-heads and even Linux people. You’ve moved pretty far away from the XBox, any chance we’ll see a catchier name in the future?
Elan: There has been talk around the water cooler. Nothing yet to report on that.
9to5Mac: Thanks for your time Elan! We’ll let you get back to work. Or you can eat breakfast while we go to sleep…
If you wish your Mac could do a lot more and/or want an alternative to Apple’s iTunes/AppleTV/Front Row, check it out: Download
Although, it is only version 0.1, you can already see the awesome potential that this system has.
From the site:
XBMC Project Background
OS X Port Background
- Goal: To provide the best media platform for the best computing platform. While XBMC has been the platform of choice for hardcore mediaphiles for many years, the fragile, underpowered, and discontinued (!) Xbox platform running unsanctioned code is driving the desire for new and more open platform support. The power and media-friendly nature of OS X combined with the powerful, attractive and affordable Apple hardware that is available make XBMC on OS X a truly perfect match. The current crop of commercial and open source media center options for personal use are either simply too difficult to use, lacking critical features, completely proprietary and closed, or simply too immature to be attractive for today’s living room and personal media enjoyment.
- The port is initially focused on core XBMC functionality, including rich video, music and photo support. The port is currently targeting only Leopard on Intel hardware
- The port will eventually add features that OS X users have come to expect from quality Mac applications, such as support for auto-updates, Growl integration, the Apple Remote, and many other features under consideration.
- 12 December 2007: OS X Port first announced.
- 4 February 2008: First drag and drop DMG package available with core features in a mostly working state (v.1).
- Official XBMC OS X User+Dev Forums: 50,000+ views since 12/12/2007
- Official OS X XBMC Port homepage: 20,000 page views since 1/16/2008, now averaging around 2,000 vs
Current Status (Working features)
- Working sitings on current (Intel) Mac Mini, iMac, Mac Pro, MacBook Pro (X3100 graphics hardware DOESN’T play video).
- Project M support for audio visualization
- Playing (AC3/DTS digital passthrough is supported, analog downmixing is not working)
- Full-screen support (XBMC with 1080P support that just works!)
- Viewing, browsing, slideshows
- XBMC Core App
- Full UI working (minus on-screen keyboard weirdness)
- Video thumbnails, IMDB, AllMusic lookups
- Port of Python scripting support
- Add official OS X port remote control options/support
- AC3/DTS mixdown support
- Port of XBMC Virtual File System features (SMB, FTP, UPNP, etc.)
- Official XBMC homepage: http://www.xbmc.org
- Official OS X XBMC Port homepage: http://www.osxbmc.com
- Official OS X XBMC Port wiki: http://dn-0.com/xbmc-trac/wiki
- OS X Port Contact: Elan Feingold (firstname.lastname@example.org)