XBMC is a free open source media center application that can run on Mac OS, Windows or Linux. By open source I mean that the source code for the program is viewable by all and that the Linux community has banded together to create it. By free I mean, lacking in monetary charges, which is actually a more complicated way of saying free. Since the Linux operating system Ubuntu is also free, that is why I decided to test this application. Not only the main application but also add-ons and additional features are out there for free. It’s amazing to see what the developer community has banded together to create. So no matter what happens in my review or my experiences with XBMC, hats off to those folks for their diligence and dedication.
XBMC is an excellent alternative to Windows Media Center for several reasons including the fact that it’s free. While technically Windows Media Center is free as well, it only comes with the Windows Operating System which is not free and neither is the Mac OS. Although you may have gotten one of them with the fancy new computer you just bought, trust me you paid for the operating system. So now I have mentioned several times that this application is free (did it again) so I can level set your expectations. I began to look at this as a low cost alternative to running a Windows 7 box with Windows Media Center, something I have done for years.
For a long time I had heard about XBMC but until I got into this business I did not have an intense desire to get it up and running. I decided move forward with this project as I laid out my roadmap for the next few months of blogs, tests and reviews. I got very excited the more I read about the application, but unfortunately I have to tap the brakes a bit and slow down my giddy-bus, XBMC is not for everyone.
There are two types of gadget people, technocrats and users. Technocrats love a new challenging piece of hardware or software bristling with new possibilities. They will fight through glitches, spend hours figuring things out or researching problems on the internet. Technocrats love an electronic challenge and revel in the glory of finally “figuring it out.” Guess which category I fall into. On the other hand we have Users who love their gadgets, but they expect the thing to work as designed and as promised. They want tasks A,B and C and they want them reliably and simply to work.
Most people fall into the Users category while a much smaller group fall in with the Technocrats. Some people don’t fall into either category and that is just sad, because they take no part in the new and wonderous gadgetry that is out there. Of coarse those same people are not likely to read a website so I don’t have to worry about offending them. For those of you who are Users I can reasonably say that you may want to keep your eye on XBMC but not necessarily get out there and give it a try just yet. For the technocrats out there, well do I have something special in store for you…
Over the next few weeks I will be writing about my experiences with XBMC running on Ubuntu Linux. I have already given it a chance on Windows and I can tell you there are certainly some advantages to it over Windows Media Center. I will spend more time with it on Windows as well, but I am starting with Linux since this is where XBMC began.
So are the advantages of XBMC and open source enough to overcome Windows Media Center? Maybe, there are some disadvantages of XBMC when compared to Media Center as well especially on the Linux OS. Will it fit the criteria for a good media center device? Will I be able to get access to The Eight?
You remember the Eight right? It’s the eight things I need to get rid of cable.
2. News: local and national
3. Sports – a world without football is not a world I want to live in
4. Music channels and the variety to make it worth while
5. First Run TV shows
6. Classic TV Shows
7. History/Nature Shows
8. High Definition Content
If we can get these 8 things covered by XBMC then I will put my stamp of approval and this Media Center Challenger. So hang on folks. I am about to introduce you to the world of XBMC.