Raspbmc and Crystalbuntu are evolving into OSMC

Raspbmc and Crystalbuntu are getting bigger and better and evolving into OSMC (Open Source Media Center). In my recent comparison of Raspbmc and OpenELEC, the two major OSes that bring XBMC to Raspberry Pi, my choice was Raspbmc. One of the exciting things about Raspbmc is whats coming in the future. Sam Nazarko recently announced that Raspbmc and Crystalbuntu are going to become OSMC. I had a quick chat with Sam and here is what he had to say:

I'm taking the success of my work on two platforms (1st Generation Apple TV with Crystalbuntu and Raspberry Pi with Raspbmc) and expanding it. Next up, Raspbmc is going to be superseded by OSMC. This was originally called linXBMC (but it's changed name). This is going to be like Raspbmc, but run on more hardware: Intel NUC, IMX6 platforms such as CuBox-i, Android, iOS etc. There's also some stuff happening on the hardware front for OSMC. Couple of companies are also joining forces with us, so it's going to be a very exciting platform!

What is OSMC?

OSMC is the future of Raspbmc and Crystalbuntu distributions. They both share codebase which means less time having to update each platform manually. With the time saved, support for CuBox-i, (as well as other IMX6 boards), Intel NUC, Linux, Android and iOS platforms are being added.

Osmc - Open Source Media Center
Osmc - Open Source Media Center

OSMC addresses some deficiencies in the current implementations:

  • Faster boot
  • Performance improvements due to modern compiler
  • Better and easier configuration
  • SystemD initialisation system
  • ConnMan network daemon
  • A reliable update system

In addition, OSMC will be a multi-lingual media center platform with features that will go above and beyond the traditional XBMC experience, including:

  • easy upgrades
  • a social hub that lets you share content with friends
  • screen mirroring from other household devices
  • a slick interface
  • and much more!
Build a Low-Cost Raspberry Pi Media CenterPrice
Raspberry Pi 4B Starter Kit with case, power adapter, and heat sinks~$82.00
Sandisk Ultra 32GB Micro SDHC UHS-I Card 98 MB/s~$8.00
SANOXY Wireless USB PC Remote Control Mouse for PC~$8.00

Test Drive It

If you are not faint-hearted or is someone who likes to try new things you may headover to this post and download an initial build of OSMC and try it out. Below are some of the test build's features:

  • Debian 8 (Jessie) based on Raspbian
  • Linux 3.12.y upstream kernel (a custom kernel will be delivered later)
  • Systemd initialisation system: experimental, and currently, only some services are using this.
  • XBMC 13.2 (ignore the 13.1 splash)
  • ConnMan connection manager

Do realize that this is a test build and so several things are not polished yet. Wireless networking is not yet available, as an addon needs to be developed to support this. Remote support is not yet implemented either, only keyboard, smartphone and CEC is working at this stage. But one little tweak that can improve the UI performance is disabling the RSS feeds. [Read: 10 Tweaks to improve XBMC performance on Raspberry Pi]

How can you help OSMC?

Any development of this scale requires testing and feedback. Download the test build, try it on your devices and provide feedback to the developers to help improve OSMC. Feedback is very important at this stage - whether it is a bug, random crash, unexpected behavior, or if you don't know how to accomplish something that you were able to do on Crystalbuntu or Rasbpmc.

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Anand is a self-learned computer enthusiast, hopeless tinkerer (if it ain't broke, fix it), a part-time blogger, and a Scientist during the day. He has been blogging since 2010 on Linux, Ubuntu, Home/Media/File Servers, Smart Home Automation, and related HOW-TOs.