June 25, 2013 - mikeyD
Linux Media Center Programs And Operating Systems
I thought I would share my thoughts on my exploits with the popular Media Center Solutions for Linux. While none of them are perfect some come very close. Please keep in mind these are my opinions and you do not have to agree with me, but I feel my points are pretty spot on as of 09/13 , the current month and year. Some of the points made are with my personal experience with the program while one is based off a review, as I had trouble installing it. Please feel free to comment or use the “Contact Us” page at the top of the site. I would LOVE to hear any other suggestions for media center software if you have them.
Table Of Content
1. Linux Media Center Applications
Here you’ll find applications available for Linux that do not require full replacement of your operating system, and act as a compliment to you existing computing setup. Some of these applications are fully usable on the go, and some require some tweaking to do so. Suggestions very welcome.
*check the corresponding post here on Plex for full installation instructions.
- Server/Client relationship wherein you install the server and can use Plex on nearly any device (on Linux this would be the web browser)
- Plex bookmark and plugin (Chrome Browser) enable you to quickly queue up non-HTML5 content for easy viewing later on (my most favorite feature).
- very stylish
- Very easy to setup
- Good media organizing support
- Extra channels that the Roku does not have
- Simplistic, but not overly limited
- Access your media on the go without the need to setup SFTP/FTP/HTTP/Apache servers
- Highly* scalable and mobile! Client side front ends available for Roku, Raspberry Pi, Android, and more such as TV sets.
- Limited options, not as “full” as XBMC
- If permissions change on your folders after copying media from one area to another, changing permissions/owners can be a regular nuisance (latest updates help 20130929)
- Does not always mutlitask well enough to watch through another device while Plex is scanning your library (which can be avoided). Using better capable hardware for the “server” portion, alleviates this.
- Plex is quit literally the best Linux media center out there at the moment. Not only can you stream from the media server application to almost any device in your household, outside of your home, you can still stream everything! This is a huge advantage and makes being able to play your favorite tunes/movies/media on the go a great thing to have. While limited in some respects, what Plex does do, it does it well. Plex is the new hip kid in town, and old grandpa XBMC just doesnt want to catch up. [4/5]
- Very standard app with beautiful interface
- Effortlessly finds and connects to UPnP, local, and networked servers and media
- It packs the very basic features in a most enticing and graphical user interface.
- Hit the market around 2010, and has been growing rapidly since
- Reminds me a lot of the early promise of XBMC
- Lot’s of exciting future planned features
- If you’re looking for a surplus of widgets and online connectivity, you’re probably looking for XBMC
- Pretty basic feature set
- Why does this app contain a BOOKSTORE???
- Lacks top popular plugins/apps such as Netflix, Last.FM, Amazon VOD, and more.
- I quite enjoyed toying around with Enna. I had to revist the project after trying its OS based package GeexBox (listed below). It is a great option for those who wish to have a full system, and still get the best of GeexBox. I am still in the early stages of testing different file formats, but I am pleased with its performance. My major gripe with it, is lack of support for popular on-demand services like Netflix and Amazon VOD, a flaw XBMC knows all too well [3/5]
- Very clean and impressive interface, opening screen grabs your attention
- Clean mouse movement and menu interaction
- A simple backslash (found by accident) puts XBMC into full screen, right click to return to previous menu, very intuitive controls.
- Loads of Apps and Add-Ons to install and run
- Ability to run scripts (add ons like youtube)
- Ability to create customized profiles
- Robust settings menu
- Easy install for all for many devices including Linux, Apple TV, Android, Raspberry Pi, Windows, and more!
- You can control XBMC through HDMI if you have a new enough TV (thank you barblewarble)
- Lacks ability to run on non “typical” computers such as Roku, Boxee etc.
- Netlflix and Amazon do exist via Blucop repository (Edit: possibly outdated/broken now), but to the naive, who would even know?
- Plugins that sometimes don’t work (linux)
- Can be tougher to install and configure for non techno nerds
- Until XBMC’s website puts the scripts on their website, it can be hard to hunt down plugins if you don’t use Ubuntu (www.xbmcscripts.com is a great website when its up and running)
- XBMC was my personal favourite, from the clean interface to the spot on controls, everything felt just right. But honestly, the age of maintaining and using a full HTPC in your entertainment center are over. There are just far better options out there (Smart TV, Roku, Boxee, etc). However, XBMC will always and still has a special place in this list because it started it all. It’s a shame the project just won’t move forward. Not many people like having full keyboards and mice sitting on their coffee table and the difficulty of setting up Linux to have massive icons and consistent large text across applications is a crapshoot at best, trust me, I’ve been there. All in all though I still highly reccomend it. [4/5]
1.4 Entertainer (depreciated)
- pretty sleek interface
- easy to add media, which adds fairly fast
- decent internet media support
- ability to organize media
- promising upstart project
- Hard to install, must compile from source
- Needs many dependencies unknown to user for the most part
- not recoomended for beginner Linux users
- Limited tweaking support at the moment, no themes or plugins on the project page at time of writing (likely to change, at least for themes)
- needs more customization options for experienced users
- Had to base my review off of others review, as I could not install this software due to numerous dependency issues / unknown packages.
- Entertainer was ok. The install was frustrating to the point where I just stopped and installed a pre-made source code package from Arch Linux’s User Repository. From what I read, Entertainer seems to be a very promising project, but I just felt like setting it up and compiling it for my distribution (Arch Linux) was a bit much, but I’m sure others have had more success. I didn’t see a guide anywhere on the site, and that would help a great deal for new users. [3/5]
2. Linux Media Center Distributions
Here you’ll find popular Linux operating systems that cater to the media-centric, media obsessed, and general user.
- A FULL linux distro devoted to media sharing
- A plethora of options available
- Support for many devices including the Raspberry Pi board and the CuBox
- Full screen playback is smooth
- Users used to the standalone XBMC will be right at home
- No seperate install, must be isntalled on a partition and run like a full linu operating system.
- Highest resolutions require a nice dedicated grahpics card
- The fact that this had to be installed as a full operating system was a bit discouraging for a user that runs many other Server operations on his Arch Linux and Linux Mint computers. That aside, this media oriented OS was quite nice, however I didnt find it to be the “one stop” application that it claimed to be. I had to review it though, as it was very intriguing. [3/5]
2.2 Myth Tv
- Many plugins for all sorts of things
- With all the available plugins, MythTV changes from not just a home
- Home-brew TV PVR, but a full fledged Media Center Solution
- Options like being able to manage netflix via MythTV is very nice
- I had to install some dependencies before hand
- ALOT of plugins to install if you wish to use all the features of myth tv. Not built in beforehand
- MythTV is a very nice, robust media center solution, but requires a little bit of work before it can be the best it can be. I liked being able to manage netflix via the program, and its interface was very nice. Being able to easily view TV programs was nice too. The program still needs a little work but was quite good.[4/5]