New Raspbmc update!


There’s a lot that’s new — after all, it has been three months since the last update. The update before the New Year put the project in solid standing and I felt that the project was maturing. Rather than release small incremental updates each month, I decided to let things rest a while. There wasn’t that much to fix or push — so I took a step back.

In the past couple of months, I’ve been working on a few things, including working with two hardware developers to establish a reference platform for the upcoming linXBMC project, speaking to a prominent Internet streaming company about adding their service in a less ‘hacky’ way and trying to get more resources for the upcoming project. More will be revealed on that soon.

As we get increasingly near to the release of XBMC 13 (Gotham), I’ve done the following:

  • I’ve cleaned up the nightly builds list. Although there were plenty of builds available, it was quite messy, and users were not sure why they should try one build over another.
  • I’m producing 24 hour nightly builds of XBMC 14.0
  • I’ve published all XBMC 13.x Betas — which are installable via Raspbmc Settings
  • I have now prepared all the patches for XBMC 13 (Gotham), meaning that upon its announcement by Team-XBMC as final, I will release a build for Raspbmc a few hours later as an update.
  • Those wishing to stay with Frodo will not be left in the dark however. If you’d like to stay with Frodo, perhaps because it’s tried and tested, or perhaps because you have a shared library and you need to stay on the 12.x series, then not to worry. I have made a stable 12.3 build and that’s pushed as an update today. Even when Raspbmc moves to Gotham, this Frodo build will be kept available to install via Raspbmc Settings.

Here’s what’s new to Raspbmc as a whole:

  • Updated build filesystem to satisfy new XBMC build dependencies and fix a locales issue
  • Fix an overclock setting for ‘Fast’ mode that would force a high (and potentially incompatible) PLL divisor
  • Allow XBMC to adjust task priority for improved playback performance
  • Fix for the Heartbleed vulnerability. Note that this affects both clients as well as public facing servers, so fixing this issue was important.
  • Fix a bug where playback fails when accessing files from WebDAV or HTTPS shares
  • Firmware is updated to resolve issues with CEC on Panasonic sets and bring improvements to playback
  • Updated the standalone image to the latest version of XBMC, kernel and firmware

Here’s what’s new, thanks to XBMC Gotham will bring the following features and improvements:

  • Issues streaming with iOS 7 using AirPlay are now fixed completely
  • In the past couple of months, some new sound cards for Raspberry Pi have come out, so I’m adding support for the following sound cards:
    • Wolfson Microelectronics Raspberry Pi Module – Wolfson’s patches for this had issues, so I’ve done my best to manually resolve these myself. I have reached out to a developer at Wolfson who tells me patches will be released in the future.
    • HiFiBerry sound cards
    • IqAudio sound card
  • Add ALSA support to XBMC Frodo without need for manually enabling in Raspbmc Settings. This approach is done with ‘dvdplayer’ rather than an OpenMAX ALSA component.
  • Improved JPEG to texture decoding (thanks Ben Avison)
  • Hardware accelerated resampling and downmixing (thanks Dom)
  • dvdplayer with OMXPlayer acceleration:
    • this provides full DVD menu support and is suitable for playing back most content. To use ‘dvdplayer’ instead of the standard omxplayer, you need to select ‘Play with’ which can be done by invoking the context menu on the file that you would like to play. This is necessary for sound output with ALSA. omxplayer is being kept as the default player as it is more capable of playing back HD content; dvdplayer with OMX acceleration falls down with Blu-ray playback.
  • I have added support for encrypted DVDs — and in turn, the ability to play straight from DVDs with an external drive
  • ALSA sequencer support added for external sound cards
  • Adjust read buffer factor for better buffering of content and less pausing during playback
  • Ensure the web server is on by default with no username necessary for XBMC Gotham — allowing the user to use their smartphone to control Raspbmc out of the box without additional input devices

To accelerate development on the new project, linXBMC, I’ll be holding a competition soon, stay tuned for an announcement! I think I’ll be changing the name soon, so that may give you a hint as to what the competition might involve! The new content delivery network is coming along soon, and I hope to make the switchover to the new system later this month. The Raspbmc Shop will offer international shipping by the end of the week and more competitive pricing too!

To get the update, all you need to do is reboot your Raspberry Pi. If you’re running an XBMC nightly, be sure to switch to ‘xbmc release’ in Raspbmc Settings to get back on the stable Frodo build. If you’d like to try the vanilla Gotham builds: they are installable via Raspbmc Settings; however I’d recommend the custom Raspbmc build ‘Gotham-Raspbmc-Release’ which has support for sound cards, DvdPlayer support and the JPEG texture handling improvements. The process for playing back with an external sound card is not yet streamlined (it will soon simply involve a Raspbmc Settings based checkbox to enable), so for now you should see this thread for information.

If you enjoy Raspbmc, and this update, and would like to support continued development, you can make a donation here.

As always, enjoy!

Heartbleed vulnerability


I’m posting this to reassure users about the Heartbleed bug and Raspbmc. This vulnerability is now patched — to get the update, you need to just reboot your device (make sure you have updates enabled in Raspbmc Settings). If you weren’t running a front-facing service, i.e. an HTTPs enabled web server on your device (which is unlikely), that’s all you need to do to stay safe.

I’ve posted a bit more on my personal blog about the vulnerability and how to check that you are up to date.


(And yes, an update is coming soon. Very soon.)

Raspbmc turns 1, I turn 20


On the 3rd February 2013, Raspbmc hit final release and moved away from testing to stable software. A lot’s happened since then (I actually reflected on that as the year came to a close), and we move closer to the new project linXBMC becoming a reality.

It’s also my birthday today. I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone, from users, to those that help on the forum, to those that improve the project by developing XBMC, Debian and Raspberry Pi firmware. There are tons of people involved with Raspbmc at the moment and all of these people are responsible for making the project what it is today.

An update is due shortly that will solve some bugs and introduce a couple of new features (nightly builds will also resume soon). I’ve been a tad busy this January with exams and being abroad, so it’s only now I’m getting to catch up on work again.

Thanks for making the Raspbmc project great, I hope you enjoy it!


Happy New Year!


First up, I’d like to wish a Happy New Year to everyone. This has been a good year for me personally and I hope it has been for everyone involved with the Raspbmc project from those that work on it to those that use it.

In this post I’d like to look back at some achievements this year, thank some people and briefly outline what we can look forward to in the future.

Raspbmc was released as stable in February 2013 and since then the user base has increased dramatically. Checking today, we’re now standing at around 63,000 daily users. That’s calculated by unique IP addresses synchronising with the update system, meaning the number of actual users is likely greater considering many people have multiple Pis and perhaps don’t reboot daily to check for updates.

I’d like to thank our mirrors for making this possible. We’ve served around 850TB of binaries now which is rather astounding. There’s no way this could have been possible without the entities and organisations listed on our Downloads page volunteering resources. A thank you is also deserved for UKFAST who have provisioned us with a web server and build server. I’m glad Raspbmc got a lot of media attention this year. Namely Raspbmc was featured on Engadget, Ars Technica, New York Times and various magazines and I was even able to talk about it at Campus Party Europe in London at the O2 and Joomla Day Spain in Albacete, Spain

I’d like to thank our moderators and testers for helping users on the forum and trying new features. This has allowed me to focus on development more and still manage to keep up with bug fixes and new features despite the project only having a single developer (that’s me) for the time being. Our forums are really an excellent and friendly place to get help, and so if you’re not part of them I strongly encourage you join! I’d like to thank upstream developers, such as those that work on Raspbian and XBMC and in particular the Raspberry Pi foundation and its volunteers such as Dom (popcornmix) who’s made great progress this year with XBMC and its playback as well as fixing issues in firmware.

This has been a good year for Raspbmc: I’ve put out an update each month and provided users with new features every time. At the close of this year we now have a web browser, USB sound card support again and various speed improvements that make Raspbmc a lot snappier. Rather than simply recite Raspbmc’s features and achievements this year — I’d like to focus a bit on what’s coming up.

First of all, as people keep asking about it. Netflix. This will indeed come to Raspbmc soon. As some of you have been curious as to how this is achieved I’ll briefly explain here. Another PC will unfortunately be needed to stream it. This PC will play the stream and capture the Netflix window, which will then be streamed over the network to the Pi. Although this sounds a little clumsy, it’s not that bad. You’re still able to browse all the Netflix content from your Pi, and when you select a video, your PCs browser will be opened, but playback will appear on your TV instead of your desktop. The issue that I am currently having is that I have no way of pausing, fast forwarding or rewinding the stream, so I need to think about how that can be made possible.

There are various other features I have pipelined, such as Chromecast-like implementation which will work similarly to how Netflix does. But the most important change will be how Raspbmc transitions into linXBMC. If you haven’t read about linXBMC yet, it’s a Linux distribution I’m working on that will run XBMC on many different devices instead of just the Pi. Supporting 1st generation Apple TV and Raspberry Pi as separate projects has led to a lot of duplication of effort. By maintaining the distribution as a single codebase, I’ll be able to target more platforms: namely the CuBox-i which is newly released, ION and AMD fusion platforms, Macs and hopefully in time even Android based appliances. You can read more about linXBMC here. This project will be more than just another XBMC distribution with features such as being able to order food from your TV, deep NFC and Bluetooth integration for control of house-hold appliances etc. I’m hoping to have a beta of it out by early (Q1) 2014. Although I will be supporting more platforms, I won’t be neglecting the Raspberry Pi and you’ll still have a fast and stable experience as you do with Raspbmc.

I hope you’re enjoying Raspbmc and continue to do so. I wish you a Happy New Year! I’m going to be quiet for the next couple of weeks as I have exams ahead of me.


Sam Nazarko

(yes, I know my signature is ridiculous)