I mentioned in my last post about trying to find and ultra cheap streaming media box. I did some research and found that most of the devices that I looked at (that would be good for this type of application) were a bit too expensive for my taste. I like cheap solid solutions.
I have been running XBMC on Apple TV for a couple of years now and really like it. However, recently it’s become a bit slow and sluggish when keeping up to date with the newest versions and releases. I planned on putting together a custom distro so that it didn’t have the bloatware of the ATV OS running underneath the XBMC since I never use it. I came up with an analogy to explain the dilemma to my GF.
Imagine you have a t-shirt (XBMC) and you like to wear that t-shirt all the time. But in order to wear you t-shirt you have to first put on a sweat shirt (ATV OS). So every time you just want to wear the t-shirt you need a sweat shirt on under it, vs just being able to put the t-shirt on directly.
After doing some searching on a lightweight distro, I found that there was already a project with the same goals, Openelec.tv. Open Embedded Linux Entertainment Center is a distro that is aimed at using a minimal linux install to boot directly into XBMC. They have options for installing it to a flash USB drive, compact flash, or directly to your HDD. It also has an ssh server (from what I read) to enable remote access and configuration.
Apparently the current generic imaged worked right out of the box with the ATV (minus some IR and wlan/lan drivers) using the atv-bootloader. They are now going to release an image for the ATV with all the drivers included. The release was scheduled for (10/15) but was pushed back to possibly today (10/22). It has not been released yet on their site but I suspect it will be up there soon. (within the next few days) According to some of the people beta testing it, it boots really fast. They also mentioned that it works really well and is also expected to include for support for CrystalHD. For anyone who doesn’t know, CrystalHD is a card that is installed in the ATV (replaces the WLAN card) to provide HD support for the Apple TV. You can find more info here. I like and use the wireless N all the time, and most of my content isn’t HD so I won’t be using that option on my setup.
I will be doing a writeup of installing and configuring this new distro when it’s released for the ATV. I may also buy a few more ATVs to install and sell them for people who want the application but don’t want to go through the work of setting it up.
Now, on my way to toorcon…