The List: The Top 5 Media Center Programs for Linux
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 4/09 , 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.
- very smooth animation, clean interface, easy to navigate without a mouse
- easy to add folders to existing libraries
- Good search options after selecting a category off the main menu
- Pressing Esc drops you out of full screen and into window mode.
- Connectivity to internet streams including shoutcast, Onion News Network, TED Talks, Movie Trailers, Youtube, and Deviant Art.
- Ability to add user accounts
- Decent support for plugins, easy to install
- No names under icons in main menu with default install
- Scanning over networked drives for media can be a bit slow
- Limited organization options other than “Tv Shows” or “Movies” in the video category.
- Limited amount of plugins, although this can change.
- Elisa was very nice, but I got the distinct impression that because it was simplified, I wouldn’t be doing all sorts of tweaks to it. I was completely fine with it and Elisa does accomplish its mission of being a simple, easy to use Desktop MCE. [4/5]
- 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.
- Weather app
- Ability to run scripts (add ons like youtube)
- Ability to create customized profiles
- Robust settings menu
- Easy install for all distributions
- Plugins that sometimes don’t work (linux)
- Can be tougher to install for non-Ubuntu users
- 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)
- Alternative is “http://www.xbmczone.com/”
- XBMC was my personal favorite, from the clean interface to the spot on controls, everything felt just right. My personal recommendation goes to XBMC. The ability to add videos from almost any source, Samba Share, Local Drives, Media Sharing Devices and more! I loved the easy to install plugins and XBMC’s hanlding of organizing content. The community is also very strong for this project and makes it a very good overall application. [4/5]
Boxee (Based off of Xbox Media Center)
- very stylish
- good media organizing support
- many configuration options
- uses XBMC as a base
- Slow interface at times, mouse movement slow
- Must sign up on Boxee’s website in order to use software (Free Registration)
- Screen resolution options are flaky, no matter what screen resolution I could not get a windowed mode.
- Due to corportate issues etc., Boxee, at the moment, no longer has commercial content such as streams from Hulu.
- When using Boxee, I often felt things were overall very sluggish, at least for my install. I tested this on a Core 2 Quad 2.8 Ghz machine with an 8800GTX, so things should not have been so sluggish. Mouse movement is not the best on some machines, and the presentation of the main page seems dated and out of place (Showing me a video suggestion for the Daily Show from OCTOBER is not a great way to great me). Some flaws aside, Boxee deserves some praise and I def. suggest it to people who want an all around decent Media Center App.[3/5]
- 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]
- A FULL linux distro devoted to media sharing
- A plethora of options available
- Full screen playback is smooth
- Good media organization options
- Pluto media system is huge, making LinuxMCE complex and intricate
- No seperate install, must be isntalled on a partition and run like a full linu operating system.
- Unknown system requirements
- Once animations hit the screen, performance drops, may be better with a more robust machine
- Menu’s are slow and choppy for the most part.
- After a few reboots, my color disappeared to black and white, but messing with a configuration file fixed that (had to search google to get help)
- DVD ripping is very shoddy
- Odd mouse behavior at times
- Slow to boot boot on a virtual box machine with 2 GB RAM allocated.
- Highest resolutions require nvidia 6xxx or better drivers/video 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 box as Server. 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. You are much better off just running a popular distribution like MythBuntu (a Ubuntu distro based totally around MythTV). I had to review it though, as it was very intriguing. [2/5]
- many plugins for all sorts of things
- With all the available plugins, MythTV changes from not just a home
- brew TV PVR, but a full fledged Media Center Solution
- Options like being able to manage netflix via MythTV is very nice
- 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]
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