Developed in collaboration with Friendtech, both I (the developer) and CyKiller (the coordinator) are proud to announce "Friendtech Media Center". Based upon "Gentoox" and the tried and tested "MythTV", the media center currently allows for playback of videos and audio while offering more advanced features such as an image gallery, DVD ripping and encoding, CD ripping and encoding, web browsing and weather forecasting. All the time an FTP server and SAMBA server are running in the background to allow you to upload new media and even download ripped media to/ from your Xbox.
The project itself is still only in BETA stages and has been in development for under a month. The release of BETA 4 brings Gentoox and the Media Center together in one package - when installing the Media Center, it will ask for a Gentoox CD and install both in one go. This means you can either boot straight into the media center to watch some movies, or boot into Gentoox to use instant messaging clients/ chat such as GAIM and Xchat (irc). Basically, this turns your Xbox into a complete computer and then some. Remember, the emphasis of the project is on ease of use. There is no messing around trying to set the software up - it works straight out of the box! Just run through the fully automated installer and you'll be up and running in no time... Linux has never been this easy.
"So whats so great about this?", you may think. Legalities. XBMC/ XBMP, while being very good piece of software, are illegal. This is because they have been compiled with illegal, stolen software development kits (XDK) and require illegal, hacked BIOSes to load them. Friendtech Media Center (or MCE for short) only requires a special version of Cromwell to boot. Cromwell, as many know, is a clean implementation of a custom BIOS for the Xbox which was designed specifically for booting Linux and nothing else.
While the software is indeed in its early stages, it is full functional and (hopefully!) unhindered by bugs. The software also comes with a quick and automated rescue feature, so in the unlikely event of something going wrong - you can recover from it without even getting out of your seat to change CDs. MCE has been thoroughly tested by myself, CyKiller and a few other select testers who have all deemed it to be a great step forward. MCE can be operated entirely from a remote control, though a keyboard and Xpad are HIGHLY recommended. Plans include PVR support in the future among other things.
"So what will this cost me?". Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The founder of Friendtech, Paul Hu, has generously decided to give this piece of software away free to the community and it will be shipped as standard with all future Friendtech Bravo Xbox machines and with their DreamX line by customer request.
"Ok, when can I get it?". Current plans schedule the release of BETA 4 for July 31st 2004! Be patient until then, and keep watching Friendtech's Xbox Homepage and here for updates!
Now for some technical information:
* You will need at least a 20GB hdd installed in your Xbox.
* You will need a raincoat flashable modchip/ TSOP with a 256K bank for this to work. (Xenium/ SmartXX will NOT work).
* MCE formats your F: drive COMPLETELY to a Linux recognisable format - it will no longer be FatX and you will no longer be able to backup games to it. If you have anything on F:, BACK IT UP FIRST! The decision to make it Linux Native was based on two factors, legality and speed. Native filesystems are faster than loopbacks and if you are using your Xbox legally, you have no need for F: to be accessible by your standard Xbox software.
* Gentoox will require 3.5-4.5GB of space on E: depending on whether you choose "Home" or "Pro" respectively.
Thats all for now. Please do not contact CyKiller or Friendtech regarding this project, all details will be posted later on their site. If you do have some urgent questions, feel free to contact me via this website.
General Gentoox MCE announcements.
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