SlashGear Exclusive – Interview with GeeXboX

Oct 30, 2006

Can you think of a media centre OS that requires no installation, is in many cases plug'n'play, and can be used as simply as dropping a CD into an otherwise bog-standard PC? Having trouble? Well, welcome to the world of GeeXboX.

GeeXboX is a so-called Live CD; that is, a CD that contains an entire OS which runs without needing any installation to a connected hard drive. In this case, the OS is very much media specific, whether that be simply playing DVDs, video and audio files downloaded from the internet, scheduling and watching recordings of live TV and more. Yesterday, SlashGear sat down to talk with Benjamin Zores, one of the core developers of GeeXboX Embedded Linux for HTPC

Check out the interview after the cut...

SlashGear: Tell us about GeeXBoX.

Benjamin Zores: GeeXBoX is an embedded Linux distribution available as a form of LiveCD for both x86 and PowerPC based computers It aims at providing people a very easy to setup HTPC capable of reading nearly every kind of video format or codecs from nearly any kind of sources (plain files from CD, HDD, USB, but also network content from Samba or NFS shares or from UPnP or SHOUTcast media servers) It can also be used to watch analog or digital TV provided you got such a card Being an embedded LiveCD, it focuses on some specific features : no installation is required, you don't have to install or add anything else to use it and it provides a user-friendly interface that makes it usable by people who don't have any computer related skills (i.e being as easy to use as a regular DVD player). Considering that, GeeXBoX provides support for nearly any kind of hardware with an automatic device detection and configuration and allows being used to watch movies on TV Out and being controlled with a simple remote control only. And whatever its name tends to say, it has absolutely nothing to do with Microsoft XboX :)

SlashGear: What multimedia decoding does GeeXBoX support?

Benjamin Zores: nearly every kind of container and codec that may exists so basically any one that is supported by MPlayer and FFMpeg projects. which are: MPEG 1/2/4, H.264, Quicktime (through Win32 DLLs), WMA/WMV (through Win32 DLLs and natively in next version), VP5/6 (through DLLs and natively in next one)

SlashGear: Any issue with GPL to includes certain decoder into the distro itself?

Benjamin Zores: not really as all of our decoders are free codecs but some may however require using the Win32 DLLs for being decoded To solve this problem, we've made a Linux/Win32/MacOSX GUI that is called generator It is used to generate customized versions of GeeXBoX where you can add extra non-free codecs/firmwares to the iso (but then it's user choice) So basically we provide a 100% GPL compliant free software but user may want to add extra bloat to it

GeeXboX screenshot

SlashGear: How is the hardware support for GeeXBoX? especially remote control and IR support.

Benjamin Zores: We've included a built-in support for nearly every kind of h/w stuff (i.e all video cards, soundcards, tv/dvb cards, network and wifi cards) Some wifi cards however require a proprietary firmware to work and once again user has to add it personally through generator to use it about remotes there's more work. we use a software called LIRC (Linux InfraRed) which is an API for many remote, so any kind of remote supported by LIRC (+- 2000) can be supported by GeeXBoX but people has to make it's own key bindings. from now on, we only provide bindings for 10-15 remotes, such as ATI Remote Wonder 1 and 2, Windows MCE one and so on. the remote has to be chosen from generator

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