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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Eden coming....

Ok so Eden has been announced in the sense of being at 'feature freeze' - from here, if it's not in the main git codebase yet, it won't make it - they will bug fix and then release, with new features now being pushed to Frodo.

The list of what's coming is not wonderfully exciting it's fair to say.  I think this release is about the XBMC devs doing a fair bit of internal work in preparation for big things to come later - although it has to be said the lack of the new AudioEngine in this release (and thus HD sound support) is a big disappointment as for me personally this was the most interesting potential new feature.  That said, it's not really that big a deal, I doubt in my smallish room and at the lower volumes I can watch (thanks to kids) that it will make much practical difference.  So it looks like Frodo (at least) before the PVR, AE, binary add ons.  But hopefully Eden will be a release that brings a lot of stability & polish to the table.

In the end I settled on Openelec RC1 on my Shuttle XS35GT and Openelec RC5 on my ASRock machine.  Why?  Well the NVidia drivers changed in RC2 and there were significant frame drop issues after RC1 with the Shuttle (ION2) hardware.  Most of the RC2->5 changes weren't that functionally important so RC1 is the best solution for the Shuttle right now if smooth video is important to you.

I am looking forward to moving both machines on to Eden though.  I believe a lot of smooth video work has been done by FernetMenta/SwissKnife and I hope that this is going to make it which case hanging on to the old system won't be that important.  Smooth, frame drop free video is the one bit of XBMC that remains noticeably worse than other players (be they popcorn type, or computer) - so it's one area that really needs some attention.

Some interesting things I do see coming:

New built in NFS support and path subsititution features (i.e. you can tell XBMC to look for a particualr directory or file in a different location, so remap videso34db.sql to nfs://user@password/directory/file, for example) should make it easier to set up NFS shares (which are so much quicker than SMB ones, especially with smaller file browsing like viewing photos as the overheads in NFS are much lower than SMB) - and also to make multiple XBMC machines use the same library - you can pathsubstitute the library file rather than using MySQL it seems.  This is good as the MySQL stuff is not beloved of the devs (jmarshall hates it!) - and thus sometimes it breaks - sticking to the inbuilt library support, but moving it to your server instead of the local machine should give the same results as using MySQL in terms of shared libraries/watched ticks etc., but with less overhead and hassle.

Add on support has moved on quite a bit so should be a bit tidier in Eden as well, and it should be easier (with a variety of skins) to add some Add Ons right to the front page - I will be sticking Australian ABC News24 there, for example.

Integration of the files and library view makes a lot of sense, hopefully it works as well as it does in my imagination!  This will stop a lot of people getting confused about the various entry points (i.e. 'videos' being separate to TV and Movies confuses a lot of novice users).

I am hoping the new 'dirty rendering' based GUI rendering will speed up the skin processing on ION2 which is noticeably less smooth than on ION1 (with precisely the same skins and other hardware, e.g. SSDs etc).  ION2 is just not quite as buttery smooth.  Not a big deal, but one would imagine the lower CPU/GPU use would help in this regard.

Now - Openelec is in a funny state right now - post RC5 there has not been much public action and they have two main chains of development running in the background now - one on Dharma heading to the 1.0 release (or RC6 I guess) and a new Eden chain.  It's hard to be that interested in the Dharma Openelec anymore, so I imagine I will be mucking about with the  Eden development version of RC6 and hope to find a quite stable one to settle on around the Eden release.  I will probably also experiment with the Live and/or Freak releases as well as Openelec again, to see which is the nicest/most stable on ION hardware.

It will be an exciting and busy time again, as the releases roll out.  Plenty of posts to come!


  1. Thanks Bossanova808! You've shed some light on the matter for me as I too am running ION2 with Openelec since RC1. I noted initially that it worked extremely well apart from the remote issues but subsequent upgrades have introduced video stuttering that I've been unable to resolve and I thought I was going mad!

    Trying both Eden and Dharma Oct 1st builds tonight so I'll keep you posted.

  2. No problem - definitely interested in how you go in particular with stutters/skips.

    (No remote issues here with a MCE receiver and a Harmony remote - but I leave mine on 24/7 so I haven't tried suspend etc).

  3. The remote issues related to the double bouncing that I think they got on top off around RC4.

    I tried ION.x86_64-devel-20111001202505-r7957 tonight and the video stuttering was still the same and then EDEN-ION.x86_64-devel-20111001215726-r8387 and video does seem a little better even though it's running an older nVidia driver than the Dharma version. I have two 4GB SSD's that I just swap in and out of my Zbox when I get some free time.

    P.S Dirty rendering invoked on the Eden build.

    Can you advise where you tweak the NFS shares to relocate the databases? I've used the MySQL method before but would be keen just to point the database to a NFS share.

  4. Hem, i can't find where to download the openelec RC1, i have XS35GT too, can you help me?

  5. I had it on a USB stick (found ti by accident when a dev. version post RC5 hosed my install and I was trying to restore!). You probably have to get on the forums and see if anyone has the .zip around. I can always post the system/kernel files toa dropbox if required I suppose, can probably dig them up again.

  6. Never had double bouncing but it probably varies a lot by remote.

    I am not surprised by your results, I think the newer nvidia drivers are buggy and that's the RC2+ change that buggered smoothness so if older drivers are being used I expect better results. The FernetMenta work is supposed to iron out the final kinks, and I presume it's being done with the newer drivers so when that goes mainline (I *hope* for Eden) - then I will be back on board with updating. But for me I want smoothness before all the wizz bang stuff, XBMC's basic video playing has to be all cool before I care about anything else, really.

  7. thx for info, i think i found it there :

  8. Yep that looks like it - well found. It''s definitely the best version on ION2 for smoothness. It doesn't have a fix for TrueHD remapping that means some files play without vocals though, which is the only thing I really miss from RC2 to 5. I note RC7 came out last night and there is no mention of smoother video/driver changes I think. So I am sticking with RC1 on my shuttle but will most likely try RC7 on my ASRock.

  9. Bossanova808. Can you clarify whether a SQL database is still required for the library if we now redirect it to a NFS share using path substitution? There seems to be a lot of talk about redirecting the thumbnails but I'd like to centralise everything.

    I've done it with SQL in the past but as I only had one XBMC instance I never went live. Now that I have XBMC on an ATV2, I'm keen to create a centralised library.

    Any assistance or advise would be greatly appreciated.



  10. Hi Pete

    It seems that sqllite is no good for multiple access uses so MySQL qill still be required if you want to share the DB to multiple client machines. The path substitution should be fine for thumbnails, but I wouldn't do it for the database.

    MySQL is pretty easy and the shared library then works a treat, so it's worth the effort. There's active work on the MySQL side on git, so it's clearly going to be supported going forward, I presume until such a time as sqllite offers concurrency safety.

  11. Thanks. I have a Synology NAS with integrated SQL so I simply used that in the past following your excellent guide.

    Will give it another crack.

  12. Bossanova, have you had any luck with the jitter issue on your XS35GT? I have the same issue and have done like you and rolled back to RC1. RC1 causes me issues with double clicks on my remote and also issues with some scripts (mainly Grooveshark)that have been resolved with later releases. I'm like you in that I can't stand playback issues.

  13. There's no real solution at the moment. There's jitter with ALL current live type xbmc solutions basically. It's irritating as there are lots of fixes in the later Openelecs that I would like too. But the jitter is worse, so there I am stuck.

    A user called breeeZe on the Openelec forums was talking of doing a 1.0.2 build but with the old nvidia drivers (the enw drivers add the jitter) so that is one option. but seems to have stalled. FernetMenta is doing a lot of video refactoring for Eden I believe, and I am hopeful therefore ION will be a lot smoother with Eden, certainly FM is aware of the problem and working on it. So unless 1.0.2 with old nvidia drivers turns up, I will be waiting on Eden and seeing how that goes....

  14. Hi Bossanova808,

    I have been living with the dreadful jitter, how can I roll back to the RC1 version?

    Is it just a case of copying the KERNEL and SYSTEM files into the .update folder and rebooting?

    I can;t seem to find these files in the link in the comments here; appreciate any help you can offer :)

  15. Yep that's that way - basically you need a working RC1 zip (there are a few links posted in the openelec forums) and then you can extract that to get K and Sy files, pop them in, reboot and you're done.

    I am on holidays so limited internet, can't test a link for you but just have a poke around or ask on those forums.

  16. i think this is the link you are looking for