GeeXboX 0.98.6 review

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The GeeXboX is no more than an awesome standalone media player.

License: Freeware
OS: Mac OS X
File size: 10436K
Developer: Benjamin Zores
Price: $0.00
Updated: 18 Aug 2005
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The GeeXboX is no more than an awesome standalone media player. Why such a name ? Well, its main purpose is to play DivX movies and, as everybody usually call this kind of projects DivX boxes, we'll just prepended a "GeeX", cause that's for the geeks you all are ;-)

So, GeeXboX is a full operating system, running under Linux and based on the excellent MPlayer. No need for a hard drive, you just have to put the GeeXboX bootable CD into the CD-Drive of any Pentium-class computer to boot it. Moreover, GeeXboX is free software, created as open-source software. This means that everyone can modify it and build his own release of the GeeXboX.

You may wonder why you should have to boot another operating system to play your media files, but just think about the Mini-ITX platforms like VIA Epia/Eden or Shuttle barebones. It's now affordable to bring DivX to your home cinema, plugging this kind of computer directly to your TV !!

At the time of the first development releases (Dec. 2002), it was only capable of playing DivX movies, but now, nearly every kind of media file can be played with GeeXboX, with the OS supporting :

MPEG 1/2 movies (MPG files, VCDs, DVDs ...)
MPEG 4 movies (DivX, XviD ...)
RealMedia and Windows Media movies.
OggMedia streams
Matroska streams
Audio streams like : MP3, Ogg/Vorbis, WAV (AudioCD), AC3 ...

GeeXboX is an operating system but you still need something to boot on ;-) You're lucky, GeeXboX is based on MPlayer, which can be considered as one of the less cpu-dependent movie players, thanks to the use of FFMpeg for decoding movies.

What's New:
System :

Support for the PowerPC (MAC) architecture.
Linux updated to version.
Use of UDEV to automatically populate the /dev directory.
Remove of the now useless SuperMount patch.
Use IDE CD driver instead of the old ide-scsi emulation layer.
Support for CPU frequency scaling for supported CPU (generally laptops) to minimize power consumption.
Use LZMA algorithm instead of gZip for compressing iso (far slighter).
New HotPlug script : hot autodiscovery and mount/removal of external devices.
Reduce CD drives spin to 8x each time a disc is inserted in (previous versions did it for boot media only).

Toolchain :

Complete rework of the sources tree (splitted init.d scripts and patches now are in package's directory, allowing a successfull build of old versions).
Toolchain can now build distribution for different architectures.
Toolchain can now optimize distribution compilation for specific CPU.

Player :

Updated MPlayer to 1.0pre7 (support for H.264 video and AAC audio codecs).
Can play IFO files from disk to read complete DVD structure.
Keep current path in OSD after the end of a file (no more need to do a complete browse each time you play a file).
Use cvidix video output mode instead of vesa:vidix by default.
Support for radio cards.
Support for FLAC files.
Support for MusePack codec (.mpc files).
Avoid some crashes when pausing/resuming a movie with remote control.

Audio :

ALSA drivers ported to 1.0.9b
Fix some SPDIF configuration problems.
No more need to force sound rate for reluctant sound cards.
Can choose which soundcard to use (default is #0), output mode (SPDIF or Analog) and AC3/DTS decompression method (Hardware or Software) through the ISO generator.
Added drivers for Emu10k1X chipsets, SB Audigy LS and SB Live! 24bit cards.
Fix some ALSA bug with Nforce2 chipsets.
Support for Intel High Definition Audio (Azalia) chipsets.

Video :

Removed buggy Savage vidix driver (works fine using VESA).
Fix vidix support for some Rage128 / Radeon cards.
More chipsets supported by atitvout : Mobile M3, Radeon Mobility, Radeon Mobility 9, RV200.

Drivers :

Support for QStor SATA controllers.
Use GPL'd RT2500 driver instead of Ralink one.
Support for CX88 analog TV chipsets (BT8xx successor).
Support for in-built multi-LUN X-in-1 card readers.
Support for XboX gamepads.

Networking :

Security fix : FTP / Telnet / HTTP services (anonymous root) are closed by default : use generator to open requested ones.
Support for the CIFS protocol.
Can setup network and Samba configuration directly through installator.
Samba updated to 3.0.14a.
Can manually set DNS server to use.
Faster Samba shares mount (parallelize mount processes for multiple servers).

Internationalization :

Use TrueType fonts for subtitles.
Use UTF-8 as default charset.
Support for different charsets for menu and subtitles.

Miscellaneous :

LIRC updated to 0.7.2.
Support for the DigiMatrix remote controller.
New FLTK graphical ISO generator for both Win32 and Linux.
Added analog TV channels scanner in installator.
Added HTTP server for remote Web management of GeeXboX : web designers are fully welcomed to build the Web interface.
Non-free codecs package is now directly available on our server.

x86 Pentium-Class CPU or above (P2-400 should be quite enough) or Macintosh G3 (G4 highly recommended)
a VESA 2.0 compliant graphics card.
an ALSA compatible sound card.
at least 64 MB of RAM
CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive
Motherboard which supports booting on CD-ROM (should be ok for everyone ;-)
Keyboard, Joystick or Remote Controller, using a Lirc-compatible IR (InfraRed) receiver (check to build yours), e.g. Miro PcTV's one or ATI Remote Wonder.

GeeXboX 0.98.6 keywords