I just set up a new Home Theater PC this weekend. I was actually just going to use XBMC, which is what I would normally use for just such a task, but I saw the link to "Boxee" on the xbmc.org website and curiosity got the better of me. I'm really glad I decided to check it out.
Let me back up a little bit, though. For the HTPC, I dusted off my old AMD machine (I believe it's an Athlon XP 1500+ 1333MHz), which has an old ATI All-in-Wonder 9600 Pro video card. It has, between its two internal HDDs, approximately 370GB of storage, which will mostly go unused since all of the data is stored on our file server or streamed from the internet. Since the ATI card doesn't support any HD outputs, I only have standard definition going for now. I guess that will be something for when I upgrade the HTPC, but for now it's fine as it is.
So I went with OpenGEU (Linux) for the base operating system, for no reason in particular, just on a whim. I figured on the rare occasion that I do switch out of the Boxee interface to use the standard GUI, it's a nice one to show off on my TV (OpenGEU uses Enlightenment DR17). Well I installed Boxee and had to play around with Xorg's display (resolution) settings and Boxee's own resolution settings for a while before I could get it displaying correctly on my TV. Apparently, and I think this may have something to do with the TV, I had to independently set the Xorg and Boxee resolutions in order for the display to fit the actual size of the TV's screen. Xorg is set to 800x600, while the Boxee settings are 640x480, yet the TV is displaying in 480i 16:9.
Moving on now to Boxee itself, as I said I have never used it for HTPC setups before. Normally, XBMC is my primary choice. Now, before you say it, Boxee is based on XBMC, but adds a whole lot of new functionality to it in the form of pluggable "applications", which are basically channels you can add or remove according to your tastes, thereby customizing your content completely (in addition to your personal collection of media files). These applications are essentially just RSS feeds that point Boxee to online content. These will serve up media content, not a typical text feed, such as videos, music, pictures. There is also support for services such as Last.fm and Pandora, as well as your Netflix and even podcasts. Boxee even connects you with your peeps via popular social networks like Twitter, FriendFeed, etc. Just when you thought it couldn't get any better, there is an app available for for iPhone/iPod Touch to allow you to remotely control your Boxee, no server-side setup required and the app also automatically finds your Boxee server. I just so happen to have an iPod Touch, so it now serves the purpose of being my Boxee remote. Awesome.
I'll stop rambling on now, but just keep this in mind: if you ever decide you want to set up a media server/home theater PC, check out Boxee (www.boxee.tv). It's available for other operating systems, though I haven't tested it on any other system, and honestly I don't know why you would want to run anything other than Linux for a server anyway.
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