• Launchpad Entry: multimedia-arm-n-set-top-box

  • Created: 2010-10-22

  • Contributors: Emmet Hikory, Ricardo Salveti

  • Packages affected: livecd-rootfs, debian-cd, ubuntu-cdimage, ubuntu-qa-tools


Create an image or at least a task for armel set-top boxes that provides for a rich multimedia experience to a connected HDMI display. Include support for remote controls, broadcast and cable tuners, analog video sources, etc.

Release Note

Ubuntu now deliver proper software packages for installation on ARM set-top boxes.


With boards like Pandaboard now easily available, there's a demand to use it as a set-top box, and we should make sure Ubuntu is the best operating system to install on them.

User stories

  • Alice buys a new set-top box with an ARM processor, and installs Ubuntu over the provided consumer entertainment OS.
  • Bob works for a set-top box manufacturer, and preinstalls Ubuntu on shipping devices.


  • The supported software should be compatible with gstreamer, as it's the main multimedia tool to do the video and audio playback.


  • Investigate available gstreamer compatible media solutions
  • Choose the best one (features x performance)
  • Check if Mythbuntu could be an option
  • Create a set-top box task
  • Test
  • Fix Bugs


Detailed implementation is probably 1000 tiny things. The big stuff is just standard enablement of a flavour on an architecture. There is likely to be a fair amount of arch-specific optimisation in various packages that may need the development of parallel armel routines (which are likely to be appreciated upstream).

Test/Demo Plan

Demo is putting a Panda/Bamboo unit with IR input on top of a television and using it as an entertainment device.

If Mythbuntu is capable to hand the requirements, test it regularly with milestones testing of Mythbuntu for the Panda/Bamboo.

Unresolved issues

  • Installation on commercial hardware
  • Integration with a production process

BoF agenda and discussion

  • Are enough folk excited enough to make this work?
  • What is a good Remote Control?
  • Try to determine what is completely broken (vs. potentially buggy)

It makes no sense to use something unaccelerated.

Strong desire to use something gstreamer-based rather than mythtv.

We will define a new media-centre flavor only for arm.

Remote controls via bluetooth or IR

video play
media library
remote control UI
hardware acceleration
remote filesystem support
recording is target of opportunity
don't worry about youtube, but nice if it works

Media Solutions

  • MythTV: mature, using FFmpeg but best it can do is to use NEON optimizations. UI scheme is also quite heavy, probably not enough for Beagle and Panda.

  • Freevo: heavy, and no accelerated UI. Uses mplayer, xine or VLC, and none currently delivers HW acceleration besides NEON support.

  • entertainer: python based, supports Gstreamer and OpenGL, as it uses Clutter, but currently unmaintained.

  • moovida: python based, supports Gstreamer but not well maintained anymore (basically windows now).

  • canola: python based, with ELF (can be accelerated with OpenGL ES), not well supported with keyboard only and not maintained anymore.


Specs/ArmelSetTopBox (last edited 2011-02-24 03:11:20 by rsalveti)