Created: 2006-04-19 by Sébastien GRIPON
Contributors: Sébastien GRIPON, UbuntuMediaCenterTeam
Interested: Alan Rae, Benjamin Guillet
Note: This project is now supported by the Ubuntu Media Center team. Check this page for more details: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UbuntuMediaCenterTeam
This document is only kept for the comments
Ubuntu should integrate a powerful and fully integrated Media Center.
One of the crucial stakes of future desktop PC is its ability to bring the convergence for all media available at home : TV, movies, music and pictures, but also Radio, News (RSS...), Video On Demand, Music on Demand... And all of this available with a "Powered by Ubuntu" remote control.
This is an essential issue if Ubuntu wants to be a popular OS.
- A user installs a "Ubuntu Media Center" distribution. Media Center packages are installed automatically, configuration is done during the system installation process : media files places (movies, music...), hardware configuration (TV tuner, remote control...). When the system boots, the Media Center is automatically launched (To be defined : maybe two different entries in Grub can be used to launch directly the media center or not).
- A user launches a "Ubuntu Media Center Live CD".
- A user has a standard Ubuntu installed. He wants to move to "Ubuntu Media Center" : additional packages are installed and configuration is done after package installation.
Although there are many existing projects, we will develop ubuntu-media-center from scratch in order to provide a fully integrated software easy to install, configure and use.
Development should follow these steps
- Writing of the complete design of ubuntu-media-center
- Media center screen designer. A software used to design screens for the media center. The designer generates XML files which are parsed by the media-center-kernel to display the screen.
- Implementation of the Media Center control panel. Settings will be defined in the project specification. The development of the control panel includes the definition of a settings file and an API to retreive these settings.
Media_Center_kernel. This includes the display management, an API for extension modules, keyboard, mouse and remote controle management, themes management and extension modules management.
- Implementation of extension modules. The first release of ubuntu-media-center should provide mandatory modules : TV, Radio, Music and Video. Each module is described in a separated specification and has to respect the API defined in the project specification.
- Implementation of the "Ubuntu Media Center" installation disc. The installation will be quiet different from the standard one: the remote control has to be configured during installation in order to be fully fonctional at the first launch. Settings available in the control panel should be configured during installation.
What we need :
- A good remote control:
- We could design a new remote control and study the possibility to manufacture it. This option ensure that the remote controle will be the best one for ubuntu-media-center. (To be discussed)
- Additionaly, we have to support a lot of existing remote controls (those who are supported by lirc at least) and provide a mean to easily configure it to work the best with ubuntu-media-center.
- media-center-control-panel: a control panel in the gnome System menu used to configure the media center : media file places, remote control...
- media-center-kernel: the kernel for our system manages the display, themes, colors, bitmaps, user interaction (remote control, keyboard, mouse, maybe touchscreen), initialization, de-initializations...
- media-center modules: each feature is part of one module independant from the kernel. Mandatory modules are TV, Radio, Movies and Music. Additional modules can be developped: RSS reader, integrated web browser, Video-on-Demand...
Once the API of the kernel is perfectly defined, it is easy to develop modules in parallel.
Data preservation and migration
You can add here your proper feature request :
- Video player. Syndicated content, movies and entertainment comes in all ranges of video formats. There is no player that handles all of them, and in some cases (wmv, mpeg4 etc) you have to try several players to find one that plays it well -- the default handler is not always good enough. [When a media player is not good enough, it's not usable at all. No one watches a whole movie if the image is flickering or the sound is 1 sec async.] -- Engla
Derick_eisenhardt: Codecs will definitely be the main brickwall standing in the way of this project. I suppose you could install Easy Ubuntu or something and let the user optionally install the questionably legal ones but it's still iffy, and it still doesn't offer a completely "Just Works"/Out of the box experience, which is bad for new/average users. The lack of a completely legal DVD player will probably be the biggest thing people will notice, as for MythTV, we can always use free codecs
VLC is a good all around media player. It plays most formats I've encountered. There is also a server component for streaming content to other hosts (on the internet, or on your internal network). See http://www.videolan.org/vlc/features.html for a list of support codecs. -- MatthewIsaacs 2006-04-29 03:26:43
Derick_eisenhardt: VLC is my favorite player too, but it doesn't handle the newer Windows Media files very well at all, and unfortunately it's quickly becoming the defacto standard on the internet
I would like to see something that has a half-decent playlist component. Something I love about WinAmp on Windows is the ability to right-click and append files to the playlist straight from Windows Explorer without disturbing anything that's playing. It's also possible to just drag them in. I reckon it should be possible to do that on Ubuntu too to maximise usability. -- AlanRae 2006-05-02 21:26:05
Although a special remote control would be nice a lot of remote controls can already be used on Ubuntu (through LIRC) -- WaltherZwart
I suggest looking at elisa: "Elisa is an open-source Media-Center developed in Python, moreover it heavily relies on the Gstreamer multimedia framework and uses OpenGL API so as to take full advantage of nowadays graphical hardware." https://core.fluendo.com/elisa/trac -- sklp 2006-05-25 12:31:00
I think it would be more valuable to put more effort into incorporating MythTV and it's plugins easy to install. Perhaps you could do an automated install where you answer a few questions about your location etc, and you get a fully functioning Myth under Ubuntu. That is something I would go for in a heartbeat. I realise myth is in the repos but the setup is so outrageously difficult at the moment, that I'm sure it puts a great number of people off - backends, frontends, lirc, etc - This is stuff no user wants to know about. I realise codecs would clash with the Ubuntu philosophy but I see no reason you couldn't record directly into vorbis for audio and theora for video. For other codecs, users could add some repos and they are done. It would be incredible if you could have a fully functional media center with TV and EPG in less than an hour. If someone sets it up, I will gladly host EPG data for the system. I know about knoppmyth and fedoramyth but they haven't cracked it yet. They are still dealing with a lot of setup stuff that users don't want to know about. The Ubuntu way of simplifying things in an elegant way while maintaining full functionality is what is needed to get this working right. [DaBrickbat]
- Derick_eisenhardt: I agree, a super simple and easy install of MythTV is a must for a project like this to have any possible chance of going anywhere. In my opinion it should be preinstalled and configured so it's ready to use as soon as you boot up the first time. The vast majority of possible users will primarily be wanting to build a DIY Tivo/DVD player, so these two features should be put at the highest priority.
Sergey Smirnov: Will be great to have Mediacenter, wich controlled by a device with a screen. It will show current state of Mediacenter, playing track, thumb of image or video, peace of controlled desktop (Master of puppets project). For me working Bemused - now I have remote control of xmms for music and video with my S60 smartphone in all my flat by bluetooth. Bemused have also java clients, wich can give chance to any modern mobile phone to be remote control of Mediacenter. Bluetooth have advantages above infrared: range > 5M, speed and it works right now with working bluetooth and almost every mobile phone, client have skins for Ubuntu branding. It would be greate to have working Mediacenter with Bemused and connected medialib, for example MPD. MPD working as a daemod and don't connected to user session - give chance to switch between users without stop playing music.
Andy Lee: I strongly agree with the idea, Computers will become the digital hub of peoples homes. I wouldn’t want to see a forked distro to provide this as I believe that a “Ubuntu Media Centre” application (in the default install) will be a necessity once Vista Releases. I also strongly doubt that you will see a Ubuntu remote control, rather we will have “hack” support for the existing market leaders (Microsoft MCE, Hauppauge, etc). IMO the starting point would be to ensure native support for all those DVB-T, DVB-S, DVB-C and analog TV Cards which the http://www.linuxtv.org/ boys have produced. (We would also need to kick start the DVB API v4 project again as it seems to have died )
DonSmith: Mythtv is really a great pvr, However the difficulty installing it slows down adoption. Also the fact that they basically include ffmpeg is probably a legal nightmare. The problem with elisa is that they're starting from scratch, gstreamer makes it more legally appealing, but as far as I know, they have no backend process. As for a digital hub, my ideal solution would be to buy a single box that is my wireless router, pvr, home server (including email, web, and dyndns), playstation, photo storage, music storage, etc.... All of this is currently possible, the problem is that it will take over a week to setup, fulltime. That's unacceptable. Without a backend process, elisa has little hope of providing all the functionality necessary, and myth on the other pole is too complicated.
BoF agenda and discussion