Posted by: ben | March 4, 2009

February 2009 Progress Report

So, what happened in the GeeXboX world since FOSDEM and the beginning of 2009. As you all may have seen, the 1.2 (and even 1.2.1) release finally landed out. It was a big relief and seems to please a lot of people from now on. In the mean time, we’ve upgraded major GeeXboX components, namely Linux kernel and X.Org and the development tree is now a really big mess (a.k.a. everything crashes so bad we don’t even know where to look for). The Linux graphics parts is currently evolving quite fast and most of drivers are being completely rewritted, resulting in a lot of issues. Though, we’ll try to fix it ASAP, especially now that Enna has been included in GeeXboX as new default UI, in order to provide you very soon with the very first 2.0-alpha release.

For video decoding fans, it is good to know that MPlayer now natively supports VDPAU, the h/w video decoding framework from nVidia. When used with the adequate nVidia proprietary drivers for X.Org, it is now possible to make MPEG-1/2/4, H.264 and VC-1 video decoding done by your GPU. It is not yet included in GeeXboX, as it relies on the non-redistribuable  proprietary driver but we’re considering a way to optionally add it afterwards. In the mean time, an experimental branch of FFMpeg is available, which provides multi-threading support. This is a much more elegant solution that actually finally allows you to use more than 1 thread (or CPU core) at a time for video decoding. On my Intel Q6600, using the 4 cores actually provides a 3x faster decoding speed, which is simply awesome. This has not yet been included into GeeXboX but it’ll definitely be part of the next alpha release.

And now comes the most interesting part: news from Enna. Most of our time and resources are currently wasted on Enna, our next-gen UI. Nico recently did a lot of work on it in order to both simplify the code and fasten it quite a bit. On my side, I’ve just finished adding a new weather module, that makes use of Google Weather Web API to provide you weather forecast (up to 4 days). But the following screenshot is probably better for you to see the newly added stuff:

weather2

Davide, on his side has started working on Enna for the very first time and he already manage to create a new games module that looks for all games installed to your Linux desktop and allows you to start them out from Enna interface. Being our DVB/VDR guru, Davide is also working on a new TV module for Enna that would allow Enna to directly use VDR (VideoDisk Recorder) to grab and display DVB streams (with recording capabilities) but it’s a long time plan, and still far from being completed.

The major contribution from these last days probably comes from Mat, who introduces a new component called libvalhalla that actually is an ultra-fast multi-threaded media scanner library that extracts metadata from all of your audio files (through FFMpeg libs) and save them back to an SQLite database. He of course also wrote the Enna browser plugin that makes use of libvalhalla allowing user to browse his media library by different criterias such as artist, album and so on …

Pretty good, isn’t it ? Now I feel that you’re all eager to test out the alpha release :p So let’s get back to the code and try to fix it so that we can provide it to you whenever it’s possible :-)

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