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back to article Ubuntu penguins build Linux TV challenge

Open-sourcers are taking Ubuntu Linux in the direction of Google TV and Microsoft's Xbox 360. A list of priorities for something called Ubuntu TV have been thrashed out by Ubuntu developers with the blessing of Mark Shuttleworth. The Ubuntu daddy has corralled the points here. "Good to see the level of interest in a TV …

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A wheel not in need of reinvention

XMBC and it's derivatives - openELEC, Boxee et al are already well all over linux-on-the-telly. I can share painlessly to and from my XBMC-running media centre using existing protocols like UPnP and DLNA and so on - not just devices running Ubuntu. Remote control is achieved for me with a wiimote and bluetooth - but I could easily use my phone or a web browser or an iDevice. I'm sure someone could port OpenKinect's output to being XMBC friendly, it's hardly difficult as XBMC is so well put together.

Even the drooling fanboists at omgubuntu barely got excited over this latest Shuttleworth announcement.

Full disclosure: I've used Ubuntu on and off since it launched, and today 50% of my computers run Ubuntu - including the media centre - the rest are on Debian.

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And don't forget...

There are countless others, as well. MythTV, LinuxMCE, Freevo, and lots of options for roll-your-own. Unless this is taking existing technology and putting it directly into a TV... it's not going to be worth it.

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Anonymous Coward

"A wheel not in need of reinvention"

Yes, but Marky Mark would like for you to assign copyright to him. (see their contributor agreement)

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Which

The copyright assignment doesn't exist anymore. It's now a more FSF happy duel licensing agreement.

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Headmaster

"duel licensing agreement"

So that's pistols at dawn; survivor gets the rights.

Or did you mean 'dual licensing agreement'?

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Linux

Agree.

I have OpenELEC and XBMC running on 4 TVs in my house, the only thing really missing is a backend server running a 4-tuner PVR, but they are working on the PVR side of XBMC, so hopefully soon I'll be able to fill in the missing piece.

Running a full OS on a TV is silly; "Hold on family, I need to check my email in front of all of you really quick." Maybe in Ubuntu's universe their in-box isn't filled with penis enlargement spam.

"I know you were watching Simpsons, and I'm gonna let you finish, but...."

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Gotta agree with #1 - the XBMC rocks. I used it years ago on an aged Xbox1 - Revisited it during the summer with an old PC - its a fantastic product.

As to controller - no more than up, down right and back can control an XBMC console.

That remote in the link looked scary

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yeah, that was a scary looking remote. I just flung a load of checkboxes in a table on an orange rectangle, I paid no attention to the number of boxes I was putting on it, please don't think it means anything, it was just done to encourage others to do it properly.

XBMC looks quite nice, it might well end up being based on that. XBMC isn't in Debian yet, which might be a bit of an issue, but as long as it can be packaged and builds on ARM it is a strong candidate for something on which to implement the design.

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There's a ppa currently hosting builds for lpia, amd64 and x86, but XMBC has built on ARM for a few years now.

You'd be pretty crazy to not base a TV project on it, to be honest. That'd be like trying to create an apt-based distro not based on Debian. Even if you ditch all the (rather nice) UI, you want the video and pvr handling - XMBC plays more video formats than almost anything I've seen.

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Trollface

This is going to suck

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"Linux already powers a TV from Sony, the Bravia"

That's quite an understatement.

Most of the current crop of "connected TVs" run a Linux kernel with a custom stack on top (certainly, those from Samsung and Toshiba do). Somewhere in the user guide or on-screen menus you'll find a copy of the GPL licence which confirms this.

Most set-top boxes made in recent years also run a Linux kernel.

Though the OSs on these STBs and TVs aren't the same as Ubuntu or whatever in that they're not full-blown distros - rather a Linux kernel, most likely Busybox utilities, drivers for the manufacturer's hardware, and whatever custom middleware and GUI stack the manufacturer is using.

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Anonymous Coward

Linux already powers a TV from Sony, the Bravia...

Actually, only for the last few years; not the earlier ones. And only bits of the telly; there's more than one CPU in your typical TV.

...but yes, there's certainly enough Linux in there to cause my TV to take 20 seconds to switch on!!! Using Linux also means that you can employ people with poorer software skills and an incomplete appreciation of what an embedded system is and how reliable it should be, which also explains why my TV crashes quite a bit and the EPG behaves erratically quite often.

My Blu-Ray recorder is even worse; that takes about a minute and a half from hitting the "on" button. WHY would anyone think this is acceptable?

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Bronze badge
Holmes

You might not like what this guy is saying , but admit it, it's true. Companies do not choose Linux because it is uniquely suited to embedded systems, they choose it because it is free (and not free as in open source either) and you can hire programmers relatively cheaply. And many don't care about or understand the restraints of embedded systems.

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Anonymous Coward

More Tellies?

Is this all anyone can come up with?

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Silver badge

To be honest...

I think that Unity is much more suited to be shown on a television rather than a large monitor.

It may be that this was the plan all along, forget the computer/monitor set up and aim for the mobile/entertainment stuff instead. If so Canonical seem to have achieved their aim of shifting people off using Ubuntu on their computers, just look at the stats on Distrowatch to see people voting with their feet and shifting to Linux Mint and other distros instead.

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Facepalm

Probably not a bad idea to put Unity on the TV...

...since folks in Ubuntu's previous main market - desktop Linux users - are, in their myriads, running away from Unity towards Linux Mint and Debian.

What was intended by Canonical as a bright new direction has become a desperate last roll of the dice.

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Silver badge

Just missing one feature ...

... it doesn't appear to contain a TV tuner.

Though I suppose if someone was to go into pedant mode (on El Reg, surely not) and analyse the Latin root of the phrase the ability to receive TV signals could be argued to be superfluous. Having said that, both my (real) TV and my DM run on Linux - so calling this tablet/media-player a TV is rather misleading

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Anonymous Coward

That TV-tuner is unfortunately a controversial feature. If you also add decryption using a valid subscription with a card-reader and a hardware-CAM you'll have TV operators (cable, terrestrial, satellite) screaming bloody murder. Seems they want to maintain their STB-monopoly at any cost and keep insisting that anyone using an "unauthorised" receiver is a pirate.

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err, that isn't a real design

um, gosh. OK, so here is the actual story. Yes, there is a plan to put Ubuntu on the smart TV platform, specifically some of the unity concepts. I was working on an export filter for a rather cool Firefox extension called Pencil so some *actual designers* could do some storyboarding and concept designs for it using Free Software rather than proprietary stuff. In order to explain to the *real designers* what the storyboarding output might look like I threw together some images in about 5 minutes based on my own desktop. This isn't a design for Ubuntu TV, it is a demo output of a storyboarding tool.

Sorry for the confusion, but if anyone wants to sketch out their thoughts then instructions are here https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UbuntuTV/Designs/Pencil

and you can add your stuff to the concept gallery here https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UbuntuTV/Designs

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FAIL

But

It's amusing to see the comments Alan. Worth it just for those.

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"That TV-tuner is unfortunately a controversial feature. If you also add decryption using a valid subscription with a card-reader and a hardware-CAM you'll have TV operators (cable, terrestrial, satellite) screaming bloody murder. Seems they want to maintain their STB-monopoly at any cost and keep insisting that anyone using an "unauthorised" receiver is a pirate"

Not in the US. I'm sure there are other countries were this is true to.

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Silver badge

What we really want

is to keep the screens relatively dumb and use a server properly, probaably with lightpeak 100m optic fibre rather than 3m copper thunderbolt.

And a nice multicore ARM server for the home.

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Isn't it called Mythbuntu?

As has been pointed out above, this is simply reinventing the wheel and largely pointless.

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Changing Netflix to suit the Wii

When Netflix decided to be a TV delivery system, and accomodated not only the Xbox, PS3, and the, finally the Wii, it changed its user interface for a Wii remote.

It became completely unusable for me. I had, of course, been using a laptop connected to my TV for many years, and streaming Internet content and Netflix for years and years before "Internet TV" was invented. I had a wireless remote for my laptop -- voila!

Now, the netflix interface is nearly incomprehensible and useless for everyday usage, including on the devices it has become oriented to.

The problem is that if Ubuntu is trying to do the same thing, its interface becomes equally unusable for regular computer users.

I finally quit Netflix 2 months ago completely -- their UI changes were the last straw (on top of a 4-fold price increase).

Ubuntu needs to be careful. It is positioning itself into a small niche of mobile devices, and will end up being nothing more than that.

I've used Kubuntu instead of Ubuntu for years and years, and with Unity do not even download trial versions of Ubuntu anymore. I've had full TV interface (and even whole-house automation using LinuxMCE ( MythTV and XBMC can do the multimedia/TV part, too ) for over 4 years.

"Inventing" UbuntuTV? Oh brother.

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