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Screenshot Tour: XBMC 11 Eden Rocks Improved iOS Support, AirPlay, and Even a Custom XBMC OS

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XBMC, the wildly popular, free, and robust open-source media center suite, has a new version. XBMC 11 Eden is bursting with new features, improvements, and is even available as a stand-alone XBMC-centric OS.

We’re big XBMC fans around here, so you’ll have to excuse us if we gush a little about how great the new XBMC 11 Eden release is. If you’re currently on XBMC 10, you’re in for quite a few treats with this upgrade. If you’ve never used XBMC before, well then, you’re in for a media center experience like you’ve never had one before. Here is what’s new in XBMC 11.

Overhauled Default Skin Is More User Friendly Than Ever

Confluence has been the default skin for XBMC for some time now and in XBMC 10.0 was already a pretty polished skin. Unfortunately when they rolled out improved add-on integration with the last major release of XBMC, it became apparent that accessing add-ons through Confluence was kludgy and counter intuitive. The version of Confluence bundled with XBMC 11 integrated seamlessly with add-ons. The design team rearranged the menu bars on a horizontal axis instead of a vertical one and then did a fantastic job using the space above and below the cnetrla menu bar to display information.

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You can, for example, tuck add-ons directly into the front page categories for easy access. Watch a lot of YouTube videos through your XBMC media center? You can put the shortcut for YouTube right under Videos—as seen in our screenshot above.

To tweak which add-ons appear under which sub-menus go to System –> Settings –> Skin –> Add-on Shortcuts. You’ll find slots for Videos, Music, Programs, Pictures, and even on-screen lyrics and subtitle add-ons. It’s never been easier to park your favorite add-ons where you want them for easy access.

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In addition to parking your add-ons, the space above the menu bar is put to use displaying relevant information like thumbnails/screenshots of shows and movies that used to be hidden in the “recently added” link within the old Confluence menu. If you have a household with multiple XBMC users, this is a fantastic and easily accessible way to deal with the “What’s new on the media center?” question. Every time people login, they’ll see the latest movies and television shows without a problem.

To toggle the recently added TV Shows/Movies info panel off, visit System –> Settings –> Skin –> Home Windows Options.

You can read more about the changed in the Eden release of Confluence here.

Add-on Support Get Even More Awesome

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In addition to better front page integration, behind the scenes add-ons support has improved radically. Once upon a time using add-ons with XBMC was agonizing. If you even got them installed, updates would almost always break them, and maintaining them was a huge hassle. The last major release of XBMC went a long way towards fixing the biggest problems by introducing centralized add-on management. XBMC Eden further refines the process by introducing version rollback. Now if a new version of some add-on causes you any headaches, you can simple hop back into the Add-ons menu and roll it back to whatever previous version was most stable for you. This is the kind of fluid add-on management early XBMC adopters dreamed of.

XBMC Now Supports AirPlay Streaming

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Now, no add-on hacking or convoluted third-party apps required, you can stream AirPlay streams right to XBMC. Every OS version of XBMC will show up as a valid destination for video, and Mac/Linux/iOS devices will also do audio—the necessary libraries for AirPlay music streaming have no been ported to Windows yet.

You can read more about AirPlay on XBMC here.

XBMC Live Is XBMCbuntu

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We installed XBMC Live onto several nettop machines around the office and have been quite happy with it; however, when you leave XBMC you’re stuck at a Linux command prompt, no GUI to be seen. This release cycle, the XBMC dropped XBMC Live for a brand new offering XBMCbuntu. Now when you install XBMC as a stand-alone installation (instead of a regular app within Windows or another OS) you’ll get a customized version of LXDE-based Ubuntu Linux underneath complete with GUI, web browser, and file manager. If you never want it, you never have to leave the comfort of XBMC. If you do want to use your media center for casual web browsing, it comes with a copy of Chromium and an updatable installation of Flash. Also, for those times you need to get outside of XBMC to do some more advanced tweaking it sure is nice to have a traditional desktop where you can open a web browser to check the XBMC wiki while you forge ahead at the command prompt.


In addition to all those great changes, there are tons of little changes at the individual OS/hardware release level. Check out the full change log here for more information.

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 03/27/12

Comments (9)

  1. Nate

    with XBMCbuntu installed, could I vnc into the background while another user is playing content in XBMC?

  2. Jason Fitzpatrick

    @Nate: That’s a good question, I know you can SSH into regular Linux-based XBMC when people are using it.

  3. Youngbud

    is there a way to setup a Live TV in XBMC.. thats the only feature is lacking on.. any help pls..

  4. Sal

    do you still have to have movies and tv shows in separate folders? This is the main reason I continue to use boxee even though the software is not be any more.

  5. Facebook Tom

    @Youngbud

    Yes you can use live TV but you will be required to use some addon’s such as media portal etc or you can still use MCE and have the XBMC addon installed then you can swap between the two.

    I use XBMC in a Windows environment and I love it, the upgrade process was not so much fun so a full uninstall and reinstall was required, the addition of Air Play is amazing! Friends can come around and show things they have found on youtube straight to the TV.

    @Sal

    I think you’re still required to separate the folders and set the content for each, using programs like the renamer from TVDB is handy to get the file name correct. I have mine set to 1 folder movies and 1 TV shows on the raid 5 NAS then it works as set and forget. You can use media centre master which will download your shows automatically and file them in the correct location for you and rename it

  6. Xander

    I have a SAMSUNG 40″ LED 40D5500 smart tv can i use XBMC to view content of media from my PC to the tele over the LAN ? Is there any other media streaming/content sharing software that can work with samsung smart tv’s please advise.

  7. Tony Bullard

    I was really disappointed to see that add-ons really only changed in the back end. Add-Ons like YouTube and Vimeo, which I REALLY want in my XBMC install, are nearly useless. The whole text based list menu system looks ancient, and is ridiculously slow. I’m not a developer, but I don’t understand how things like this are considered acceptable in an age of Boxee and even Xbox360 having great YouTube apps.

  8. Dave

    @Facebook Tom – Can you point me to the software your using for the MCE/XBMC link.

    Also is there an upgrade path? Obviously I have a lot of shows marked as watched, and I do not want to lose all that, so if I upgrade to Eden will that all remain?

    Kimbie

  9. Facebook Tom

    http://xbmcwmc.teknowebworks.com/

    I did the upgrade path aswell but I did have issues where once the interface would load the application would crash, the problem was within the user data area, I was unable to resolve it and this left me no option but to fully remove and reinstall again :(

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