Open Source Media Center Apps Are Growing Up

by Ostatic Staff - Mar. 03, 2009

Back in December, MediaPortal 1.0, an open source application that turns a PC/TV into a sophisticated media center and digital video recorder, arrived. Originally based on the XBMC project, version 1.0 was a nearly complete redesign, and has gotten quite a bit of notice, despite a few bugs. On March 15th, the folks behind MediaPortal plan to release a 1.0.1 version with usability improvements. Along with the Plex media center for Mac OS X (MediaPortal is Windows only), Boxee for Linux and the Mac, and MythTV for Linux, the open source community is pushing strongly into video and rich media content management. Here are some good resources if you're evaluating these media center apps.

MediaPortal. One of MediaPortal's claims to fame is a rich set of extensions and skins you can use to customize it. It also has solid documentation, and you can watch showcased videos illustrating its basic feature set, scheduling TV recordings, and more.

Boxee. We've covered Boxee several times. While it recently took a hit when it was forced to remove support for Hulu content, it remains very popular as a mashup of social networking features and video/media streaming and management. AppleTV users are especially fond of it, and you can find videos on using it with AppleTV and more here.

MythTV. Kristin's "rainy day project" post on MythTV is worth checking into if you're interested in a Linux-based media center. She also discussed MythTV versus Boxee here. MythTV has a learning curve, but many Linux-based users who have put in some time with it swear by it.

Plex. The new beta version of Mac OS X-based open source media center application Plex offers support for Hulu. That's a major attraction for many people, and Plex is also noted for how well it works with HD content. Plex manages video, photos, music, podcasts and more. It's also skinnable, and you can watch screencasts showing Plex in action here.