Why Boxee Might (One Day) Make Me a MythTV Ex-Pat

by Ostatic Staff - Dec. 05, 2008

Boxee is just one of several open source media center applications. Sam recently compiled a round up of some of the most popular, and I have been using MythTV for over a year now as a TiVO/DVR alternative.

I like MythTV for several reasons. It's not a project for the faint of heart, but it's less the fault of the software than the wild array of hardware that can be conceivably used in nearly every imaginable configuration. It is quite stable, and doesn't require hefty system specs. I didn't think overly about Boxee when I first heard of it. MythTV worked for me.

One thing that MythTV can't do, of course, is stream Netflix movies. I've all too frequently, now, run into problems with Netflix disks being a little too rough to run in my MythTV box's DVD player. This isn't the fault of MythTV -- it's a hardware/media issue.

Boxee is bringing Netflix onboard. There are a few catches, and a few bits that are a little unclear, but this might lead, at the very least, to Boxee running alongside my MythTV installation.

Boxee and Netflix are having a few issues running on AppleTV. The AppleTV's 1 GHz processor seems to be the crux of the issue, and the developers are working on getting that under control. Also, Netflix is not running on Linux -- yet. The Boxee crew says that Netflix has indicated they'll start supporting Linux in 2009. My MythTV box won't have company quite yet, but with Netflix already offering the Linux-based Roku player, it doesn't seem Netflix's support claims are mere spin.

Boxee supports viewing queues and recommendations, searching popular and newly added releases, as well as, they say, "sifting through the Watch Instantly selections." I would assume that this also means the player can access the instant view videos (or else it's simply being a web browser).

The new Boxee release (still an alpha version) features more than Netflix, however. The developers have added more television content (from theWB this time around -- Buffy, Babylon 5 and Firefly fans, take heart), new looks for YouTube and Hulu, and better support for forward/backward skipping within Hulu specifically.

The version update (with Netflix support) is available for Macs now, and packages for Ubuntu will be appearing in the repositories in a few days (this alpha release will run on Intrepid). There is no word on packaging (or source availability even for those wishing to package) for other Linux distributions. The Windows pre-alpha version is presently available by invite only, and the next release will be available to a wider pool of testers.