OpenELEC 3.0 Beta 1 released, adding all XBMC 12 features

OpenELEC HTPC Setup

OpenELEC HTPC Setup

The OpenELEC team has been busy. They just released version OpenELEC 2.0 a few weeks ago, and now we get OpenELEC 3.0 beta 1 that includes XBMC in all of it’s glory 12.0 glory.  This includes PVR support,  the modern audio engine that now supports formats like TrueHD and DTS-HD, the Linux kernel 3.6 and support for ARM devices in the form of Raspberry Pi boards.

For those of you that are not familiar with OpenELEC it is, for the most part, an unmodified version of XBMC that runs with only the minimum amount of software needed.  This makes OpenELEC more stable and easier to use.  The setup is even more simplified then the XBMC installer(didn’t think it was needed).  Of course if you would still like the flexibility of Ubuntu or Windows under the hood you can still download the installs over at http://XBMC.org.  Essentially OpenELEC is a XBMC distro of Linux that can auto update itself.

New Features:

  • Based on XBMC 12.0 Frodo
  • ARM Support (Raspberry Pi)
  • Linux 3.6 kernel
  • Improved PRV support
  • Brand New Audio Engine with True HD and DTS-HD support
  • Updated Drivers
  • Boot to RAM option

Manual Update Instructions:

  1. Browse to your OpenELEC boxes SAMBA share  in operating system of your choice.   (if you don’t know what the IP address is, go to the menu of the OpenELEC machine, and browse to the main item “System” and then its subitem “System Info”. This will open a page that shows the IP address among with other information.)
  2. Once you have found the SAMBA share navigate to the “Update” folder.  This is where you will copy the files in step 5
  3. Download the latest version of OpenELEC for your device.  Available for download here: http://openelec.tv/get-openelec
  4. Extract all files from the downloaded file.
  5. Navigate to the “Target” Folder which will be found in the location you extracted the downloaded file.
  6. Copy the files from the “Target” folder to the “Update” folder found on the SAMBA share. The files are KERNEL, KERNEL.md5, SYSTEM and SYSTEM.md5.
  7. Restart OpenELEC and the update will be installed automatically.
  8. When the reboot has finished navigate to the “System > Settings > System > Audio output” menu.  Make sure that the output settings properly reflect your receivers capabilities. (ie: Does your receiver support TrueHD?)

Source: http://openelec.tv/

Review: ReadyNAS NV+ v2

ReadyNAS NV+ v2

ReadyNAS NV+ v2We received our ReadyNAS NV+ v2 just over 3 months ago now, so we felt that we had received enough real world usage to write a good review.  This will be our second ReadyNAS device we have used in our office, while the outgoing model was the ReadyNAS Duo v1 with the Sparc CPU.

In addition to the two units we have used in our office, I myself have managed several ReadyNAS Pro 6-Bay powered powered by Intel Atom x86 CPUs for several clients.  Having using all three variations of the ReadyNAS for more then there intended uses I’ll let you know how the latest ARM powered ReadyNAS Duo v2 and NV+ v2 stack up against their predecessor and big brothers, the x86.

All ReadyNAS devices are based on a customized version of Debian Linux.  This allows users with linux experience to customize their NAS beyond the constraints of the web based interface.  Do you want your NAS to host a VPN server, a Zoneminder surveillance system or any other Linux program?  This is possible thanks to Netgear allowing users access to the shell via SSH, and not stripping out the apt package management system.

 Hardware Specs

Duo v1

Duo v2

NV+ v2

Pro 6

OS

RAIDiator 4.1.10

RAIDiator 5.3.7

RAIDiator 5.3.7

RAIDiator 4.2.22

CPU

280MHz Sparc

1.6GHz ARM

1.6GHz ARM

1.8GHZ Intel Atom

RAM

256MB DDR2

256MB DDR3

256MB DDR3

1GB DDR2

#of Bays

2

2

4

6

Maximum Capacity

4TB

6TB

12TB

18TB

# of Ethernet Ports

1 -10/100/1000

1 -10/100/1000

1 -10/100/1000

2 -10/100/1000

# of USB Ports

3 USB 2.0

1 USB 2.0

2 USB 3.0

1 USB 2.0

2 USB 3.0

3 USB 2.0

Active Directory

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

CPU

Above we have included the specs for the Duo v1, Duo v2, NV+ v2 and the Pro 6 to give you a general overview of the ReadyNAS line.  The Duo v1 and NV+ v1 have received a significant upgrade going from a 280MHz Sparc processor to a 1.6GHz ARM processor.  The CPU improvement alone will allow for more performance, increased hack-ability and brings the Duo and NV+ to a mainstream processor architecture.

The ARM processor allows for a much quicker web interface browsing experience.  In addition, the ReadyNAS is no longer coughing up blood when streaming 1080p content to a DLNA certified device.  In fact we were able to stream two different 1080p movies to two independent DLNA enabled TV’s without a hiccup.

One note with the ARM cpu is that the Plex Media Server is not able to trans-code content to client devices, while the x86 family does with ease.  This may be added in the future, but it’s unlikely due to the fact that it would push the ARM cpu to its limits, as well as, require a major rewrite of the server for the Plex team.  This only affects the Plex Media Server, as DLNA server just push the content to the client without processing the audio/video stream.

Overall the ARM cpu smokes the outgoing Sparc processor in every aspect, but the much more power x86 line wins without contest.  The x86 processor may allow you the freedom to use any existing Linux Debian package on your NAS without going through the trouble of compiling the source.

RAM

One unfortunate change is that while the RAM remains unchanged, it can no longer be upgrade in the v2 models.  This was most likely to curb the stability issues many users experience after an upgrade.  This will definitely impact power users in a negative way.

While we didn’t run into any major memory issues, we are huge advocates of the fact that you can’t have too much RAM.  The x86 line still allows for memory upgrades.

Storage

A significant change for the Duo/NV+(aka Prosumer NAS) is the support for 3TB drives and the ability to upgrade when larger hard drives are available. This gives Duo users an additional 1TB of space in RAID mode and 2TB more in JBOD mode.  The NV+ gets even more space with RAID getting an additional 3TB, and JOBD receiving 4TB in storage capacity.

Other Changes

Additional changes include 2 USB 3.0 port on the back of the ReadyNAS.  This will come in useful for external Hard Drives.  Another feature that has been added is support for Active Directory or LDAP user profiles.  This allows you to manage users centrally with both Windows Server or Samba 4.  This feature has always been available in the Pro series, but is a welcome addition to the Prosumer line of NAS devices.

Interface

The latest 5.x iteration of RAIDiator has introduced an all-new user interface.  This has been long overdue as the interface has changed little since its introduction.  While the interface seems more visually appealing and user friendly, it lacks some features and information provided by the old-school interface.  This will most likely be added in the future.  Once these features are added we would like to see the x86 Pro line receive the latest generation of the RAIDiator OS.

Conclusion

The ReadyNAS Duo/NV+ v2 both offer a huge bang for your buck, while the more expensive and flexible Pro line are for the hardcore user/businesses with massive data and processing demands.

Purchase on Amazon.com

XBMC 12.0 “Frodo” Beta 1 released

XBMC 12.0 Froyo Beta Splash Screen

XBMC 12.0 Froyo Beta Splash Screen

XBMC 12.0 “Frodo” Beta 1 has been released to the public, and with it bringing features that many have been waiting years for.  This major update brings with it support for Android, Raspberry Pi and Live TV/PVR support.

New Features

  • HD audio support, including DTS-MA and Dolby True-HD, via the new XBMC AudioEngine
  • Live TV and PVR support
  • h.264 10bit (aka Hi10P) video software decoding for anime
  • 64bit support in OSX to match the 64bit support in Linux
  • Improved image support, allowing the database to accomodate numerous additional image types
  • Support for the Raspberry PI
  • Initial support for the Android platform
  • Improved Airplay support across all platforms
  • Advanced Filtering in the library
  • Advanced UPnP sharing
  • Translations now powered by Transifex
  • Bug Fixes

 Downloads: