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Boxee Opens Beta To All 163

DeviceGuru writes "Boxee has quietly moved its long-awaited Beta release onto its public download site, reports The new version of this free Internet- and local- A/V streaming player currently supports PCs running Mac OS X, Windows XP, and Ubuntu OSes, with an Apple TV version coming soon. Key enhancements include a vastly redesigned homescreen and new global menu, which collectively make it much quicker to locate content, an improved search function that now treats online and local media equivalently, so you can locate and play movie or TV show titles much faster, plus — at long last — a fully functional Netflix instant-downloads player appears in the Windows version (but not in the Linux version). Also of significance is that Boxee's graphical engine has migrated from from OpenGL to DirectX, allowing it to take advantage of Direct X video acceleration. The free public Boxee Beta A/V player software is available on Boxee's website."
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Boxee Opens Beta To All

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  • It supports not only Windows XP, but Vista and 7, but only 32-bit versions.

    In contrast it supports Ubuntu 64-bit.

    • by jwietelmann ( 1220240 ) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @04:41PM (#30742412)

      It supports not only Windows XP, but Vista and 7, but only 32-bit versions.

      In contrast it supports Ubuntu 64-bit.

      To clarify, you can absolutely run 32-bit Boxee on a 64-bit version of Windows, so it technically supports 64-bit Windows Vista and 7. They just don't provide a native 64-bit version of Boxee.

      • I run XP in a Sun Virtual box. Do you think I will be able to do netflix through that?

        Also I wonder if the netflix engine is going to be any better or worse than using the Silverlight viewer that netflix offers. My main problem with the latter is that it has such shallow buffer that the playback often stops. I'd like to find a viewer with a deep buffer even if I had to wait 15 minutes for the movie to commence playing.

        • by adolf ( 21054 )

          Netflix? Buffering?

          I haven't had that happen for a long, long time. At all. And someone around my house seems to always be streaming Netflix at all times, using either Silverlight on Windows or the official PS3 viewer.

          I'm sure I'm asking obvious stuff that you've already checked, but: Is your network hosed up somehow uploading/downloading too many torrents, or something similar?

    • What I don't get is how Ubuntu 64-bit and OS X are supported if it's using DirectX?

      I also don't like the sound of "online and local media being treated equally". That just sounds like it's going to make sorting and locating my local network media much harder, which is the main reason I use Boxee.

      Currently I'm using it on an Apple TV so this isn't quite available to me yet anyways, but depending on how they handle this I may just opt go install XBMC and use that. I've used that on my Xbox with great succes

  • Damn it. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    When the fuck will either Netflix move away from Silverlight or Moonlight support the Netflix player? This is currently my single biggest gripe on Linux by far.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      So you're pissed at linux about Moonlight not doing Netflix well? Shouldn't you be pissed that Netflix doesn't ensure their player works on Moonlight, and therefore linux?
      • or at least pissed with the Moonlight developers for not ensuring it can handle the the Netflix player, and therefore Linux.

        • Re:Damn it. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by jank1887 ( 815982 ) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @05:04PM (#30742686)

          oh... just saw the comment below about DRM specifically whacking unsupported clients. didn't realize it wasn't just a compatibility issue. What would it take to get the Moonlight developers to contact/work with the Netflix developers on that point? (i'm guessing a miracle)

          • by tepples ( 727027 )

            What would it take to get the Moonlight developers to contact/work with the Netflix developers on that point?

            For a public company, half the market capitalization is a fairly reliable upper bound. At the current stock price of Nasdaq:NFLX, a 51% stake would cost 1.44 billion USD.

    • "When the fuck will either Netflix move away from Silverlight or Moonlight support the Netflix player? This is currently my single biggest gripe on Linux by far."

      Not gunna happen. Microsoft and Netflix have a VERY cozy relationship. I believe one of the Microsoft board members is also on the Netflix board. Not sure who and the Wiki entry doesn't state who.

      Until these two companies part ways, Microsoft is going to be making things difficult for SOMEONE.

  • So they're moving to DirectX, but they're also running on Mac and Linux? I don't get it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by maxume ( 22995 )

      VLC has long supported various output APIs, mostly because on different platforms, different APIs have varying levels of driver support and varying performance. I imagine this is similar.

    • Re:DirectX on Linux? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Tapewolf ( 1639955 ) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @04:42PM (#30742430)
      Abstraction layers.
    • Re:DirectX on Linux? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Nadaka ( 224565 ) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @04:58PM (#30742606)

      Neither do I, how is going from OpenGL to DirectX an "upgrade" either?

      • by mmmbeer ( 9963 )

        It is an upgrade because in the Win32 world the API for GPU video decompression acceleration is called DXVA. Note the DX at the beginning. It doesn't stand for OpenGL.

        (Other than adding an additional HD decoder board)

        • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

          So does that mean that Microsoft is forcing the issue?

          Why shouldn't the boxee team be able to use OpenGL and DXVA at the same time?

      • The reporting on this has been extremely bad. This all has to doing video decoding in hardware. DirectX has APIs for that [], and they are now being used in the Windows version. The Linux version continues to use the relevant Xorg extensions (XvMC?) for video decoding.

    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      Probably only for Windows. The problem on Windows (at least XP) that OpenGL is not natively supported by the drivers provided from Microsoft and before that (Windows 95 -> ME) OpenGL was not supported and later supported but boggled/expanded with proprietary calls by Microsoft.

  • by Improv ( 2467 ) <> on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @04:43PM (#30742452) Homepage Journal

    I really hope the new interface is based on Boxxy.

  • Linux 64 Bit Support (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SlashdotOgre ( 739181 ) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @04:46PM (#30742486) Journal

    I'm glad to see they've finally started offering a native 64 bit version for Linux. Previously, I had been providing patches/scripts to allow folks to compile it themselves on their forums (I'm a moderator on their Linux forum). There's currently a RPM on the Linux forum for Fedora 12, but as I don't run Fedora any more, I can't vouch for it. I have personally compiled the latest Beta on Gentoo ~amd64 and it works fine with some minor tweaks (I plan to submit an ebuild to Gentoo Bug 258082). One thing to note if you do compile from source is that their XULRunner included in the flashplayer portion of their source is missing 64 bit shared objects (this causes flash to break). I've submitted a bug to get the XULRunner updated, but haven't heard anything.

    I've ran the closed Beta for the last month and so far it's very promising. I just wish Boxee's development process was more open.

    • Maybe this is a stupid question, so just tell me if so. Is there any chance of getting this running on my PS3 Linux partition? That would radically change things for me (I'm not quite willing to set up a dedicated a/v server). You'd think it would be a perfect target for it. Already in the media cabinet, already hooked up to internet and TV. I would probably cancel my cable TV if it worked well enough.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        Maybe this is a stupid question, so just tell me if so. Is there any chance of getting this running on my PS3 Linux partition? That would radically change things for me (I'm not quite willing to set up a dedicated a/v server). You'd think it would be a perfect target for it. Already in the media cabinet, already hooked up to internet and TV. I would probably cancel my cable TV if it worked well enough.

        Unless things have changed lately, it'll probably be fine if you're happy with 480p output.

        Last time I trie

        • I have one of the original 60 Gb models so I was able to enable the swap. It might be a joke but it has allowed me to play emulators on my TV using a nice wireless controller so it wasn't a total bust.

    • It just crashes for me.

      The "Boxee" tries to load itself...takes 20 seconds or so...and then it just vanishes...just like a crashy piece of software that doesn't work...same way.
      Nivida drivers and OpenGL are working, because I run Blender (opengl) on it...and opengl games + wine...

      So for now...beta is indeed beta.

  • GNU/Ubuntu (Score:3, Insightful)

    by McGiraf ( 196030 ) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @04:46PM (#30742490) Homepage

    "Mac OS X, Windows XP, and Ubuntu OSes"

    Not Linux? :)

    So now Ubuntu is to Linux what Kleenex is to tissue?

    GNU/Ubuntu sounds weird though.

    • They probably have an Ubuntu .deb packaged, and didn't test for anything else.

    • Re:GNU/Ubuntu (Score:4, Informative)

      by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @05:00PM (#30742626)

      "Mac OS X, Windows XP, and Ubuntu OSes"

      Not Linux? :)

      Nope, not Linux.

      So now Ubuntu is to Linux what Kleenex is to tissue?

      Nope, it's just not available to Linux at large. It's not open source. You can download an Ubuntu .deb of the binaries, but if you want to run it another distribution? Sorry, Charlie.

      • RPMs have been installed under Debian for ages using `alien`; isn't there something like that for RPM distros? If not, what's stopping someone from writing it? Or simply extracting the files inside the .deb and repackaging them manually?

      • by antdude ( 79039 )

        How about Debian? I was told using Ubuntu's *.deb file is a bad idea in Debian even if Ubuntu is based on Debian. :(

  • by BurkeTheEldar ( 161775 ) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @04:54PM (#30742560)

    I have zilch experience with boxee but did spend some time on it's site a couple of weeks ago to see if it might be of utility when viewing tv shows or movies online. For the life of me I could not figure out what its supposed to do 'for me'. The boxee website is a great example of what happens when they people involved are so deeply entrenched in whatever realm boxee is that they have no clue how to communicate to 'regular' people.

    A site like hulu is easy to figure out. But it's got too many commercials and they seem to be adding more all the time. Boxee...someone tell me what it's good for? Like you were explaining to someone who didn't know already???

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      Boxee gives you a 10 foot interface. It provides a nice interface to websites like Hulu,, and things like cnet TV.
      It also supports audio and video podcasts and on Windows NetFlix.
      If you want to build a media PC that works more like a set top box than a PC then Boxee is a great program to try.
      They are also pushing a new BoxeeBox which looks really nice. The lack of mass storage and a bit torrent client is a slight downer but for a set top box it looks just about perfect. Well except that case is too c

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        I guess I don't see what the thrill is, exactly. If it's main function is to provide a single interface to 'channels', and I would still have to suffer through endless credit card commercials, then...sigh. Thanks for the input though.

        • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

          Well life is full of choices. Boxee also gives you a 10 foot interface for any digital media you happen to have on your network, Pandora, CNet TV, NPR, and
          It may not be anything you want to hook up but as I said if you want a MediaPC I think Boxee is worth a look. If you lean to the FOSS side then try XBMC.
          But if you have no desire to have a media PC then you have no interest in Boxee.
          Oh and it also has a twitter client.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        XBMC gives you a 10 foot interface as well. Boxee on the other hand frustrated my wife something fierce, so I stopped using it. the latest XBMC release absolutely clobbers boxee though if you dont care about any of the social crap or trying to watch youtube and other low grade online media. There is a podcast catcher you can install that grabs the high def podcasts automatically though. She likes that.

        • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

          I would suggest also trying XBMC.
          I am sorry to say that my media PC if it is not a BoxeeBox will probably run Windows. I want to put a Bluray player in it and because of the nasty DRM BluRay disks don't work on Linux.
          I too am a big fan of Podcasts but YouTube isn't bad sometimes. I will have to give XBMC a try.

        • Boxee's a fork of XBMC, with "a new look and social flair" []. Kinda like Flock vs Firefox (anyone remember Flock?)

        • Exactly the post I was hoping to find. Thanks :-)
      • Will Boxee be a good media PC application if you don't plan on streaming everything?

        eg: if most of my content is on harddrives accessible over the LAN?

        • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

          Yes but so would XBMC. The thing is that I really like some podcasts. The ones from Cnet are actually very entertaining as well as EnGadget and and yes XBMC will do those for you as well. They are both free so I would suggest trying them both.

    • by SlashdotOgre ( 739181 ) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @05:08PM (#30742726) Journal

      Previously the web site had a great intro video that actually explained it fairly well. I'm not quite sure when that was changed, but since I've been running the alpha for roughly a year now, I can try taking a stab at it.

      Boxee's goal is to be a "social media player" where you can watch media from various sources, see what your friends are watching, and let your friends know what you're watching. By "media" it's referring to TV, movies, music, and pictures. The source of most of the content comes from the Internet (although it definitely supports offline and local network content). Boxee provides a framework to create native applications that allow aggregating and viewing of the online media (basically XBMC plugins if you're familiar with that app), for example there's apps for Hulu, Pandora, Flickr, etc. Boxee automatically monitors what you and your friends watch, and allows you to browse the history of it as well. Boxee also offers other cool features like grabbing metadata for local content. E.g. if it detects a ripped copy of Season 1 of The Office, it will grab screen shots and descriptions of each episode from IMDB.

      Personally I've found Boxee's primary benefit is for aggregating media. With the new version, I can search a TV show title and it comes up with all the episodes I can stream regardless of the source (e.g. episodes from Hulu,, etc.). I'm not a big fan of the social aspect, but it's not a deal breaker (I just ignore it). So far I've been very impressed with both the alpha and beta releases and would definitely recommend giving the software a go.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sootman ( 158191 )

        Great summary, thanks. Now, a question, and I'm not being a smartass: is there any good software that does the exact opposite? I absolutely do not care about the built in social aspects of the software, nor do I use services like Hulu. (Internet connection and computers at home are on the slow side.) I do, however, have an extensive collection of video from various sources--ripped DVDs, captured from a TV card, etc. I just want something that lets me browse this with a good "ten foot interface" and do other


          I've only seen it used on someone's old Xbox, but it looked pretty good, and thus I'm about to install it on the new storage box I'm building.
  • by Jason Pollock ( 45537 ) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @05:00PM (#30742610) Homepage

    I've been a faithful user of Boxee for the past year, but the Beta convinced me to go back to XBMC.

    Problems I had with Boxee:
    1) Didn't expose all features of XBMC, such as Synch Display Refresh Rate to Media. I've got a TV that can do 24hz, 50hz,60hz, etc, why should I see pull down artifacts? I also wanted the Skip Direct to Menu option for DVD playback.
    2) Boxee hasn't fixed problems from the Alpha - I've got some ISO rips which still fail to playback in Boxee. XBMC and VLC have no problems with them. This was a _huge_ WAF issue. She had gone back to pulling the DVDs out of storage to watch them!
    3) The Social Media aspect was pointless. None of my friends were using Boxee, and aren't likely to. It was pure clutter between me and my media. Note: You can't unsubscribe from Avner's feed!
    4) Not being able to watch videos, or listen to music until it had finished scanning my collection. I have 4TB of media, don't make me wait.
    5) When I upgraded to the Beta, my remote control stopped working. :) The packages overwrote files that I had changed to get everything working.
    6) Their releases are a long time apart.
    7) Even when I submitted a patch for a bug, it didn't make it into the Beta.

    The only thing I seem to be giving up is Hulu support, which if it really annoys me, I can port back into XBMC.

    I wish them luck, the Boxee box announced at CES looks pretty cool, and the $200 price point is pretty compelling. It's just not for me.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) []

      plus a MCE remote kit and XBMC live CD.

      you have a XBMC standalone box that will play 1080p HD AND HDMI out.

      Same pricepoint (well close, $30.00 over when you buy the MCE remote and receiver.

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      > 4) Not being able to watch videos, or listen to music until it had finished scanning my collection. I have 4TB of media, don't make me wait.

      I ran the first Linux version I could get my hands on and I never had any trouble like this.

      Admittedly, it had to have scanned something before I could watch it but I don't see that as a terribly unreasonable limitation.

      Boxee does very well with the metadata. I wish MythTV did as well. Although I personally prefer the UI in MythTV.

      However, having easy access to all

    • Hmm. I just noticed that Boxee is a sponsor of XBMC. You think they're using the engine ? :-)
  • I'm hoping for better proxy / VPN support. I pay for a web proxy and a VPN to England so I can watch BBC, channel 4, etc from the USA. The previous Boxee didn't handle the connection (with password authentication) well. Frankly it was full of fail. I am on the cusp of dumping cable and little things like a better boxee will get me there.


  • The most intriguing part about boxee is the box by d-link... Such an awesome case. I've never used Boxee, but have used XBMC(What Boxee is based on)... I wonder how easy it would be to install XBMC-Live on it :)
  • Assuming I don't need any HD content, what sort of hardware would I need to run Boxee? I have an old P3 I'm currently using to view videos, play music, etc. It works great, but I'd like a more task appropriate UI than XFCE. Is Boxee likely to run OK? I can imagine the database back end might take a bit of power to run smoothly.

    • Check out this site: [] Also, as an anecdotal data point, I'm running it under Ubuntu 9.10 on a dual core 2.4Ghz P4 with 1GB RAM and an old GeForce 5200. I can play content up to 720p without any issues.
      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        The GPU is probably going to be the deciding factor. On my myth boxes, Nvidias have always done very well and Intels have been decent. ATI just sucks.

        So something like an AppleTV with a 1.6Ghz GPU and an nv7100 is more than adequate.

        Nvidia seems to get good marks in terms of Windows drivers too.

  • Obligatory (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tikkun ( 992269 ) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @05:40PM (#30743100) Homepage
    No Linux Netflix Streaming. Binary Deb Package. Lame.
  • Does this have much value outside of the US? Here in UK our legit internet sources of actual TV and movies is quite limited and I see no sign of support for iPlayer, 4oD or Demand5.

    • The Boxee Alpha supports iPlayer, through a plugin. I'm assuming that it is also available in the Beta. I don't know about the others.

  • Sounds like big brother phoning home. No thanks. "But its a social" - NO. Make a player or a chat client, not both.

Unix: Some say the learning curve is steep, but you only have to climb it once. -- Karl Lehenbauer