Linux/crossplatform media center

Feb 26, 2006

I went to a friend’s place after a party and he showed me something pretty cool he said he had coded up in 3 nights. A media center running on Linux and hooked up to a big badass TV and sound system.

The concept was really simple – something like Apple’s Front Row but done in a much more appealing way to a geek like me who wants to understand what’s actually going on. It starts with a simple directory listing. You select a file to act upon:

  • if it’s a video, it gets played in fullscreen or Picture-in-Picture
  • if it’s a picture, it’s shown
  • if it’s music, it gets played

The cool part here was playing videos as Picture-in-Picture. I haven’t really seen this kind of thing in any other “Media Center” but I found it cool. You can toggle between fullscreen and PIP with a simple button on the remote.

For controlling, a simple Logitech Media Remote was used. The scrollwheel was really convenient for this kind of thing, and so were the other buttons. It maps to standard mouse and keyboard events in the host so coding something up for it is really straightforward.

It was running on Linux but was using Python, SDL and mplayer, so all standard components which should also work on other platforms. I’ll try to get my hands on that thing and get more info and maybe try it out and post it here.