Software Update 1: Boxee & MediaPortal

13 09 2009

So tonight I went ahead and installed Boxee on the computer to play with it. It installed fine but it will not run because my video card doesn’t support OpenGL! I’d run into this before and my fix last time was to install a new video card but this time I don’t have that immediate and free option.

I went to nVidia’s website to get the newest driver and it failed because it claimed there was no supported hardware on the machine.  I doubled checked that the website recommended the 71.89 driver was recommended for my ancient Riva TNT2 Model 64 video card with 16 MB of RAM.  It said it was. I even used nVidia’s tool to identify on my machine what driver to download and it came up with the same one.  The driver would “install” by creating a folder at the root of C: and unpacking many files.  At some point though I wanted to know if any OpenGL was installed and I found and used the GPU Caps Viewer.  It let me know that no OpenGL was installed so that was helpful.

Eventually I was able to go to the properties of the video card and tell it I wanted to select the driver from a list.  I pointed it at the .inf files in the C:/NVIDIA folder and it saw a driver for my video card unlike every time I point it there to look itself. It installed it, rebooted and BAM OpenGL 1.5.3 was installed. Great!

So I fired up Boxee, it launched, it opened, I logged in … and it was SLOW! Not only did Hulu not work (which is quite resource intensive in its flash player that uses no GPU or hardware acceleration and instead only uses CPU cycles) but the Boxee interface was slow enough on its own.  It was so slow that it was unusable really. Now I could probably fix this by upgrading my graphics card but lets be honest here I don’t want to spend anymore money and my goal was to reuse the hardware I have already.  So next software option…

At this point I realized what I really needed it do right away was play music and DVDs.  So I played around with the idea of using VLC skinned for an HTPC but couldn’t find anything obvious. Checked WinAmp. Nothing. And then was playing the idea of writing my own shell to launch different programs for different tasks.  Like the play DVD button will launch VLC through the command line to open and the play Music button will launch some audio program.  In that search I found:

MediaPortal – It claims to be an open source Media Center type application that looks like it is based on Windows Media Player.  Not ideal but I’m installing it to see if it works and how it looks. I just got .NET 3.5 SP1 installed and now I am off installing MediaPortal. I’ll be interested to see if it plays DVDs out of the package or if I will need to download a codec. Luckily, I know of an open source DVD codec that plugins into Windows Media Player.

I’ll report back soon.

UPDATE 1: Turns out I already have that DVD Codec installed (DScaler5)… so I might have to remove it to test my theory.

UPDATE 2: Turns out the MediaPortal and Boxee share a parent product: XBMC. Who knew…

UPDATE 3: The initial pass it didn’t turn out so well. It gets to a blue splash screen that says “Initializing DirectX” and just sits there.

UPDATE 4: I never got past that splash screen so I moved on for now.

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