Voyage MPD is a computer-as-source (CAS) OS for music lovers. It's being developed out of Hong Kong, where Kim-man "Punky" Tse has been working on a light-weight music player derived from Debian called Voyage Linux. His most recent development? Voyage MuBox - a new version of Voyage MPD designed specifically for CuBox! It's a perfect solution for streaming digital music files (eg mp3, wav, flac) directly to your speakers - and because it's such a lean application, the sound quality is even better than you can expect from a full-blown Linux desktop, Mac or Windows box. We caught up with Punky recently to find out more about Voyage MPD, starting off with a bit of history about the project.
Voyage MPD is originated from Voyage Linux , which was started in late 2004. In Feb 2005, Voyage Linux 0.1 was released. It has been a popular embedded Linux distribution for running as wireless router, firewall, VoIP, NAS or many other customized projects that requires small footprint. Up until 2008, a Voyage Linux user (who was also an active sponsor) comes up with an idea to run MPD on Voyage Linux. Then, we build some packages and kernel modules to make this happens. In Feb 2011, I decided to officially release Voyage MPD, as version 0.7.0.
Punky also explains that Voyage Linux is just his "part-time pet project". While he had been asked previously to port Voyage Linux/MPD to other embedded platforms, he had rejected the idea due to the deep learning curve required for these projects. Two years ago, he started noticing the development of platforms like the CuBox, which changed his mind.
Embedded platform now becomes easier to develop and vendors started to realize that they must have a working kernel, OS and development kit for developer to adopt their boards. And SolidRun does a great job on CuBox. As a developer of Voyage Linux, the most concern is not the building the customized distribution, but the kernel. For base distribution, I can take from Debian, as long as the CPU architecture exist. Every board requires a specify kernel to make things work. I like the way that CuBox provides me a pre-built stock kernel so that I can focus my work on distro. Actually, I completed the working prototype in 2-3 days, and officially released "Voyage MuBox" in 2 weeks time. Before the release, I actually worked on regression test and tuning more than building the distro!
With a number of tiny devices on the market, Punky keeps coming back to CuBox, for a number of reasons that make it perfect for Voyage MPD:
In the future, Punky is busily developing new ideas for Voyage MuBox, including a real-time kernel. A longer-term goal is to make MuBox even easier to use, integrating Logitech Media Server support and using a remote control and the built-in CuBox IR receiver. Punky's three favourite things about CuBox:
If you are using a CuBox to create something cool - like Voyage MuBox - let us know so we can feature you on the blog!
Update (September 2013): Looking for the best XBMC Hardware, check the new CuBox-i mini computer at cubox-i.com
XBMC is a free, open-source media player. It can handle almost all of your digital media files - music and video - playing them directly onto your television. It's an easy-to-use, easy-to-customise home entertainment solution, but what hardware should you run it on? Your PC is noisy, and anyway, it's in your office, not next to your TV. You don't want cables tangled all over your house! It's too complicated to find the perfect device - or is it?
The best XBMC hardware solution doesn't sacrifice quality for price. It can be difficult to find a cheap mini-computer that can handle even the most basic XBMC hardware requirements. You need to find a device that can play 1080p full HD video with no stuttering, handle most DVDs and even Blu-ray playback without a problem. Something with HDMI output would be handy, so it can work with most modern TVs or monitors, and optical S/PDIF means you could plug it straight into your amp, taking advantage of HD Audio support for crystal-clear sound.
You need to choose how you'd like to control your XBMC hardware, too. Do you want to set up a keyboard and mouse for an XBMC solution that feels like a PC? If that's too complex, look for a device that can also handle an infra-red remote control - possibly even the one that you use today! Gamers might prefer to configure an Xbox 360 controller for XBMC video playback - use the shoulder triggers to fast forward and rewind. Alternatively, use an app on your smart phone or tablet to view content or change what's on TV.
Of course, the device is only as good as the media you transfer onto it, so take the time to find a device that makes the process easy. An eSATA port can support super-fast transfers. If your data's on an external HDD or thumb-drive, check that your XBMC hardware device has a USB port or two, high-speed if you can manage it!
Another option is to keep all your media in one place, and find an XBMC hardware solution that can be hooked up to your home network via Ethernet, to stream all of your content directly from a NAS or shared drive. New upgrades to the XBMC library system makes this even easier - use advanced filtering to browse, or Universal PnP to add new devices.
With a long laundry-list of required features, you might think it would be too expensive to to buy another machine just to watch your favourite shows - but think again. If you're looking for the right XBMC hardware device, look no further than a CuBox!
Costing as little as $119.99, using 3 watts of power and with no noisy fan, CuBox is the perfect to use as XBMC hardware. It's nearly silent, runs full HD 1080p video, has HDMI and S/PDIF output, can be used with a keyboard and mouse or infra-red remote control, and has eSata and USB ports for easy data transfer. An ethernet port means you can hook it easily into your home network, and the device is small enough that it's easy to mount directly onto the back of your TV, or tuck it behind, out of sight.
The CuBox really is the perfect XBMC hardware solution!
There are plenty of gadgets available on the market today and a computer is with no doubt something that nearly everyone uses and enjoys. Since a computer is indispensable in our times, there are also various types of models and of different performance available, but which one to choose? Well as you all know the most popular type is the desktop computer which is extremely large, occupies a lot of space and also makes you stumble on all those wires. I'm sure that all of us are looking for something more convenient and accessible without being necessary to plug in multiple cables and also give up on most of the space on our desk which can be very annoying.
Well it doesn't really have to be like this. Although the traditional computers are still extremely popular and they sell pretty well, there are also other options that some of you may haven't heard of yet. It is also true that notebooks are popular as well and they are also considered to be more accessible and convenient mostly due to their reduced size, however there is an option which is even better. Now you may all wonder what this option may be and how is it possible to be better than those presented above, I mean the notebook is the smallest computer available right? Wrong.
There is in fact a more convenient option as well, and that is the mini computer which is very small and it can also deliver high performance. There are actually 3 main reasons why you should choose a mini computer over traditional ones and these are:
1.Their very small size. Unlike any other computers that you are familiarized with, mini computers are very small. There are in fact few models that are actually the smallest computers available on the market and they have all of their components packed in a small case. Now you may ask yourself, is this even possible? Well yes, it is. These mini computers have all of their components placed in just a tiny box that is easy to transport and it also occupies very few space.
2.Another strong reason to go for a mini computer is that they run on very low power and they are also extremely quiet. There are certain models that can run on less than 3 watts which can save you some serious money when it comes to paying your bills. Also, you will see certain models with such a smart design that they won't even require a fan to keep them cool. Now imagine how pleasant it must be to have your computer turned on and not noticing any weird and annoying sound while they run.
3.The third and the most important reason why you should go for these mini computers are their very low price. I'm sure that most of you think that this amazing gadget would cost a lot of money and you probably won't afford it, well in fact there are certain models that only cost a bit over 100$, yes you are reading correctly. I know this may sound a bit hard to believe however there are in fact certain mini computers that can be bought for a very low price.
A good example of this kind is the CuBox mini computer that can be all you need in just a tiny box. It is extremely quiet, it has a very small size and the best part is that it is also very cheap! It is basically a full computer that is packed in a 2x2x2 inches case. In addition it also consumes extremely low power and the best part is that is available as an open source development platform. However, the most amazing feature of this mini computer is how all parts are placed in a very small box that also looks extremely elegant and it has a slick design. Still not convinced about purchasing this product? Well there is more!
This mini computer is also equipped with a good processor and graphic card that can easily display 1080p full HD videos. It is in fact a great replacement for any large computer that occupies most of your valuable space and it is offered at an insane price of just 119.99$ for the 1Gbyte version and 159.99$ for the 2Gbyte version. Now let's be honest, all these features offered at this insane price, it's like a deal offered once in a lifetime. Although there are various types of computers out there, none of them can compare with the CuBox. The extremely reduced size along with all these features makes it one amazing device that any of us should own and enjoy.
Most of us of a certain age will remember using an electronic library catalogue. The single-colour, glowing screen was, for many people, our first look at a thin client - and it is a perfect use for the technology.
A thin client (also known as a slim or lean client) is a very simple, lightweight machine that depends almost entirely on an external server to perform all the traditional tasks of a computer. This may include data storage or persistence at its most simple, up to more complex jobs like information processing.
These days, many businesses see employees sitting at individual workstations, typically desktop PCs. Most work is non-graphically heavy, data entry style work, often accessed through web interfaces or using databases hosted on a separate, central server.
Why are we still using overpowered desktop boxes? They suck up a lot of electricity, have a high failure rate, and generally come with peripherals that are superfluous for a day-to-day desk job. We could use something else.
Something like the CuBox!
This mini-computer is very capable of rendering sleek desktop environments while allowing central servers to do most of the work. It uses a fraction of the power, requires very little maintenance, and does not use any extra unnecessary gadgets.
An installation that uses one centralised image will not only reduce maintenance requirements (as all workstations will be identical), but also allows for improved security and faster updates. An administrator can roll out software changes to an entire office with the click of a few buttons, rather than painstakingly updating each individual machine. The admin can also configure the thin client to install a fresh image on reboot, ensuring a clean working environment.
Let us look at the facts:
* A Cubox costs less than $160, while an equivalent desktop machine is closer to $1,000.
* Measuring just 2x2x2 inches and weighing just 91 grams, the Cubox will not take up valuable desk space, or sit on the floor to gather dust.
* The Cubox is an almost silent machine, with no noisy on-board fan like many desktop boxes.
* Even running at full power, showing full 1080p video, Cubox uses a mere 3 watts of power. Most desktop boxes use up to 100 times that.
* The neatly designed Cubox has no moving parts, which will save on maintenance costs and minimise hardware failure.
Thin clients are not appropriate for everybody, but in some situations, they are perfect - and the Cubox is the perfect machine for the job. It is small, cool, quiet, low power, and low-price: The 1GByte model costs $119.99, or you can double your RAM - the 2GByte model is just $159.99. If you are considering an office computer overhaul or a fresh install, it might be worth considering investing in thin clients - the Cubox in particular!
After we have shown you how to use the CuBox installer, and how to use the GEEXBOX XBMC running on the CuBox, we want to share with you yet another powerful use case of the CuBox Miniature Computer, and that is the feature rich rutorrent client that comes with the GEEXBOX XBMC package. The rutorrent client gives you access to a huge variety of public domain content (music, videos,etc…). Until now you had to search for such content and download it using your PC or Laptop and you had to stay chained to your PC or Laptop until the download is finished. When it was finally time to enjoy the content on your TV you had to deal with the annoying copy and setups... Now we say, no more, since now you can let the CuBox do all work under one roof, and all you have to do is to enjoy the content on your TV, how to do that? Just continue reading.
As I have mentioned before, the GEEXBOX XBMC package comes with rutorrent built in, and you can access the rutorrent client installed on the GEEXBOX XBMC from your PC or Laptop with a simple browser and there is no need to install any new software on your PC/Laptop... Through that browser window you can search for all content that interests you and start downloading it. The download will be performed by the CuBox Miniature Computer, now you can turn off your PC/Laptop and leave the CuBox to do all the work. After the CuBox is done downloading your interesting new content, it will be waiting for you to play it locally on the same CuBox machine. To see how to exactly do that just watch this video. We only ask that you refrain from the download of copyrighted materials. There are infinite amounts of public domain materials to enjoy.
Thank you all for your amazing and wonderful support! And don’t forget to tell us what you think about the rutorrent or the CuBox here in the comments.
Imagine a situation where you could use your smartphone to search for any content you wanted, start playing it on your smartphone, and then – with one touch – see it on the huge LCD screen in your living room. Well, all you need to do that is an internet connection, your CuBox and your smartphone – and it doesn’t matter whether it’s Android or IOS. So how do you do this, exactly?
First of all, you have to connect the CuBox to your television with an HDMI cable, and connect the CuBox to a power source, and to the Internet (with an Ethernet cable). As you know, the CuBox can run a number of interesting applications – you can install each of them in just a few minutes. Each of these applications has its own purpose, but today we’re going to talk about the application that will turn your CuBox into a media center with a large selection of high-quality content: XBMC. Most of you are already familiar with this application, but for those who aren’t, keep reading.
XBMC is a free and open-source media player application developed by the XBMC Foundation in 2003. The XBMC application offers its users a wide selection of add-ons, each of which gives you a vast selection of video or audio content. To enjoy HD quality video with XBMC, you need a computer with a 3D graphics processor. You can run XBMC on your home computer, but it would be a much more enjoyable experience if you run it on your living room television. And here enters the CuBox – the mini-computer with big graphics capabilities – a 2 inch cube that runs quietly with its noiseless, fan-less cooling mechanism, and it needs very little power. It can run XBMC and connect to your television screen through an HDMI cable, and for even higher quality sound you can connect it to your sound system with an SPDIF connector – and get professional-quality sound, for the ultimate viewing experience.
OK, so after our brief introduction to XBMC, now let’s talk about the possibility of even further expanding the world of content you can view right in your living room. In addition to the dozens of add-ons you can install on your XBMC, there’s an option to search for content on your smartphone and view it on your TV set. So how do you do it? By downloading one of the UPNP/DLNA applications onto your smartphone, which will bring you a large selection of content in the areas you’re interested in. The UPNP/DLNA applications allow you to watch content that you find with them on your TV, as long as you have a smart TV with an internet connection. But now, you can enjoy the same functionality without having to buy a smart TV – by using XBMC installed on your CuBox.
So, here’s the bottom line: you’re sitting in your living room, in front of the TV, which is connected to a CuBox running XBMC, and you’re searching with your smartphone UPNP/DLNA app, and you find an interesting movie you want to see now. All you have to do is play the movie on your smartphone and it will automatically be played on your TV set. So you can turn off your smartphone, turn down the lights, lean back, and enjoy the movie. You just need your smartphone to be connected to the same network as your CuBox.
Have you tried out this functionality? Are there UPNP/DLNA apps that you’ve used and would like to recommend? Share your thoughts with us by sending comments!
There are a tremendous amount of different Linux flavors, packages, and applications available these days. It is very easy to become lost in instructions on how to install and configure the CuBox minicomputer!
SolidRun has developed a small program that runs off a USB thumb drive: The CuBox Installer. With just a few clicks, you have quick access to different distributions and end use cases. Choose your favorite distribution or use case and install it!
The installation process is very easy: Download the CuBox Installer and save it to a USB thumb drive. Then insert the thumb drive into the CuBox, connect it to network and TV, then power the device on. While CuBox boots, it downloads a list of installations, and will prompt you to select one from a number of options.
Right now, the CuBox Installer can install the following distros: Arch, Debian, GeexBox (xbmc), ipfire, ubuntu-core, xubuntu, and XilkaX. We are adding more all the time!
Users can also use the Installer to reflash the SPI flash with latest u-boot release, either to upgrade u-boot, or to unbrick the CuBox.
For developers, adding an item to the CuBox installer is easy too! Just write a plug-in script and upload it online. Have SolidRun add that script to the latest distribution list and everyone can access your work through the CuBox Installer!
The plug-in script can be a script that downloads a ready-to-use image from a URL and flashes that image to the memory card. The script can instead provide you with a number of sub menus, if you'd prefer.
The CuBox community has been using the Installer for almost six months, and it is finally fully baked and ready to share with everybody!
Vily Lupo is the newest member of the SolidRun team, brought in to help manage the rowdy bunch of us working on CuBox. He will be managing the operation side of things at SolidRun HQ, helping to streamline just about everything behind the scenes, and letting other people get back to the development side of things (hello, Rabeeh!).
This means everything should run smoother, and that means fewer delays in getting your CuBox (or your CuBox Pro) sent out to you!
To celebrate the arrival of our new colleague, we stuck him under the microscope and asked him a few questions.
Looking to buy a CuBox? You now have more options open to you, as SolidRun announces a new UK distributor, NewIT!
The Norfolk-based business has already established itself as a busy retailer of all sorts of miniature computers and accessories including SDHC cards and readers, USB devices, and an assortment of cables and switches.
Getting anything sent to Australia always seems like really hard work, sometimes it feels like packages are swimming their way across the ocean to arrive at the land Down Under.
Luckily for Aussie developers (and Kiwi developers across the Tasman), SolidRun has partnered with Spinifex Computing, meaning you can buy your CuBox and accessories directly from a local, Victoria-based company, drastically cutting down on the time your device will spend in transit. (It's a long way from SolidRun HQ in Haifa to Spinifex in Melbourne - roughly 13760 km!)