Rant: LinuxMCE? C’mon give me a break…
"LinuxMCE is a free, open source add-on to Ubuntu including a 10′ UI, complete whole-house media solution with pvr + distributed media, and the most advanced smarthome solution available. It is stable, easy to use, and requires no knowledge of Linux and only basic computer skills"
That’s the description of a new video posted on google – for (as described above) a Linux alternative to Media Center.
I had a watch – and before it had even finished – I double checked my calendar just to make sure it wasn’t actual April 1st. Go have a look for yourself – and you will see what I mean….
While I give full credit to someone bringing out an ambitious product/compilation like this (and doing something for the community) - the thing that annoys me is that he seems to feel the need to attack Media Center 2005 to get publicity. If he had some valid points, good examples etc – this would be fine (and healthy) – but he doesn’t – and that’s the problem.
There’s probably 15 blog posts full of errors, omissions, misrepresentations and complete baloney that could be typed up about this video (and presented product) - but thought I’d just note down some of my initial thoughts :
- The product is described as a 10′ UI – but it’s quite clearly a 2′ UI. The most telling visual sign being that you pretty much couldn’t read any of the UI text when Linux MCE was shown – however when MCE2005 was shown – everything was perfectly readable. In most places in LinuxMCE it appears 9-12 point fonts are used – something that won’t be visible on a lot of older TV’s (and in general you don’t want to go any lower then 16-18 point). The presenter also rattles on continuously about how much extra information you can see at once – but again doesn’t get that ‘less is more’ with 10′. Also – 10 ‘ ui’s are somewhat defined by being targeted for use with remote controls – however his entire LinuxMCE demo was using an air mouse (which is wireless and provides mid air usage - but a mouse and 2′ by all other names).
- For some strange reason – LinuxMCE was compared against MCE2005 – and non Vista Media Center. If you were doing a fair comparison on games consoles – you wouldn’t pit a Playstation 3 against an Xbox 1 and then conclude Sony was superior would you? Same can be said here – Vista Media Center was shipping well before this video – so any fair comparison should have really been LinuxMCE vs Vista Media Center. Also – not to forget the parts of MCE2005 shown were features/UI examples that were brought to market up to 4 years ago(?) by Microsoft.
- The Air Mouse used for the LinuxMCE is actually a product designed primarily for Windows – but there was no mention of this – nor any comparison of it being used with MCE2005. Yes go check the product page for the Gyration Air Mouse - guess which O/S it’s primarily targeted at. Oh yes it does say in small print down the bottom that ‘other systems supporting USB 1.1 may be supported’ – so I guess that means Linux. As most readers will also know – MCE2005 also supports mouse control – so again – why was this important point missed?
- The actual LinuxMCE UI looks absolutely and tragically terrible – yet the presenter spends the entire time bagging the MCE2005 UI. OK – so the video was bad quality – and I’m also no da vinci when it comes to design – but really this UI sux visually – and this fact was really highlighted each time he showed the MCE2005 UI. The LinuxMCE UI very much reminded me of the similarly poor ui’s found on the very early set top boxes (not Tivo) – and even to some extent the Ansi based DOS programs from the 80′s. I should probably give them some credit here for not ripping off the MCE2005 UI (as almost every PVR software on the planet has done bar Showshifter) – but they would have been a lot better off if they did in this case. Again – the LinuxMCE UI is not 10′ and clearly the designers of this just don’t get what this is.
Ok there’s a load of other things wrong – such as the tired old – ‘out of the box’ argument – and the complete ommision of mentioning all the great MCE2005 software that is available for home automation, mobile, pda’s and non MCE remotes. The comparison table at the end is also woefully inaccurate (see below) – again trying to tell us that only i/r remotes are supported – that their 2′ UI is Media Centric where as the MCE2005 10′ UI is PC Centric – and the clincher ‘Local PC Only’ claim at the end (guess they never heard of an XBox360 or an Extender).
Nothing however was more amusing then the message I received when I went to check out their site –
"Our server has been overwhelmed due to a recent Digg story. The demo video referred to is here: Google Video The setup video referred to will be online soon, and will show that the setup really was plug and play. The full website with forums, wiki and mantis will be back soon. Please check back tomorrow. The download link will be restored then."
One of the reasons for investing in a O/S like Vista is that you have a large, solid and reliable company as back up – who understand and worry about lots of real world issues on your behalf (such as ‘capacity planning’). So right now – if you are a LinuxMCE user – it appears you can’t get any product support from them (or even download it) – because the creator didn’t think about that bit….
Well enough said – go judge for yourself.
Anyhow – here’s a couple of screens from their video – first their comparison table, and underneath the LinuxMCE ‘EPG’ view and then the MCE2005 version of this screen.