XBMC Architecture Summary

In July we have sponsored a paper to describe the XMBC Architecture. We needed it to use in a grant proposal so why not paying the XBMC Community to have it?

During the time we were writing the proposal and working on the paper, we noticed that many other people were looking for something similar. Of course all information you will find in this paper is available somewhere on the XBMC wiki, support pages, foruns and trac... What we intended to have was one summary document that can serve as a base for new developers and companies when researching or planning to get involved in the project.

Hope it could be useful to you, or anyone you know that might be interested.


XBMC Summary Architecture
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TFF presents updated FLOSS Media Center Study at OVC

Since the first publication in September 2008 and the last 2 revisions, our study on FLOSS Media Centers State of the Art was downloaded over 35,000 times.

It is now time for a third revision, and we found no better place to present it than the Open Video Conference in New York City from 19-20 June.


With 60 different features under comparison in the 10 most prominent media centers in the free/open source community, we consider all the aspects that matter to you - the end user - to pick your preferred system. Whether it runs on a HTPC or in a set-top box, you have all the parameters to ensure the right choice spending little or nothing. Oh, did I mention this work is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license?

So stay tuned, we see you at the OVC.

Open Video Conference

Telematics Freedom Foundation will be present at the Open Video Conference, in New York City, June 19-20, promoted by the Open Video Alliance. Don't know what the Open Video Alliance is? Take a look at the Promo Video:

20.000 downloads in 120 days

We launched the first version of our FLOSS Media Center Comparison Chart last year, on September 18. Four months later, we are pleased to announce that we just passed 20.000 downloads.


This is an impressive number for a niche used to see fragmented, disconnected initiatives here and there. Some flourishing, some dead. Free/Open Source Media Centers suffered for a long time from the lack of dedicated (and compatible) hardware to run on, and we are glad to see that 2008 brought us new players (like Boxee) and new products (like Neuros LINK), aiming to increase awareness and use of such home entertainment applications.

We bet 2009 will bring FLOSS Media Centers to a next level. From Home-Theater PC's to set-top boxes, we hope they reach the consumer mass-market pretty soon, and help users to discover new media, enjoy high quality content and connect even more using the internet.

So, thank you for your interest in our work. Thank you specially for those who are constantly telling us about the new features within your community. We'll be compiling the next paper update pretty soon, and we'll let you know through this blog. Subscribe to the RSS feed.

Tiscali TV Shutdown: a strong opportunity for Open Source Set-Top Boxes

The recent decision taken by Tiscali Italy to shutdown their IP-TV service, and the few subscribers acquired during the period in which the company promoted its Internet+IP-TV package is an important signal to the Free Software community.

It's a sign that the already fragmented market for Set-Top Boxes leaves no room for closed solutions (the so-called "walled gardens"). There are many solutions available today for those who want to bring to the living room a system to manage their multimedia content. The problem is, however, that all these solutions are closed in some way or have major limitations, because of the difficulties in development and production processes.

Perhaps it is time now that the big players in the market start thinking why not building a large "Open Garden" for entertainment. An open standard for interoperability, development and distribution of multimedia applications. A system that can run on "old" Tiscali boxes, TiVo boxes or any other box which can be purchased on the web (like the Neuros LINK, for example). A new approach to entertainment that could give Set-Top Boxes the same flexibility the PC has, to stimulate creation of new multimedia applications (like p2p tv services, voip, email, web, social networking...), but without compromising the nature, usability and comfort of being able to enjoy media from our couch.

We're working on a project proposal for the drafting of such standards and the development of a back-end and middleware layers that will offer a stable and interoperable platform for Set-Top Boxes. As Facebook and Apple have managed to create their basic platforms for the distribution of applications for Social Networking and on mobile devices (iPhone, iPod touch), the idea is to create a new channel of distribution (an open channel this time) where producers and consumers can interact without intermediates, creating and consuming media (either free or paying for it).

If you want to know more, please visit the project page or participate using Facebook.

The Library Overview

The Universal Audiovisual Library (AVU – Audiovideoteca Universale or simply the “Library”) aims to realize the widest European Digital Archive of audio and video contents, with a specific emphasis towards Italian and English material available in public domain or subject to copyright but released either publicly or to the Library under free and copyleft licenses: contents which can be freely seen, shared and reused, even in their integral form, at least for non-profit use.

Proprietary contents with heavy potential for reuse and remix, within the scope of the "right to report" will be considered exceptions, together with "degraded" versions of proprietary contents granted under free and copyleft licenses, which are at least a good ADSL "web" quality.

A web portal with strong functions for collaboration, sharing and  socialization, and public spaces will produce a dynamic community of audio&video micro production centered on search, editing and remixing, composed by small and medium producers, youths, students, researchers, journalists, and private citizens.

The main Library's activities will center upon the acquisition, safekeeping, conversion, indexing, diffusion and promotion of contents with most cultural, social, and political value, to promote its dissemination and reuse through new digital channels. It will give public and free access to such contents in read, acquisition, contribution and reuse modes, through the following channels:
  • Internal Gigalan (100 times faster than DSL) in the Audiovisual Telematic Park, with 400sq.m of consultation and media editing spaces available, and in all companies located therein;
  • Web portal with content streaming and download features, through a high usability web interface;
  • Legal peer-2-peer networks managed by partners or third-parties;
  • Distribution partnerships with: ISP's, private and public sphere web portals, IPTV providers, digital video libraries (swapping), Set-Top Boxes providers.
The final aim is to create a wide and energetic community - both local and web-based - of students, young amateurs, small and medium remix producers, around the Library as a resource for inspiration, research, and reuse of contents as a flywheel for the productive creativity.

Consensus Building and Decision Making using Free/Open Source Software

We created Rule2Gether to demonstrate a simple, immediate and practical use of a Free Software platform (Drupal) in the hard task of collecting and organizing feedback from a group of citizens on matters that may directly affect all others. In our specific case, commenting and rating on Italian Chamber of Deputies Agenda Items and collecting proposals for new items that are taken into consideration for the next meeting only if the majority of the users support them directly through a vote, or indirectly through rating and comments.

But consensus-building, in any group, goes far beyond this simple feedback process. There are countless situations where decision-making by a group or by its representatives may go through endless types of stages (ie: anyone can propose topics, users x, y, z can sort the proposals, only users j, f, k can comment on the proposals, the committee of experts A must assess the feasibility of each proposal, voting: the "n" best proposals are elected and the selected proposals can be rated and commented by all users; all actions are suspended for "x" days; users a, b, c need to attend a video-conference... etc ...). That is, it is virtually impossible to think that one can list all the possible steps and then offer a one-size-fits-all solution.

We know this and that's why we designed Rule2Gether's future ready for flexible configuration of decision-making and consensus building stages, which is particularly interesting to political organizations or any organization willing to use a self-management system in a democratic manner. We will slowly publish more about it and carefully listen and discuss your comments through this blog.

In the last days I have contacted some groups (because of our intention to present Rule2Gether as a bid candidate to funds available in the European Union) and analyzed their general goal. I saw that each group has a different approach to solve a more or less the same problem. Many times using the same open source software as common ground (such as a content management system - CMS), but duplicating efforts when it comes to the implementation of features specific to the decision-making and consensus building processes.
  • The World Parliament Experiment: the site provides a discussion forum and specific functionality for political debate, with the aim of creating a world parliament, where people can propose, vote directly or delegate their vote on any issue under discussion;
  • Senator On-Line: an Internet political party which will allow everyone on the Australian Electoral roll who has access to the internet to vote on every bill put to Parliament and have its Senators to vote in accordance with a clear majority view;
  • Efficasync: a theoretical concept for self-management through processes of direct democracy. Users, as in a game, may choose to use their turn to change a "rule" already established, or accumulate "points" to gain more decision power in upcoming decisions;
  • GlobalDemo.org: a generic groupware for creating discussion spaces with blogs, faq, calendar of events, wall and discussion forum;
  • Gov2demOSS Light: a modular groupware for the creation of collaboration spaces with forums, petitions, calendar of events and knowledge base;
  • Global Assembly: uses a numerical evaluation for user's interest in a particular argument and his approval level for the statement, with formula value = interest x approval. The topics are then structured as a regular discussion forum;
  • DemocracyLab: calculates the general community view (consensus) on current arguments using a numerical scale evaluation (1 to 7) for agreement and importance to users, classified under 3 categories: values, positions and proposals.


Rule2Gether wants to serve as a common platform for the creation and configuration of the stages necessary for decision-making and consensus-building that is useful for most applications (like the ones listed above) using different workflows to achieve more or less the same goals, where the visual interface can be completely themed, and settings for the amount of stages, permissions and functions enabled for each active phase are constructed in such a way as to allow greater flexibility of use and a huge savings in the implementation of each feature. Besides the fact of establishing an open platform on which anyone can develop additional modules (surveys, voip, mini-apps ...), similarly to a large LEGO model.


Telematics Freedom seeking Partnership for European Projects

The Telematics Freedom Foundation is seeking new partners to kick-off some of its projects in the fields of Innovation Technology, Social Networking, Media and Audiovisual.

Those interested can find the profile of Telematics Freedom on CORDIS platform (the Community Research and Development Information Service for Science, Research and Development on the Seventh Framework Programme).

In particular, the projects for which we seek funds and partnerships are:

  • Freedom Box: Aims to promote wide dissemination and standardization of TV Media Centers connected to the web that are easy to use and economic for anyone; and by anyone verifiable and customizable. The ultimate goal is to bring to market easy-to-use and economically affordable devices that promote long-term maximization of important constitutional liberties in 2 stages: (1) Freedom of choice of audiovisual content on TV at home; (2) Freedom to communicate via Internet with levels of authentication, privacy and security that are adequate to constitutional rights. The operating system and any programs installed on the box will be distributed using free/open source licenses, preferably GNU Affero GPLv3 or GPL v3.
  • Universal Audiovisual Library: A Digital Library Database that collects hundreds of thousands of GB of audio and video content in its original language, released under open and public licenses. Created and managed by Telematics Freedom Foundation and several free-content partners.
  • Rule2Gether: Software for consensus-building, debate and preference expression following the Direct Democracy approach and methodologies. Particularly useful for Electoral Lists and/or Political Parties. Rule2Gether is software developed specifically to allow simple democratic discussions and easy decision-making procedures in any kind of organization.
  • User-Verifiable Telematics: A research project for the realization of software, hardware and processes that enable ordinary non-technical citizens to affordable access any internet-based telematic communication with pretty high levels of privacy and security that are fully user-verifiable. A model for the democratic control of services and practical means to verify software and hardware for all servers that run these services.
  • Draft2Gether: A new model for creating documents, annotating and proposing amendments in a democratic and cooperative way. Draft2Gether puts any group of people (10's to 100's) in a position to discuss and approve changes in documents democratically, through e-voting and annotation mechanisms. Draft2Gether is perfect for writing documents within standardization commitees, petitions, legal documents or any other type of document that needs to be approved by a large group of people through a careful discussion and a democratic voting of each change.
  • Do2Gether: Do2Gether is a Political Social Networking and Groups Management tool. The ultimate goal is to be a Free Alternative to YahooGroups/GoogleGroups™ (or a mix of GoogleGroups™+Facebook™). Do2Gether is a project to create a basic software platform for political networking. A web application focused on the needs of political or democratically-run organizations, which cannot (and must not) use a big player's web services such as YahooGroups or Google Groups for groups management or Facebook, Orkut and MySpace for social interaction and professional networking for obvious privacy issues or because of statutory rules.

Media Center Report: revision 1.2

It's time for a new revision on our report on Media Centers in the FLOSS community. Among the changes, surely the Apple TV version of Boxee and XBMC is the big one!

With our upcoming event next week about IP-TV's and Media Centers we thought it would be a good occasion to publish the 1.2 revision online and distribute printed copies to event attendees.

We'll have live demos for Boxee and XBMC using the Apple TV, and also: Elisa, MediaPortal and Neuros OSD. Don't miss!

See you soon... 

CNN "tech guru" Chris Pirillo reviews our FLOSS Media Center Study

My email to Chris Pirillo informing about the paper release was read, and here is what Chris has to say about it.

Chris, the 1.1 revision is out, downloads are here.