So while I’ve been talking a lot about OSMC for the past few months, I understand a few of you haven’t understood why Raspbmc and Crystalbuntu are being superseded and what to expect of OSMC.

Update when you want, if you want

A lot of you loved Raspbmc and Crystalbuntu’s auto-update feature, but I do know it caused a lot of problems. For some of you, it would update at inconvenient times and for the much less fortunate, it sometimes broke your system. I’ve listened to what you’ve been saying and I’ve done my best to bring an update system that resolves these issues.

Now, you will be able to see what will be updated before you apply the update. You’ll also be able to choose if you want to install it or not. Further, you’ll be able to rollback if you are unhappy with the update. Before, Raspbmc and Crystalbuntu were rolling releases. This means that a fresh install always got you the latest version for better or worse. I’m handing control back to the user and letting them pick the exact version they want to run.

It’s faster

The new OSMC release will be much faster than Crystalbuntu or Raspbmc. That’s due to a lot of modernisation and work under the hood. We’re using the latest version of the Linux kernel as well as a modern Linux distribution to base OSMC on (Debian Jessie). We’re also taking advantage of the new systemd init system, which will bring quicker startup times as well!

Back to its Debian roots

OSMC is now more Debian-like. On Raspberry Pi and Apple TV in the past, performing actions such as apt-get dist-upgrade could be potentially dangerous. OSMC now distributes its updates and packages via apt. This means that you can use apt-get properly without fear of breaking anything, as well as enjoy the thousands of packages that the APT packaging system offers.

A unified codebase

When developing for Crystalbuntu and Raspbmc, I found myself frequently writing duplicate code. This is a waste of development time. By unifying the codebase as much as possible across all platforms, I’ve been able to work faster and smarter on OSMC. This means it will be easier to support more platforms in time as well as offer the same set of features across all devices. This will ensure a consistent experience, no matter what you’re running OSMC on.

Easier setup

Raspbmc and Crystalbuntu were made successful by easy one click installers for Windows. I’ve taken that further by ensuring that we have identical installers on Windows, Mac and Linux. These installers let you customise everything you need to get started and OSMC does the rest.

Our settings addon is much easier to use, and you’ll be guided through on your first setup to make sure OSMC is exactly how you like it. Networking is also improved: with WiFi tethering options and the ability to log on to wireless networks that have a sign in page.

It looks great too

We’re really happy with how our new skin looks. It’s fast no matter what device it’s running on and I’m confident that you’ll love it once you try it. It hides all the complexity and leaves what’s important to you: your content.

Just try it

As I write this, we’re in Alpha 1. If you’re up for trying something new, give it a go! You won’t be disappointed.