A few months ago Paul Allen’s Digeo company acquired Moxi, who at the time was working on a TiVo-like PVR Linux-based solution, also named Moxi. Many expected that the co-founder of Microsoft would modify the product to use WindowsCE, but instead the Moxi has continued to be developed with Linux. In fact, Digeo seems really happy with the popular open source kernel. Continue reading to learn more about this exciting new product and view the exclusive screenshots we have for you. We talked with Toby Farrand, Digeo’s CTO last week, and he provided us with some exclusive insight on the inner workings of the Moxi product. Digeo specifically chose Linux as the underlying operating system because of its open nature that allows all kinds of modifications and because it is fast and stable. “It was a very easy decision”, Mr Farrand told us. “Linux is secure, complete and reliable”.
Digeo’s developers have made a large number of check-ins to the 2.4 and 2.5 versions of the Linux kernel. These changes were mostly to do with partitioning code and its security options, but Digeo are also the main maintainers of the ext3 filesystem. In addition, the Linux implementation used in Moxi boots from Open Firmware.
The Moxi product is the most powerful PVR system to be found today in this specific embedded market. It runs on a 733 Mhz C3 Cyrix x86 CPU, uses a Broadcom graphics chipset with dedicated video capabilities and is fully configurable by a cable provider. It comes with 40 GB of hard drive, but can easily use more than 100 GB. Moxi supports HDTV and has a TV-out (naturally), but no VGA output. Providers can customize the machine and the OS will also provide the required software for any additional peripherals (for example, a DVD or a CD-RW drive).
Digeo is concentrating on making Moxi a presentation device and a media center (it includes decoders for MPEG, MP3, DVD, Real but not Quicktime) and direct camcorder support is being considered for the future.
However, another very useful feature of Moxi is its ability to be… a server. It can function as an internet gateway and has a built-in firewall and router. It includes a modem so you can connect to the Internet directly, while it also supports plain ethernet and even wireless. Although these features will not be useful to all people, they bring Moxi a step ahead of the competition and they come pretty much “for free” due to the use of the GNU/Linux operating system. However, the Moxi is not (yet) an internet appliance so it does not offer a web browser.
Moxi can also be used as a VideoPhone. It can connect to other Moxis or via the PC, and supports the H.323 protocol. It will include MSN Messenger as well.
Moxi is the realisation of what Microsoft and Apple are trying to achieve with their notions of a “digital hub”. Moxi is a PVR with the ability to play DVDs and other multimedia files, connect to a digital camera, view PhotoCDs (or view images on TV via an ethernet link to your computer), provide access to the internet and more. Mr Farrand believes that PCs can’t be as successful in this particular area, because home computers do not interact correctly with TVs and cable providers, and that computers can’t work as integrated with a channel (e.g. a scrambled cable channel like HBO which needs special bypassing) as a dedicated solution can offer. PCs take a “top-down” approach to try to behave as specialized devices, while in reality they are multi-purpose devices. This can create specific problems in usability and functionality of the system. Also, PCs are not secure enough for the PVR purpose, as most channel providers won’t like to see their content easily pirated. Moxi provides such security after special agreements with the cable provider or channels. Another critical problem with PCs is latency and multithreading. “You don’t want your recording to freeze or lose frames while you are checking your email or running a scheduled CRON job you had forgotten about”, says Mr Farrand. “You expect recording and playback to work as well as when watching it on TV, live. Microsoft’s or other solutions wouldn’t have the same sophistication and seamless integration that a dedicated product would”.
The current focus of the company is the USA market, but creating compatible versions for other regions wouldn’t be too hard, Mr Farrand told us. In the US TV market, the Moxi can record on 5.1 surround sound, at 256 KB/sec and preserve this quality on playback. Users can change these settings via the TV user interface (which uses Macromedia Flash!).
The company plans to add OpenGL (and CGL) and 3D support and also license and port some games to their platform. The current games included in the device are simple games using Flash. Another useful feature of Moxi is that the ROM and operating system can be completely upgraded on the fly from the cable operator via the included modem. This way any bugs or other problems on the customer’s device can easily be fixed.
Moxi will be available via cable providers or other Premium TV companies, and the hardware will be custom for each one of them. The price is not set in stone yet, but the company expects it to be in the same price range as the competition. Leasing options will also be available.
Moxi is expected to be launched in the begining of the new year, and it looks set to be an interesting player in the growing market of the PVRs and personal media center systems.
its funny that Paul Allen would not put Windows software in his own devices, even Paul knows how much Windows sucks
It is all about money and time, not how good or bad an OS is. The Moxi had already been developed with Linux when Digeo acquired Moxi. A lot of human work hours have been spent to develop this product, and reverting to a completely different OS *at that point in time*, was just out of the question. It has nothing to do with how much Windows or Linux sucks or rules.
This is a consumer product, where the average user have no idea what OS lies behind that box. Allen wanted something that works to get it out of the door and ship it, not to go months behind schedule and change OSes just for the fun or zealotry of it. Get your clues together. Money and time talks.
Very well said, I fully agree. Just because Allen has a stake in MS doesn’t mean he’s going to cram it everywhere or make sure everything is supermicrosoft.
You guys are right. Let’s just put the best tool for the job.
Multithreading and Multimedia, BeOS would have been the best tool for the job. but we will settle for Linux
Paul Allen the no 2 man at M$ and owner of the struggling Seattle Seahawks has an exorbant amount of money, it would not have hurt him if he had a focus shift to cram in Windows. The fact that he is not says somthing completely different.
But the initial decision of which OS to used had to be based on something right? They could have used Windows for start, but they choose linux. It’s what I would have done as well.
OK BEOS could be used , but why not QNX ???
QNX team has a lot of projects in develop software devices.
Paul Allen is not Bill Gates, nor is he Microsoft. He happens to have a history at Microsoft way back then and he still owns a lot of shares. However, there is not a shred of Bill Gates’ committed fanatism in his words and he is not bothered by Microsoft.
Linux, Windows – what does it matter to him? He can as well make good money and interesting things with Linux, too.
>>Paul Allen the no 2 man at M$
>> Paul Allen is not Bill Gates,
>> he still owns a lot of shares.
I believe Paul Allen has already sold ALL his shares in Microsoft a few years ago.
I don’t know if Paul likes Windows or not, but we do know that Bill Gates certainly drove the man insane. Gates literally make him sick.
David Coursey I believe…
Paul Allen isn’t stupid. Windows Embedded over Linux: what does it lack and what does it have over Linux? Practically nothing. Allen just choosed the cheapest. Windows isn’t crap.
Thank you for correcting my mistake.
Paul Allen really sold every single Microsoft share he privately held in May, 2002.
Sorry, sloppy again 🙁 Paul Allen did the major selling already in 2000. If he owns any MS stocks any more, his stake is insignificant (at least on his own terms).
I think the main reason for choosing Linux in the first place could be that due to its open source nature, Linux can be adapted to the task at hand as much as they like. All the non-PC OSes from Microsoft are usually built for some particular device (PDA, Smartphone, …) and there’s very little room for customisation. Microsoft ships these OSes with a clear vision what the devices have to look and act like, which is why all these devices look and act almost exactly the same – as if they were all built by the same company.
This is (I believe) the reason why Sendo dropped their plans for a “Windows” smartphone – they know all “Windows-powered” smartphones will be exactly the same, they have no way of differentiating themselves from other smartphone vendors through innovation.
If people drop “Windows” – even for devices for which a “Windows” version exists – because they can’t customize it, why would anyone choose a version of “Windows” for a device for which no dedicated “Windows” version exists? It’d be insane.
“I don’t know if Paul likes Windows or not, but we do know that Bill Gates certainly drove the man insane. Gates literally make him sick.”
iS that true? Gates made him sick? Don’t you mean allen already had health problems?
Regardless, paul allen is a good businessman. Linux saves his investment money. forcing them to use would windows would cost him a lot more in development time and possibly additional resources. His goal is to make money not spread the gospel of microsoft. That latter goal belongs to gates.
Sorry for the triple post, but on a set up box, who really cares about multithreading and multi-whatever. Geeks. If Moxi is targeting this market, they better just leave instead of wasting millions of investor money.
Besides, it is not like Be is the only one that have multithreading support. Linux, used here, has a remarkably good support for a project this old. Multimedia wise, maybe they would win some points going Be OS, but how much? Essentially, all of they need isn’t 10 Quicktime movies playing at once on a 200Mhz Pentium II. What they need is something that supports the current multimedia “standards”. Linux is closer to that than BeOS would ever be.
Aki, Bill Gates is in everyway someone like Paul Allen. Only luckier. Bill Gates isn’t the one pushing the business. That person is Steve Balmer. Bill Gates happens to be a lucky geek. 🙂
Paul Allen was always the more technical the Allen and Gates pair. Do a couple of searches on google and you will see he has also always favored Unix – Xenix was pretty much a Paul Allen decision that was unloaded when he left.
BeOS has most of the “current” multimedia standards
Streaming Audio Yes with ease
Macromedia Flash Yes not 5 or 6 but its comming
Ogg Vorbis & MP3 Yes
OpenGL Yes but not hardware excellerated yet
MMX Support Yes
Windows Media Player, No (not likely to happen)
Real Player Yes
Image Support, All Kinds
AVI and FLI yes
Firewire support yes
TV Tuner Support and Video in, built in to the basic media kit
Internet Radio Yes, and extreamly inexpensive.
all your standard legacy formats such as mod, yes
BeOS Media kit, is also being rewritten, and improved upon
as i speak. BeOS is also used in a lot of highend audio
It should also be noted that image video and sound translators
are plugins into the OS, independent of any particular application.
and Drivers can easily be tweaked and changed without restarting the computer.
If your bringing cheap and effective embeded appliances, you will want somthing that can play 10 Quicktime files latency free on a Pentium 200, because a Pentium 200 costs pennies.
Multimedia was what BeOS was intended for,
Sorry to sound rude, but all the things you mentioned is available on Linux. Does Be OS support Microsoft’s formats? Xine and (especially) MPlayer supports it to some long extend.
Besides, unlike Linux, BeOS is DEAD. Nadda. Bye bye. Sayonara. Sure, there is OBOS and Zeta and a trillion of other projects, but except for Zeta, all of them don’t seem to have a problem any time soon. And even if they release a product tommorrow, it is a little too late for Moxi.
And all the other features (esp. advance audio)… how would it benefit Moxi? Why would a person using moxi feel the need to play 10 Quicktime files? Why would Moxi need a architecture where the drivers can be changed without a reboot (da, unless it is based on the kernel, you don’t need to reboot Linux).
Xenix was unloaded because it was making a huge loss, and at that time, Microsoft couldn’t really sustain the lost. Besides, Paul Allen more technical than the Allen and Gates pair? 🙂
Bill Gates is a geek with a gag order. A old lousy geek at that 🙂
After thinking a lot…. why Flash for the UI? Isn’t it faster for the user by them taking something like Qt Embedded or PicoGUI and building their UIs on it?
I would like one of these PVR, they look very nice. I just hope they would make them a little bit cheaper than the alternative. Standard ones cost between $300 and $1000, plus the montly fees, plus activations fees.
Hopefully, there is lot of new PVRs on the market. Some linux-based (http://www.metrolink.com), some i don’t know (http://www.sonicblue.com). I’m not sure the Linux-based option make them cheaper.
And by the way I like the Moxi GUI. Compared to the Windows Media Center I just tried… there is no match.
becasue it is cool looking. this is a consumer product, and flash is not going to be slow on an embeded system.
I think that this interface is awsome and depending on the priceing, I might get it to replace my OLD dvd player.
any one know if you have to subscribe to a service for the tv schedule?
has this site became a mirror of slashdot?
Paul Allen still has 138 million shares of Microsoft stock.
Anyone will vote for QNX here ?
I am sorry to say that, but qnx is the most developed product for embebed systems !
There are many QNX-based digital video recorders deployed in the security departments in banks and casinos around the world, where the infamous Tivo/Linux crashes can’t be tolerated.
>>”I don’t know if Paul likes Windows or not, but we do know that Bill Gates certainly drove the man insane. Gates literally make him sick.”
iS that true? Gates made him sick? Don’t you mean allen already had health problems?
Yes, he did already have problems back them. He got sick while he was at Microsoft, and not a few people believe that the continous head-knocking with Billy-boy was the cause. For sure, Gates rubbed him the wrong way.
Anyway, his health improved very drammatically right after he quit! Go figure!
Paul Allen left Microsoft in 1983 when he was diagnosed with cancer (Hodgkin’s Disease) — the same type of cancer that struck Mario Lemieux. As powerful as Bill Gates is, he can’t cause cancer.
This is off topic but this is as good a time and place to discuss the problem. A few posts above this some one who was not paying much attention tersely asked, “has this site became a mirror of slashdot?” The author of that post did not realize that while this story did just appear on Slashdot it was, in fact, an OSNews exclusive story with never-before-screenshots of a exciting new product.
At the time that this story reaching Slashdot, this forum had about 21 relevant posts. Since that time OSNews has received about 6 more while Slashdot has 75 relevant posts. Not only is there no mention in the Slashdot posting about the already healthy conversation thread at OSNews, a Slashdot reader copied the entire story in his post in the Slashdot forums.
So, I ask you, is this a problem for those of you who maintain websites that take the responsibility to host your own forums? Slashdot serves a great service for sites that have no outlet for discussion. OSNews is not one of those. When the discussion on a story like this is fragmented accross two major news sites is it a public service or a distraction? Should Slashdot editors and moderators show more responsibility in directing the discussion to where it belongs?
I’m not sure, but the Web has grown up since Slashdot came to be. I think Slashdot should change to address this.
The Moxi device was under development for years before being purchased by Paul Allen, so the decision to use Linux was made long before he had anything to do with it.
Actually, it’s not so clear cut as that. The choice of Linux over Windows was most likely due to the fact that the system had already been engineered with Linux, true. However, it says something else about Windows CE. If Windows CE doesn’t offer anything that Linux doesn’t, what’s the point? You’ve got two products here in a market where backwards compatibility really doesn’t matter. If WinCE is just the equal of Linux, yet Linux is free and WinCE isn’t, and Linux is customizable and WinCE isn’t, why bother? Recent SEC reports showed that Microsoft is still losing money in its WinCE division. Part of the reason WinCE can’t become successful is technical issues (WinCE does have lots of technical problems, one of the major ones being that it is not cross-platform anymore, and it’s support for the new ARM chip, the XScale, sucks) and the other part is competition. If WinCE doesn’t offer anything that a free alternative doesn’t, then it’s not going to make any money.
Wow! It would be cool if linux could do for something useful like this, I just wish I could play games like CS om it.
They will sell it with linux then migrate over to windows
once they have everybody subscribed. Then it will meld
into the Xbox rigging. Tada… The ultimate M$ plan,
control over the personal media delivery in the home.
Using Flash for the UI seems to be a very good idea, from a purely graphical point of view.
Artists are (mostly) not geeks and it is hard to ask them to work on a project without the real help of a good authoring and drawing tool.
Like for the choice of linux for the kernel, the point here was : Use the best product to respond to each specific problem.
If BeOS were dead, you would not have to keep telling people it is dead. But the fact of the matter is, BeOS will keep haunting you.
Interestingly, I have tried all of the above. BeOS was too big (almost impossible to get below 200MB with anything meaningful beyond a kernel). The embedded Be OS did not have any of the external media support (TV Tuner, etc.) since it did not have the media framework ported – and it is DEAD. QNX is horrible for anything other than straight C coding. The engineers at QNX do not (truly) support any C++ coding – in fact, they will steer you away from it. AND QNX is very difficult to work with. WinCE is very costly – licensing, developers, support. Unless you have a very vested interest in MS or need IE browser, then WinCE is not a good device OS.
Linux has fantastic support from the software development community. Even if a driver is not available, usually engineers at the device company will provide something to get you started. Linux also has reasonable media support (MPEG, H.323, JPEG, DiVX, etc.). Linux is only deficient in the browswer space – customers demand desktop experience if a browser is prominent.
For this application, Linux is the correct choice by FAR.
I’ll love an article where it shows what chipset they use for TVout… always wanted to get a good looking TVout (like the screenshots) without paying $1000 for a scanconverter….
>>>The engineers at QNX do not (truly) support any C++ coding – in fact, they will steer you away from it. AND QNX is very difficult to work with.
Except that QNX has donated their c/c++ tools source codes to the eclipse consortium and now heads the eclipse CDT (C/C++ Development Tools) project.