XBMC, Raspberry Pi and TuxTV

So after reading with great interest this post and watching this video, on the Raspberry Pi website I was really excited about using it as a frontend for my TuxTV project.

However it turns out, after a number of questions on the Raspberry Pi Forums, and a final blog post stating which codecs will be available to use, it seems this will not be possible at the moment.

To explain it simply, Digital TV (Freeview) within the UK is currently streamed using MPEG2 encoding. While the GPU within the Raspberry Pi can physically support it, the foundation say that the cost of the licensing to use MPEG2 is too much in relation to the price of the board, and including it at this stage wouldn’t meet the objectives of the Foundation.

Two licensed codecs will be provided at launch, MPEG4 and h.264.  Codec licences have quite an impact of the cost of the device which is why there are only two at this stage. There are non-licensed Codecs such at MPEG2, VC1 etc, but for the moment they will not be accelerated by the GPU.

This basically means that you can use an MPEG2 decoder on the Raspberry Pi, but it will have to be a software decoder, and will run on the ARM processor, and not the dedicated GPU. This would put a large amount of strain on the main processor, and the end results are likely to be un-viewable.

So. All in all, no MPEG2, no live or recorded TV on the Pi.

The foundation have stated that it might be possible to buy an additional license for each Pi you own, but this would take time, and they aren’t sure that the administration could be managed smoothly enough from their end to make it worth while.


Looks like I’m on the hunt again for something to use as a frontend, that doesn’t cost the earth to purchase. x86 architecture is looking good now…

  3 Replies to “XBMC, Raspberry Pi and TuxTV”

  1. Rob Holmes
    April 17, 2012 at 00:35

    I’ve been following your blog as I have exactly the same project in mind. The TuxTV project was how I found you!

    Have you considered the CuBox by SolidRun? I believe from what I’ve read that its GPU will decode MPEG2.

    You should check it out. The CuBox is a little more expensive, but maybe worth the extra. Hope to read more soon!

    • April 17, 2012 at 21:17

      Hi Rob,
      Thanks for the interest in my blog!
      I’ve been looking at a few small devices like that, but I’m still a little unsure. I’ve decided to go with a Lenovo IdeaCentre Q180 at the moment, mainly because of the sheer information around about XBMC on x86 and the LiveTV add-on.

      Thanks for the recommendation though! I will keep an eye out.



      • rob83uk
        April 18, 2012 at 09:01

        I’ve pre-ordered myself a CuBox now and I’m intending on installing XBMC, so I’ll let you know how I get on, although it’s not going to get here until May!

        I’ve got 1x DVB-T2 stick on the way, so I can play on my Ubuntu laptop in the meantime 🙂



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