Liz: We first met Sam Nazarko early in 2012 when he was still at school, in the sixth form. He’d been working on a packaged version of XBMC, the open-source media player, specifically built for the Raspberry Pi. He called it Raspbmc: he’d created a way to boot your Raspberry Pi straight into a really slick media player.
Since then, Raspbmc and XBMC have both been renamed (they’re OSMC and Kodi respectively), and OSMC has gone…well, it’s become enormously successful. Sam’s just finished university, OSMC has nearly half a million users, and it’s just reached a milestone: its stable release (you’ll find it in NOOBS, or you can download it at osmc.tv/download). Here’s Sam to tell you some more.
It was a Wednesday in April 2012 and the postman had come early. I saw the letter and instantly knew what it was. I was in Upper Sixth at the time (Liz interjects: for people outside the UK, that’s the final year of high school), and I had been waiting to get my hands on one of these for months. Here it was, a Raspberry Pi! That was the first (and only) day that I ever skipped school.
I had done some work with the 1st generation Apple TV, and spotting the new form factor, low cost and low power consumption of the Pi, I was excited. I started work on Raspbmc and for two years it amassed an astounding amount of users.
But I never expected Raspbmc to grow to the size it did — it was never really designed to support such a large deployment. I learned a lot developing it and knew that it was time to start fresh. In June of last year, I decided to start the OSMC project. XBMC, now known as Kodi was renaming and I decided to follow suit.
I knew that we could make Raspbmc even better. During the development of the project, more and more people joined the team and got involved. Today we have over a dozen regular volunteers. Even though OSMC has just announced its stable release, it’s already being used regularly by 450,000 users. If someone had told me that Raspbmc or OSMC were going to be so widely adopted 3 years ago, I wouldn’t have believed them. Still, didn’t you say you were going to only produce 4,000 Pis Liz?
Liz: 2,000, actually. We…lacked vision.
OSMC is based on Debian Jessie and we’ve made sure it’s optimised for all Raspberry Pi models, old or new. If you haven’t used Raspbmc in a while and have yet to try OSMC, I hope you’ll be pleasantly surprised with OSMC. We’ve worked hard to improve performance, stability, the update system and hardware compatibility.
Thanks to the Raspberry Pi Foundation for their support.