Our Team Blog

Boxee and Open Source Software

We’re passionate about open source software - it forms the basis of the software we’ve spent the last 4 years building and we love the spirit of the community around it. Without it, we would not have been inspired to build Boxee in the first place.

Boxee’s software is mostly licensed under GPLv2 and we make all open source code for Boxee’s PC software and embedded devices available for download on our website. Boxee is originally forked from the XBMC’s open source code, and we continue to contribute to this great project.

Yesterday there was some noise in the open source community that a utility included with a pre-release version of the Boxee Box software is licensed under the GPLv3. The utility, gpgv2, came in a pack of gpg utilities, including libgcrypt, which we use, and was erroneously included - but never used, and we subsequently removed it from the Boxee Box software. We have already put a new internal process in place for adding new F/OSS to Boxee and we are also doing a complete audit of our software to better document the licensing of the open source code we use.

In the end, the spirit of the initial argument was born more out of frustration with the inability to hack the Boxee Box. We had always hoped that the Boxee Box would be able to run XBMC, enable old-school emulators, and make breakfast in the morning. But it quickly became clear that to release a device with premium content, we’d need to put strict security measures in place. Lose the security requirements and lose access to some of the Boxee Box’s most popular content.

We started Boxee to see if we could take XBMC’s open source project and turn it into our day job. 4 years later, I’m pretty sure it’s turned into our day, evening, and night job.

The open source community continues to deliver some of the most innovative projects around and we’re happy to be a part of that, especially as a company that’s shown open source people out there that you can turn your passion in your profession.

- Tom

Boxee Co-Founder

April 19, 2011 at 6:32 pm

125 Responses to “Boxee and Open Source Software”

  1. Eduardo says:

    Yes, ok, whatever. Now to the important: Any news on the v1.0 for Windows?

    • avner ronen says:

      :) will have an update next week

      • Gozirra Izroose says:

        Avner, when you say "will have an update next week" - does that mean a release, or just more "we are working on it" text? Surely you can see how it can be taken either way. Currently have both Boxee and XBMC on the PC, just in case its the former - if its the latter, will clear out some space I guess.

      • Rick says:

        Thank you Eduardo for your selfish, shortsighted, ignorant comment. For the rest of you who are wondering why this spin-doctor blog post happened, look at http://infinityoverzero.com/bbox/ to see the truth.

      • Alex Yo says:

        Where is it

      • Steve says:

        Who else loves the irony of these losers putting out a blog post to try cover up and explain their lies, and then both the CEO and Tom make a promise that they proceed to break!?

        Avner first tried to make it look like something cool was coming by saying the purposely generic "will have an update next week" but then when called out on it… "we are not releasing a new build next week". This was echoed by Tom Sella with "We will have an update on this matter next week." So you can only guess that the "update" means some more talking, and you've seen the proof that you know these guys are lying cause their lips (or keyboards) are moving.

        But the funny thing is, they don't even respect their users enough to actually give them a verbal update. They have lied so many times they don't care about it any more! Boxee could have tweeted "Here's your update, we don't care about you guys anymore" and at least kept their promise while still sending the same message. The truth is probably more like they had nothing at the time but thought to themselves, surely we can think of something to say about the other builds in a week… but then they just forgot again.

    • Amaury says:

      Hiya. been eight days. any news?

      • Espensgr says:

        Seriously! When is the postupdate on the PC/MAC version coming? Its been 10 days now, i`m waiting in suspention on whats happening.

        • Frank says:

          Let me shorten your wait:

          "We were ambitious, then we realized that companies need to make money. Free stuff does not give us money, working for content providers or hardware manufacturers like D-Link does. Sadly sales for our first hardware device were low because of bad reviews and missing features which we are working on. If we want to provide Netflix (requested feature #1) etc., we have to lock down the system to their liking and adhere to their code restrictions which are incompatible with open source.

          Boxee development for Mac/Win/Linux has already ceased, but you are free to port our changes yourself with our provided sourcecode. We will keep releasing patches for the Boxee Box which you are also free to port. Nobody will do this. Stick with XBMC."

  2. HTPC Owner says:

    Seriously, Avner promised some sort of status very soon of what was going on with the abandoned PC software. That was several weeks ago.

    I recognize you guys are busy, but a brief paragraph on whether we should all just move back to XBMC would be much appreciated.

    • avner ronen says:

      will post an update re the PC/Mac version next week

      • HTPC Owner says:

        Thanks so much Avner!

      • Jdoogles says:

        Did I miss the announcement on the pending update for information in regards to the Boxee for PC/OSX

      • Matt says:

        Seriously, at this point the communication between the Boxee team and its users is at an all-time low. You and Tom separately made statements that there would be an announcement about the non-Box software "next week". Now that time has passed without so much as an apology or further announcement. Do you understand how a blog works? You, as the blogger or company, generate hype and anticipation for your product. Then, if you do not deliver on your statements you alienate your users. At this point I am alienated. Nothing in the near-term that Boxee can do will restore my faith in the competency of the company (the people running it). I should unsubscribe from this blog, because recently it is just a disappointment, and not informative in any way.

  3. anonymouse says:

    Thanks for following up on this issue!

  4. Richard Ayotte says:

    If it quickly became clear then why didn't you tell us? Seems deceptive to me to keep this information secret. I bought a Boxee Box thinking that I could run any software that I wanted on it, and it was suppose to according to your CEO.


    You did not disclose at anytime your decision on closing the platform before the product was released.

    Well, I just sold mine. I have also stopped recommending it to everyone and I'm no longer a fan. I guess you'll learn the hard way that deceiving the early adopters isn't a good idea.

    • Tom Sella says:

      It was our hope we find ways to make it completely open even as reality hit. We have been making the case for it, and, in fact, we have been able to maintain it open for 3rd party developers to make applications for - not an easy feat, and not one available, yet, to similar products.

      • Afvoser says:

        Only open until the first lawsuit

      • phrend says:

        I appreciate that the Boxee platform is open to 3rd party developers, but, how many units do you think you would have sold if there were no 3rd party apps? You didn't do the user-base a "favor" - you did what you had to in order to release a product that had a chance of selling at the volume you wanted/needed in order to attract a company like D-Link to partner with.

      • Andrew says:

        Sadly it is not true That you have made the platform open to third party app developers. It is just as closed there, if not more so. Every app that I used when I was on a media pc is unavailable. Restricted from the box. I want to stay positive, but it is hard considering that there are so many huge flaws in the device. It was marketed as the new and improved boxee. Instead it is the broken, confused, incomplete, and unfulfilled boxee. So sad as I have been such a fan and supporter, and now I regret it.

        • Albertkinng says:

          If you want to keep using and enjoying your boxee box as it is… never update the OS. or soon you will be banned from entertaiment. I love Navi-X and to be honest, the only two apps that keep my Boxee Box in my Media Center are Navi-X and Netflix

  5. Matt says:

    If Boxee is so committed to supporting FOSS, then why do the Linux (as well as Win and Mac) clients lag behind so much in development compared to the Box? My Linux build is dated from AUGUST of 2010. WTF? I've waited, past the announcements that the codebase would be unified after the first quarter, and now nothing…

    • Tom Sella says:

      We will have an update on this matter next week.

      • Matt says:

        I do appreciate the reply, but hopefully my frustration is palpable and representative of everyone else who runs Boxee on linux, windows, or mac.

        • Tom L says:

          Why don't Boxee open source a non premium content version?

          This will keep everyone happy.

          Boxee will never run on Linux with premium content. The other platforms I can not comment on.

          Where is Boxee's international presence? Last weekend we have the Gadget Show in the UK and there was nothing from Boxee there. Just as well as i would have been bending their ear.

        • John Walker says:

          Matt I have walked away from Boxee after the lack of updates on my ubuntu box. As soon as the Boxee box started moving along updates were few and far between. I recently moved over to XBMC since it is not "dead code" the way that Boxee is.

        • You are not alone Mat, it is incredibly frustrating to have built a Boxee box HTPC solution, and then become second rate citizens overnight. Boxee - don't forget who got you here. We aren't asking for miracles here, just update the Windows/Linux/Mac clients to a usable state.

      • Matt says:

        And… it's nearing the end of "next week" with no update on the matter. I understand that not every project can be on a strict timetable, but for chist-sake - either be more transparent with your roadmap and tell the community that you have the best intentions, but things aren't working out very well, or just don't make any statements about product availability, functionality, or release schedules until you are sure you can hold up your end of the deal. It is a pity to say that your company supports open source software when the people that care the most about the development of your project are left out in the cold and misled. I'm still hopeful that the development culture at Boxee headquarters will change for the better, and will still continue to use Boxee on Linux, but I hope my frustrations about the way you are piloting the communication with your community have come across clearly.

      • W. MacKenzie says:

        Its next week now Tom. How about that update on Linux updates from Boxee?

        • Ape says:

          Tom gave me hope and then like a weasel, decided next week meant some imaginary time frame that is longer than 7 days. I'm switching back to XBMC until we get some updates and i stop having to watch boxee break every time a streaming website updates their code. It is bad enough that netflix wont support linux users but now the boxee team has abandoned us like two dollar whores.

  6. StephenM64 says:

    you may support the "open source community" but its not full support if the PC/Mac/Linux versions (the versions most open source supporters use) gets secondary if any support and updates to the retail product version are only released when you feel like it.

    • avner ronen says:

      i guess i have a different point of view. Boxee is of course open-source, anyone can go to our site download the source code, build it and tweak it (assuming they comply with GPLv2).

      we do have our own roadmap and priorities. we have made a decision to focus more resources on the CE version in the last few months. we will have an update on the PC/Mac soon and once we release it we will release the source code, too.

      • juschilin says:

        It's unreal how people expect these guys to build a company offering free software. Guys, the reason why more attention is being paid to the boxee box than pc/mac version is because individuals like myself paid 199.00 for it.

        We expect an active roadmap!

        you guys want to download something for free and expect a weekly roll out of features.

  7. nijaju says:

    I was really hoping to run XBMC and an NES emulator on this at some point. Sad day.

    • avner ronen says:

      sorry about that. we have to pick our battles. i believe most users will agree with the decision we have made, while others will see it as an indication of us "selling out to the man".

      • Brandon says:

        Just like any partnership you win some, you lose some. I'm loving my Boxee Box :)

      • clay says:

        I think your wrong, I am sitting here watching xbmc on an atv2 4.3.1 that was jailbroke, which is sitting next to my boxee box, thinking how much better it would work on the boxee hardware. Sadly the boxee box has become the stale, sort of the dumb child of xmbc. The interface is rather weak, it gets confused on what my content is, and it can't share database information so it is a bit of PITA having to manage it. On the other hand 3 xmbc clients all are working great, off a shared database with wonderful high function and feature rich skins. I bought the BB because from what I read it was going to be open, and since it was based on xbmc, we would get native xbmc working on it at some time, and the boxee side could be used to access premium content type things like netflix. Apparently that was a $200 mistake on my behalf, my $100 jailbroke atv2 can access netflix and run XMBC, but no can do, and apparently no will do on the boxee. I should know better to buy into boxee openness vapor. I guess I will just give this POC away, and get another atom/ion. For the same or lower price of a boxee, you can get a atom/ion nettop with 1GB of ram, slap a 8gb usb flash drive on and copy of openELEC, and you got a media player that puts the boxee box to shame. I think you guys missed the boat and blew the goodwill.

  8. Mike says:

    My opinion - the negative publicity that Boxee Box has received is well deserved. Unfortunately I bought into the lies and spent $200 on a product that was misrepresented.

    When the CEO of any corporation looks directly into the camera and LIES, it should send a clear message to customers, investors, and the open source community that this is a company that will say anything depending on which way the wind is blowing.

    They say a fish always rots from the head down. I wouldn't want to be a business partner or an investor in a company a dishonest as this.

    • TokranePo says:

      "My opinion – the negative publicity that Boxee Box has received is well deserved."

      My opinion: the Boxee team approached the release of a hardware device as idealists. They have big dreams (which they themselves have stated numerous times) and big hopes for the software and the device. They attacked the consumer sector with vigor and naivete (both good).

      In response to their efforts they have received a constant stream of attacks from both ends of their business. The content providers (as noted elsewhere in these comments) are selfish and greedy and they have a rigid set of rules which, ultimately, the Boxee team has to follow in order to get the content on their device. These rules and restrictions are arbitrary and do not (and never will) take into account their effectiveness, viability, or necessity.

      The open source fanatics on the other end of the spectrum attack the Boxee team for having the audacity to take any steps to create a consumer oriented device and sacrificing someone else's fanatical ideals for their hardware. I think the Boxee team has been more than clear that they have seen many of their dreams die along the way, yet they continue to fight and struggle to mold the Boxee Box into the device they have envisioned it to be. But sometimes nothing is good enough.

      So, no, I don't think they deserve the negative press they have gotten. In fact, I think they deserve some praise. Any team as resilient and determined as the Boxee team should be supported. They are bridging a gap that is going to open the door for future devices more in line with what the hard-liners are demanding today. Without their work, this issue would continue to fester, un-addressed for years to come.

      "Unfortunately I bought into the lies and spent $200 on a product that was misrepresented."

      What you call lies, I call hopes and dreams. The Boxee team didn't make any guarantees. They talked about what they wanted to accomplish. If you bought the device based on what they talked about, then you bought it based on the vision of the company. That vision is just as real and vibrant today as it was six months or a year (or longer) ago. The Boxee team never lied or pulled any punches about what the Boxee Box could do. When you bought the device, you knew full well what it could do. There were no lies to it. If you bought the box based on things it couldn't yet do, but you hoped it would be able to do in the future, then what you really did was buy into the Boxee team's vision - which still exists and still fights on your behalf. Sadly, they sometimes have to let us know that features they hoped to bring to the table aren't going to make it. That isn't a lie - actually, that's honesty and transparency.

      "When the CEO of any corporation looks directly into the camera and LIES, it should send a clear message to customers, investors, and the open source community that this is a company that will say anything depending on which way the wind is blowing."

      So what you are saying is that (unlike what is implied in your previous paragraph) you would rather the Boxee team had no vision or, at the very least, never talked about their aspirations? They should just be quiet, keep their plans to themselves and only announce features which are set in stone? I couldn't disagree more. One of the best things about the Boxee team is that they are not afraid to talk about what they want to do with their work. They aren't afraid to dream in public and share their vision with anyone who will listen. And they continue to be unafraid to do this even in the face of potentially embarrassing problems which have had negative effects on their vision. Again, not lies. Honesty.

      • Mikey says:

        Mike you (and the rest of you ungratefuls) just got slammed

      • anonymouse says:

        Very. Well. Put.

      • Andrew says:

        To be fair… You make some good points, but there are a few flaws. When a we were described the Boxee Box… We were sold on points at were described as fact, not as "vision". If we are going to be fair to Boxee, let's be fair to it's customer base.I am both a free user, and a paying user. If you told people that upon purchasing the Box, the software would be much more lacking than it's PC/MAC/ Linux counter part you would not likely have had the interest in the box. Had you said you would remove access to the majority of the actual media apps, music visualizations, repositories, functionalities, features, content accessibility and have a slow-sluggish media experience with a sprinkle of freezes- reboots- and vanishing links you would have had many users opt to stick with the computer!

        I get that this stance would not have helped sell any Boxes, and I understand that you were trying to paint the best picture of the device. I understand that this is a stepping stone. I understand that this is helping pave the way for future devices and software… But DO NOT UNDERPLAY THE DISSATISFACTION OF YOUR LONG TIME USERS. our frustration is BEYOND valid. We will be frustrated until real content options get fully integrated. This will take time… You are working on it… there are other things in the pipeline. Remember, just because the team knows what is going on… We are the ones in the dark, waiting, hoping… Trying to make this device work.

        • Tom says:

          This and the fact that Avner has in the past made promises over and over and they have not been met. I know it's a small team but they have taken money from people now and you expect the product to actually work.

          My Boxee Box still freezes and has to be hard reset occasionally. The overall experience is just very clunky and slow. Yet we are looking at a release schedule for new firmware updates of every three months. How about making the box actually work with the features it has?

      • Collins says:

        Where is the like button when you need one?! How many other companies provide amazing free software, tell you what they are trying to achieve clearly, and the big guys respond to comments on the blog… Don't see Steve Jobs doing any of these things. LLB! (Long Live Boxee)

  9. bulkzooi says:

    Boxee is starting to become the largest scam in history of GPL-software. Beside this problem, Boxee is redistributing XBMC Code with closed source components for:

    streaming content. This component is called “bxflplayer”. This is used to view online content;

    a payment model for their streaming services. they share revenue with Content Providers;

    social networking. This component is called “libboxee”. It deals with proprietary methods of communication with Boxee’s online back-end server which handles the user account information and social network communications between the users in the Boxee userbase.

    Boxee is redistributing XBMC Code with those components under a custom license and without access to the source code. In other words, Boxee prevents users to exercise their GPL-rights to redistribute those components and backport it into XBMC.

    This is not in the spirit of Open Source, the GPL and the FSF but it is no problem to the XBMC Foundation, from whom they monetized their business case! So stop using the terms Open Source and F/OSS related to Boxee.

    • Tom Sella says:

      There are quite a bit of misinformation here. Some of what you mention is in fact open source and available in our source tree, and what is not, is well inline with the respective license under which Boxee ships.

      Furthermore, monetizing opensource is nothing wrong, nor new. You should also note that funds from Boxee have been used to support and sponsor a few opensource projects, including XBMC.

      I am happy to discuss with anyone via my personal email, tsella at boxee tv, instead of debating here, where people may wrongly take such arguments from the commenter as truths.

      • Manned says:

        bulkzooi has been banned from XBMC forums too for trolling, he's a conspiracy theory nutjob and turned against XBMC too after the dev team told him to take a walk as they refused to let him join XBMC team.

        So don't take much notice of his ramblings.

      • bulkzooi says:

        misinformation in my post? I don't say monetizing GPL software is wrong or illegal. But that is not even the discussion. I just say that using a DLL-loader to prevent users to exercise their GPL-rights is not in the spirit of the GPL.

        So in my opinion, boxee is misusing open source, the General Public (with all their rights and freedoms) and the XBMC Community in order to monetize their business case. Is that illegal? I never said that. I simple think it is very, very immoral.

        Denying this fact is even more immoral and in my opinion it also is defamation. So my contribution to the Open Source Movement and also to the Free Software Movement will be creating awareness of such matters.

        So Tom, if you can explain my misconception of any of this, I am very happy to learn so I stop spreading my misinformation.

  10. norrafi says:

    Then Boxee will become like Chinese AsiaBox

  11. Oded says:

    What I've read:

    "We love open source".

    "When it helps OUR business model."

    • JM says:

      And what is wrong with that?

      Nobody is holding a gun to your head forcing you to buy a boxee box or run boxee on any platform

      If you don't like Boxee's business practices or the box or their software or you just prefer XBMC then go use XBMC

      If Boxee can take opensource software, fork it, innovate and deliver a product that customers want then that is a good thing and there is should be no issue with them making money through that as long as they don't violate the GPL

      If you think that monetizing opensource is wrong or forbidden then go talk to Richard Stallman and he'll set you right.

      Myself, i spent years hacking around with the appletv, then ran boxee on it, and then made the CHOICE to buy a box. i don't regret it, I like what the box does and as long as they keep improving the software I'll be happy.

      Get over it!

      • Oded says:

        My problem is that until this point in time, the boxee box was being marketed as an another way to play the Boxee software, which at the time was fully open source without these restrictions. I find it a bit of a problem that all these things just keep popping out after people have made their purchases.

        Personally, I could care less. I own two boxee boxes, and like them very much. But I fully understand and support those who are having problems with this.

        And please relax. Everybody is entitled to express his opinion.

  12. LostCrescendo says:

    Lot of people seem to have supporting open source and compiling for different OSes confused. I think it sucks that we have not seen much done for Win/Mac/Linux but that has nothing to do with the opensourceness of Boxee. You can compile (at least on Linux) the latest versions of Boxee if you really want to.

    • StephenM64 says:

      "if you really want to"

      With a good deal of work on your part, even then there are closed source parts of the software that are not included leaving the boxee program non-functional in different aspects such as flash. take a look at this thread to see the joke that is compiling your own copy of boxee:


  13. Amaury says:

    I've been a linux user for 6 years now. it started off on a tryout basis, became a fanatic (I use the word sparingly), was anti-windows for a while, and then grew up.

    At the risk of this becoming another one of those endless flame wars, I will just state my case:

    1. Boxee is great.

    2. Yes, I don't like that Boxee for PCs have lagged behind so much, but understand that there's nothing wrong with marketing a product and yes, capitalizing on it. If roles were reversed, I believe I would do exactly the same thing.

    As far as the thought that "the people who put me here were let down". Lighten up and turn the violin music off. You love Boxee, otherwise you wouldn't be here ranting about it. Some of us put our hard earned cash together and bought a Boxee Box. Personally, I like it. I believe its a wonderfully put together device.

    I don't like the fact that Hulu Plus is not yet an option, but think that the fact that Netflix and Vudu are in it, is great. When Hulu Plus is there, it will be a complete solution in my book.

    3. If you want to run a NES emulator, do so on the very laptop / PC you are using, or get an Atom box running Ubuntu or (god forbid, *gasp*) Windows, and run it there.

    4. Oh yeah. Boxee is great.

  14. thenonhacker says:

    Ok, let's exhale that: That GPLv2 and Business wouldn't really mix well especially if you're not careful. This article gave me an impression that you're struggling to please the Open Source Community, but you find it difficult.

    Now onto the things that matter to your consumers:

    Please update us about the next firmware version.

    I heard it's supposed to arrive next month right?

    Important Issues are:

    There are still 1080p videos that lag in Boxee Box. For example, try playing the DivX AVI of the World of Warcraft Cinematics (Return of the Lich King). Sound is ok, but video is skippy like it has a very low framerate.

    Videos giving out static noise: Turned out that we have to uncheck Digital Audio suboptions. That is strange, because on the PC version of Boxee, I don't have to do that. PC Boxee will play DTS videos without static noise. *** I thought Boxee is defective because of this problem!!!

    MP3 PLAYLISTS Please! Media Players like WinAMP and WMP support this, iPod support this, why not Boxee, right?

    MP3s won't play after you play one movie. Turned out that you have to disable Navigation Sounds to avoid that issue.

    Music Screen visualization: Please give the option to display the Album Art instead. The 3D graph got old fast.

    And so on.

    I like Boxee Box so much, because it makes it easy for the whole family to enjoy movies without the need to plug a laptop on an HDTV. The box design rivals Apple style. The thing it falls short on are software glitches for commonly-used scenarios I mentioned above. Please expand your testing, and make Boxee Box play any movie like KMPlayer does on a PC. Thank you!

    • Tom Sella says:

      Thanks for the support.

      Please add the above issues in our bug tracking software, Jira, at http://jira.boxee.tv. As some of these are feature requests, we will consider them, and a big priority will be given to items that interest our community, who can vote on them there.


      • Gozirra Izroose says:

        Tom, it has been my experience that if we follow that advice, the ticket will be closed as, it is a feature request (example, when you guys decided to remove existing features, like the volume control, a forum post was created, a ticket was opened, which was immediately closed and told to open a forum post - does the left hand know what the right hand is doing here?). Also I never really "got" the whole concept of "go ahead and report a bug (an error in the code that breaks the application), and, if enough people vote for it, we will consider fixing it". Its a bug, why do people have to vote? And what is the point, at this point, of opening new tickets against the 9+ month old codebase that you guys have abandoned and are on a new revision? Just curious here.

  15. Ilya Zhitomirskiy says:

    Tom, as an fellow open source start up founder, I want to say that I genuinely wish you success beyond your wildest expectations. I hope you don't find the following questions too awkward to answer, I am genuinely curious.

    The one real question:

    1) How exactly does the ability to re-flash the device tied to your ability to have DRM? It would seem reasonable that one would flash a device with a compiled code, if so why not distribute the Boxee binaries and say if you want to re-flash you don't get the locked down Netflix, Hulu, etc. bits.


    2) Are you selling Boxee Box at a discount? If so, roughly how much and why not offer a developer edition?

    3) Who is your target customer? Along the same lines, what % of your current Boxee users know what the words “source code” means?

    4) From the days of modding an original XBOX, I remember there we're always a bunch of slick skins for it. What were (if any) motivations for rolling with your own?



    • Tom Sella says:


      1. Its a question of whether arbitrary code is able to run on the unit and represents a risk from a media copyright holder rights perspective.

      2. We do not sell Boxee Box directly, and cannot offer any discounts. Sorry. Every Box is a developer edition, using our developer APIs. See http://boxee.tv/developer

      3. The end user is our target. When we started the company, we wanted to make a great media center, which we have all been using since its early days on the XBox, XBMC, into a mass market product - hence, no, 99.999% of that target would not necessarily know Source Code is anything but a Jake Gyllenhaal flic available from one of our premium content providers.

      4. Yes. In the spirit of item 3 above, we think that simplifying and creating an experience is key for making it mass market. We are not there yet, though, and continue to improve with every iteration. There is also a question of brand, and while many of the XBMC community skins are great, they do not represent ours.

      • Ryan says:

        I too am no longer a fan in order to stop recommending it and I have not (and now will never) buy a boxee box. I wanted to run XBMC on it period.

        If I buy hardware that is my hardware to do with as I please. I fail to see how preventing arbitrary code really protects anything as if I really want a movie that badly why would I use the box to rip it there are numerous other sources.

        You could protect the content simply by requiring the boxee firmware to run a DD over the flash in order to nuke anything that might be on it before installing. So it's an all or nothing deal. This way people who want to use the hardware can and those that just want boxee get their wish to.

        Surely if history has taught us anything it is that "where there is a will there is a way", PS3, XBOX, PSP, NDS all used DRM, all (eventually) got hacked. Why waste time and money fighting the inevitable?

        I must say I do love the irony,

        * XBOX DRM hacked

        * XBMC was developed XBOX

        * Boxee was created as a derivative of XBMC

        * Boxee releases DRM protected box.

        • dfad1469 says:

          Ryan, you make some good points. However, here is what it boils down to…..it doesn't matter. If Boxee does not lock down their box the way that the content providers want them to, then you they don't get the content. Period. And you can point out all the protection scheme holes to Boxee and it still won't matter. Their hands are tied.

          I have dealt with content providers in the past. They are unreasonable, political, egotistical, greedy and self-centered. They have a product that everyone wants and they know it. They will demand all the security measures that they have read in trade magazines, regardless of the strength, validity, or feasibility of those measures. They don't want to spend any money on content protection, but they demand it from distributors who have to spend large amounts of time and/or money to implement it.

          Boxee is doing everything they can to meet all of their requirements. Premium content, open source, solid user interface, and bug free. Your ability to run XMBC, Linux, BEOS, or anything else other than their software is secondary to those requirements. Sure, they could open it up all the way, at the expense of Netflix. Which one is going to loose more customers?

          Keep up the good fight Boxee. I for one still like you product.

          • Axiom says:

            WOW! dfad1469, that was one of the most level headed responses I have heard yet……Are you sure you are in the right place? Anyhoo, deperately waiting for a PC update. I understand you guys need to focus on the BBox. Just dont forget about the PC/MAC/LINUX crowd. Love the software. So does everyone else here. Otherwise they would not be here.

          • Ryan says:

            I live in the UK and assuming, as mentioned earlier, the content provider is netflix which I don't even have access to as far as I am aware.

            Why not do as MS do release a European version that is minus the content provider that is imposing the restrictions?


          • anonymouse says:

            >>Why not do as MS do release a European version that is minus the content provider that is imposing the restrictions?

            @Ryan most likely because eventually there will be premium content for/from the UK with similar restrictions…

      • phrend says:

        Thanks for the reply, Tom - I too have been wondering about question #1 above. I understand that you have to comply with the requirements of your premium content partners, but Netflix (and maybe all of the others?) doesn't seem to have a problem with Windows having open hardware - can you shed any more light on what the issue is with the Boxee Box? I'm really not trying to beat up on you about this issue, I'm just curious. Does it have something to do with the fact that the DRM decoding happens in a way that would be easier to reverse on a Boxee Box than it would be to reverse the Silverlight implementation (in the case of Netflix)?


        • Tom Sella says:

          You will note that most premium services, are limited to standard definition on PC platforms, and they still require DRM solutions.

  16. M1AU says:

    Actually, this is one of the reasons I haven't bought one yet. Seeing an open source inspired software basically closed up is not what I want to support.

  17. Ryan says:

    IANAL but [..]Yesterday there was some noise in the open source community that a utility included with a pre-release version of the Boxee Box software is licensed under the GPLv3. [..]

    If it was pre-release why is it on shipped boxes and accessible from a simple factory reset?

    Additionally surely you are still in violation as that software is still on the box (if you revert to factory) all you have done is remove it from future versions but you still violate the licensing on that first version and since you shipped that you must honour the GPL v3 and release ALL code for that version and any future versions that have been released with that software.

    What I mean is if I sell a product with versions A, B and C and those versions violate then I remove the violation in version X and every version there after. I have still violated the license in Versions A, B and C as they are in the wild (and are actively being shipped unless I do a total recall) and thus I must release the code for versions A, B and C

    As stated IANAL but that is how I would interpret the license.

    • qortra says:

      Yes, I am curious about this too. It seems to me that a "mea culpa" and post-hoc removal of the software is insufficient to satisfy the letter of the law. Anybody from Boxee care to comment on this?

      That being said, Boxee does (or did) contribute code upstream as well as some donations to XBMC. So I think they've earned some good will and leniency. For this reason, I really doubt that the FSF or the author of gpgv2 will really raise a fuss. In fact, even if they didn't earn that good will, retroactively solving the violation is usually enough to stave off legal action. Generally, the free software gurus don't want blood, they just want compliance. The various GPLs are somewhat tricky to navigate, and people are usually willing to work with you on it.

  18. bigmack says:

    This attitude that boxee is better then everyone else is one of my frustration points (I love the software for the most part).

    1 - xbmc is based off hacking a device to run a media center app. you are now trying to monopolize on it and have your own box not be hacked. if others had respected what the other box developers (microsoft xbox) wanted there would be no xbmc.

    2 - boxee currently supports hacking other boxes to run boxee on. there is a support forum for running boxee on the apple tv. do they not deserve the same respect of people not hacking their box? why is it ok to do it to apple, but not your product? wouldn't apple have the same commitment to their partners?

  19. Levi B says:

    When did Boxee last actively backport source code to the XBMC community?

    The spirit of open source is more about continious contribution then one time donation, and giving code patches and bug fixes to upstream projects is often more important for showing good will to their users then money.

    So please show us your code contributions! :P

  20. Afvoser says:

    Screw all that, get the next firmware update out! I need to watch feeds without the box freezing!

    • Tom Sella says:

      Sorry to hear you are having trouble. Have you considered joining our Early Access to try the next firmware? Drop Marcel a line at marcel at boxee tv asking for joining if interested.

  21. Afvoser says:

    Btw, the reason for the lock down is of course Netflix - so what boxee could do is make two boxes, one without netflix and with. Most of the world don't care about netflixs bad app anyway.

    • natethomas says:

      Actually, I'm assuming the problem has almost nothing to do with Netflix. The issue is that developing for system on chip hardware requires a great deal of working with a ridiculous amount of closed-source optimized code that connects the top level software (Boxee) with the underlying hardware. It's nearly impossible to create a layer between that hardware and the top level software so that other full programs can be installed on top.

      I suppose it'd be easier if you had the resources of Apple at your disposal, so that you could take Linux, create an entirely new operating system and GPU decoding framework (and then ANOTHER GPU decoding framework on top of that), and then put a top layer player onto that framework. Unfortunately, when you're using 16 million dollars rather than 56 billion dollars to pay your coders, your resources are a great deal more limited. Instead, you find yourself stuck directly interacting with the lower level processes, which you can only do if you A) agree to definitely not use GPL3, and B) keep the functions directly interacting with the hardware closed down.

      Say what you will about Boxee, but as far as the Box goes, companies with a great deal more money than them have effectively tied their hands. That's just the burden of having to deal with SOC vendors.

      • qortra says:

        I'm sure that you're right to a certain degree. At the very least, XBMC hasn't yet been ported to CE4100 based devices, so even with a fully-open BB, there would be no XBMC. However, FTFA:


        But it quickly became clear that to release a device with premium content, we’d need to put strict security measures in place. Lose the security requirements and lose access to some of the Boxee Box’s most popular content.


        Is the implication here that even with great CE4100 XBMC support, XBMC might not run without substantial hacking?

        • Tom Sella says:

          Calling the hardware for the most part has been open sourced by Intel. That has been our requirement with any SoC vendor we've been in touch over the years.

          Effectively, one could take our code, bring those changes into XBMC and purchase a CE4100 dev kit to run on.

  22. freechelmi says:

    Humm, So as I understand you shipped GPL v3 software on some BoxeeBox.

    Who cares that you use it or Not ?

    It seems to be a violation, What to do next ?

  23. Jim M. says:

    Boxee is quickly becoming a study on how NOT to take OSS commercial.

  24. Andy B says:

    I second the sentiments of Richard Ayotte.

    I'm hugely disappointed that the Boxee Box is so locked down. This complete 180 in philosophy is only now being openly acknowledged and given the multiple occasions it was announced that the box would be open & hacker friendly, I feel quite mislead.

    A hacker friendly Boxee Box would be my dream gadget but as it stands, I'm kinda regretting not getting an atom HTPC instead :-( It's a particularly bitter pill to swallow for those of us outside the USA, who don't give a rat's about Netflix or Hulu. Sucks to be sold down the river for nothing. It seems in going after the main stream you've opted to completely burn the hacker community from which you came. Sad.

    Is there really no other option than to bend over & take it from the content providers? There seem to be some good suggestions in the forums and these comments about how to potentially satisfy both parties? They basically hinge around locking down the Boxee install/software itself but allowing other stuff to be installed instead, how is that in any way less secure for the content providers than people being able to access their content via a PC?

    • Andy B says:

      Asked another way, how is it OK with the content providers that you can run Boxee on your PC (which of course can run arbitrary software) but they freak out at the notion of a Boxee Box (which is basically a PC) having the same ability? Seems crazy no?

      • dfad1469 says:

        Yes. It is crazy. However, you are not dealing with sane people. You are dealing with content providers. I have spoken to several of them, and they are terrified of people being able to watch stuff on the TV. However, they don't seem as bothered by people watching stuff on a computer. ABC, CBS, FOX, Hulu, and many more. All have free versions of streaming to your PC through a browser, but try to put it on a set top box that streams to your TV and they will do everything in their power to put a stop to it.

        It doesn't have to make sense. They want control of the content, and if you want the content, its their rules.

        • Andy B says:

          That's totally retarded. In this day and age with tiny and powerful atom/ion boxes everywhere (and very often acting as set top boxes) that kind of arbitrary distinction is ludicrous.

          "It doesn’t have to make sense. They want control of the content, and if you want the content, its their rules."

          Sadly, that's probably true. It's exactly this kind of disregard for customers and douche bag muscle flexing from the content providers that drives people to piracy. I mean seriously, wake up! You lost control over the content more than a decade ago. You can't force people to pay you for a substandard service any more, you're never going to win that battle. If you insist on doing that, your business deserves to shrivel and die, as it inevitably will. The way forward is to offer people a service that actually competes with the freedom and convenience of piracy. I would happily pay a reasonable price per month to be able to watch what I want, how I want but sadly I guess that kind of thinking is a long way off still :-(

          Anyway, I'll get off my soapbox now, start looking for a suitable atom/ion replacement and wander back over to the pirate bay. Sigh… you used to be cool Boxee…

  25. Louis Sypher says:

    You can't call software shipped on a retail product "development". The fact of the matter is that you shipped GPLv3 software for profit without complying with the license. Any way you spin it, it's a violation and needs to be addressed before the FSF makes you address it.

  26. Openboxee says:

    Boxee has confirmed the presence of GPLv3 software distributed in the Boxee Box.

    In the response, it is noted that gpgv2 was included in a pre-release. This release is, however, the software that comes loaded on the device from retail. Is that a pre-release? In any case, gpgv2 itself was also released in subsequent firmwares. It has been removed from the current firmware, but other GPLv3 binaries are still being distributed in the current firmware. Every Boxee Box on the globe currently has GPLv3 software in it, in the factory-reset memory AND the currently running binaries.

    There are further now questions.

    Is yes-I-stole-the-candy-bar-but-I-did-not-eat-it-so-I-will-put-it-back-now-that-I-am-busted a valid argument?

    Can Boxee un-distribute the binaries already distributed? The GPLv3 binaries were not only in the pre-release version. They were in the release version. And the versions after that. And the CURRENT version. Can Pandora's Box be closed again? See below for details on the current version.

    Even if they delete the binaries in future releases, anyone can simply put them back into violation with a factory restore. Does Boxee have the right to change that factory restore firmware? Can Boxee reach into the homes of users and change devices the users paid for?

    Is "Yes we stole software but we want to make money" an adequate excuse?

    How does the US Government and Customs and Border Protection view Boxee making them implicitly profit (via import tariffs) from the import of software piracy?

    The full details are at http://infinityoverzero.com/bbox/


  27. Will says:

    "Lose the security requirements and lose access to some of the Boxee Box’s most popular content."

    Fine by me. I'd gladly loose access to this content. I could care less about it.

    So point is mute for me. Surly I am not the only 1 who only uses BB for Local Content.

    It's easy for BB to fix this problem. Simply release a firmware update that erases the BB, allowing the user to do with it as they please. You would permanently loose the BB core OS.

    Then I could install XBMC if I wish. Again, I could care less if I loose access the premium content.

    I highly doubt most of us who want to do this, care about the online content BB offers. As long as you make it clear for the start that its permanent and tell they user they loose access forever to all the premium content BB offers, then I see no problems.

    • dfad1469 says:

      You are wrong. Most people buy a Boxee for watching streaming content. People who want to install XMBC are in the minority. Most people that want to run XMBC can and will buy an ASUS computer to run it.

      Your whole point is that Boxee will loose you as a customer if they don't open up the box. The reality is that they will loose more customers if they do because they loose the premium content. You can't please all the people all the time, but Boxee is trying to please the most people.

      • Will says:

        First of all, I never said most people want to do this. I said most people who do want to do this probably don't care about streaming content that BB has to offer.

        ^^ Read that carefully please.

        And no they won't loose me as a customer. I already bought a BB.

        Removing the premium content like I described would be totally optional.

        The bottom line is, BB is never going to make another cent off me when it comes to premium content. I will never buy any of the premium content. I could care less about it.

        By allowing me to use the BB that I bought how I like, the BB team would make more money from me. How you ask? Because if this were to happen. I''d probably buy 10 more units.

        As it currently is, I will NOT buy another 1.

        Again, as I describe this, it would be 100% optional. So when the user first turns on their BB it would ask the user what they care more about, local content or online. Just like ti does today after the December 2010 update.

        So out of the Box the user has the same experience as of today. But then hidden away in Options > Advanced would be a button the user and click to delete all the BB software from the BB for good. You would warn the user they would loose access to all premium content the BB has to offer.

        Then the user could install whatever they want on the BB after doing so.

        So now both groups or users would be pleased. :)

    • Phat Phreddy says:

      Fine by me too.. An open box that plays the content I gather is what I made my purchasing choices on. The promise that it would behacker friendly and open.

      Given that boxee was based on software of this ethos, and even is used to hack onto other peoples media boxes, that seemed perfectly logical.

      Netflix / Hulu / Etc.. Not wanted and cannot be accessed.

  28. Question 1

    Why can't you let us disconnect from the content providers and just go freestyle and allow hacks? I don't use Netflix or Vudu and I don't want to. I want to be free to do what I want with the hardware.

    I understand the constraints you guys deal with don't let you provide Netflix and allow hacks. Just give me the choice of signing up for corporate control or allow me to go to free reign mode and do what I want with the hardware I bought.


    • juschilin says:

      why can't you understand that netflix and others spent millions of dollars to secure their content. It's impossible to think that they will allow their content to be on a device where some kid in a basement can hack and get at their content.

      I'm I the only one who thinks you guys are crazy to think that you can have just let the software run wild…

      • Amaury says:

        Hi, juschilin, a kid in a basement is all it took for Apple TV to run XBMC, NitoTV, and so on (just youtube it), PS3 can be jailbroken, as can the iPhone, iPod Touch, and pretty much any other device that has Netflix. I think the point is moot. The entire thread is hinting at "let's someone create a website called hacktheboxeebox (just for kicks, i will monitor if someone buys it, lol). and a group of "kids in a basement" can get together and make it happen.

        The point is, if all the above can be hacked, most certainly, the boxee box can as well.

        Just a thought.

        • anonymouse says:

          See: http://boxeeboxwiki.org/wiki/Main_Page

          Also, a bounty has been established for the first person (or persons) to successfully hack it (talked about on the Boxee forums no less). It's not like people are saying "don't do it". But expecting Boxee's (direct or indirect) help isn't at all reasonable.

          • Phat Phreddy says:

            "But expecting Boxee’s (direct or indirect) help isn’t at all reasonable"

            Why not ?? Avner himself clearly stated that this should be possible, this was said again and again that the hardware would be hacker friendly. Coming from a company that used 'hacker friendly' codebase built by hacking anohter type of box, as the building blocks for the biz model this seemed to be a fair trade.

            We were lied to.. No other way to put it.

  29. Amboycrow says:

    The Boxee saga has, sadly, ended tragically. I cannot recall many concepts with the potential Boxee showed us back a year or so ago. This was a product that could easily have been one of the great successes of the past several years. Unfortunately, lack of technical skill, an obvious disinterest in the user community, and an endless parade of false promises first crippled, then doomed, the project. It will soon become a footnote in the history of good ideas gone bad through terrible execution. Personally, this saddens me because of the once-great potential of the project.

    The good news is that others will follow through with the concept, learn from the now-infamous Boxee blunders, and provide users with the kind of entertainment experience that they obviously desire. There are small, bubbling projects out there now and one of these will soon be ours to purchase and enjoy.

    • violinconcerto says:

      ha ha…wow, drink some more kool-aid. Yes, it so tragically ended. It's a shame they received 16.5 million in VC money last month because no one believes in them.

      Also a shame that D-link, Iomega, Viewsonic didn't believe in them….oh wait.

      Also a shame it's still one of the top 10 selling media streamers on Amazon.com

      I could go on….but seriously, some of you tech geeks and I'm one of them, are some of the biggest drama queens with entitlement branded on their foreheads I've ever seen.

      Go Boxee!

      • Amaury says:

        Go @violinconcerto Go! I couldn't agree more.

        Bottom line: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, Amazon VOD, etc, etc are most likely N E V E R going to be allowed on a hackable interface. Why? Because *tongue in cheek*, we hackers have proven time and again we are SO ethical and neeeever think or act on the idea of "sharing" content which strictly speaking does not belong to us.

        Let's face it:

        If you want a box that will run N64 games and Atari, it is most likely a box that will never run proprietary content. Never mind the debate about whether or not it is *right* that we have proprietary content. That's the way the business model is set up, that's where the money comes from, advertising, and not being able to rip content and have LOL, AxXo, and all those others steal it.

        That's the only word there is for it. Netflix doesn't want their movies ending up that way, so they implemented DRM.

        There's two sides to the story, on one hand there is freedom from, on the other, there is freedom to.

        Only when we as a people are responsible and ethical enough to refrain from those freedom tos that are not allowed, will we be free from. *things like DRM*.

        If there was no incentive for people to download torrents and use Boxee as a scraper to neatly organize their spuriously obtained content (the incentive being no money for the content), then Netflix, and other content providers would probably be less uptight about their DRM.

        Yes, the industry has had to adapt, and services like Rhapsody, where for 9 USD a month you get unlimited streaming (and in this day and age that's tantamount to owning, since when are you NOT connected), would be unthinkable ten years or fifteen years ago when people like Napster and Metallica were putting a serious dent.

        Piracy has always existed. It has always been a cat and mouse game, but never before had it been so widespread (the use of peer to peer).

        It's only fair (at least it seems that way to me), that content providers demand (from hard knocks learned along the way) that devices that host their content are as secure as possible, lest they lose their bread-earning game.

        If roles were reversed and you were the content provider, would you like it if people stole from you? I think not.

        Agreed, GPLv3 devices should be available, and it IS a freedom issue. But, again. there is Freedom From, and Freedom To. If you want a free device, get one or build one yourself, don't expect premium content on it at all, at least until we become civilized enough to trust each other with the content and with the fact that all users everywhere will do the right thing and abide by ToS.

  30. Pat says:

    So can I install XBMC as an app or repository on my boxee box?

  31. Matt Sloopka says:

    With the proper resources and a bit on initiative, as well as some well placed repos, a Boxee Box runs my living room. everyone needs to stop pissing and moaning.

  32. xero says:

    i have been using my boxee box for local media playback from my LAN (with little/no net connection), and it has been nothing short of awesome! i rip my physical dvds to whatever codec i choose, and boxee never has a problem streaming or playing for me. i glad the the developers are focused on the original idea of media playback, whether it's local or internet. i hope the new firmware with better local searching and NFO support is released soon. submitting problems and have the dev team listen and replay as a community effort has been great, KEEP IT UP BOXEE! ;D

  33. Mike says:

    Guys, If you want to have something you can mess around with then just buy/make a htpc and install xbmc. The reason I chose the boxee box (and possibly is what mainstream consumers also want) is something that organises, presents nicely and plays all my local media. It's a bonus that there is online content I can stream too (I live in the UK and my broadband is very poor). I don't want to be messing around with drivers, or worry that some virus has found its way onto the box, and I'm sure a lot of other people feel this way too. This why I feel the bb's market is with the people who just want something that plays all their media (online & offline), looks good, and above all…works out of the box!

    I love the boxee box and would hate for the developers to get fed up with product because whatever they do you lot moan. The only things I would like to see improved on is the presentation (fanart, customisable homescreen) and the music streaming side, which is pretty basic at the moment.

    Other than that keep up the great work!

  34. beau says:

    maybe you guys are missing a point…

    I think the team at Boxee want the device to be hacked, although they can't openly say that anymore because they may lose contracts with content distributors.

    They are waiting for someone to come along and hack the device… hence them not removing the 'bounty' post in the wiki,

    If the SONY PS3 can be hacked… the APPLE TV can be hacked (also uses netflix :P )…. then i think the boxee box can be hacked… both the other companies have a lot more to lose teh boxee and would have invested a lot more money into security then a small weird looking box based on open source software….

    So someone needs to hack this box and make the team @ boxee happy :D :D … true story !

  35. Ernie says:

    Regarding MLB.TV…IT'S WORKING!!! I had so much trouble with it freezing up, and playing in fast speed/slow motion. It got so bad, I was ready to give it up, but you guys (Rob Spectre) spearheaded a fix and for this, I THANK YOU!!!

  36. Elzapp says:

    Well, this is the end of "next week"…

  37. Gozirra Izroose says:

    So, Avner, hows that big announcement coming along?

  38. Ross M says:

    Yay! It's May now. Update coming soon to the Boxee Box right? Praying that it includes 3TB external hard drive support……any updates on the update Avner/Tom/Marcel/whoever?


  39. Ryan Scarbery says:

    …just making a post to add to the disappointing nature of being baited and switched. I expected a "hacker friendly" box as well, and at the very least a stable OS.

    Instead I get a beautiful piece of hardware that crashes after any youtube pre-content commercial, consistently locks up to black if I leave the Onion App streaming, crashes when trying to access an smb share if the server went to sleep, takes roughly 10 seconds to change audio tracks when playing a DVD iso, only has one crappy visualization, doesn't provide last.fm because of (I can only assume) licensing with Pandora, and doesn't allow me, the consumer, the chance to work on these problems and add features.

    Why can't we get a boxee OS without these fancy 3rd parties DRM so that we can actually fix all these outstanding bugs and make the box do what we want? Look at the iPhone; A thriving locked-in customer base and a thriving jail-broken hacker community. Don't be evil

  40. Paul Hicks says:

    Hi Tom,

    I purchased Boxee Box yesterday and am very impressed! I've spent weeks researching ways to get Internet and PC content on my 2 HD TVs. I just discovered that there is a software version, but will leave it alone as I'm very happy with this version. The fact that this is open-source is exciting. I only wish that I was better educated to understand all this complicated stuff! I'm looking forward to the future with this impressive product. I'll spread the work to my friends.

    Paul Hicks.

  41. [...] Boxee commented that ‘by accident’ an element licensed under GPLv3 was put into the box, but not used: and if not used, you should not include it in the box and in the sourcecode. The issue is that only copyright holders of the software can complain in a lawsuit towards Boxee. Consumer can complain but they are not a copyright holder. So finally in the end .. ‘it was a pre-release (kuch kuch [note: it was firmware being shipped]) .. [...]

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