Introducing “XBMC from Debian”

… available from unstable, and hopefully soon from testing, too!

The longer story:

The xbmc package has been uninstallable and unbuildable in Debian unstable for quite some time. Mainly due to differing preferences of the XBMC project and Debian.

Original XBMC source includes several embedded libraries, some patched to work with XBMC perfectly and to provide the best user experience the XBMC project prefers building XBMC with those libraries.

In Debian, on the other hand, the recommended practice is not embedding libraries, but using the packaged versions instead to reduce the amount of security updates in case a library needs a security related fix, to save space on mirrors and to avoid divergence between the embedded versions of the libraries.

One consequence of using externally packaged libraries is the need for making XMBC work with newer versions of the external libraries even when the embedded one would still work perfectly or (in some rare cases) there are even breakages due to changing APIs or new bugs in the library.

XBMC depends on many libraries and the changes to them in Debian used to break one or another XBMC use case. The XBMC project received many direct bug reports from users of the Debian-shipped XBMC package which were harder than necessary to handle due to the lack of clear differentiation from the .deb packages provided directly by
them and using the embedded libraries.

To help both users and developers the xbmc package starts using the “XBMC from Debian” name on the main screen and in the logs, the version number used inside the application is set to the Debian package’s version, and README.Debian directs users of the package to Debian’s BTS instead of XBMC’s forums.

The most notable difference between XBMC and “XBMC from Debian” is that XBMC uses
its embedded patched FFmpeg, while “XBMC from Debian” uses libav. If movies play too slow, too fast, without sound or too loud, you should definitely check BTS first. 😉

Happy Holidays and don’t stay too much in front of the screen if “XBMC from Debian” happens to work for hours without any crash! 🙂

update: (The crashing part is just a joke. “XBMC from Debian”  should work flawlessly. I use it every day without problems.)

update 2: If you prefer the internal FFmpeg over Libav for some reasons I have created a separate repository for the package using the internal FFmpeg library copy starting from Gotham.

22 thoughts on “Introducing “XBMC from Debian”

  1. Jonathan McDowell

    Thanks for your work on this; I’m running the XBMC 12 packages (taken from experimental around the time Wheezy released) and have been hoping to see some updates to the packages there for a while now.

  2. Jingqiang Zhang

    Thanks for your good work!
    And ttf-liberation is a transitional dummy package.

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  4. DarkLite1

    Debian is a great distribution, I came from Ubuntu and really love it. However, it’s a bit of a pain to maintain an extra XBMC especially for Debian users instead of using the provided official one with ffmpeg and all patches in it. Is there a way to install the official XBMC without libav? Thank you for your feedback.

  5. houghi

    How can I remove or edit the logo “XBMC for Debian” and the line “please read ….”, I have read it and now do not like to see the information anymore.

    1. Réczey Bálint Post author

      One way is editing the logo at /usr/share/xbmc/addons/skin.confluence/media/xbmc-logo.png , but it will be restored to the packaged version upon every package update.
      The other way is downloading any other skin of your preference. Since downloaded skins are stored in your HOME directory, they are not changed with package updates.
      The plan is removing the line pointing to README.Debian but keeping the “XBMC from Debian” part to clearly distinguish the package from upstream’s version.

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  11. Rickard B Hansson


    I found yesterday. Thougt i could upgrade xbmc to Kodi.

    I have lokal rposwitory, added it to mirror.list.

    Nothing from ~rbalint/ppa/xbmc-ffmpeg/ got downloded!

    Archive-log says:

    –2015-01-28 21: 28: 07–
    Looks up ( …, 2001: 41c8: 1000: 21 :: 21: 30
    Connecting to ( | |: 443 … connected.
    HTTP request sent, awaiting response … 200 OK
    Duration: 49100 (48K) [application / x-debian-package] No such file or The file or directory

    Can not write to”” (File or directory).

    This is my lines for Debian Wheezy:
    deb-i386 xbmc-ffmpeg-wheezy-backports/
    deb-amd64 xbmc-ffmpeg-wheezy-backports/

    Everything else downloads ok; wheezy and jessie repos, debian security, repo for webmin, google, and virtualbox among others.

    So, I followed the instructions on the site, installed apt-transport-https and added
    “deb xbmc-ffmpeg-wheezy-backports/” to sources.list. Did not achive anyting. After update of apt, apt says:

    E: Line 45 in source list /etc/apt/sources.list file has the wrong format (dist-interpretation)
    E: The list of sources could not be read.

    I prefer to download to lokal repo, i have limited wireles connection. download repo when I came in to town…

    Thankfull for any suggetions how to proceed.

    // Regards rbh

  12. Rickard B Hansson

    Weird. Saw that i had som files in skel. Copied them to mirror and run apt-mirror again. Now the files where downloaded. also för mipsel… I mounted the wheezy catalog, tested dpkg -i kodi*. uninstaled xbmc, tried again. Lots of unmet dependencies. Stuck in the lib-swamp…

    Well, think i have to go back to xbmc and wait untill it is released in the main repo or?

    //Regards rbh

  13. steve rinsler

    Yesterday, I installed v 13 of XBMC from the debian wheezy backports repository. I had ffmpeg and associated libav files installed from the unofficial multimedia repository.

    When I tried to launch XBMC, it failed with an error message about swscale2. I found a comment you made to someone else that the multimedia repository (dmo) files might be incompatible with this XBMC package.

    In order to uninstall libswscale2, I found it necessary to remove ffmpeg and two other lib packages from my system.

    Then, without installing the availabe ffmpeg package from the main repository, I tried to launch XBMC.

    To my surprise, it launched and is apparently working fine, in the limited time I have been playing with it.

    Note that this particular version of xbmc (2.13.2+dsg1) doesn’t list ffmpeg as a dependency in aptitude.

    Is there a reason or benefit from an install of ffmpeg, does it work fully without ffmpeg or does this version include an embedded version of ffmpeg?

    Thanks for your work and comments.

    1. Réczey Bálint Post author

      Up to 13.x versions XBMC shipped an embedded FFmpeg copy which is used in the xbmc packages here. The Kodi packages for Jessie/Sid use ffmpeg packages from unstable and the Kodi packages built for Wheezy use back-ported ffmpeg packages also hosted here.

  14. steve rinsler

    So theis 13.2 version from wheezy backports does include an embedded version of ffmpeg?


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