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The Pi Wire

Raspberry Pi gets a new browser and new VGA support. Also, Raspberry Jams, Shellshock, and Eben talks A+.

Things move quickly in the Raspberry Pi ecosystem – so quickly that sometimes it can be really hard to keep up! This regular column rounds up Raspberry Pi and open hardware news to keep you up to date on the latest developments, projects, products, and events.

Epiphany – The New Web Browser!

Late last year on the 23rd of December 2013, as a lovely little gift for all of us Raspberry Pi enthusiasts, the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced the new web browser they were working on in partnership with Collabora in order to bring a smoother Internet surfing experience to the Raspberry Pi. The new web browser would be a Raspbian port of the very confusingly named "Web" web browser, which was formerly called Epiphany and originated from the Gnome project. At the time of the initial announcement, the new web browser was in its early stages of development and was released as a beta with many features still missing; however, it already looked like a welcome improvement to the standard Midori browser included with Raspbian. The official release of the new browser (which is based on the WebKit 1 layout engine) came on September 1, 2014 and brought with it all of the improvements that had been promised last year. These improvements include full support for the JavaScript JIT (just in time) compiler, improved HTML5 video support, hardware-accelerated video decoding enabling playback of 720p videos at 25fps, better scrolling and interactivity during page loads, and a whole host of other features. Eben Upton from the Raspberry Pi Foundation says in the release video [1] that "it is another good step in making the Raspberry Pi useful as a general purpose computer," and I can add that, after subsequently using the browser in an operational setting for a number of hours, that is definitely true. The Epiphany browser is included by default in all new versions of Raspbian and NOOBS from September 15, 2014 onwards, but if you want to just download it without a full update, you can do so using the following code from a terminal session:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo apt-get install epiphany-browser

For a more in-depth look at the features and improvements, I recommend the blog of lead developer Marco Barisione [2].

OSMC and Vero

Issue 2 of Raspberry Pi Geek featured an interview with the creator of the Raspbmc media centre distribution for Raspberry Pi, Sam Nazarko. Sam was 19 when he created Raspbmc and, at that time, he already had another hugely popular XBMC media center distribution [3] under his belt in the form of Crystalbuntu [4] for the first-generation Apple TV. Raspbmc is based on Raspbian and XBMC (hence the name) and is the most popular media center distribution for the Raspberry Pi (with more than two million downloads and more than 90,000 unique daily users), as well as the second most popular operating system for the Raspberry Pi after Raspbian itself.

In the interview, Sam mentioned working on a new project, which, at the time, was called LinXBMC. LinXBMC was intended to provide a unified cross-platform experience. Since then, LinXBMC has been re-launched as OSMC (open source media center [5] and is already available as an initial build for Raspberry Pi [6], with the full release likely coming sometime in early December 2014. Due to the reduced overheads and development time achieved by merging the codebases, Sam is also going to be able to deliver a version of OSMC for the CuBox-i from SolidRun, as well as other platforms based on the Freescale i.MX6 series processors (on top of the Raspberry Pi and Apple TV versions he already supports). Android, Intel NUC and Generic x86/x64 support will likely follow when time permits.

Sam has also told us that he will soon be launching a flagship OSMC media centre device for crowdfunding via Kickstarter or IndieGoGo. The device will be called Vero, which is the Italian word for true, and it is likely to launch before this magazine goes to press. You can find all the information about Vero at the launch website [7].

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