Ever since its inventor was first showing it off online, I've been interested in a little software package called Boxee. For those not familiar, it's a networked media player, but with a twist... it's socially connected, so you can see what friends are watching/hearing and make/receive recommendations. It's also possible to stream video and audio from quite a few internet-based sources as well as from your own network and the machine it's running on.
Over the last weekend, I built a small computer and loaded the Linux version of Boxee on it, and so far I'm loving it. It's still in alpha release status, so there are plenty of problems to iron out and features to add, but I'm already getting usefulness out of it. The internet video streaming works quite well, at least for most of the sources I've checked out so far. I've also been playing DVDs with it, not only directly but also from ripped images (one of my favorite features so far for local media... Matrix marathon, anyone? :-). If things continue to go well with it, I may be getting rid of my DVD player, if only to reduce the amount of hardware.
One of the features that recently got me even more interested in it was the ability to stream video from Netflix. As it turns out, this feature has a while to go before it'll be available on the Linux version, primarily due to the way it works with the site (their web-based player, I believe) and the fact that lots of work remains on what that system relies on. They say it'll probably be a little over a year from now. In the meantime, at least I've still got my Roku Netflix box.
Before I can get any real enjoyment out of it, I'll need to finish connecting it to the entertainment center. I should be getting a digital audio connector for that purpose, sometime this week or next, and then the AC3/DTS passthrough will be thoroughly tested :-)
Another part of that was getting my Pronto remote working with it. I didn't buy any IR hardware for the machine, as the remote can connect directly to things over a network, but on its own it can't handle the way that Boxee receives that sort of thing. Most of the weekend was spent writing software top bridge that gap (which I plan to release after some necessary polishing) and scripting on the remote.