For the last few weeks my spare cycles have been mostly spent on the Guacamayo Project; this is something that myself and Ross have been toying with for a while, and it’s probably time to say a bit about it.

In a gist Guacamayo is a specialised Linux distribution for networked multimedia devices; I say specialised, because the aim is not to produce yet another rehashed desktop distro with a bit of multimedia functionality on the side, but a system built from ground up for a pure multimedia experience.

The clearly defined focus allows us to do one thing in particular: we can ditch the traditional Linux desktop! The Guacamayo aim is to provide an intuitive gateway into a multi media world; the traditional desktop metaphor made up of workspaces, applications, documents and no end of toolbars and menus does nothing but stand in the way. Considering most of us have to put up with that sort of mess during working hours, I think we deserve better when it’s time to chill out. :)

Ditching the traditional Linux desktop has some other inherent benefits; we can forget about legacy technologies, not least the venerable X11 windowing system, and instead choose what makes best sense for creating that sort of user experience we are after.

So what are we doing:

  • Distro based on Yocto; this was an obvious choice. Guacamayo targets multiple hardware architectures, so a proven cross-compilation environment is a must, plus Yocto makes crafting a carefully defined distro from scratch if not an easy, then a practical possibility,
  • UPnP integration provided by rygel,
  • PulseAudio for the sound,
  • GStreamer as the core medial framework,
  • Shell based on OpenGL, provided by MediaExplorer, aka MEX. Like Yocto, this has been an obvious choice, since MEX provides a really cool, modern, intuitive interface.

Supported HW? We are not focusing on any HW in particular. Our aim is to create a distro that could be used on a broad variety of suitable HW.  The current development is done using the Zotac zbox (Intel Atom) and the Beagleboard (Arm Cortex A8), and we fully intend to support Raspberry PI (eagerly awaiting HW).

We did our first release code named ‘See No Evil, Hear All You Want!’, aka 0.2, last week. As the name suggests, this is a limited functionality audio-only release, to get folk interested to come along and start testing and contributing. The next stable release is planed to include MEX running under X11, as a stepping stone toward a pure OpenGL system beyond that.

If you are interested, the source is here, you can drop by #guacamayo on Freenode, or follow @MetaGuacamayo on Twitter.

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