As you may have already read in our XBMC Devcon 2013 liveblog, we have decided that it’s time to feature freeze XBMC 13 “Gotham” and get ready for a new major version release. This feature freeze date has been set around the 10th of November 2013 so this means we have less than two weeks for adding any possible features we think are worthy and more importantly are deemed ready to include. So for people who are following our monthly posts you should already know about what things were added since our Frodo release. Secondly we set the 10th of December 2013 as final date for any bigger changes that we agreed upon at our Devcon conference, that are worth adding for the 13.0 release and might need some more time to prepare than was available.
We will continue the course set with the Frodo release and assigned a release manager who will take it upon him to handle the process from the moment of feature freeze till the time of the final release. The Release Manager will determine when a new Beta is released, when XBMC is ready to switch to release candidates and in the end the final release. This also accounts for whether code changes are fixes (OK) or features (not OK). This of course in conjunction with the team of developers who have specific knowledge of the code areas. Needless to say, it is a thankless job and a job that requires a person who is both extremely well versed in the code of XBMC and not afraid to make people angry to get the job done.
One change from last year which there was only one release manager (which we would like to thank him for doing an excellent job) is that we have now appointed two to handle the release. This should lighten the burden as now they can take dissensions together on what the best course of actions should be taken.
This year JMarshall and AlTheKiller volunteered to be our Release Managers for XBMC 13. We are convinced that they will do a truly fantastic job in the role together with the support of our entire team.
What does this actually mean for the users
For the average user, this means a couple things. First, you could be expecting to see XBMC Beta releases coming out some time after the last merge window set at December 10th. Second, given our fairly well documented open development cycle, there should be very few surprises from then until the release of Gotham. By definition, the features you see now are the same features you will see when Gotham is released with the possible exception of some smaller updates in the default skin Confluence. One downside you may notice is that due to changes done during development we have bumped the minimum requirements for Add-ons and skin. So if you are still using old plugins or scripts they might end up broken. The same will likely happen for skins depending if the authors have provided a skin that is compatible with Gotham. More information will follow for developers shortly.
So if you’d like to see what XBMC 13 is going to look like, feel free to install the last available alpha monthly build which you can find in the links to at the bottom of this post. We’ve noticed that already a lot of people are installing these monthly version and are happily using these and providing feedback. We hope that this change we set in last year has proven to be effective for having a more stable and better XBMC. As always, it’s important to remember that the alphas are definitely alpha software that you use at your own risk.
How can you help
There are many ways you can help actually. The easiest way to help is actually installing the Gotham builds and take them for a test-drive to see if you encounter any issues which can be reproducible by our developers. By providing detailed information like debuglogs and steps to reproduce, bugs can be narrowed down more quickly to find a solution for them. If you are a developer yourself it would even be great if you could fix the issue and send it to our code base on Github. Another option is helping out on the translation of XBMC and it’s many Add-ons and skins as explained here: Translating XBMC. There are of course more ways like helping other users out on the forum or simply help spreading the use of XBMC.
Bonus: If you really like the Gotham image used in this post you can get a 1080p version here to replace your background with.
So if you feel you are ready to try out a last monthly build (October), it’s time to start downloading. Be aware though, that this is still alpha software which contains potentially several bugs. There is a good chance that this alpha will break on you.
Should want to download and install XBMC, please visit our download page.
How to Contribute
If you use these builds, we encourage you to report possible bugs with enough information, if possible provide support in our Forums where you can, or donate to the Foundation if you like. For a current FAQ on XBMC 13, visit our Gotham FAQ.