Open set-top-box tempts devs with rewards

Dec 23, 2008

Neuros Technology is offering “bounties” to developers who come up with software that fills in a few gaps in the functioning of its “open,” Linux-powered, Internet-enabled Neuros Link set-top-box (STB). The rewards range from $500 to $2,500, depending on what’s implemented.

Neuros CEO Joe Born considers open set-top boxes (STBs) to represent a “very favorable opportunity” for embedded Linux. “Unlike the desktop, where compatibility with legacy applications and peripherals is a serious impediment, the set-top box simply has to play today’s available content,” he explains.

Neuros currently is offering a pre-production, “gamma” model of its Link STB to developers and tech-savvy end users willing to use — and help test — a pre-released product. The STB can be ordered online for about $300. Consistent with the its pre-release status, the device is accompanied by “a four month no-questions-asked return period” guarantee.



Preliminary version Neuros’s “Link” STB and keyboard/remote

The Link STB is aimed at giving consumers the ability to easily play both local and downloaded A/V content over their TVs. Neuros says the device supports an “extensive list” of multimedia formats and codecs that let users…

  • Stream online standard-definition and HD-quality TV and video
  • View of local 1080p video in a wide variety of non-DRM’ed formats
  • Play of online and local music
  • View online and local photos

The device runs a customized version of Ubuntu 8.10 Linux. Its software stack also includes open-source video players — including MPlayer, VLC, Xine — and uses the PulseAudio sound server to provide audio to all of the device’s output ports, according to Neuros. Another key feature, according to the company, is “seamless integration with Neuros.TV, a free service that lets you organize and watch Internet TV on your TV.”

“Today the Neuros Link, with Flash 10 and many other media plug-ins, is a lot of the way there already,” adds Born. “There’s only a handful of content sources that don’t already play, and most of the pieces and parts are available for them as well. Once we incorporate those sources, there’s little reason that anyone would need a full fledged PC connected to their PC, and even less reason for Windows.”


Gamma Link hardware specs

Specifications listed by Neuros for the current gamma-level Link STB hardware include:

    CPU, chipset, memory:

    • AMD Athlon LE-1660 (supports AMD AM2+/AM2)
    • Northbridge: AMD 780G
    • Southbridge: AMD SB700
    • Video chipset: ATI Radeon HD 3200
    • Memory: 1GB DDR2 SDRAM, expandable with 4 240-pin DIMM DDR2 1066MHz RAM, up to 8GB
  • Available expansion slots:
    • 1 x PCI Express
    • 1 x PCI
  • HDD support:
    • PATA: 1 internal ATA100; 2 devices max
    • SATA: 5 internal at 3Gb/s
  • Audio:
    • Realtek ALC1200 chipset
    • 8 x channels
    • 1 x 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • 1 x PS/2
    • HDMI and DVI
    • 8 x USB 2.0 (2 used internally)
    • 1 x IEEE 1394a (Firewire)
    • 1 x eSATA (3Gb/s)
    • 1 x optical S/PDIF out
    • 6 x audio ports
  • WiFi: 802.11 g/b. up to 54Mbps
  • Video: capable of 1080p H.264 video playback
  • 115/240 VAC power supply
  • Housing:
    • Size: 11.8 x 3.5 x 12.8 inches
    • Space for one slimline CD/DVD drive
    • Internal carriage for 3.5-inch HDD
  • Noise: under 27dB
  • 2.4 GHz wireless keyboard trackball controller


About the bounty challenges

The seven bounty challenges currently offered are:

  • Netflix downloads
    • $2,500 to get it working, connecting directly with the Netflix service
    • $500 to get it working using PC software (preferably open source) as an intermediary
  • Move Networks plug-in
    • $2,000 to get it working
    • $2,500 to get it working within Firefox
  • iTunes player — $1000 to get it working on the Link
  • Improved wired/wireless networking configuration wizard — $750
  • Video Resolution and Xorg settings changer — $750
  • Error and Problem reporter — $500
  • Upgrade GUI — $750

While developers pursuing the bounties needn’t own a Link to produce and submit their code, a number of issues are hardware-related. Therefore, since winning the bounties requires the code to work on one of Neuros’s Link STBs (at its offices), developers generally will need access to a Link in order to fully test their submissions.

Further details on the Neuros Link code bounties are available here.



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