Kodi Leia

Kodi, alongside the likes of Firefox and VLC, is a flagship open source project. It has been at the cutting edge of media applications for years, fearlessly pushing updates, themes, add-ons, plugins, back ends, front ends, platforms, and clients for a variety of different architectures, from the Raspberry Pi to Android. Of course, this is because it's not your average media player, but something that works best when it takes over your machine. That's why it's perfect on a Raspberry Pi, or side-loaded as an Android Debug Bridge (ADB) onto something like Amazon's Fire TV. We love it when there's a major update, because Kodi's amazing development team manages to cram in so many (media) life-changing features.

Version 18 comes two years after the previous major release, and it's difficult to choose which of its major new features to cover. Perhaps the most interesting is RetroPlayer, an embedded games emulator that supports many different kinds of old systems and their software. This allows you to launch, play, and quit back to the menu all from the same interface. It's based on libretro, which mean you can play almost anything, including games for the Commodore 64, Nintendo Game Boy/64/SNES, and Sega Dreamcast/Genesis/Saturn, plus many old MS-DOS games. File management is still very basic, and you obviously need to have legal access to the ROMs, but there's also a brilliant add-on that will download games directly from the Internet Archive (, where many are being saved from oblivion as abandonware. This lets you choose between hundreds of games being stored online, sorted by year and by platform, and you can easily waste hours reliving the wasted hours of your youth.

Add-ons themselves have also become simpler, with the requesters for entering repository source details and the add-on viewer much closer in the menu hierarchy, plus there's much improved dependency management. A new button in the add-on selector lists the dependencies required by a selected add-on along with details about which dependencies are installed and which are not. Seeing this information in one place is much more convenient than manually trying to figure out missing dependencies when an add-on doesn't work. Kodi is now far more compatible with DRM-protected content, and in particular, both Netflix and Amazon Prime. Historically, these two services have been able to work with add-ons, but service updates often broke compatibility. With the new release, you can stream full HD from these sources, much like any other source, and you don't have to worry about your device defaulting to a low quality fallback mode. Plus, using Kodi is a big improvement over Amazon's sprawling interface of adverts on its Fire TV box, for instance.

And finally, "Live" TV no longer feels like a second-class citizen. Thanks to an overhauled UI and new PVR-centric add-ons, Kodi is now just as good at EPG viewing and scheduling as more traditional PVRs, such as MythTV. You will still need a back end controlling the hardware, but the Kodi front end at least can almost replace a satellite or terrestrial STB, or even IPTV, to make Kodi the best open source one-stop solution you can install.Project Website

While its main UI has changed very little, Kodi has seen many changes beneath the surface over the last two years.
Because you can see an add-on's dependencies, it's now easy to install any of the hundreds of add-ons available for Kodi.

Arcade conversion

Ascii Patrol:

When you think of games made with ASCII characters, you typically start with Snake and end with NetHack, both of which are brilliant in their own way. You don't typically think of something with refined arcade quality playability and design. And yet that exactly describes Ascii Patrol, an interpretation of the arcade classic, Moon Patrol, recreated in text characters to run on a console. Outside of 80s-era home computer arcade conversions, it's one of the few modern recreations of an old game built atop an even more limited graphics engine than the original. However, in this case, it makes the graphics utterly enchanting. You'll be hooked from the moment you launch the game and the moon buggy scrolls smoothly from one side of the screen to the other.

Pressing any key from the title screen takes you to an overview screen, which includes a player profile and editable avatar, a campaign overview complete with a map, and an online leaderboard, plus there's a handy controls overview. It's like an AAA game on Xbox Live. Press the spacebar, and you're playing the game. As with the original, the action comes from a side-scrolling obstacle course where you accelerate and decelerate your buggy, jump, and shoot at things while avoiding rocks and crevasses. Your score is based on how far you get. It's deceptively tricky and very addictive, and you soon forget the entire game is being rendered using only ASCII characters. You need to complete each level to unlock the next, and this is what makes you want to get over the learning curve, just like in the olden days. It plays brilliantly, and it's just as addictive and as playable as the original, with the new/old graphics being part of the charm, rather than a compromise. Play it over Telnet today!

Project Website

With a title that's a brilliant pun and great replayability, Ascii Patrol has become our go-to play over SSH while you rsync your game.

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