You need a media center solution and you’ve heard of Kodi. Does it fit and can you install it on your Raspberry Pi? And once you do, how do you turn it into an amazing home media center? We’ll show you how.
You don’t need much to get started with a Kodi media center and Raspberry Pi. But if you’re looking to enhance the experience, there are a few things you can add to the base setup.
Raspberry Pi Media Center: Basic Setup
You may already have a Raspberry Pi. Also, you could buy one. At a minimum, you will need:
Raspberry Pi Model B+ or later (we recommend Raspberry Pi 3B+).
Optional USB WiFi adapter for pre-Raspberry Pi B+ or 2.
2 USB power adapter or dedicated Raspberry Pi power supply.
MicroSD card (8 GB or more recommended).
If you have a computer to boot your preferred operating system and write to a microSD card, you should be ready to go.
Advanced setup for Raspberry Pi 3 B + Media Center
There have been many iterations since its release in 2012, but to get superior performance from Kodi, OSMC, or OpenElec, use the most recent Raspberry Pi 3B+ model.
For a standard installation, you can rely on a microSD card. However, if you’re planning on using your Raspberry Pi as your Kodi system for the long haul, then a more robust storage solution is a must. The Raspberry Pi supports a USB stick that you can use for both your own library and downloadable media.
Connecting a USB HDD to your Raspberry Pi for Kodi is a smart idea. Keep reading to find out more about this and some other advanced hardware options.
How to install Kodi on your Raspberry Pi
There are two options available for installing Kodi on your Pi.
Standard Kodi installation
If you’re running Raspbian Jessie on your Raspberry Pi (or any other Raspberry Pi compatible Linux operating system), you can easily install Kodi manually using the command line.
With your Raspberry Pi already set up, simply open a terminal window and type:
sudo apt-get install kodi
After that, you will need to edit the configuration file to ensure that the media center software automatically loads when the Raspberry Pi boots.
sudo nano /etc/default/kodi
Change the ENABLED setting to 1:
Click ctrl + z to exit, making sure you save your changes.
Otherwise, you can launch Kodi with a click from your desktop or with a single command in the terminal:
You are good to go!
Install Kodi Operating System on Raspberry Pi
More preferable, however, might be to have a dedicated Raspberry Pi with an already optimized version of Kodi. This way, it will automatically load into the media center software without any fiddling with text files.
You have three main options: LibreELEC, OpenElec, and OSMC.
To use OpenElec, you can download the operating system from openelec.tv or use the NOOBS software to select it from a list (see below). OSMC can also be installed via NOOBS, or you can download it from osmc.tv.
For LibreELEC, head to libreelec.tv.
With manual installation, you will need to format the microSD card first, and then copy the decompressed file to the card using dedicated SD card writing software.
The best option for this is Etcher, which you can download from etcher.io. This is available for Windows, macOS and Linux and is the simplest flash burning tool suitable for SD cards and USB sticks.
Once installed, launch Etcher, making sure the microSD card is inserted into your computer’s card reader. Click » Select Image», to find the OpenElec or OSMC image file and then make sure under » Select Disk » the correct letter is displayed disk . Finally click flash, to start recording.
Etcher will display a message when the .img file has been written and the data has been verified.
Your SD card can be removed and inserted into the Raspberry Pi. The next time you boot up, Kodi will be ready to use!
Check out our guides on installing Raspberry Pi OS with NOOBS. or installing the Raspberry Pi OS on a microSD card for more details on the process if you get stuck.
It’s always good to have a USB keyboard, as you can just plug it in and navigate the Kodi user interface. Most of these Kodi keyboard shortcuts should work on the Raspberry Pi. If you’re using a Raspberry Pi 3 with built-in Bluetooth, or if you have a compatible Bluetooth USB dongle for the device, a Bluetooth keyboard will also come in handy.
You have another choice: there are several mobile apps available for iOS and Android that can control your media center over the network. We would recommend the ones made by Kodi on any platform. On iOS, look for the official Kodi Remote in the App Store, while on Android, look for Kore by the XBMC Foundation.
Once installed, these apps will automatically detect your Kodi installation if they are connected to the same home network as the Raspberry Pi.
You also have various options for additional hardware that you can add to your Raspberry Pi Kodi media center. These include adding a sound module or even an IR receiver for use with a physical remote control.
Recharge Your Raspberry Pi Kodi Media Center
At this point, you have everything you need to enjoy the Kodi media center. But you can go further. With the right hardware and peripherals, your Raspberry Pi compact media center could be the envy of your friends and family.
Use Ethernet, not Wi-Fi
We recommended using a Raspberry Pi 3, but that’s really for performance reasons, not anything else. Since the Raspberry Pi 3 comes with a built-in wireless dongle (and Bluetooth too), you might be tempted to use that.
If your Pi is located near a router and you have a strong signal, then that should be fine, but for the best results — especially when streaming HD content — you must rely on an Ethernet cable.
This may mean using adapters adapters but it’s important here to get the best picture and sound quality possible, so use whatever works.
Quality sound for Kodi
In addition to your Raspberry Pi 3 based Kodi home theater system, it’s recommended that you consider some audio enhancements.
By default you get audio via HDMI and that should be fine. After all, most TVs have reasonably good sound. But if you want better sound, perhaps output through a soundbar, then you’ll need an external sound module.
Various USB compatible options are available, but in general they are unreliable or incompatible. Instead, you should take a look at the Full-HD PCM5122 Amplifier X400 Expansion Board.
We mentioned above how the mobile remote control app can be with any Kodi device, but if you’re more inclined towards dedicated remote hardware, you’ll need an IR receiver on your Raspberry Pi.
Some are available, either USB or something that plugs directly into the Raspberry Pi board. They all come with a remote control, making it easy to navigate your Kodi home theater. Please note that in order to regularly find and add third-party repositories, you will need something with a keyboard, or at least a keyboard.
Find a compatible hard drive
For extended storage, a hard drive is vital. A standard 8 GB microSD card will quickly run out of space if used for media storage. Meanwhile, a 64GB (or larger) card cannot be expected to last indefinitely.
While modern SD storage is much more reliable (thanks to better error correction), it’s safer to rely on a hard drive. Most USB hard drives can be connected to the Raspberry Pi, although the one you are using will need its own power supply.
You can even connect a SATA drive to your Raspberry Pi using a storage expansion board.
Install only the add-ons you need
Finally, you need to be aware of the add-ons that are available for Kodi and which ones you will be using. With such a huge selection of add-ons (official and third-party), you should stick to a narrow collection of options. The more add-ons you choose, the more updates will be required and this will slow down your Kodi experience.
Along with popular services like YouTube, Hulu, Spotify, and BBC iPlayer, you can even install Amazon Video, Plex, and Netflix.
Niche add-ons can also be found: TED Talks, specific YouTube channels, podcasts and more can be found in the add-on repository. It’s best to research what you want first so you don’t waste too much time looking through endless lists.
Build Your Own Raspberry Pi Home Theater Today
We won’t pretend it’s easy, but it’s certainly easy and achievable within an hour. Once Kodi is installed in your living room or bedroom, you’ll be able to enjoy a wide range of add-ons for your entertainment, and with a few hardware upgrades, your little Raspberry Pi will be able to produce results comparable to a multimedia equipment center that costs ten times as much! And for more tips, check out other ways to create an affordable home theater experience.
Want to learn more from your Raspberry Pi Media Center? Why not add RetroPie or RecalBox for some retro fun ?