Sunday, May 5, 2013

Switching from OpenELEC to XBMC + Raspbian on Raspberry Pi

[Update 09/13/2015]
While the instructions below probably still work, if you are starting from scratch I would recommend OSMC (formerly Raspbmc) which gives you an optimized Kodi install over Raspbian, so you can still install anything else you need on top of that. Currently, I'm trying OSMC + Samba + minidlna to replace my old htpc, and may give OpenELEC another try.

[Original post 05/05/2013]
I decided to switch from OpenELEC to XBMC installed on Raspbian due to all the issues I've experienced with the latest releases - random lockups and unreliable wireless network connection make it completely unusable, and OpenELEC's stripped-down nature makes it difficult to diagnose and implement workarounds. From what I read on the OpenELEC forums these instability issues are due to old firmware in the build, but since all my Raspberry Pi hardware already runs fine on the latest Raspbian I decided to just install XBMC on top of that.

Apparently there are other issues with running XBMC on Raspbian, such as the full keyboard not working in the XBMC interface, but that can be worked around. With a stable wifi connection I can edit config files via ssh. Also, once XBMC is configured to enable remote control via http the soft keyboard on the smartphone XBMC remote app will work.

Since I'm using BerryBoot, I used the "clone" function to create a clean copy of the latest Raspbian image. With the latest BerryBoot I was able to do this via VNC, and as an unexpected bonus my wifi config settings got carried over into the new Raspbian install. I named it "Raspbian XBMC," set it as default, then booted into it and went through the usual setup steps in "raspi-config." Before running updates I install screen so that I can let the long update run and just disconnect from the ssh session. After that I did the usual "sudo apt-get update" and "sudo apt-get upgrade" to get everything up to date.

I installed XBMC as per Michael Gorven's instructions here and edited /etc/default/xbmc so XBMC would run on startup as user pi. After that it's more or less just installing plugins and customizing.


  1. Hi, I've managed to make the full keyboard working in XBMC.

    Take a look in my reply to this post:

  2. I have also installed XBMC over Raspbian as per Michael Gorven's instructions. It would be great except for the fact that the hdmi sound produces aperiodic glitches or "blimp" sounds several times per minute especially noticeable and annoying when playing mp3s. I was wondering if you experienced that. There are some reports that the USB interface can drop packets in a realtime situation and was wondering if that was related. I also noticed xbmc was quite the power hog even when idle. I discovered some tweaks that reduced the processor demand that helped reduce a 75% cpu drain down to about 25-30% while idle. They are described here: The biggest gain was from the xbmc option to activate the vertical blanc sync.