osmc kodi guide for raspberry pi

Beginners guide to Kodi on Raspberry Pi via OSMC

Today, I think that we try to use the Raspberry Pi capacities to do any projects, and often, not the best suited to this one
The best qualities from the Raspberry are its size, its low energy consumption and its absolute silence
What a best list of things we need to build a media center?
Kodi is a software that will help us do this

So, how to install and enjoy Kodi on Raspberry Pi?
Kodi is only software, so you first need to install the OSMC operating system to run it
The install process is rather classic, but there are a lot of things to configure to improve your experience with this software

That’s what I will explain to you today in this post
I’ll try to answer all questions you could possibly ask about this, from the OS download until how you could enjoy your favorite video or song in the media player

Introduction

Before starting, I need to clarify the three main words in this article subject

Raspberry Pi

If you are on this website, with this project idea, you should know already what a Raspberry Pi is
But I’ll make sure

A Raspberry Pi in a single board computer, not powerful but with other qualities
It’s tiny (it holds in your hand), it’s cheap (under $40) and quiet (no fan needed)
It consumes almost nothing and has all the necessary ports (network, WiFi, HDMI, audio jack)

So it’s the perfect device to turn your old TV into a smart TV or to upgrade your current smart TV with the latest apps for a media center
You can also travel with it, and then use it at home, at your parents’ home or while traveling, with the same content, whatever the TV you’ll find on your way ^^

OSMC

The Raspberry Pi runs mainly Linux distributions
Linux is an operating system (like Windows or Mac OS) which exists in several variants (called distributions)

To create our media center, we’ll use OSMC as our Linux distribution for this project
OSMC is a free and open source distribution, dedicated to media center hosting
It’s a lightweight distribution, easy to install, which will do the job perfectly

Kodi

People are often confused about the difference between OSMC and Kodi
That’s why I’m making this short introduction

Kodi is the software we’ll use to browse into our media center (like Spotify for music)
OSMC is the operating system running on the Raspberry Pi (like Windows on a PC)

Kodi allows you to play videos, music and other digital media files from local and network storage media or the internet

We’ll use Kodi over OSMC because the main goal of this project is to have a dedicated Raspberry Pi for our media center
But if you already have a Raspberry Pi on Raspbian and want to try Kodi, it’s possible.
Kodi is now available directly in the Raspbian repository

OSMC Installation

After this brief review of the theory, let’s move on to action!

Download

All downloads for the OSMC distribution are available on this page

OSMC offers you two ways to create an SD card :

  • With an installer, download the version corresponding to your computer system
  • By downloading an image, download the version corresponding to your Raspberry Pi version

I’ll explain both on the next paragraph
There is no big difference
If you already have Etcher installed on your computer, maybe the image download way will be faster
But if you don’t have DHCP on your network, the installer will help you to configure that

If you don’t know, get the installer and follow steps in the next paragraph

Flash the SD Card

OSMC Installer

osmc installer tool

The installer will guide you through the following steps:

  • Welcome
    • Select your language
    • Choose your device (Raspberry Pi)
  • Select version
    • Take the first line if you don’t know
  • Install options
    • There are several options, but for a first try I think you’ll use an SD card
  • Networking
    • Here is an essential step if you want to use WiFi or if you don’t have DHCP
    • You need to select the connection method to use
    • And then check the box to enter details about your network (WiFi SSID, IP address, …)
  • Device selection
    • Insert your SD card and select it in the list
  • License agreement
    • Check the box to accept the license

Then the system will start downloading and installing OSMC on the SD Card
Once done you are ready to jump to the “First start” paragraph below

Etcher

If you downloaded the image corresponding to your device, you could use Etcher to flash it into your SD card
Etcher is a free tool you can download on this page
Then install it and start it

You will get an intuitive interface with three parts: image location, sd card selector and a flash button

etcher osmc sd card

Click on the Flash button as soon as you set the two options
The copy on the SD card is relatively fast, as the image takes less than 300MB

At the end of this process, you are ready to start OSMC for the first time

First start

Insert the SD card in your Raspberry Pi and start it
I’ll explain to you what happens in the next steps

Splash screen

This first step is automatic. You have nothing to do
OSMC will do the needed tasks to make your system works (resizing the SD card, Installing files, etc.)

At the end of the progress bar, you get a success message and the Raspberry Pi reboots

Welcome menu

After a brief preview of the Kodi menu, the Welcome menu appears
In this menu, you’ll need to enter your preferences:

  • Language
    • Select your preferred language for the Kodi interface
  • Timezone
    • Select the city corresponding to your current timezone
    • I don’t find this menu very intuitive
    • On my second try, I used the touchpad from my Bluetooth keyboard and it became easier
  • Hostname
    • You can leave this by default or choose a custom name
  • SSH
    • I recommend you to enable this directly
    • It could be easier for some things we’ll see after
    • If you don’t use it after this, you can disable it later
  • License
    • Accept the license and continue
  • Look
    • The welcome menu gives you a choice between two themes
    • Take the one you prefer but you can change this later
  • Sign Up
    • This is not mandatory, skip it

Once this menu is complete, the Kodi interface comes back into your screen

kodi menu

I’ll call this Kodi, even if I know that the limit is blurred between OSMC and Kodi
You’ll find OSMC and Kodi stuff in this menu, not important as long as we understand each one

Kodi

If you followed these installation steps, you should get the same menu as in the picture above

You now have a better idea of what to expect with this distribution on your Raspberry Pi
You can already try to browse, but I’ll help you to make the most of it in the rest of this article

Other things

Web Interface

kodi web interface

You may have missed it, but directly after the installation, a web interface for Kodi is directly available
You can access it by entering your Raspberry Pi IP Address: http://X.X.X.X

This interface is responsive so that you can use it from your tablet or smartphone

Before this, you need to know your IP address
I’ll give you four ways:

  • If you have set your IP address in the OSMC Wizard
    • You already know your IP address, it’ll be the same as you enter in the wizard
  • If you are in the OSMC menu, it’s easy:
    • Go in “My OSMC”
    • Then “Network”
    • Then choose your network connection (Wired or Wireless)
    • All your network settings will be displayed here, including your IP address
  • If you are on another computer on the network, are here is two last ways:
    • Go to your router web interface, most of the time it’ll give you all connected devices with their IP address
    • Follow this article about how to find your Raspberry Pi IP address (use the network scanner)

SSH

We have enabled the SSH service in the welcome menu and so its menu to connect OSMC via SSH remotely
On Windows, you could use Putty to do this. On Linux and Mac, the “ssh” command is already included

Then connect to the Raspberry Pi, entering the IP address (see above if you don’t know how to find it) and the default user credentials:

  • Login: osmc
  • Password: osmc

Once connected, I recommend you to change this default password with the command:

passwd

You are now in the OSMC system, basically a Debian-like system, where you can use your Debian skills to do what you need 🙂

SFTP

It comes with SSH, but a lot of people don’t think of this
As you got an SSH connection to your Raspberry Pi, you can use software like WinSCP, Filezilla or rsync/scp to transfer a file to and from it

You can even open a port in your router (NAT), to transfer files remotely, from another network on the Internet

Kodi basics

Now, let’s get back to the Kodi interface and take a tour of the main features

Add media files into Kodi

For the moment, media entries in the menu are empty (Videos, Music, and Pictures)
I will now explain to you how to add your files in it.
There are several ways

USB Drive

The most natural way to read a file in Kodi can be to use a USB key or external drive (especially if you have all your photos or movies on it)

In this case, plug the drive on the Raspberry Pi and all your files will be available directly
OSMC and Kodi will automount your disk and display all files available

For example, if I go to Music > Files, I see my USB key name on the list
Click on it and you will get your files

kodi music player

Everything is synchronized with the web interface, so if you prefer, you can use the web interface to find and start your files on the TV
The USB drive will be found in the “Browser” menu in the web interface

Copy files into the Raspberry Pi

You can’t directly save your files from the USB drive to your SD card from the files menus

To do this, you need to go to the Settings Menu > File Manager
Then browse to your file in the left panel and find the destination folder on the right panel
Finally, right-click on the file and choose “Copy” to save it in your Raspberry Pi

There are other interesting options here ,I’ll let you discover

Network share

If you have a share available on your network (like a NAS or a shared folder on another PC), you could access it from Kodi, to play media files over the network

To do this go to Videos > Add videos
Enter your media source URL and choose a name

Kodi can manage a lot of different servers (smb, nfs, http, …)
You’ll find help about the syntax to use in each case on the Kodi wiki

Once your media source properly added, you can access all media on this server directly from the Kodi interface (or the web interface)

File transfer

One of my favorite use is to have a larger SD Card on your Raspberry Pi (see my recommended products if you need one)
And then to send files to watch/listen directly on the Raspberry Pi via SFTP

To do this, I connect to the Raspberry Pi using software like Filezilla, WinSCP or even scp/rsync on Linux
I remind you that default logins are osmc/osmc

Once connected, you an transfer file in the library directory
To make it viewable in Kodi, you need to put files in /home/osmc, the correct folder

Media files not available after transfer?

If your media files uploaded into /home/osmc/Videos, for example, and they are not visible in Kodi, you have to add a new media sources with your home folder

  • Go in Videos > Files
  • Select Add videos
  • In the source location, enter: /home/osmc
  • Choose the name you want, for example, Home folder
  • Submit, adjust the default settings if needed
  • Exit

Then go back to Videos > Files
Choose your new source (Home folder) and you’ll see the list of Videos on the SD card

You have to do the same for each type of media if needed (Pictures and Music)

Kodi addons

Ok. You know now how to read media files on your Raspberry Pi with Kodi
But it’s not different of what you could do on Raspbian or your game console

The powerful feature of Kodi is the possibility to install add-ons
An addon is something like an app on your smartphone
A smartphone without app store is not so funny. A smartphone with 5M apps is something different 🙂

There is also a lot of add-ons in Kodi. I will introduce you some of them
The problem is that you will find anything and everything on the Internet.
I will classify those that I present to you by legality but beware of what you will find elsewhere

Official Kodi add-ons

In this first part, I’ll show you only add-ons from the official repository
So everything is legal here, don’t worry

Youtube

The first essential add-on is Youtube
To install it follow these steps:

  • Go in Settings > Add-on browser
  • Select Video Add-ons
  • Find Youtube on the list (Yes, at the bottom …)
  • Click on it and then choose “Install”

The add-on start downloading and will be installed quickly

To use it go back to the main menu, and then “Videos”
Choose “Video add-ons” and then Youtube
On the first start, you may be asked some configuration question like language and country

The interface is not extraordinary but will allow you to find and watch your Youtube videos

Youtube Kodi

Soundcloud

Another example with Soundcloud, which you can get the same way as Youtube

  • Go to Settings > Add-ons browser > Music add-ons
  • Find and install Soundcloud

Back into your main menu > Music > Music add-ons, you’ll see the Soundcloud app

Other default apps

You should now understand that any add-on you find in the main repository is easy to install and use and that you can use it legally
So I let you browse this list and install all add-ons you are interested in before to move the next paragraph 🙂

Gray Kodi add-ons

Let’s go into the “we don’t really know” section on the legality ladder
I consider an addon as “gray”, as soon as you have to add a new source or install an app from a zip file

Use a VPN

It’s more advice than an add-on
Maybe I’m paranoid, but I advise you to start taking security measures at this level

But with Kodi the border between legal and illegal is thin and you should use a VPN
A VPN will encrypt and anonymize your Internet traffic (from the Raspberry Pi)

Here is a good graphic from ExpressVPN explaining how a VPN protect yourself:
vpn

You can also check the page to know more about VPN

I will not debate here the best VPN provider to choose.
There are a ton of websites comparing and ordering them for you.
Most of the time, anyone will do the job. It’s more a price choice.
They are all similar

Also, check for news about your favorite provider. A lot of websites still recommend IPVanish, while they were accused of logging your activities

Once you find your VPN provider, follow instructions from their website to install the VPN client on Kodi

Spotify

Spotify is a major music streaming service you should already know
There is no app available in the Kodi repository, but you can download it from a third party source

Here are the steps to follow to install SpotiMC:

  • Get the last zip available on this page
  • Download it and transfer it on your Raspberry Pi
    • You could get in on your computer and upload it with a software like Filezilla
    • You could also download it directly from an ssh console
      wget http://azkotoki.org/download-file/35/script-audio-spotimc-1-0-beta5 -O spotiMC.zip
    • Try to put the file in a folder with all your add-ons
      For example, I have a folder /home/osmc/Downloads to put all in it
  • Then back in Kodi, go to Settings > Add-ons browser
  • Choose “Install from zip file”
  • Then browse to your download path (Home Folder > Downloads for example)
  • Click on the file and then on Install

SpotiMC should now be available in your Music menu, under Music Add-ons
On the first start, it may ask you to install dependencies, choose “Yes”
After that, you need to restart your Raspberry Pi to apply changes

After the reboot, go back in Spotify, login, and you’re ready to go

Crackle

We saw how to install an add-on from a zip file, let’s see now how to add a new repository with Crackle

Crackle is owned by Sony and delivers a streaming service to watch popular TV series and movies
To install it you need to add a new repository, like this:

  • Download the eracknaphobia zip file from here
  • Transfer it on your Raspberry Pi
  • Go to Settings > Add-ons browser
  • Choose “Install from zip file”
  • Browse to the zip file and install it
  • Then go back to the Add-ons browser but choose “Install from repository”
  • You should now see the new repository in the list
  • Click on “eracknaphobia’s Repo” and you will see all the available packages in this repository
  • Crackle is in the Video add-ons subfolder
  • Click on “Crackle” and then “Install”

Crackle is now available in Videos > Video add-ons
It’s free, enjoy!

crackle on kodi

Other add-ons

You have now learned how to install new add-ons, whether by zip file or with a repository
I’ll not give you all the possible add-ons to install here.
It’s not the purpose of this post
But you are now able to add anything

And this is the place to start paying attention
All add-ons are accessible as quickly as these, whether they are allowed or not
It’s up to you to judge whether it seems legal or not

On pc the same service is free? If not, do you already pay a subscription to this service?

You answer “no” to both questions? It will surprise me that it’s legal

Kodi add-ons to avoid

There are add-ons I don’t recommend you to use on Kodi if you don’t want to have legal issues

Here are some examples you should avoid: Exodus, Covenant, Placenta, Incursion

These are add-ons to watch movies and TV shows for free.
As you know, it’s rarely free to get this type of content, so these add-ons are not legal at all.
Depending on your country, it can even be considered as a crime

Conclusion

If I sum up, you should have learned how to:

  • Install Kodi on your Raspberry Pi via OSMC
  • Use basic features available in Kodi like playing media files
  • How to install add-ons in different ways :
    • Official repository (Youtube)
    • From a downloaded zip file (Spotify)
    • From a third party repository (Crackle)

I also tried to warn you about legal issues when installing third-party add-ons on Kodi
Kodi is legal and safe, but you need to be careful when you install something on it

I hope this post will help you to start understanding how Kodi works
It’s a big topic so I can’t introduce everything in only one article

There is a lot of websites about Kodi and the official wiki can also help you
Feel free to check it if you need more information:

OSMC Wiki
Kodi Wiki

 

 

 

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