The XBMC (Kodi) Raspberry Pi is the best way to turn your little Pi into a fully-fledged media center. Even better is that it performs pretty when it comes to playing music, movies and TV shows.
In this project I will take you through all the steps and information you will need to be able to build your very own Raspberry Pi media center.
Since I wrote this tutorial XBMC has now been renamed to Kodi. Also Raspbmc has been discontinued however OpenElec and Xbian are both still available.
You can find the entire tutorial for setting up Kodi on the Raspberry Pi. It’s an excellent software package that makes organizing your media super easy.
The equipment I recommend you will you need for this project are listed below. You will probably only need a USB keyboard and mouse for the setup after this you can remotely control XBMC (Kodi) via a tablet and/or web browser.
SD Card (8GB Recommended) or Micro SD Card if you’re using a Raspberry Pi B+, 2 or 3
Ethernet Cord or Wifi dongle
Video on Setting up Raspberry Pi XBMC
If you’re more of a visual person then I have set up an up awesome guide to help you through every step of getting your Pi ready to play those videos.
Please note in the video I use Raspbmc, please use OpenELEC instead.
Variations of Raspberry Pi XBMC
Firstly we will need to choose an operating system to install onto the Pi. There are currently three main versions out there to pick from these are OpenELEC, Raspbmc and Xbian.
Note: If you have a Raspberry Pi 2 please use OpenElec instead of Raspbmc. (You can follow the same steps but download the OpenELEC image instead of Raspbmc)
Raspbmc runs a full version of linux underneath XBMC but because of this it is slightly slower to boot up and the interface is somewhat slower when compared to a lighter weight version such as Xbian and OpenElec.
I found this the easiest to install and doesn’t require much work to have it working perfectly. You will need to tweak it a little to get the best out of it though. This is the most popular out of the three versions.
Note: Raspbmc has now been discontinued please use OpenELEC instead.
OpenELEC is a very light weight simple media center for the Raspberry Pi. The pro and con for this one is that the Linux OS underneath is virtually nonexistent. This allows for much faster boot times and just faster performance overall.
The biggest drawback on this is there is little to no room to move in terms of adding new drivers etc. If you do need to this then it will require an entire rebuild of your Pi.
This is great if you have technical skills and don’t require anything else but the standard drivers for XBMC (Kodi)
Find out more over at the OpenElec website.
Xbian much like OpenELEC is very light weight and fast but is much easier to install and configure than OpenELEC. This has everything Raspbmc has and is virtually identical. Xbian tends to get a lot of updates which means you get some minor features before the other two variations of XBMC.
This is perfect for anyone who wants faster updates but apart from that it is basically the same as Raspbmc.
Find out more over at the Xbian website.
Installing Kodi (XBMC) Onto the SD Card
There are two ways we’re able to install Raspbian unto the SD Card the first two methods require a network connection to the Raspberry Pi. If you don’t have this luxury then simply follow my guide using the offline image.
Install via NOOBS (Network Connection Required)
This method is incredibly easy if you followed my previous guide on installing Raspbian using Noobs then this is using the same method however you will need to have an internet connection for you to be able to install OpenElec. (An Ethernet connection to your network is required)
If you just have the standard Raspbian operating system installed you can skip all the steps below and simply run the following commands.
sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install kodi
Install via OpenELEC Image
The following instructions go through the steps to installing the OpenElec image to a SD card for the Raspberry Pi.
Download & Format the SD Card
1. Download the OpenELEC Project SD Card Image from the Raspberry Pi website.
2. You will need a formatting tool. Visit the SD Association’s website and download SD Formatter 4.0 for either Windows or Mac.
3.Follow the instructions to install the formatting software.
4. Insert your SD card into the computer or laptop’s SD card reader and check the drive letter allocated to it, e.g. G:/
5. In SD Formatter, select the drive letter for your SD card (eg. G:/) and format
Install the OpenElec Image onto the SD Card
1. Download and install the Win32DiskImager.
2. Unzip the OpenElec image file so it will be .img and not img.gz (7zip is useful for this)
3. Launch the Win32DiskImager and select the OpenElec ISO file and also the drive letter your SD card is assigned (Eg. G:/)
4. Confirm you have the correct details and click on Write.
The Boot up
1. Plug in all your necessary equipment into the Pi. (Keyboard, mouse,power supply and WiFi adaptor(optional))
2. Turn the Pi on by plugging in the micro USB cord from the power supply. It will now boot and spend about 5-10 minutes getting everything set up.
3. Now it is all done and ready to go but if you would like to setup network and access files then go onto the next the section.
Optimizing and other setup
There are a few more things that you might want to do with your Raspberry Pi media center such as connecting to a network and managing files and much more. To learn what else you can do with the Kodi Media center then head over to their website at Kodi.tv
Raspberry Pi XBMC WiFi
If you have an Ethernet cord going to your Raspberry Pi XBMC then you should already be connected to the network. If you have got a WiFi adapter then we will need to set this up to connect to the network. To do this please do the following.
1. Go to Programs->OpenElec
2. Go to network mode and select Wireless (WiFi) Network
3. Now scroll down to WiFi SSID and type in your SSID (Network Name) alternatively you can scan for your network.
4. Next go down to WiFi key and enter your WiFi password.
5. Now go down to Update now and select it.
6. Press OK and it should now connect to the network. If it doesn’t connect then revise the steps and see if you have made a mistake in the details.
Scraping Video Information
This is a pretty easy step but can be confusing if you have never touched XBMC (Kodi) before.
1. Go to Videos->Files->Add video
2. In here browse the top level directory where all or some of your videos are.
3. Once you have found the directory press OK whilst you’re in there. You can add more directories by pressing add then browsing to the other directories.
4. Once done press OK.
5. You can now add a scraper by using the arrow keys. I use the TVDB for TV shows.
6. Now press OK.
7. You will then be asked to if you would like to refresh info for all items in the path, press Yes.
8. It will now scan and add all the files it can recognise into a convenient easy to read list. If you find most of your stuff is not being picked up then have a look at the names of the files and compare to the information on the TVDB website. (Or the scraper you’re using)
9. You will now have a video library indexing and ready to use soon.
Raspberry Pi XBMC Remote
There is some pretty cool stuff you can do with your Raspberry Pi to get a Raspberry Pi XBMC Remote working such as connecting up an IR sensor and having a remote communicate that way.
The way I control my Pi is through the use of a tablet or just a mobile phone. If you’re looking for a dedicated remote you’re able to get tablets relatively cheap these days and they really do make a pretty cool remote! It also doubles up as a device that you can use whilst watching your TV shows or movies. If you’re looking for some tablets then you can check out some awesome Android tablets here.
I personally use my old Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 and use an application called Yatse. You can check more details of this app at their Google play store page.
Connecting Yatse to XBMC
Connecting to Yatse is easily done if your media centre is already connected to the network. You can follow this guide for other variations of a Raspberry Pi XBMC remote as they will most likely be very similar.
1. Firstly you will need your IP Address from your XBMC. You can get this by going to
2. Now on your mobile device download Yatse or similar from your app store.
3. In here enter the IP address and the port which should be 80 (Unless your device has automatically found the media centre)
4. Now you should be able to connect and control your media centre!
I hope this tutorial has been able to help you with getting Raspberry Pi Kodi (XBMC) installed without too many issues. If you do come across any problems, have feedback or anything else then please do make sure you leave a comment below.