Installing Kodi on RaspberryPi

These are my notes from installing Kodi (formerly XMBC) on several Raspberry Pi’s (original and 2) to create media-centers.

Parts List

  • Raspberry Pi (original or 2)
  • Edimax EW-7811Un 150Mbps 11n Wi-Fi USB adapter
  • Logitech wireless K400r keyboard
  • High-quality USB power adapter
  • SD card

Note that quality of the USB power supply really matters, especially for the original RPi. I had to unsolder the fuse from the original RPi due to excessive voltage drop, otherwise even high-quality power adapters could not power it reliably. In my experience, USB power adapters for Samsung tablets work well. No-name Chinese adapters never work reliably on the original RPi. With crappy power adapters, I have experienced all sorts of strange behaviors. The RPi might hang, or reboot, or the video might go black, or networking might fail while the rest of the system continues to function. If it’s unstable, I would guess that your power supply cannot hold a stable voltage. The RPi can fail piecemeal under low-voltage situations.


The ideal installer for Raspbian has changed over time. Currently the best seems to be raspbian-au-netinst. Download the latest installer from the GitHub page:

dd it to an SD (for the original RPi) or a microSD (for the RPi 2) card. 2GB card or larger should work, although I’m using SanDisk 8GB cards. I could have gotten 16GB no-name cards for the same price, but in a professional setting I have seen terrible reliability issues with no-name cards. Go quality over quantity.

Insert the card. Plug in an ethernet cable. Power on, and it will auto-install.

Post-install Configuration

After the install completes and it reboots, log in as root with the password raspbian.

Set your timezone:

dpkg-reconfigure tzdata

If you install Kodi later it will create the user kodi, but most RPi tutorials expect the user pi. Just go with the norm. Add the user and add it to various groups so that it can access the hardware:

useradd pi
usermod -a -G audio pi
usermod -a -G video pi
usermod -a -G input pi
usermod -a -G dialout pi
usermod -a -G plugdev pi
usermod -a -G tty pi

Install some extra packages that I would consider fundamental:

apt-get install sudo raspi-config nfs-common firmware-realtek wpasupplicant

If you bought an H264 license to enable the hardware decoder (which I consider mandatory for the original RPi), install it now to /boot/config.txt. If you buy the codec from the raspberrypi foundation, you’ll get an email explaining what to paste into this file. For the Raspberry Pi 2, it’s optional (the processor is plenty powerful for most video).


Here is the original /etc/network/interfaces for wired:

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet dhcp

Modify it to enable the wireless adapter, and not expect the wired connection to be present:

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

iface eth0 inet dhcp

allow-hotplug wlan0
auto wlan0
iface wlan0 inet dhcp
   wpa-ssid myssid
   wpa-psk mypassword

Add NFS mounts to /etc/fstab. Of course, also mkdir these mount points. For me, they are:

server:/pool/Movies /pool/Movies nfs defaults 0 0
server:/pool/Music /pool/Music nfs defaults 0 0
server:/pool/Library /pool/Library nfs defaults 0 0

I also enable sshd (easy with raspi-config).

Generic (non-Kodi) customization

For generic use, with a desktop environment that can play movies:

apt-get install omxplayer xfce4 iceweasel lightdm

To make movies clickable, right-click on a movie, select “Open With Other Application…”, and use the custom command xterm -e omxplayer -b.

Final Kodi customiztion

To dedicate the RPi as a media-center, start by installing Kodi:

apt-get install kodi

Create new ‘input’ group

addgroup --system input

Add some udev rules:

vi /etc/udev/rules.d/99-input.rules

…with these lines:

SUBSYSTEM==input, GROUP=input, MODE=0660
KERNEL==tty[0-9]*, GROUP=tty, MODE=0660

And more:

vi /etc/udev/rules.d/10-permissions.rules

…with these lines:

# input
KERNEL=="mouse*|mice|event*",   MODE="0660", GROUP="input"
KERNEL=="ts[0-9]*|uinput",     MODE="0660", GROUP="input"
KERNEL==js[0-9]*,             MODE=0660, GROUP=input
# tty
KERNEL==tty[0-9]*,            MODE=0666
# vchiq
SUBSYSTEM==vchiq,  GROUP=video, MODE=0660

Finally, edit /etc/defaults/kodi, to make it start automatically and run as our user pi:



Note that X11 is not installed. Therefore, kodi won’t work, but kodi-standalone should. Be sure to set ENABLED=1 in /etc/defaults/kodi, and reboot.


To complete the picture, the RPi’s are serving media from both the internet and from my FreeBSD-based server running ZFS with mirrored vdevs.

October 9, 2015
701 words





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