LibreELEC + SolidRun is a Great Kodi on ARM Solution

I have been searching for awhile to find the best Kodi on ARM solution, and I just discovered a great new combination. The NXP i.MX6 series ARM processors have big advantages because of their better integrated GPU and VPU. This is critical for modern versions of Kodi on ARM because of Kodi’s heavy use of OpenGL and the need to off-load video decode tasks from the CPU. The result is a responsive, yet very cool-running system, compared to Intel or weak ARM chips, like Raspberry Pis and BeagleBoards.

The problem has been that support for Kodi has been lacking from most i.MX6 board vendors. But, here is a system combination that works really well now using the very latest LibreELEC 8.2.2 distribution of Kodi 17.6 (Krypton) and boards from SolidRun. LibreELEC’s official images work great on SolidRun’s CuBox boards using a 4.4 Linux kernel (which is included), or there are also images available with the older 3.14.79 kernel for other boards, including SolidRun’s HummingBoard2. Either of these boards can be attached to the back of a TV for a fantastic Kodi on ARM solution for an OTA broadcast TV DVR using a MediaPortal TV-Server, or just about any other popular back-end. If you install the MediaPortal add-on, it will work great with the Windows-based HTPC detailed in my Guide. If you don’t have a Windows HTPC, then enable the TVHeadEnd add-on that is provided with LibreELEC, which also requires a NAS drive and TV tuner on your network.

The SolidRun boards have long been among my favorite ARM i.MX6 boards because of their compact designs, better heat-sinking and better support for Kodi. But, you will have to download and flash your own microSD card to use these boards for Kodi. Here are the required steps:

First, unzip the downloaded LibreELEC image file and write it onto a microSD card (4 GB or larger) using a Linux command shell:

gunzip  LibreELEC-imx6.arm-8.2.2-3.14-sr.img.gz
sudo  dd  if=LibreELEC-imx6.arm-8.2.2-3.14-sr.img  of=/dev/sdd  bs=1M

Or, you can use the LibreELEC USB-SD Creator tool to make your microSD card using a Windows PC.

Then, install the microSD card into the slot on your SolidRun board and boot it. The first time LibreELEC boots, it automatically resizes its partition for whatever size microSD card is being used and then it does its second reboot.

On the third boot, LibreELEC will automatically download and install a complete update including a 4.4 kernel. This is fine on the SolidRun CuBox boards, but not on the HummingBoards. So, if you are using a HummingBoard, you must disable the automatic updates on the second boot and never enable it again. I have not found any significant problems with the older 3.14.79 kernel, so either one is fine.

The automatic update occurs during the next boot, but strangely the manual setting for updates does not take effect until after the next boot is complete, which is too late! The simple work-around is to unplug the Ethernet cable during the next boot. You can then safely reconnect it once that boot is complete and then reboot again. Now, install the plugins needed for your OTA TV-Server back-end. For MediaPortal it is:

Add-ons > Install from repository > LibreELEC Add-ons > PVR clients > MediaPortal PVR Client > Install
Add-ons > My add-ons > PVR Client > Configure > Connection > Mediaportal Hostname > IP Address

Once Kodi finds your MediaPortal server on your local network, it should automatically download your EPG and channel data. If you get permissions errors when playing video, be sure you have your recording and timeshift folders shared on your server. You may also need to enable Samba version 1 (SMB1) support (or install SMB2 on Windows). This used to be the default on older versions of Kodi, but must now be enabled manually:

Settings (Gear) > LibreELEC > System > Automatic Updates > manual
Settings (Gear) > LibreELEC > Services > Samba > Minimum supported protocol > SMB1

You are now ready to watch live TV!

 

SolidRun's CuBox and HummingBoard2 with Enclosures

SolidRun’s CuBox and HummingBoard2 with Enclosures

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