Having transitioned to using a laptop for my main computer, my 7 year old pc no longer has any purpose except for serving as a home media center. However, despite its rather obsolete hardware for today’s standards, it still seems too much of a waste of its capabilities to just use it as a media center, not to mention it isn’t very power efficient when I wanted to leave it on all the the time.
So, instead of keeping this pc, I decided it would be more useful in someone else’s hands, and with several Raspberry Pis lying around, it seemed more appropriate to use one as my media center. For those who don’t know, a Raspberry Pi is simply a very small, inexpensive barebones computer about the size of a credit card, it probably was the first of its kind in the hobbyist community, after the Arduino( which is a slightly different). The latest model, Raspberry Pi 3, is very low powered, running on 5.1V, supports hdmi, has built-in wifi but also supports ethernet, and also includes an audio jack, thus it fits well with my monitor and speaker set up instead of using a tv.
So thanks to the versatility of the Raspberry Pi, there are actually several ways of turning it into a media center, all through the use of kodi. Kodi is a piece of software widely available across multiple platforms, which brings about a media center environment, something similar to what the apple tv and chrome cast does, but the plus side is that if I ever want to use the Raspberry Pi for something else, I can easily repurpose it.
I actually have a chrome cast lying around but in the end, it really just a media receiver with very limited capabilities, not to mention, it breaks during a video easily, and seems useless apart from broadcasting youtube videos. The other major problem with it is that it can not seperate its audio output to an audio jack so its useless without a tv, not fit for my monitor and speaker setup.
Anyway, my first attempt of installing kodi was to first install Raspbian OS, the official operating system for the Raspberry Pi based off of Linux Debian which is the official operating system; then install kodi as a package on top of the operating system. The upside to this is that apart from running kodi, you can also use other in built programs and even install more software, but ultimately, the Raspberry Pi isn’t as powerful as a traditional desktop or laptop computer, so alot of the times it would freeze. Another issue for those who use a Raspberry Pi 2 which doesn’t have in-built wifi but wants to use a usb wifi stick, it may or may not be supported off the bat, so requires alot more effort to get things to work. Furthermore, the version of kodi installed by the apt packages aren’t always the latest version.
The next option was to install the LibreELEC operating system which is an operating system specifically with kodi in mind and it supposedly has the best performance times but I didn’t particularly like the theme ( you can install a custom theme though).
The option I opted for was to use OSMC, another operating system which is specifically made for kodi mostly due to its more modern, minimalistic theme. The upside of this is that everything works off the bat without much fiddling about, but the downside is that it doesn’t support as large a variety of video formats compared with the first method. Another plus for this method is that it is very compatible with my monitor ( Samsung SyncMaster 2333), in particular, it can put the monitor screen to sleep ( not a black screen saver), which didn’t seem to work when I tried with the first method.