What Is the Best Operating System (OS) for Kodi? – An In-Depth Guide

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Kodi runs great on both macOS and Windows.  Also, installing Kodi on both systems is a breeze.  However, there are some advantages to running Kodi on alternative platforms.

Some people install Kodi on dedicated TV boxes.  Others use their smartphones.  Some even run Kodi on top of ancient operating systems like Unix.

Yet another way to enjoy Kodi is to install it as an operating system.  There are several different Linux based minimalist Kodi OSes that are starting to catch on.

If you’ve ever wondered about what the rarer flavors of Kodi are for, keep reading.  This short guide will help you decide which version of Kodi is best one for you.

Reminder

We highly recommend using a VPN while streaming through Kodi. Kodi users have been known to receive copyright infringement notices for streaming movies, sports, and TV shows through various addons. If you would like to keep your streaming habits private, our recommendation is IPVanish – a complete privacy solution for Kodi users.

kodi security



Which operating system is best for Kodi?

If you’re shopping for devices based on whether or not they can run Kodi, try to avoid Apple and Amazon.  Both brands have banned Kodi from their respective app ecosystems.

If you have already bought an iPhone, Apple TV or an Amazon Fire device, it is possible to get Kodi– but you have to do so in a very roundabout way using a complicated technique called “sideloading.”

Generally, Kodi is very easy to install on any operating system that wasn’t put together by Apple or Amazon.

Note: The exception to the rule is macOS.  The macOS version of Kodi is incredibly easy to install.  All you have to do is open up the installer and drag the Kodi icon into your applications folder.

Kodi-based operating systems

You probably already know that Kodi can run on many different devices.  But what you may not know is that Kodi can also function as a stand-alone operating system.

All Kodi operating systems have one thing in common: Linux.  In some ultra-simple and lightweight Kodi operating systems, Linux is invisible.  Others, however, have all the features you’d expect to find in a typical Linux installation.

OpenELEC, LibreELEC, OSMC and KodiBuntu are just of the few of the choices that are available.

What makes Kodi so efficient and versatile?

Kodi is more efficient than other programs of its kind because it has been around for a longer period of time. Before Kodi was Kodi, it was called XMBC– Xbox Media Player.  Since its original release in 2002, Kodi has evolved quite a bit.

At first, Kodi could only play DVDs.  Today, Kodi can play just about any media file imaginable.

Hundreds of people have helped turn Kodi into what it is today.  As a result of their hard work, the video playback you get with Kodi is smoother compared to other video players.

Ready to replace your current operating system with a Kodi-centric OS?

Switching to a bare bones operating system modeled after Kodi may seem like a drastic move.  But if you really only use your computer when you’re playing media, you may want to consider giving a Kodi OS a try.

Questions to consider

If you’re thinking about trying out a Kodi OS, here are a few questions you may want to consider before you make the change.

How old is your device?

If you have a computer or a recent smartphone, you probably won’t have any problem running Kodi on top of your current operating system.  Without extra addons, Kodi barely takes up any RAM or hard disk space.

However, if you have an older device you may run into problems.  If Kodi is slow on your system, it may make sense to uninstall your current OS and install a dedicated Kodi operating system in its place.

Kodi comes in many different “JeOS” (Just Enough Operating System) flavors.  If you have a desktop or laptop sitting around, you can easily use a Kodi JeOS to convert it into a dedicated Kodi box for your TV.

Is speed a priority?

If other programs that are running in the background are slowing your device down, you’ll see a big improvement in speed if you uninstall your OS and install a lightweight Kodi operating system.

“Bare metal” operating systems like OpenELEC run only the processes needed to open media files and streams, and nothing more.  All the other stuff that takes up memory– background processes, software updaters, license checkers, etc.– get cut out of the equation.

Want to set up a “multi-boot” system, or start from scratch?

Giving up your current operating system and installing a Kodi OS in its place means wiping out all your files and programs.  But don’t worry– there’s another option.  If you don’t want to start from scratch, you can opt to setup a multi-boot system instead.

Multi boot systems are capable of loading more than one operating system.  You can select which operating system you want to use every time you restart a multi-boot machine.

If you opt to setup a multi-boot system, you’ll be able to have the best of both worlds. When you want to use Kodi, you can restart your device and switch into your Kodi OS.  But when you want to use your other programs, you can choose your main operating system instead when you restart.

Multi-boot systems are pretty easy to setup on a Mac or PC.  Also, some smartphones are multi-boot capable.

Further information about dual booting

Note: If your hard drive is full or if you don’t have a large hard drive to work with in the first place, you may not have enough space to setup a multi-boot device.  

Convenience

Switching to a simple Kodi OS will boost your speed and simplify your experience.  However, there might be a tradeoff depending on how you use your device.

  • What if you have to open up a special file or use a program that you can only run in a mainstream OS?
  • Are you willing to do some research and figure out a workaround?
  • Do you have a backup device you can use to take care of business?

If the answer to any of the questions listed above was “no,” you want to consider buying a dedicated Kodi box.

What are “Kodi TV boxes”?

TV boxes that are compatible with Kodi are often called “Kodi TV boxes,” or often just “Kodi boxes.”

Essentially, TV boxes turn ordinary TVs into smart TVs.  Primarily, TV boxes connect to the web and play media files.  High-end ones can play ultra high-def 4K video files and stream video games from your desktop or laptop gaming computer.

4 big Kodi box benefits

nVidia Shield is one of the very best Kodi boxes on the market right now.
nVidia Shield is one of the very best Kodi boxes on the market right now.

There are many reasons why Kodi fans are snapping up Kodi boxes.  Here are the main four.

1.  Kodi boxes are compact

One big benefit of Kodi TV boxes is that they are very compact and portable.  The average laptop takes up 15 inches of vertical space.  However, most Kodi boxes are only a few inches long.

2.  They often outperform laptops and desktops

Also, Kodi TV boxes don’t run as many applications at once.  It takes a lot of RAM and CPU power to run an entire operating system.  Android and specialized flavors of Linux that are designed specifically for Kodi take up far less memory.  As a result, Kodi boxes often outperform desktops and laptops.

3.  The price is right

An additional reason to get a Kodi TV box is that they are very inexpensive compared to smart TVs, desktops and laptops.  You can get a very nice, high-end Kodi box for around $200.  But to get a new computer or smart TV, you’d have to shell out thousands of dollars.

4.  They are convenient

TV boxes that run Android make great Kodi boxes.  All you have to do to install Kodi on an Android TV box is login to Google Play and download the Kodi app.  Raspberry Pi is also fairly easy to setup as a Kodi box.  Just pop in an SD card that has NOOBS on it and select a OS that has Kodi on it, like LibreELEC or OpenELEC.

Kodi boxes aren’t for everyone

If you have a laptop that’s equipped with an HDMI port, you may not need a Kodi box. Just get an HDMI cord and connect it to your laptop.  Then, plug the other end into your TV. With a few minor adjustments to your display settings, you’ll be able to send everything that’s on your laptop display right to your TV.

Also, another thing to think about is that Kodi boxes are somewhat limited.  Kodi boxes do one thing very well: play media files and streams.  Getting them to do anything else requires lots of extra research and tinkering.

What’s the difference between OpenELEC, LibreELEC, KodiBuntu and OSMC?

OpenELEC, LibreELEC, KodiBuntu and OSMC all have one thing in common: they are all “bare bones” operating systems that are built around the Kodi media player.

The real question is: how are they different?

OSMC

A screenshot of the OSMC splash screen.
A screenshot of the OSMC splash screen.
  • Still slim and trim, but more multi-purpose than OpenELEC and LibreELEC
  • Easy-to-use installer

Like all Kodi operating systems, OSMC is an open-source operating system that’s based on Linux.  Anyone can modify it or change it without having to pay a fee.

However, OSMC has more operating system behind it compared to other Kodi-based operating systems.  Or in other words, the menus are bigger and there are more programs installed by default.

Another good thing about OSMC is that it is very easy to install.

“Our easy installer is what separates OSMC from other media center products out there. We’re always happy to help as well if you run into any trouble.” – OSMC.TV

OpenELEC

A screenshot of the LibreELEC splash screen.
A screenshot of the OpenELEC splash screen.
  • Bare bones
  • Perfect for beginners

OpenELEC is the ultimate “bare bones” Kodi operating system.  If all you want to do is use Kodi or if you’re trying to install Kodi on a basic Kodi box, this is the operating system you should get.

Another benefit of OpenELEC is that it’s designed to be very simple and straightforward. Even though it’s based on Linux, all the confusing things about Linux are hidden in the user interface.  If you’ve already figured out Kodi, you know everything you need to know about OpenELEC.

LibreELEC

A screenshot of the LibreELEC splash screen.
A screenshot of the LibreELEC splash screen.
  • Bare bones
  • Frequent updates

In terms of functionality, LibreELEC is almost exactly the same as OpenELEC.  Like OpenELEC, LibreELEC is “JeOS” (Just Enough Operating System) software.  LibreELEC’s coders focused on minimizing resource usage when they were designing it.

The main difference between LibreELEC and OpenELEC is that the LibreELEC team releases patches and updates on a more frequent basis.  If you are looking for a bare bones OS that’s based on Kodi but you don’t like to wait to try out new versions of Kodi, get LibreELEC.

KodiBuntu

  • Full-fledged operating system
  • For advanced Ubuntu users only

Out of all the Kodi operating systems, KodiBuntu is the most robust.  KodiBuntu is basically Ubuntu Linux, minus a few packages you don’t need if the main thing you want to do is use Kodi to watch movies and videos.  Unlike LibreELEC and OpenELEC, KodiBuntu isn’t locked down by default.  You can delete and add system files if you want to customize KodiBuntu or change how it works.

If you’ve used Ubuntu before, you’ll probably like KodiBuntu.  But if you’re unfamiliar with Linux and the prospect of using the command line scares you, you’ll be better off with OSMC, LibreELEC or OpenELEC.

  • wrxtasy

    Thank you for the info. Its exactly what i was looking for.
    I guess I am not alone in wanting a stand-alone Kodi OS.