How to Install Kodi on Raspberry Pi – Setup Kodi on Raspberry Pi

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Raspberry pi

The Raspberry Pi became a fan favorite in the Kodi community soon after its first release in 2012. The device specifically targeted developers and tinkerers, making it the perfect device to install and run Kodi. Thanks to the developers in the Kodi community, you can easily install Kodi on Raspberry Pi with just a few, quick steps.

Once you finish installing Kodi on your Raspberry Pi, check out our article on How to Install a VPN on Raspberry Pi. We cover the process for OpenELEC, LibreELEC, and OSMC.

Before we proceed

Kodi fans tend to favor the Raspberry Pi for its size and versatility. Although many users run Kodi through the Raspberry Pi, those who stream TV and movies on the device have occasionally received copyright notifications from their ISPs. While this is not common, it can and does happen in some regions. To help secure your anonymity, we recommend using a virtual private network, or VPN, on devices like the Raspberry Pi.

We’ve found that IPVanish tends to be a good option for this. IPVanish can work on your Raspberry Pi and will help protect your identity while streaming content through Kodi. IPVanish takes user anonymity concerns seriously, following a strict no-logs policy while also using high-level encryption and IP leak protection. After testing several VPN services, we found that IPVanish does particularly well when measured against different criteria.

kodi security

How to Install Kodi on Raspberry Pi

Before we get into this guide, you’ll need to make sure you have a few items handy. The Raspberry Pi can install and run Kodi, but its processing power may not be enough to handle the heavy resource load that comes with streaming effectively. To that effect, you may need an SDHC memory card to install the Kodi software onto your device. You will also need to correctly format your SDHC memory card to work with your Raspberry Pi properly

Part 1: Formatting Your SDHC Memory Card

Your SDHC memory card will need to what’s known as FAT32. If you have an SD card that is above 32GB, it will automatically be formatted to exFAT, which won’t work with your Raspberry Pi.

For Mac Users:

  • Insert your SDHC card into your computer
  • Open Disk Utility

Mac sd card erase

  • Select the drive you want to format (your SDHC card) and click Erase
  • Select MS-DOS (FAT) and then select ERASE

For Windows Users:

  • Click here to download the SD Foundation’s SD Card Formatter
  • Insert your SDHC card into your computer
  • Run the SD Formatter program
  • Click on Option

SD formatter

  • Locate FORMAT SIZE ADJUSTMENT and set it to ON
  • Click Ok
  • Click Format

Part 2: Choose Your Kodi Operating System

Here’s where you’ll have a lot of good options. For the most part, you won’t be installing the traditional version of Kodi. That said, however, you can still install a regular Kodi version on one of the many operating systems available for the Raspberry Pi. However, that method of installation is more suited to highly advanced users, and will not provide you with the same experience. In many cases, the experience will be slower due to Kodi having to run alongside an operating system, eating your Raspberry Pi’s limited resources.

This is why we recommend that you instead choose a Kodi-based operating system for your Raspberry Pi.

Windows users: Before you start, you will need to download the following programs:

  • Click here to download Win32 Disk Imager
  • Click here to download 7zip (a file extractor)

What is a Kodi Operating System?

The Raspberry Pi is designed to run small, pared down versions of different operating systems. The most popular one is Raspbian, which is a modified version of the Linux-based Debian operating system.

However, developers in the Kodi community instead opted to create Kodi-based operating systems for the Raspberry Pi. What these are, essentially, are single-use operating systems based on the Kodi Media Center. When you install these onto your Raspberry Pi, you’ll have different versions of Kodi, some that look almost exactly like a traditional Kodi build, but that are designed to work specifically with the Raspberry Pi and as a sole Raspberry Pi operating system. What that means for you is that you’ll be turning your Raspberry Pi into a single-use device, focused solely on turning it into a media center.

Below, you’ll find the most popular Raspberry Pi operating systems based on the Kodi architecture and how to install them.

OpenELEC

install kodi on raspberry pi

OpenELEC was the first Linux-based Kodi build. It uses what’s known as the “just enough operating system” approach, meaning it does not come packed with all possible features that a typical operating system might. Instead, it sheds a lot of the weight to focus on speed and efficiency in performing a limited number of operating tasks. The OpenELEC team launched their first version with 2011, built around the Kodi Version 10 “Dharma” build. OpenELEC typically releases one or two updated builds each year to match currently supported Kodi builds. You will find that OpenELEC looks and feels just like Kodi. You can also operate it very similarly, as it will allow you to install addons the same way. This operating system also allows you to view picture files, play music, manage your TV shows and fetch descriptions with scrapers, as well as view live TV and record your favorite shows.

To install OpenELEC onto your Raspberry Pi, do the following:

For Windows users:

  • Click here to download the Raspberry Pi 2 and Pi3 [Model B+ 512MB] Diskimage
  • Extract your file using 7zip
  • Insert your SDHC card into your computer
  • Open Win32 Disk Imager

win32

  • On the blue folder image, find and select your extracted OpenELEC .img file
  • Click on Write

For Mac users:

    • Click here to download the Raspberry Pi 2 and Pi3 [Model B+ 512MB] Diskimage
    • Find where you saved your file and click it. The archive utility will do the extraction for you
    • Open Terminal
    • Type in diskutil list

disktul mac openelec

    • Now, unmount your SD card. Chances are, your SD card will be /dev/disk2/. If it’s not /dev/disk2/, take an educated guess based on the SD card memory size.
    • In the Terminal, type diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk2
    • You will now see:  Unmount of all volumes on disk2 was successful
    • Now, install the disk image to the SD card. This may change depending on where you saved the image file. However, if you saved it to the Downloads folder, you would type the following: sudo dd if=/Users/(yourfilepath)/Downloads/OpenELEC-RPi2.arm-7.0.1.img of=/dev/disk2 bs=1m
    • In the above, where it says “yourfilepath,” change that to the file path name for your computer. Additionally, if your SD card was not “disk2” change the “2” to whatever number it is on your machine
    • Your process is complete!

Your SDHC card will now be ready. Insert the SDHC card into your Raspberry Pi. It should read the disk image and run OpenELEC as the operating system.

LibreELEC

libreelec

LibreELEC is a brand new fork for OpenELEC. The reason why LibreELEC exists at all is due to a split within the OpenELEC development team. The LibreELEC team had “creative differences,” and chose instead to develop a separate version of the operating system. The differences between OpenELEC and LibreELEC are not huge, although they are noticeable. LibreELEC focuses more on testing releases before they go out to the public, and emphasizes managing releases more after they’ve been out for a while. Beyond that development/management focus, you won’t find too many differences between the two software programs. However, at the time of writing, LibreELEC has a newer version than OpenELEC that’s designed on the latest Kodi release, Version 17 “Krypton.” LibreELEC may be a good option for you if you’re looking for more updated versions of Kodi to use with your Raspberry Pi.

For Windows users:

  • Click here to download the LibreELEC-RPi2.arm-8.0.0.img.gz
  • Extract your file using 7zip
  • Insert your SDHC card into your computer
  • Open Win32 Disk Imager
  • On the blue folder image, find and select your extracted LibreELEC .img file
  • Click on Write

For Mac users:

    • Click here to download the LibreELEC-RPi2.arm-8.0.0.img.gz
    • Find where you saved your file and click it. The archive utility will do the extraction for you
    • Open Terminal
    • Type in diskutil list
    • Now, unmount your SD card. Chances are, your SD card will be /dev/disk2/. If its not /dev/disk2/, take an educated guess based on the SD card memory size.
    • In the Terminal, type diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk2
    • You will now see:  Unmount of all volumes on disk2 was successful
    • Now, install the disk image to the SD card. This may change depending on where you saved the image file. However, if you saved it to the Downloads folder, you would type the following: sudo dd if=/Users/(yourfilepath)/Downloads/LibreELEC-RPi2.arm-8.0.0.img of=/dev/disk2 bs=1m
    • In the above, where it says “yourfilepath,” change that to the file path name for your computer. Additionally, if your SD card was not “disk2” change the “2” to whatever number it is on your machine
    • Your process is complete!

Your SDHC card will now be ready. Insert the SDHC card into your Raspberry Pi. It should read the disk image and run OpenELEC as the operating system.

OSMC

OSMC install kodi on raspberry pi

If you’re looking for something a little bit different and with more options beyond media playing, the OSMC operating system is a good option for you. You’ll notice right off that OSMC looks almost nothing like your typical Kodi version. Don’t worry, however. OSMC is still designed based off of the Kodi architecture. The key difference is the removal of some features, while some others are added in. You can still install Kodi addons and use most of the same features you might enjoy while using Kodi.

Additionally, if the installation processes for OpenELEC and LibreELEC look a bit too intimidating for you (especially for Mac users), this might be the best option. OSMC comes with an installation program that will do all of the work for you. In fact, the installation process will be the same for both Mac and Windows users.

To install OSMC on Raspberry Pi, do the following:

First:

  • Click here to download the OSMC software for Windows
  • Click here to download the OSMC software for Mac

Next:

  • Open the downloaded file osmc-installer.exe
  • Select your language and device type (Raspberry Pi)

OSMC installer

  • Select your version (choose the newest version, located at the top)

OSMC installer

  • Select your install device (SD card)

OSMC installer

  • Select how you want OSMC to connect to the internet on your device

OSMC installer

  • Select your SD card file path

OSMC installer

  • Accept the terms and conditions
  • Install OSMC

You are now ready to run OSMC on your Raspberry Pi! Inserting the SDHC card into your Raspberry Pi.

Can I Get a Raspberry Pi with Kodi Already Installed?

Your chances of finding a Raspberry Pi with Kodi already installed are slim. You may be able to find a few dealers who do sell SD cards or USB drives with OpenELEC, OSMC, or LibreELEC already installed, but chances are slim. Additionally, those may not be the most trustworthy. However, the XBMC Foundation does sell a unique Kodi-themed case for your Raspberry Pi. Your Raspberry Pi will come without a case, and you can find a large number of cases with different themes and designs. If you want to emphasize your Raspberry Pi as a true Kodi streaming device, a Kodi-themed case is a good purchase.

Do Kodi Operating Systems Support Skins?

Yes! However, we have read on different support forums of some users having difficulty installing skins onto their Raspberry Pi. From our research, we believe your best bet for installing a working skin is to use LibreELEC.

Related: Best Kodi Skins – How to Change the Way Kodi Looks (2017 Edition)

Can I Install Addons Onto Kodi Operating Systems?

Defintiely! Although Kodi-based operating systems like OpenELEC are not the same as Kodi, they are all designed to work similarly to Kodi. For OpenELEC and LibreELEC, the interface looks exactly like that latest version that that OS supports. Although OSMC is designed a bit differently, the addon installation processes for it is still mostly the same. For OpenELEC and LibreELEC, the installation process for addons will be exactly the same as a normal Kodi installation.

To get started on finding great addons to use with your new Kodi-powered Raspberry Pi, we suggest checking out some of our Kodi addon installation guides: