Kodibuntu Is Dead? Turn Any Linux PC Into an HTPC Without It
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Kodi is a great open-source home theater system, and thanks to its wide availability is the top DIY media center software.

You can install Kodi on Linux as an application, but what if you wanted to build a dedicated HTPC? Once, a solution like Kodibuntu, combining Kodi with the key elements of the Ubuntu operating system, was ideal. But Kodibuntu is no longer available, so how can you turn your Linux PC into a dedicated media center?

Time to meet LibreELEC, the ultimate Kodibuntu replacement for building a Linux media center.

What Happened to Kodibuntu?

For many years the number one destination for anyone wanting a Linux-based Kodi media center, Kodibuntu is discontinued. A fusion of Kodi and the lightweight Ubuntu derivative Lubuntu, Kodibuntu has been discontinued since around 2016.

Legal Kodi media library

So if you’re looking for a fresh version of Kodibuntu for 2019 or later, you’re out of luck. It’s done.

The key advantage of Kodibuntu was the ability to switch into Linux’s desktop mode. In truth, however, this is the advantage of any Linux installation running manually installed software. Kodi runs on almost any Linux version, so if you need occasional desktop access, simply install it yourself.

If you don’t want desktop access, however, there’s a smart option for Kodi: LibreELEC. Not only is this the best option going forward for most users, it avoids the potential security issues that come from using an operating system over four years old.

Meet LibreELEC for Linux HTPCs

Kodi originated as Xbox Media Center, or XBMC, and has since evolved into Kodi. Thanks to support for most media formats and the bonus of add-ons, a Kodi media center can handle almost anything. This might be stored locally or elsewhere on your network.

Kodi add-ons are much like apps. The Plex for Kodi add-on Plex for Kodi: What Is It and Why Do I Need It? Plex for Kodi: What Is It and Why Do I Need It? Did you know that there's an official Plex addon available for Kodi? In many ways, it provides the best of both worlds, so here's everything you need to get started. Read More , for example, provides access to media stored on your Plex media server. Similarly, the Funimation Now add-on streams Funimation content from Kodi.

Whether you’ve used Linux before is irrelevant. You probably won’t see Linux—with LibreELEC installed your media center will simply boot straight into Kodi.

Download: LibreELEC media creator tool

Everything should look familiar. Learn more about Kodi with our complete A-Z of Kodi guide The A-Z of Kodi: Everything You Need to Know The A-Z of Kodi: Everything You Need to Know Whether you're a Kodi newbie considering switching to the app, or a Kodi veteran looking to brush up on your knowledge, you should be able to make use of our A-Z of Kodi. Read More !

How to Turn Linux Into an HTPC With LibreELEC

LibreELEC is installed with a built-in USB or SD card creator tool. This enables you to write the installation media to a USB or SD card device. You’ll then be able to boot your media center with the installation media and begin the process of installing LibreELEC.

Note that there is no ISO option. LibreELEC cannot be installed from CD-ROM, DVD, or any other optical disc. The LibreELEC install is available for Linux, Windows, and macOS.

Other versions of LibreELEC are available. We’re focusing on PC-based systems in this guide, but LibreELEC can be installed on Raspberry Pi, ODroid, WeTek, and other devices.

For PC installation (32-bit or 64-bit Intel and AMD-based systems), LibreELEC requires a decent sized HDD. While it will run on a modest system, it’s a good idea to have at least 32GB of storage.

Meanwhile, your computer should be hooked up to a HDMI display, have a keyboard attached (for installation purposes) and an internet connection.

Install LibreELEC on Your Linux Media Center PC

Before proceeding, ensure that your formatted USB memory stick or SD card is inserted in your PC.

Installing LibreELEC begins with the creator tool. Once downloaded, start the LibreELEC USB-SD Creator and choose the target platform with Select version.

Select a platform for your LibreELEC download

At this stage, you could, if you wanted, simply select a previously downloaded image file from the LibreELEC downloads page. This would be chosen with the Select file option.

For simplicity, however, we recommend simply setting the correct version, then Download, and selecting a destination for the data.

The LibreELEC creation tool will download a LibreELEC image and write it to USB or SD card

Once this is downloaded, ensure that the USB or SD card is selected then click Write. This will write the installation image to your chosen media. When done, click Close to exit the LibreELEC USB-SD Creator, and safely remove the newly created installation media.

With the destination device (your media center PC) powered off, insert the installation media, and boot up. If you don’t see the option to boot from the LibreELEC installer, restart the computer to access the UEFI/BIOS. Here, alter the boot order (you may need to consult the computer’s documentation) and restart again.

The LibreELEC installation tool should launch. Use your keyboard to select the option to Install LibreELEC, then OK. Follow any on-screen prompts for regional settings and accessing your wireless network if necessary. Otherwise, it’s a largely painless installation, taking up to 15 minutes.

Hands-On With LibreELEC

With LibreELEC installed, it’s a simple matter to start enjoying media. Kodi is a robust open-source Linux media center. At the core of its function is media playback from a variety of sources.

There is a caveat, however. Linux isn’t great for playing Blu-ray discs. The solution, therefore, is to rip the video in h264 format at 1080p, then play the ripped file.

Beyond this, everything else should be effortless. Kodi add-ons can be installed, media played locally, or streamed from a network location or via an add-on. So many are available, from Plex and Netflix to Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer. Check our guide to the best legal Kodi add-ons for more suggestions.

Who Should Switch From Kodibuntu to LibreELEC?

Kodibuntu featured both Kodi and Lubuntu, making it one of the easiest ways to get started with Kodi.

LibreELEC Kodi media library
Image credit: Pierra Lecourt via Flickr

If you previously used Kodibuntu (or are still) and have concerns about its suitability long-term without security updates, LibreELEC is the smart option. Sure, other Linux media center platforms The 8 Best Media Server Software Options for Linux The 8 Best Media Server Software Options for Linux Where do you start with Linux media servers? Plex is good, but we've checked some other strong options to help you choose. Read More are available but LibreELEC is the best all in one solution.

For those with major concerns about security (particularly issues posed by add-ons) then a standard Linux OS with Kodi installed as an app is your best recourse.

Should You Switch to LibreELEC?

If you’re building a home theater PC, consider LibreELEC for an all-in-one Kodi solution. It’s a quick way to get started with Kodi, without the intricacies of configuring the app.

Arguably the best use for LibreELEC is to install it on a lightweight, low-power device like the Raspberry Pi. However, it remains perfect for desktop computers too—the ultimate Linux-based Kodi solution, in fact.

Overall, LibreELEC is a functional Kodi HTPC distro running on a stable Linux distro.

It’s ideal for a DIY HTPC and media center. Even if you don’t wish to overhaul your home theater PC with LibreELEC, it is a more secure option than Kodibuntu. That ship has sailed and it’s time to move on.

For a slick Kodi experience on your Linux media center PC, LibreELEC is the answer. If you’re just getting started with Kodi, check out these essential Kodi tips for new users 7 Essential Kodi Tips for New Users 7 Essential Kodi Tips for New Users If you're just starting out on your Kodi journey and don't have a clue where to begin, we're here to help with these essential Kodi tips for newbies. Read More .

Explore more about: DIY Project Ideas, Home Theater, Kodi, Lubuntu, Media Player, Media Server.

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  1. Carney
    October 13, 2019 at 4:10 pm

    Can it play DVDs and CDs with no hassle? If I stick a DVD in, will it automatically launch a DVD app, and at least go to the DVD's home screen if not automatically start playing the movie? If I stick a CD in, will it automatically launch a CD app, fetch or remember the album and track names, and start playing track one? How is it for video games?

  2. ThomasJiJU
    October 4, 2019 at 1:56 am

    Thanks you!

  3. Paolo
    April 22, 2018 at 9:43 pm

    Well I liked your article, I can install it no problem but it doesn't seem to like my hardware Z370m chipset Intel Coffee Lake, it runs at 10fps and doesn't pick up all my cpu cores. Is there any way to make this work, upgrading the kernel to 4.3 maybe? Alternatively, all I want really is a lite OS to run kodi. OpenElec and LibreElec wouldn't install at all. I don't know what else to use but I can tell you this, it won't be windows.

    thx,
    Paolo

    • Col. Panek
      April 29, 2018 at 1:50 am

      Why not just put the latest Ubuntu on it? Kernel 4.15. If you want lite, use Lubuntu or Xubuntu. Even KDE is fairly light these days.

  4. James Livingstone
    April 17, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    Hi OP

    Its great to see you advocating for Kodibuntu, its been wonderful and a massive learning aid for me wanting to get into linux

    Its sad to see however that you're post written this month fails to mention that kodibuntu is EOL and is not longer being actively maintained. While you can still use it, I would argue its best not too and people should look elsewhere to start so that the reliance doesn't get built on something that will not continue.

    Of course kodi on linux continues but not handily constructed in this way.........

    • CommandLineHero
      April 19, 2018 at 3:26 pm

      OpenELEC is worth a look

  5. CommandLineHero
    April 17, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    Contrary to slanderous 'popular belief', Kodi IS NOT a tool for advocating piracy of content. That's like lumping VLC in with that as well, which it is not.