More Raspberry Pi Notes: Using OpenELEC and XBMC

openelec-logoJust about everyone I know who’s got a Raspberry Pi can’t seem to stop messing with theirs, and I’m no different.

The nice thing about SD cards and R-Pi is that once you’ve prepped your SD card with a given OS, you can just swap it out for another one. If you want to try a different OS, just swap out one for the other and if one sucks, just swap the better OS back in. Yay.

So we’re trying out OpenELEC because we’ve read so many positive reviews about it. OpenELEC¬† = Open Embedded Linux Entertainment Center and it’s not based on any particular Linux distro. It’s based on itself, i.e., it’s been built from the ground up to specifically run as a media center.

Installing OpenELEC is super easy too. Their documentation is kick ass, from installation to setup (adding media etc) to troubleshooting. Check out the awesome OpenELEC wiki.

Anyway, making this a pretty quick review because there’s not much to say other than that OpenELEC’s performance kills Raspbmc, at least in my experience. Menu switching is much much faster, and I haven’t experienced the same menu lag that I had with Raspbmc. Most of the slowness and high CPU activity that I’m experiencing right now is due to the fact that I’m busy importing Movies and TV Shows for the first time. Call them “Growing Pains” I guess.

Same CEC support too, so using my TV remote to navigate. You can also use a mouse if you want.

Added bonus: OpenELEC does automatic updates. You can enable that from Programs/OpenELEC Settings.

Issues with OpenELEC (or maybe just my collection): The only issue I’ve found so far is that some AVI files play only the audio, but no video playback. And again, only some videos are affected and very few in my collection. Anyway, that issue is discussed at github here (for non Raspberry Pi hardware) and was resolved back in April 2012 or something, but it seems to be back with the latest release. I can confirm that it’s an issue on my R-Pi. Not a big deal for me since it’s only affecting a couple of files.

And that’s it for now. Later!

Update: Openelec crashes randomly. It’s never crashed in the middle of watching media, but I’ll find that it had crashed after periods of inactivity. So far, Raspbmc has had very solid and very good uptime.

7 thoughts on “More Raspberry Pi Notes: Using OpenELEC and XBMC

  1. I haven’t had any problem with Raspbmc and AVI files. Everything I tried played nicely. Raspbmc menus also do not lag if you use Class 10 SD cards.

  2. @Cesar
    Yep, we’re using Class 10 cards. Still had a lot of lag with Raspbmc though. One thing to consider though is that it’s pretty early on in the game, so I think we’re going to see a lot of great improvements all around in the next few months.

  3. Funny, I just gave OpenELEC last build a try (on a brand new Sandisk Extreme Pro SDHC UHS-I card (suposedly capable of up to 95MB/s), and found out it’s performance to be on par with Raspbmc, on a likely slower card (Kingston Class 10). I know that OpenELEC default setting includes no over-clocking, but I had to set up a config.txt file with the same settings found “out-of-the-box” in Raspbmc.

  4. Can someone suggest a way to confirm if MPEG-2 might be an issue for AVI files, very AVI file I have, plays only audio on RaspBMC, latest nightly as of 12/01/2012. I am using PS3 Media Server as my video streaming source, and when I use Windows 7 (64bit) running XBMC for Windows, the AVI files play just fine, but on RaspBMC, nothing put audio.

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