OpenELEC 3.0.0 is here!

It’s been a bit of a month for media player news – we just featured the arrival of Plex for the Pi last week, and we were really pleased to see a new book by Sam Nazarko on setting up Raspbmc on your Pi has just been put out by Pakt Publishing.

Today, there’s more good news for OpenELEC fans. We’re really grateful to the OpenELEC team, who have worked themselves to the bone on getting things running on the Pi; they were the first XBMC distro to be demonstrated on development Pi hardware back in February last year, were the first ever HardFP distribution (that appeared in March 2012).

Stephan Raue says:

OpenELEC 3.0 is built to support XBMC Frodo 12.1 and almost every part of the core OS has been updated and improved since the 2.0 release. The project now supports a broader range of mediacentre hardware than ever before, including dedicated OS images for the budget friendly Arctic MC001 and ultra-low-cost Raspberry Pi systems.


Raspberry Pi deserves a special mention as it’s been a labour of love for the OpenELEC team. OpenELEC’s leading position was made possible by our close working relationship with the XBMC team and many other upstream projects.

From the OpenELEC website:

What is OpenELEC?

Open Embedded Linux Entertainment Center, or OpenELEC ( for short, is a small Linux distribution built from scratch as a platform to turn your computer into a complete XBMC media center ( OpenELEC is designed to make your system boot as fast as possible and the install is so easy that anyone can turn a blank PC into a media machine in less than 15 minutes.

  • It’s completely free
  • A full install is only 80-125MB
  • Minimal hardware requirements
  • Simple install to HDD, SSD, Compact Flash, SD card, pen drive or other
  • Optimized builds for Atom, ION, Intel, Fusion, RaspberryPi and more
  • Simple configuration through the XBMC interface
  • Plug and Play external storage
  • File sharing out of the box

OpenELEC 3.0 highlights and changes

XBMC-12.1 (Frodo) – features include:

  • DTS-MA and Dolby True-HD via XBMC’s new AudioEngine (not on AMD and RPi)
  • Greatly improved Live TV and PVR support
  • Improved image support, allowing the database to use additional image types.
  • Support for the Raspberry Pi
  • Better Airplay support across all platforms
  • Advanced Filtering in the library
  • Advanced UPnP sharing

For more on AudioEngine support, PVR support and more, visit the OpenELEC site. Huge thanks to all the developers who have put so much work into the OpenELEC on the Pi; we’re very grateful!



Dave Rensberger avatar

I just switched from Raspbmc to OpenELEC last week. I’d always liked the OpenELEC design philosophy of using a minimal Linux distribution rather than using the full-sized general purpose Debian distribution like Raspbmc, but I found early versions of OpenELEC to be unstable. From my experience, that’s completely changed in the last 6 months. I’ve found the newer OpenELEC to be far more stable than Raspbmc (I was never able to get NFS or AFP streaming to work on Raspbmc, but both work great on OpenELEC).

Mapperz avatar

Dave, have Raspbmc working flawlessly with NFS using FreeNAS (on a Sony Vaio Windows 8 Pro – with a Oracle Virtual box running BSD FreeNAS) see this guide
Will give OpenELEC a try on a separate SD Card (using 32GB Class 10’s) but have been impressed with Raspbmc progression.
Raspberry Pi was my favourite purchase of 2012 and has introduced me to the Linux world, have enjoyed the learning curve of new operating systems.

Dave Rensberger avatar

Yes, it could be something peculiar about the NFS server on my Dlink DNS-123. All I do know is that it worked flawlessly with OpenELEC.

Dave Rensberger avatar

I’m glad that multiple options exist, though. As I said, early OpenELEC releases had quite a few problems, so I’m glad that the Raspbmc option existed back then. There’s also xbian. I haven’t even tried it yet, but I know it has quite a few fans.

Montekuri avatar

There is GeeXbox too:

2 years ago I was a big fan of this distribution, because it was highly configurable and minimalistic.
Now, all those distributions (Geexbox, Xbian, OpenElec,Raspbmc) has the same “face”.

3xBackup's avatar

I’m just trying to get this straight in my head, and I know that I’m about to ask a unanswerable question:

But what are the pros and cons between them:

I suspect that I there is no answer and that I am going to have to install each of them on a SD card and play with them to make up my own mind. Even when writing this I’m starting to think that my question is a bit like which is best cheese on planet earth (Wallace and Gromit would say Wensleydale).

Dave Rensberger avatar

I’d agree with that assessment… and since the Pi boots from an SD card, that’s exceedingly easy to do!

Chris Swan avatar

An SD card image file is available from the Pi Chimney resources site.

Dave avatar

I think I’ll have to try out OpenElec now. At this rate I will have to buy more Raspberry Pi’s. And more tellies too. :-)

Corey k. avatar

So i already have xbmc installed on my pi, and i love it greatly, press of a key and i am surrounded by my favorite artists. Would there be any pros or cons to switching to Openelec?

liz avatar

A lot of it’s down to personal preference. Why not burn OpenELEC onto an SD card and give it a whirl to see if you like it?

Chris avatar

I for one have made the observation that Openelec is more stable than raspbmc.
I installed raspbmc when the project became “stable”. Sadly, there were some crashes :(

Dan Morris avatar

My experience with Raspbmc has been one of a stable system with a highly responsive community around it. All “issues” I’ve encountered have been down to the specific setup I have (LAN, NAS, SD card, etc. ) and have been fixed with hints and pointers from the community.
Glad there is competition/alternative from OpenELEC to keep the innovation pipeline running.
Only problem is that the media centre is so good, I’m gonna have to get another Pi for prototyping…

JBeale avatar

Probably worth a link to the OpenELEC FAQ specific to R-Pi:

Bruce avatar

I’m waiting for my Pi now…and Openelec will be the first distro that I want to try, reading this note it makes my despair.

Another great thing that I didn’t read here was this: (Raspberry + Spotify) check it out.

Bruce avatar

Is it necessary buy a MPEG2 license to make use of Openelec XBMC?

liz avatar

If you want to play MPEG2s, yes.

Kevin Metcalfe avatar

I get that OpenELEC is a linux distro specifically designed to run the XBMC software, but which version of XBMC does it use? Vanilla or a Raspberry flavoured variant?

With all of the modifications to RaspBMC, what would a project using both systems look like? Is there any point, say, in looking to run the RaspBMC software on an OpenELEC distro, combining the great work from both projects?

Or am I missing the point entirely?

sraue avatar

OpenELEC is a embedded Linuxdistribution created to run XBMC as a appliance, Raspbmc is a Debian based Linuxdistribution with XBMC included which is more like a Desktop based Linux distribution. Both XBMC versions included are nearly the same. There are nearly no modifications to XBMC in Raspbmc. There is also no “Raspberry flavoured variant” of XBMC, RaspberryPi support was done by the XBMC dev team and is part of “Vanilla” XBMC since last year.

Kevin Metcalfe avatar

Thanks for that, that was exactly the kind of info I was looking for.

Rick5 avatar

how do you get the iso ? I just get a folder full of files

Montekuri avatar
Rick5 avatar

Works great!!! Thanks!!!

Montekuri avatar

You’re welcome

Andy avatar

Off-topic, but would it be possible to tweak the site CSS so that the blockquote elements don’t have so much of a right margin? It’s currently 15em, which means I can see 1 word per line when I view it on my iPhone on my lunch break. Making it a mere ~5em would help a lot. First World problem, I know! :)

liz avatar

It’s on Paul’s list; unfortunately, he’s a bit busy with Pibows at the moment, but he’s working on a site revamp when he gets a spare minute!

Ian avatar

I like the idea of Openelec, a media center without the fuss or load of a full OS underneath. But I have always been disappointed with each install, (on the Pi or other hardware):
Wifi driver support seems to be very narrow. Certainly none of the Ralink usb wifi adapters I own (4 at last count) seem to be usable with Openelec.
Sadly, like the rest of XBMC 12, the whole PVR tv recording element has been really poorly developed – There seems to be no abilty to configure the PVR backend from within XBMC itself (which just seems crazy to me!)

i REALLY want to like and use Openelec, but it’s always the wifi connectivity that i can never get working, therefore Openelec never stays installed.
I specifically have Ralink wifi as they generally work really well in Linux and RaLink seem to be very good at providing their source code for Linux.
Maybe V3 is different from the 2.9x versions I most recently tried.. I do hope so.

But a pvr in linux/pi that is quick, simple and straight foward to set up (like the dozens of Windows one that work very well) – it doesn’t seem to exist, when it does.. How I rejoice.
XBMC looks so lovely.. yet seems to just not work all that well in real life (IME)

Dave Rensberger avatar

The way I’ve gotten around this is to just use a separate computer to act as the PVR (I have an old 2006-era Macintosh that I run EyeTV on) and then use the Pi running xbmc as a network playback client. I’ve found that I can play back 1080p MPEG-2 programs over a 10/100 interface without any problems at all (it even works using SMB, but NFS or AFP work better when skipping over commercials, etc.). It would obviously be preferable to have everything in one box, but I’ve found that this works pretty well as an alternative.

ian avatar

well.. who’d have thought it..

2.9x and earlier just would not recognise my usb wifi adapters, I was virtually sure 3 wouldn’t either, but blimey charlie.. it only gone and recognised all four of my usb wifi adapters. (not all in use at the same time you understand!)

Excellent and thank you Openelec Dev(s)

tbar avatar

Drivers for wifi-adapters are included in OpenElec on request so if you are in need of a special driver then make a request in the OpenElec forums. You might need to supply extra information to the devs so they can identify the exact chipset the adapter is using but that is just a matter of running a command.

4thdwarflord avatar

“80 – 125mb” does that mean it would work on a 128mb sd card? (with a usb drive for extra files)

Mike avatar

I didn’t think you could even buy 128MB SD cards.

I’d strongly suggest a bigger one, otherwise the first time it downloads artwork (or a software update, or the log file gets too big, or…) things are going to start failing. £5 for even a 1GB card will save your a lot of time, and a lot of headaches.

Gregor avatar

But how do you manipulate these kind of OS on Pi? Are there any Pi compatible remote controlers? I mean i know they work with mouse and keyboard but is there a way to control these via remote?
I am asking because i only had a TV card that i couldn’t get to work with linux.

Montekuri avatar

It work with any USB remote control.
And with some tv sets, the same tv control works with the RPi.

Tommy Wareing avatar

They support any variety of remote that XBMC supports. So infra-red MCE remotes (requires the relevant IR receiver, of course), PS3 controllers (requires bluetooth adaptor), web-browsers (either directly using XBMC’s built in web server, or within smartphone app, such as YATSE on Android). Best of all, the Pi HDMI specification supports CEC directly, so if you’ve got a sufficiently recent television ( Wikipedia ), then you can just carry on using your television remote.

Roddy avatar

I was given a Windows media center remote from a very old HP media center PC a friend was throwing out. I figured it has a USB plug on the end of the reciever, I’ll plug it in a see if I can make the basics work.
You could have knocked me down with a feather – full functionality ‘out of the box’ if you like. I didn’t have to configure a thing. Top marks to whoever put the effort in for that.
I was so impressed I ended up buying a second Pi to run OpenElec/XBMC full time.
The cherry on the cake was finding the BBC iPlayer add-on and that ‘just worked’ too.

tvjon avatar

No, that’s the compressed image download size.

Dave avatar

Couple of options:
1) I use a nano sized keyboard mouse as my remote (e.g.
2) XBMC does support CEC so you can control it from the TV remote if you have a modern TV (I don’t, hence the separate keyboard).

Martin avatar

Sure there are lots of options from the xbox360 controller to your native tv remote (CEC) which I really like.

Nathan avatar

Does anyone know if the new OpenELEC (or the new RaspBMC) have solved the analogue audio problems? I want to output my media centre audio through my amp using the anologue (minjack) output, but when I tried it a few months ago I found you get horrible clicks between every track. This seemed to be a known problem caused by the audio hardware switching on and off when not in use.

Be great if that’s been solved.

Mike avatar

Yes and no. There’s a workaround available that switches the driver on on boot and off on shutdown:

As a result, the frequent audio-pops when switching between mp3s are gone. Works for me!

Drew avatar

Just wondered if anyone has used the raspberry pi as a multimedia device in a car? Seems like a great way to use a low power device.

JamesH avatar

Check out the forums – lots of car stuff in there somewhere.

Dave avatar

My kids love movies not skipping in the car anymore.

Val avatar

Does anyone know if you can use this to run Mame on it?

Choosak avatar

How can I install OpenElec to Raspberry Pi without NOOBS?
(How can I download only image of lastest OpenElec?)

Please recommend :)

Gustaf Engström avatar

XBMC works perfectly fine with both airplay for youtube and spotify. It is loveleh!

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