Getting started with OpenELEC & Raspberry Pi 2

Since receiving the Raspberry Pi 2, I’ve been meaning to install OpenELEC to compare whether there are any noticeable performance improvements over Pi 1.

The reason I wasn’t rushing to do it was that the original Pi has been so stable (it’s switched on permanently as my main/only media centre). My only criticism, perhaps, would be that scrolling through lists isn’t very fast, but that’s a small price to pay for such a low-powered, CEC (Consumer Electronics Control; I control it with my normal TV remote.) device.

To get started, download the disk image from here (under ARMv7 builds). The download is about 95MB, but it will extract to around 306MB. You can copy the image to an SD card manually, or you can use the ‘RPi-sd card builder’ utility (details for both methods here).

If you’re using a bluetooth/ir remote, you’ll need to go through the installation procedure for your receiver once you boot it up. If you’re using a TV which has CEC, you should be able to use your TV remote with no extra configuration, however all manufacturers call their CEC implementation something different, so you’ll need to work out what yours uses (for example, LG calls theirs Simplink).

On first run, you’re presented with a wizard with some basic options. You’ll also see that SSH is disabled by default. You can leave this disabled if you don’t plan on making any config changes (SSH can be enabled from the settings menu at any time).

Now it’s just a case of adding content (either pointing to a network share or from a USB device), and you’re away.

My first impressions are that this new model is better at running OpenELEC than the RPi1. Once I added my network SMB shares, it scanned content significantly faster than the RPi1 ever did. The whole thing boots faster than previous versions, and there seems to be less lag when playing files.

EDIT: Stability has been great so far with version 5.0.3. I did try a couple of new skins, and after about 24 hours of the system being on with ‘Eminence’, the whole thing grinds to a halt. Lesson learnt, and back on ‘Confluence’, it has been as solid as a rock.

(header image from raspberrypi.org)

By Matt

I'm a Broadcast engineer at Bloomberg TV London. I love technology; I'm constantly tinkering with one thing or another, so I'm trying to make notes here.

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