Using a Raspberry Pi as a cheap media centre

Raspberry Pi media centre

With a plethora of mini media centre boxes becoming readily available, it comes as no surprise that the Raspberry Pi can also be used as one.


With a plethora of mini media centre boxes becoming readily available, it comes as no surprise that open-source platforms are also available for this purpose. Kodi is one such platform and it is available to be installed onto a Raspberry Pi.

Kodi (the software)

Kodi (formerly known as XBMC) is a free, open-source media player available on various platforms including Linux, OS X, Windows, iOS and Android. With its ’10-foot user interface’, Kodi is optimised to be used on television screens with remote controls.

Kodi interface

Kodi’s user interface. From here, videos, movies, programs, etc. can be accessed.

Local network locations are easy to set up, so for your own music, movies and video files, Kodi simply needs to be instructed where they are stored. With additional plugins, streaming channels (and there are many), can also be added to your favourite watching lists.

The Raspberry Pi (the hardware)

Model B Raspberry Pis are almost perfect to be used as low-power, stand-alone media centres. Since the model 2s, Raspberry Pis have enough memory and computing power to stream and serve media well. When comparing these Raspberry Pi models with other mini media centres, they are much cheaper, readily available, and not difficult to set up.

Raspberry Pi model 2B

Raspberry Pi Model 2B board.

With model B boards having HDMI output, USB ports, Ethernet, and sound output, these single-board computers have all the tech necessary to play well with TVs, speakers, and remote controls. In addition to this, the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, which makes it an even better choice. The Raspberry Pi 4 Model B is the same as the Pi 3 but with more RAM and a faster processor.

Getting started

The hardware

Apart from a Model B Raspberry Pi 2 (or higher) and Kodi (see below), you will need a power supply, MicroSD card, MicroSD card reader, keyboard, and HDMI cable. Optionally, you might also need a network cable, a Raspberry Pi case and/or a Raspberry Pi-compatible remote control.

Links to and BangGood are supplied.

1) Power supply

2) MicroSD card (8GB or larger)

3) MicroSD card reader

4) Keyboard

5) HDMI cable

6) Network cable

7) Raspberry Pi case (optional)

8) Compatible remote control

Software – Kodi

For the Raspberry Pi, Kodi is available as Xbian or OpenELEC. Both of them are installed as an operating system onto the MicroSD card before inserting it into the Raspberry Pi.

XBian Vs. OpenELEC

XBian vs. OpenELEC.

XBian and OpenELEC are both free, Kodi-embedded, Linux-based operating systems. XBian is built on a reduced version of Debian and OpenELEC (Open Embedded Linux Entertainment Center) is built on JeOS, or ‘just enough operating system’.

The recommended installation process differs between XBian and OpenELEC. Whereas OpenELEC is installed similarly to most other Raspberry Pi operating systems, XBian has its own installation tool.

Note that other Kodi-related posts on Behind the Scenes are based on OpenELEC.


The Raspberry Pi B models in combination with Kodi are popularly used as home media centres. Parts are easily obtainable and the software is easy to install. This post showed you how.

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