Generally when you think of Kodi Media Center, you think of Amazon Fire TV Stick or Amazon Fire TV. While these are wildly popular platforms for running Kodi, they lack the full functionality of a Home Theater PC or HTPC. An HTPC runs a full blown operating system, usually Windows or Linux. Then Kodi is installed as an application on that operating system. The popularity of the Fire TV Stick is mainly due to the low cost. But for just a little bit more, you can build an HTPC.
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In this article we will talk about building an HTPC using a Raspberry Pi. Rasbpberry Pi started out as a low-cost, open-source development board for people interested in building or learning how to build software to control other things such as robots. This is still a very popular development board, but it has become more than powerful enough to run an operating system. Many operating system developers have installation packages specifically for the Raspberry Pi.
You can purchase a complete Raspberry Pi 3 Kit with an enclosure and power supply, pretty much ready to go. Here is a link to a Raspberry Pi 3 Kit from Amazon. The cost is low and the features are great on these little boxes. Some of the benefits of an HTPC over an Amazon Fire Stick are as follows:
- More configurable networking. More easily configure a VPN
- Physical network connections. Connect directly to your router with a cable for maximum speed.
- Multiple USB connections. Connect USB hard drives to create a Media Storage Server.
- Expandable memory. Theoretically, there is no limit to the amount of memory you can add to the Raspberry Pi 3. The kit in the link above comes with 32 GB of storage.
- Not restricted to only installing from the Amazon Store. You can install any app.
- You can pick from hundreds of different remote controllers.
So, you just got your package from Amazon with your shiny new Raspberry Pi 3 Kit. Now, what do you do with it? Obviously there is a little assembly required.
After assembly, do the following
Hook it up to the power supply
Connect it to your TV with an HDMI cable.
For installation purposes only, connect a USB Keyboard and Mouse to the Raspberry Pi 3
We recommend installing LibreELEC. This is a very low memory usage version of Linux that is specifically designed for running Kodi. Their motto is “Just Enough OS for Kodi”. Although the Raspberry Pi has plenty of memory, there is no reason not to maximize it’s usage by installing LibreELEC. LibreELEC is available HERE. The download available on this page is for the LibreELEC USB-SD Creator. You will need to use your PC or laptop to create the bootable LibreELEC SD card that will be used to boot your Raspberry Pi. The kit above includes a 32 GB SD card.
Insert the SD card into the computer you will use to create the bootable SD card and run the utility you downloaded.
Under section 1, you will select Raspberry Pi 2 and 3 and Click Download under section 2. It will download the file necessary to do the installation.
You will also want to select the SD card that you are installing to in section 3.
When the download is finished, then the Write button will light up under section 4. Click this to write the image.
Be sure you are choosing the right place to write the image to and select YES in the confirmation box.
The image will begin writing to the selected SD card
When the image is done writing, you will see a message that it is finished
Once everything is written to the SD card, remove it from the computer you used to make it, and insert it into your Raspberry Pi and power it up. The Raspberry Pi will boot directly into Kodi.
Now you will want to customize your Kodi installation. We recommend installing No Limits Build. This build has everything you need to get up and running immediately. Follow our guide How to Install No Limits Build on Kodi
Other useful articles to help you maximize your Kodi Streaming TV experience:
Now that you know how to How to Build a HTPC with Raspberry Pi, be sure to secure your connection with a VPN to keep your ISP from slowing you down, spying on you or blocking you. For more information, be sure to check out our article What is a VPN? Why do I need it?