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4 Great media center software for Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi is an extremely low power and ultra-compact (credit-card sized) computer board that is gaining a lot of attention due to the numerous creative application at very low power consumption. The current version of Raspberry Pi (ver B) supports Open GL 2.0, 1080p H.264, 512MB RAM, 10/100 BaseT ethernet, HDMI, 2 USB 2.0 ports, RCA video out, 3.5 mm audio out, SD Card socket (bootable), and is powered by microUSB. While it could be used for common PC applications, what makes it exciting for home server enthusiasts is the possibility of using it as a compact media player to play even 1080p videos. Based on this concept several media center operating systems, mainly utilizing Linux and XBMC, have been developed in the recent time. In this post, I will introduce 4 great media center software for Raspberry Pi (operating systems to be accurate).


Media Center Software for Raspberry Pi

While you can several different operating systems, including Arch Linux and Pidora (based on Fedora), currently there are only 4 media center software for Raspberry Pi.

Media Center Software for Raspberry Pi


openelec-logoOpenELEC is a lightweight operating system that can support high-definition content on machines with low-powered processors. This allows one to build small, silent machines to be effectively used as a media center. OpenELEC is built from the ground up specifically for one task, to run XBMC. Other operating systems are designed to be multi-purpose, so they include all kinds of software to run services and programs that won’t be used. OpenELEC, however, only includes software required to run XBMC. Because of that it’s tiny (100MB) and installs in seconds – literally – and boots extremely quickly (about 20 seconds normally).

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OpenELEC not based on any Linux distribution and has been built from scratch specifically to act as a media center. It is designed to be managed as an appliance: it can automatically update itself and can be managed entirely from within the graphical interface. Even though it runs on Linux, you will never need to see a management console, command terminal or have Linux knowledge to use it. Some of its key features include:

  • 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 and more
  • Simple configuration through the XBMC interface
  • Plug and Play external storage
  • File sharing out of the box

OpenELEC Installation Instructions


raspbmc-logoRaspbmc is a minimal Linux distribution based on Debian that brings XBMC to your Raspberry Pi. Raspbmc is brought to you by the developer of the Crystalbuntu Linux Distribution, which brings XBMC and 1080p decoding to the 1st generation Apple TV. Here’s why you might like Raspbmc:

Raspbmc Installation Instructions

  • Free and open source
  • Supports both wired and WiFi out of the box!
  • Multiple languages supported
  • No knowledge of Linux is needed
  • It can be installed with a few simple clicks from a Mac or a PC running Windows or Linux
  • It’s auto updating, meaning you constantly get new features, performance and driver updates
  • It supports 1080p playback
  • Share your content from your PC over NFS, SMB, FTP and HTTP and a USB drive in almost any format
  • AirPlay and AirTunes support allow you to send music and video from your iDevice to the TV
  • Full GPIO support!
  • As it is a Debian system, it is completely expansive and you can install any packages from Debian’s massive repository!

Go to Page 2 – Raspberry Pi Media Center OSes 3 to 4

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About the author


Anand is a self-learned computer enthusiast, a part-time blogger, and a Food Scientist by career. He has been blogging since 2010 on Linux, Ubuntu, Home/Media/File Servers, Smart Home Automation, and related HOW-TOs on htpcbeginner.com and smarthomebeginner.com.