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OpenELEC vs OSMC for Raspberry Pi 2 Media Center

This post is a comparison of OpenELEC vs OSMC on the newly released Raspberry Pi 2 Model B. Many of you may be familiar with our previous comparison of Xbian, OpenELEC, and Raspbmc. Later in 2014, I compared OpenELEC vs Raspbmc and concluded that they both were neck-and-neck but with a slight edge to Raspbmc. Well times have changed: Raspberry Pi 2 is here, XBMC is now Kodi, and Raspbmc is now OSMC. Xbian is still hanging around but the major players now seem to be OpenELEC followed by the new OSMC. So let us look at a brief comparison of OSMC vs OpenELEC as media center OSes on Raspberry Pi 2.

OpenELEC vs OSMC Comparison

OpenELEC vs OSMC 2015

While both OSMC (Open-Source Media Center) and OpenELEC (Open Embedded Linux Entertainment Center) can run a Raspberry Pi 2 media center, it is important to understand that OpenELEC and OSMC are built differently. OpenELEC vs Raspbmc 2015 (aka OSMC), is built for one thing: run a Kodi media center. OSMC on the other hand has full Debian OS underneath, which means OSMC can do much more than just run Kodi. With that clarified, let us look at OpenELEC OSMC comparison.

Build a Low-Cost Raspberry Pi Media Center ~$65 Price
Raspberry Pi 3 (RPi3) Model B Quad-Core 1.2 GHz 1 GB RAM Kit, including: ~$49.99
Samsung 16GB EVO Class 10 Micro SDHC Card with Adapter ~$6.99
SANOXY Wireless USB PC Remote Control Mouse for PC ~$8.00

Both Raspberry Pi 2 operating systems were installed on Raspberry Pi compatible accessories. Our previously published guides were used to install OpenELEC and OSMC on Raspberry Pi 2. For this OpenELEC vs OSMC comparison, the following versions were used:

  • OpenELEC 5.0.8 (arm) stable for Raspberry Pi 2
  • OSMC RC2 (5/5/2015)

Both OSMC and OpenELEC were left at their default clock settings of 900 MHz on a Class 10 micro SD card. [Read: What you need to know about overclocking Raspberry Pi]

For improved performance over network, both used the same MySQL video library of ~300 movies and ~1000 TV show episodes located on a NFS Share. [Read: Install and configure NFS server on Ubuntu for serving files]

1. Boot Speed

Even though Raspberry Pi only uses about 2-3 Watts of power and it costs less than $10 to keep it running for the whole year, some people may prefer to turn on and off as needed. Boot speed is important in these situations. Below are the number of seconds for Raspberry Pi 2 running OpenELEC or OSMC to boot up and display the home screen. These numbers are rounded up to the nearest second (anything less than that, in my opinion, is not worth fussing over). For comparison, I have included Raspbmc and OpenELEC boot speeds from my previous comparison on Raspberry Pi 1 Model B 512 MB.

OS 1 2 3 4 5 Average
OSMC on RPi2 17s 18s 17s 17s 18s 17s
OpenELEC on RPi2 17s 16s 16s 16s 17s 16s
Raspbmc on RPi1 77s 80s 78s 77s 79s 78s
OpenELEC on RPi1 50s 49s 50s 48s 49s 49s

The difference due to the faster processor on Raspberry Pi 2 vs Raspberry Pi is clearly visible. While the numbers may show that OpenELEC boots faster, visually this was no different. In my opinion, OpenELEC vs OSMC boot speed difference is negligible and should not be a deciding factor in choosing an OS for Raspberry Pi 2 media center.

Winner: Tie

2. Operational Speed

There may be differences in the speed of importing existing library. But in my opinion, looking at the time taken for an one-time activity to compare OSMC vs OpenELEC is a wrong approach. After a library of ~300 movies and ~1000 TV show episodes were imported and synced with Kodi MySQL library, the operational speeds were not noticeably different. The OSMC skin, although simple but more featureful than Confluence skin, was as responsive as OpenELEC with Confluence skin. Opening the media library for the first time resulted in a thumbnail appearance delay on both OSes. Once the thumbnails were formed, the interface was snappy. [Read: 10 Tweaks to improve XBMC performance on Raspberry Pi]

Winner: Tie

3. Interface / Skin

OpenELEC uses the default Kodi Confluence skin. OSMC on the other hand uses a custom skin, which seems to be inspired by the Mimic Skin, which we think is one of the top Kodi skins.

OSMC Skin Customization
OSMC Skin Customization

Continued to next page for OpenELEC vs OSMC interface and features comparison…

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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.