Media center with RaspPI in 30 minutes

For quite a while now I’ve used a Raspberry PI media center with the very good OSMC distribution. Last weekend I bought a shiny new Raspberry PI 3, along with a 32 GB microSD card, a case and a power adapter. It then took me about 30 minutes to set up a shiny new media center.

Prerequisites

So what do we need?

  • A Raspberry PI 3
  • A case for the RasPi
  • A microSD card that’s supported by the RasPI
  • A power adapter (5V, at least 2000mA)
  • A HDMI cable
  • A USB keyboard

We need to write the OSMC image to the microSD card, so you may need an adapter card do fit the microSD card into an SD card slot.

Assemble the PI

The Raspberry PI 3

The first thing we do is put the RasPI into its case. Please make sure that you can access the microSD slot without opening the case. If your case does not allow you to access the microSD slot when it is closed, perform this step after the microSD card is prepared.

Prepare the microSD card

OSMC is actually very easy to install and in my environment has proven to be faster and more stable than any other kodi/XBMC based media center distribution I have tried. Also, while other media center distributions restrict the use of the Raspberry PI to hosting the media center, OSMC allows you to SSH into the underlying Linux OS to install/configure about anything you want.

OSMC macOS installer

On the download page you need to select the target device first. Of course, in our case this is the Raspberry PI. Then we select the OS we’re running the installation on. In my case this is macOS, but the choice is yours 🙂

Now what I got unter macOS was a nice little tool that allowed me to select the exact version of the PI I was using, set up some parameters and in the last step: write everything to the SD card. The whole process took only a couple of minutes.

Start the media center

Then, put the SD card into the PI, assemble the case if you didn’t already in the first step, and then attach the necessary cables:

  1. USB keyboard
  2. Network
  3. HDMI
  4. Power!

I highly recommend using an USB keyboard. You will be able to configure stuff much faster and you will not be able to connect to the media center using network at first.

You will find that only after powering up, the actual installation of the OS takes place. This will take a couple of minutes. After that is done, a setup wizard will guide you through the rest of the installation, like selecting the language, country, network parameters, etc. If you want to configure stuff on the console later on, like installing a Samba server, make sure that you activate SSH access. The default user and password will be osmc/osmc.

After everything is done, you should see the kodi media center! Then next step: go to the system settings and activate web access. After that you can connect to the media center using – for example – the brilliant KORE app on your Android smartphone.

The final step (unless you want to do any more configuration work) is to disconnect the USB keyboard.

Where to go from here?

I installed the very clean reFocus skin. I’ve tried many and I liked that one best.

You will want to add media do the media center, of course. kodi offers various ways and I used to have my media on my NAS, accessing it via SMB shares. These can be easily configured in kodi.

Now, because I couldn’t find a microSD card smaller than 32GB for a resonable price I had plenty of space for my music files. So I installed a Samba server and configured it so that I can copy music to the PI directly.

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