Don’t like ads on your smart TV? This tutorial is going to show you how to replace your TV OS with LibreELEC (Embedded Linux Entertainment Center) and a Raspberry Pi. LibreELEC is a free open-source Linux distribution for embedded devices used as home media centers. It is a fork of the now-discontinued OpenELEC project, which itself is based on Kodi. After installing LibreELEC on a Rasberry Pi, you can download Movies, TV shows on Usenet, or torrent.
What you need
Don’t have a TV? You can choose to buy a smart TV or non-smart TV. For those who don’t want any proprietary software, you might want to choose non-smart TV. (My smart TV can still show ads at boot time, even if I configure the TV to boot directly into LibreELEC.) Smart TV has built-in OS that you can’t uninstall, unless you are a super geek and you don’t mind spending weeks troublshooting problems.
Note that the old Rasberry Pi 1 (single-core, 512MB RAM) isn’t powerful enough to provide a smooth TV-watching experience. When scanning media libraries, CPU usage goes up to 100% and videos can’t be played. It’s recommended to use the latest Raspberry Pi 4B if you don’t have one.
Once you have all the required items, let’s get started.
Step 1: Install LibreELEC on Raspberry Pi
Go to LibreELEC download page to download the LibreELEC USB-SD Creator app. I use Ubuntu, so I download the Linux 64-bit version.
Once it’s downloaded, open up a terminal window and go to the download destination folder. For example, the file is downloaded to the Downloads folder under my home directory, so I use the following command.
Then make the file executable.
chmod +x LibreELEC.USB-SD.Creator.Linux-64bit.bin
And run it with sudo priviledge.
In the creator app, select the version of your Rasberrry Pi, download the image file. Insert your SD card to your computer, then select it in the app. All data on the SD card will be wiped out. Make sure you select the right device.
Click the write button to write the LibreELEC image to your Rasberry Pi. Once its done, close the app and unplug your SD card from your computer.
Step 2: The Initial Run
Insert SD card to your Raspberry Pi and start it. Since Rasberry Pi uses an HDMI cable to connect to your TV, you need to configure your TV to use the HDMI signal source, in order to display LibreELEC on your screen.
To control your LibreELEC screen, you can connect a keyboard to your Rasberry Pi, or download the Sybu Kodi app on your phone. Tap Discover Hosts in the Sybu Kodi app to find the LibreELEC host (It needs to be in the same network). Then you can use the virtual controller to interact with LibreELEC. You can also buy a remote control with USB receiver, which is more convenient.
On first boot, a setup wizard will appear. First, choose your language. (If the setup wizard is stuck and you can’t go to the next step, reboot your Rasberry Pi.)
Then give it a hostname. I simply use the default hostname.
Next, configure networking. If your Rasberry Pi has a wireless card, you can connect it to your Wi-fi router.
On the next screen, you can enable SSH and Samba service. The default username for SSH is root and the default password is libreelec. You can change the password in this step.
After that’s done, simply click Next and you will be able to use Kodi.
Hint: If your smart TV still boots into the built-in OS first, you can configure the TV to boot directly into the screen of the HDMI signal source. You can usually find this setting in the built-in OS.
Step 3: Setting Up Media Library
On the left sidebar, there are various content types, such as Movies, TV shows, Music, etc. Select each content type and enter files section to add a media source.
You can add media from a local hard drive or from the local network like FTP server and Samba share. When browsing folders from a local hard drive, right-click the folder name and select set content. If you use the Sybu Kodi app on the phone, then tap on the contxt menu button.
Then choose the content type and information providers. You can use the default scanning options.
Where to Download Movie and TV Shows
Use a BitTorrenting client like
how to download from Usenet
Advantages of Usenet
- It gives you better privacy because connections are encrypted with TLS. You won’t connect to another peer, so others can’t see what you are downloading.
- Superfast download speed.
Files on Usenet are usually kept much longer than torrent files. For example,
stores files for 4430 days (more than 12 years), so you can download old content at very fast speed.
After adding media sources, you probably want to change three settings in Kodi.
Step 4: Install YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and other Popular Add-ons
Go to Settings -> Add-ons -> Install from repository -> All repositories. There are many add-ons in the repository, such as subtitle add-on, the movie database add-on, etc. You will find YouTube in the video add-on category.
Once YouTube add-on is installed, the setup wizard will appear. Select Yes to execute the setup wizard.
If you need to use another language or region, select Yes to choose.
You also have the option to enable geolocation.
Then, go back to the Kodi home screen, select Add-ons from the left sidebar, and choose the YouTube add-on. Before using this add-on, you need to enter your YouTube API key. The process is a bit complicated, you can read the following tutorial to set it up.
If YouTube is blocked in your country or area, you can set up proxy to unblock it. Go to Settings -> System -> Internet Access, you will be able configure proxy. There are several proxy types to choose from. I’m using SOCKS5 proxy.
My TV in the Sitting Room
Display Non-Latin Characters
By default, Kodi can’t show non-latin characters like Chinese, Japanese and Korean. To fix it, go to Settings -> Interface -> Skin, change fonts from skin default to Arial-based.
Can’t Mount Your External HDD?
When you connect an external HDD to your Rasberry Pi, LibreELEC automatically mounts the HDD under /var/media/ directory, and you can select folders on this hard drive in the Kodi interface.
Note that if your Rasberry Pi is very old, like the Rasberry Pi 1, then it might not be able to power an external HDD via the USB ports. How do you know there’s no power to your external HDD?
You can also run the following command on your Rasberry Pi.
Normally you would see the name of the HDD manufacturer such as Seagate or Western Digital in the output.
If there’s no power to the HDD, you won’t find the manufacturer’s name. If that’s the case, I recommend buying the latest Rasberry Pi 4B as your media center. Also, Rasberrry Pi can power only one external HDD via the USB ports. If you have multiple HDDs, you should buy a powered USB hub.
You can also try adding the following lines at the end of the /boot/config.txt file.
Then reboot your Raspberry Pi.
sudo shutdown -r now
This will make Raspberry Pi allocate more voltage to the USB ports, so it might be able to power your external HDD.
Monitor CPU Temperature
Raspberry Pi is designed to run at 0~50 Celsius at low system load. It’s a good practice to keep the CPU temperature under 60 Celsius, so it will have a longer life span. The hard temperature limit is 85 Celsius. You can go to Kodi Settings -> System Info to check the CPU temperature.
If you install a fan to your Raspberry Pi, the CPU temperature will be much lower. I did a test, my CPU temperature went from 53.6 Celsius to 30 Celsius after installing a fan.
Note that you need to use the correct GPIO pins when installing the fan. Please consult the installation manual that is included in your Raspberry Pi. Also, be careful with the direction of the fan blade. They should produce winds to the CPU, not the other way around. If you take a look at a typical electric fan at your home, I think you will know what I mean.
Raspberry Pi doesn’t boot?
It might be that your SD card isn’t connected properly to your Pi.
If you turn on the TV and Kodi is unresponsive, it might be that your SD card is full. You can restart Raspberry Pi to solve this problem, but you should clean up the SD card space.
Another interesting findings I have is that the Kore app on Android can wake up Kodi, but the SYBU app on iOS can not.
I hope this tutorial helped you install LibreELEC on Raspberry Pi to replace your smart TV OS. As always, if you found this post useful, then subscribe to our free newsletter to get more tips and tricks. Take care 🙂