Welcome to the review of LibreElec, The just enough Kodi-powered operating system available for Raspberry Pi 3. Today we shall rate LibreElec along the general criterias such as :
- User Interface (UI)
- User Experience (UX)
- Multimedia Performance
- Internet Performance
- Community/Developer Support
LibreELEC [Libre Embedded Linux Entertainment Center] is a lightweight ‘Just enough OS’ Linux distribution purpose-built for Kodi on current and popular media centre hardware. It’s forked from the OpenELEC project in March 2016.
The Install : Getting LibreElec On Raspberry Pi 3 !
LibreElec provides a tool for downloading and installing the OS officially. You can download the SD-boot tool Here. Alternatively you can multiboot within different OS easily with PINN, on which we did a solid how-to guide here :
rPi 3 : Easy multiple OS booting with PINN Tutorial.
After the image is all burned on your SDHC, It’s time to boot it up. As soon as rPi is powered, The LibreElec setup process will guide you thru the easy install process. It takes roughly 10 minutes to have LibreElec ready and buffering media.
LibreElec : User Interface :
LibreElec provides the default Kodi theme ‘Estuary Lite’, Which is very straightforward and easy to use. One can add media files by Selecting ‘Enter Files Section’, Navigating to ‘Add Source’, And then locating the files in file browser. You can select what type of indexing method you need, It provides metadata downloading from sources such as TVDB.com & IMDB.com. This feature requires internet access on your raspberry pi.
One can tinker most of the options such as devices, players, sound, video, etc by accessing the settings page by clicking on the gearhead icon in start screen.
Somethings could have been better, Such as an easier way to add the source of local files in main menus.
Second Test : User Experience :
LibreElec forces a lot of attention in making the user experiences more enlightening. Initially the SD card is resized to fill the space, and a couple of other minor tasks are performed before it reboots into the media centre. As the installation is complete, You get a choice of Enabling most used services as SSH, Samba, Accessibility Reader and ZeroConf. Other regular tasks such as switching internet connections, Setting up file-sharing and time settings are packed in a nice section “LibreElec Settings” in the main settings menu.
A non-tech savvy user can easily setup the OS as needed with minimal work, And that is that most important thing of this section.
Multimedia Performance :
Since LibreElec is a Just Enough Operating System [JeOS], It provides very streamlined Multimedia Performance. With a little bit of overclocking, LibreElec on Pi can provide as much video-performance as an Core2Duo PC. Many of the default OS services are removed, And one can expect very high video encoding rates, A rough estimation of what it can do video-wise is :
4k Video : Not Yet.
1080p HVEC Video : Yes (At ~20fps)
720p HVEC Video : Yes
Full HD 1080p : Yes
Lower quality video formats : Yes, Except .flv.
One can easily argue that the best multimedia performance on Pi3 is achieved through LibreElec. With its recent updates, They have been working to make HVEC video non-laggy on low powered Hardware and other major features.
LibreElec provides timely updates in-sync with KoDi updates, which is a very nice feature for HTPC based OS’es.
Internet Performance :
Since LibreElec is a stripped down OS, there is no native browser inbuilt with it. One can use the functionality of Add-Ons for torrent scraping, Browsing Facebook Videos and Reddit, Or streaming from soundcloud or Udacity. There also exist plugins for Twitch, YouTube, MetaCafe, google drive videos and many more.
LibreElec does provide a web-interface, Namely Chorus2. Basically you connect to LAN over which your rPi is connected, you can type http://Ip-Of-Kodi:8080/ to access it. Chorus2 provides a lot of media control options :
Community/Developer Support :
LibreElec has a very active forum over at forum.libreelec.tv. You can find the fix to most of the common problems there. For basic setup and usage, One can refer to their “LibreElec FAQ” page and for Raspberry Pi based issues, They have set up a basic guidelines page for it.