How to install LibreELEC on Android TV Boxes

LibreElecIn this guide, we will focus on installing LibreELEC, which is a system that allows Kodi users to take full advantage of all the features that their TV box offers. We’ll take a look at the process required to execute it initially from a USB memory or an SD card, as well as the steps that you can follow to install it in your TV box permanently. LibreELEC works with an extensive list of Android TV boxes, which makes it a convenient solution in different cases.

What is LibreELEC?

LibreELEC is a distribution that is set to offer optimal performance for Kodi. It can offer many benefits that make it a better choice than Android in some cases. However, there are also some downsides that should be kept in mind. Recently, we have seen some brands offering a Dual OS system with LibreELEC and Android. With this feature, when you start your TV box, it is possible to select the system that you want to use.

The advantages start with the fact that the system only consumes 100 Mb of RAM. In addition, Kodi works seamlessly with the device’s hardware. Plus, there is automatic refresh change that allows you to avoid Judder effect. The main downside is that it is not possible to run Android apps.

How to install LibreELEC

There are two different ways to install LibreELEC in your Android TV Box. You can do it by executing it from a USB memory or SD card, which leaves the Android system intact. The alternative is to install it in the internal storage of the TV-Box and removing the Android system. It can be recovered by reinstalling firmware from a computer. It is important that you always test the system using the first method and then, following a few steps, it is possible to install LibreELEC in the internal memory of the TV-Box, so that it goes faster than in the external memory.

Compatibility

One of the first things to check is if it is possible to install LibreELEC on your Android TV box. This is why it is important to test before deleting the default Android system. There are several devices that are compatible with LibreELEC and while we present a list of some of the options available, it is important that you double chevck and try if LibreELEC is compatible with your device.

  • Official support: Raspberry Pi, Odroid, Wetek
  • Amlogic S905: MINIX NEO U1, KII Pro, Zidoo X5, Beelink MiniMXIII / Mini / M18, Sunvell T95, Tanix TX3
  • Amlogic S912: MINIX NEO U9-H, KIII Pro, H96 Pro+
  • Amlogic S805: MK808B Plus
  • Amlogic S812: MXIII Plus, MXIII-G, PROBOX2 EX PLUS, MINIX X8H Plus, M8S Plus
  • Amlogic S905X/D/W: KI Pro, M8S Pro+, M8S Pro+, M8S Pro W, X96, X96 mini, Tanix TX5/TX3 Pro, Nexbox A5 / A95X, Scishion V88 Pro
  • Allwinner is not supported. It is also important to note that for KII Pro models with tuners, you need to activate Addons/Services> TVheadend Server and PVR clients>TVheadend HTSP Client
  • Rockchip is supported. It is currently in development phase for RK3328 and RK3288. It is only stable on the Rock64 development board.

What is required for the installation?

Every SoC type features a specific project branch where the files required to use LibreELEC on your TV-Box are available. V.7, V.8 and V.9 are the most popular LibreELEC versions. The first one is good if you have old hardware, the second works best for the most common SoC’s and V.9 is meant to be used in the future. You will need to do the below first:

  1. Download RUFUS from https://rufus.akeo.ie/ to create the USB memory or SD card that you will use for LibreELEC from the PC.
  2. Download the LibreELEC system with extension img.gz
  3. Download the device tree of our system with extension .dtb

You can download the required links from the below links. While the builds have been discontinued, it is still possible to use them.

LibreELEC 8.2 for Amlogic S905X/D/W
https://forum.libreelec.tv/thread/9319-8-2-3-1-libreelec-8-2-for-s905-s905x/

LibreELEC 8.2 for Amlogic S912
https://forum.libreelec.tv/thread/5848-8-2-2-3-libreelec-8-2-for-s912/

LibreELEC 9.0 ALPHA for Amlogic S905/S912 (for test only)
https://forum.libreelec.tv/thread/10301-8-90-6-libreelec-9-0-alpha-for-s905-s912-devices/

LibreELEC 8.0 for Amlogic S802/812
https://forum.libreelec.tv/thread/2877-s802-s812-libreelec-images-for-7-8-x/

LibreELEC 8.0 for Amlogic S805
https://forum.libreelec.tv/thread/2158-8-2-3-1-libreelec-8-0-for-s805/

AlexELEC for Amlogic S805/812/905/912
http://www.alexelec.in.ua/

In each of the posts that you find when you follow the links, you will see the list of versions that are available and will know what is required for your device. In general, it is possible to use the generic version if you can’t find a specific option for your own model.

The part that says Downloads refers to access to all the different LibreELEC system files for this SoC. There is also an option that you can select, if you don’t know which file to download. This is the generic version of LibreELEC. You will also find the device tree that you need to download for your concrete model or the closest one.

Then we enter the link where all the LibreELEC system files are found and check the structure. In this list of downloads, the files that we need to focus on are the img.gz ones. There are many specific versions such as C2 and LePotato, which deactivate the thermal sensor (which will be used if the generic version stops working in the TV Box) and there is also a generic version that can be downloaded if you don’t have a specific one.

After downloading the system file, the device tree for your specific model of TV box has to be downloaded. If you can’t find the exact same one, you can opt for the one that is closest to the configuration of the device. Enter the link to the “Device trees” and check the structure. Then you need to select the specific SoC and enter the list of files. There are different versions but the main thing is to check the RAM of our model. The options are 1G, 2G and 3G. Then you will see specific version, but if you don’t have one or are not sure, you can download the generic without modifications.

After downloading the system file, the device tree for your specific model of TV box has to be downloaded. If you can’t find the exact same one, you can opt for the one that is closest to the configuration of the device. Enter the link to the “Device trees” and check the structure. Then you need to select the specific SoC and enter the list of files. There are different versions but the main thing is to check the RAM of our model. The options are 1G, 2G and 3G. Then you will see a specific version, but if you don’t have one or are not sure, you can download the generic without modifications.

How to create the LibreELEC boot drive

Once you have the installation program, the LibreELEC system file and the device tree of the device, it is possible to create the SD memory or USB drive to boot the system. Then you can run the installation program. If it doesn’t work with USB drive, you need to use an SD card, in any case you have to use the fastest unit you can, if you opt for this method. If the USB drive option doesn’t work, you need to use an SD card. In any case, make sure that you have the fastest unit possible, if you are going for this method.

  1. Start RUFUS, then select the USB drive or microSD card
  2. Select the DD image option
  3. Click on the disk icon, select the LibrrELEC *.imz.gz system file that has been previously downloaded.
  4. Press Start and allow some time for the process to finish
  5. Rename the device tree file that you downloaded to “dtb.img”
  6. Copy “dtb.img” in the root of the LibreELEC unit that was created and overwrite if needed.
  7. Connect the LibreELEC unit to our TV-Box.

Boot LibreELEC in your Android TV Box

In order to boot LibreELEC, there are different methods available. In essence, the two options focus on the update button of the TV-Box or using Android to open the Update mode with software.

Option 1. Start the TV-Box with the update button pressed
Option 2. Use the LibreELEC app for Android to restart the TV box in update mode
Option 3. In case of root from an Android terminal, we do “su” and then “reboot update”

The first time you boot LibreELEC, you will see a configuration wizard that activates the network systems. It is recommended that you activate the SSH and SAMBA services since then, you will need to use them.

How to install LibreELEC in the internal TV Box storage

With this process, Android is completely removes from the TV box and LibreELEC will be the only system available. The advantage with this is that overall, you can enjoy better speed in Kodi since all the content loads considerably faster in the internal memory. If you are not happy with the performance, you can reinstall Android without issues.

In order to install and complete advanced processes with LibreELEC, it is important that you connect to the TV box from a computer using SSH through your local network. The process is fairly easy, once you are familiar with the basic steps that it involves.

  1. Go to LibreELEC and in System, enter System Info, then IP address and check it.
  2. Activate SSH and Samba in System>LibreELEC>Services
  3. Install and run Putty (you can get ot on https://www.putty.org/) and enter the IP in the Host name section. Click on Open.
  4. In the Putty windows, enter the user “root” and the password, which is libreelec. You will get to the command line.
  5. To begin the installation in the internal memory of the TV box, the command that you need to execute is “installtointernal”.
  6. Allow a few minutes for the process to be completed. Then the TV-Box will boot in LibreELEC every time.
  7. If you want to restore Android, you just need to download a firmware for the TV-Box (use search box on the website) and follow the manual to install it again.

How to update LibreELEC

  1. Download the LibreELEC system file *.img.gz once more. The device tree also has to be downloaded but you don’t have to rename it.
  2. In the LibreELEC system, the SAMBA system has to be activated, as previously mentioned, go to System>LibreELEC>Services
  3. Before updating, it is advisable to create a backup of the system at: System>LibreELEC>System>Backup
  4. Enter the file explorer and access the local network, connect with the “Update” folder within LibreELEC. You can copy the backup file inside the Backup folder.
  5. Copy the two files in this folder
  6. Restart the TV-Box and launch the system update

How to install Kodi add-ons in LibreELEC

The process to install add-ons works in the same way as with any other system running Kodi, using publicly available repositories or by downloading the specific add-on and installing it manually.

Keep in mind that when you download an add-on for LibreELEC, you need to download the Linux version, instead of the Android one. In general, the ARM v7 version should work well for any TV-Box. In order to be able to install add-on manually, you need to change Settings>System>Add-ons and activate Unknown sources.

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