OpenELEC and Where I have been lately.

Hey Gang,

I know it's been almost a month since my last post, but nothing major happened for me to see the need to. Only today, I came across something cool and very useful, and I think I should share it with you guys since it has given life to my now obsolete Core 2 Duo machine. Or so I thought..

More after the break....

Ok, a brief description of my issue before I begin.

I currently own 3 DIY systems. Zeus, Poseidon and Artemis. Yeah, am Greek, so naturally I chose to give them Greek God names from the Mythology ;)

Anyways, Zeus is my 2008 Core 2 Quad Q9550 system which now has OSX Mavericks Hackintosh on it updated to latest 10.9.3 Seed Build 13D33. It's working great thus far. No issues worth mentioning except the lack of RAM. It currently uses a Transcend 128gb SSD with 4gb DDR3 RAM 1333Mhz. Otherwise iMessage works and Adobe CS6 Suite.

I use this machine to repair/restore/Jailbreak iOS devices mostly, with a little bit of Adobe Photoshop and After Effects work, and sometimes I edit videos using Final Cut Pro Studio 3 (Not to confuse with the latest scaled down Final Cut Pro X).

My second system is Poseidon, which is my main Rig, that has an LGA2011 Core i7-3820 with 32gb of DDR3 RAM and more storage than I can count. It has Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 x64. And for those of you who are wondering as to why am not using Windows 8.1 Update, well, all I can say is I have tried it, and it has failed in every aspect. I like to have full control over my OS, which I do with Windows 7, but for some odd reason M$ decided to take that away in Windows 8.1 U1.

Bottom line, I use this machine for basically everything, from Gaming to browsing and all that comes in between. I am happy with it, no issues to report here either.

That being said, it's time to talk about what this post is all about, Artemis, my Core 2 Duo, 2gb DDR2 RAM.

Artemis, what do I do with you ?

Until recently I had no idea as to what to do with Artemis. I mean I have tried to use it as my Office PC, with M$ Office 2013, and Printer Server, with Windows 7 on it. It worked for a very short while.

Next up, I tried to learn a bit of Linux, so I decided to install Linux Mint Cinnamon 16 and give it a shot. And boy was it a bad decision. After 24 hours, Linux Mint died on me, and refused to boot into the GUI, giving me some sort of command line style login screen.

Also I should mention that even Chromium (Open Source Version of Chrome) began freezing the entire OS every time I visited a Wallpaper site, or graphics intensive sites. A big fail here. I guess Artemis' on-board Intel GPU is to blame, or maybe not, I have no clue since am totally new to Linux.

Moral here is that, no matter what I tried on this machine, I failed. So I got to the point of no return. The thought of scrapping it wasn't too far away now.

OpenELEC ? Hmm....

Here comes the interesting part. Just as I was about to scrap Artemis, a thought had occurred to me. I haven't tried using it as an HTPC. Hmm...

Why an HTPC ? 

That question has an easy answer. Who doesn't have 100s of movies nowadays ? I know we all do. That's why.

I usually Rip my favorite movie BluRays to folder, meaning I RiP them without any compression whatsoever, maintaining menus and all extra features. Now I know that this method requires a ton of space, but like I said earlier I got tons of it. So that ain't an issue for me.

I also sometimes just either RiP to HQ mkv or download them from various places on the net.

I also download low quality RiPs of movies that I just wanna watch and forget. Like XViD or MP4 700mb or lower. Now I got over 400 movies spread out on multiple drives.

The Hard work begins....

Now, the hard work of finding an HTPC specific OS light enough to run on Artemis' crappy hardware, knowing it only had a 160gb IDE drive, slow by today's standards for sure.

One main OS came to mind that I have tried years earlier, called XBMCBuntu. It's a Ubuntu Linux based OS with XBMC on top. Then I thought, that would make it Linux which I fail at, plus it's based on Ubuntu which was kinda glitchy on Artemis. So that was a no-Go.

So, I went hunting via Google for the lightest OS known to man that had XBMC on top, and that required the least amount of setting up to do. And I came up with.... OpenELEC.

What is OpenELEC exactly ?

OpenELEC (short for Open Embedded Linux Entertainment Center) is a Linux distribution designed for home theater PCs. OpenELEC pre‐configures the XBMC as a media player software appliance.

OpenELEC applies the "just enough operating system" principle. It is designed to consume relatively few resources and to boot quickly from flash memory. An OpenELEC disc image for the Raspberry Pi is also available.

Overview and description

OpenELEC provides a complete media center software suite that comes with a pre-configured version of XBMC and third-party addons with retro video game console emulators and DVR plugins.

OpenELEC is an extremely small and very fast booting Linux based distribution, primarily designed to be booted from flash memory card such as CompactFlash or a solid-state drive, similar to that of the XBMCbuntu (formerly XBMC Live) distribution but specifically targeted to a minimum set-top box hardware setup based on an ARM SoC's or Intel x86 processor and graphics.

What hardware does OpenELEC run on?

As it's designed to be lightweight, OpenELEC won't put a strain on your systems resources like its processor or memory - meaning you'll need less of them. With support for NVIDIA's ION platform, AMD's Fusion platform and Broadcom's Crystal HD chip, OpenELEC can support high definition content on machines with low-powered processors by offloading video content to supported graphics cards and decoders. This means you can build (or buy) small, silent machines to be effectively used as a media center.

OpenELEC has many builds available, including a 'catch-all' build that will run on almost any x86 Pentium 4 or later, but also has optimized builds for certain platforms including:

  • Intel GMA HD chipsets
  • AMD Fusion
  • Apple TV 1 (using Broadcom Crystal HD)
  • Raspberry Pi

What makes OpenELEC different?

Good question! You could install Windows or your favourite Linux distribution on your computer and then XBMC on top - and it would work - but it wouldn't be as fast or as easy as OpenELEC.

OpenELEC is built from the ground up specifically for one task, to run XBMC.

Other operating systems are designed to be multi-purpose, so they include all kinds of software to run services and programs that won't be used. OpenELEC, however, only includes software required to run XBMC.

Because of that it is tiny (100MB) and installs in seconds - literally - and boots extremely quickly (about 20 seconds normally) even on my old IDE drive xD

Why I love it so much...

Unlike other XBMC solutions, OpenELEC is not based on Ubuntu. In fact, it's not based on any Linux distribution; OpenELEC has been built from scratch specifically to act as a media center. That means it doesn't include drivers for things that just won't be used like 3G cards and graphics tablets, for example.

Like I said earlier, when I use Linux, I fail. Hence why OpenELEC is so damn great for me.


Conclusion :

In closing, I would like to thank everyone at for an awesome, light weight OS that just breathed new life into my now aging machine. Thanks to them, Artemis is useful again. I mean I have tons of movies, what better place to watch them on but an HTPC ? LoL :D

Hope this post helps everyone out there like me, that need to find use for aging hardware.

On that Tech Bombshell, see ya in my next post soon ;)


I have been using Openelec with over six months. I would highly recomend you follow this guide in the link I give you. It will make Openelec run better and will give you lots of brilliant addons where you can watch almost any film you can think of including all the latest films from this year and TV shows.

May 28, 2014 at 10:52 PM comment-delete

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