OpenElec – Self Managed XBMC Installation


What is OpenElec?

Recently, I stumbled across OpenElec and realized this is a great solution for the less techy people who want to use XBMC.  What OpenElec is, in a nutshell, is a bootable disk image that will allow you to boot a multitude of devices directly into a XBMC session.  This is pretty cool for those people who don’t like dealing with doing a full install on a non dedicated HTPC machine, like your personal laptop, which you only use for a HTPC when that new Marvel movie comes out on Usenet.  It will allow you to boot into XBMC, and enjoy the awesomeness that is XBMC, without having to manage a dedicated box for it.  For this type of setup, you will require a usb drive and an SD card, or two usb drives or something of the like.  Otherwise, you can install directly onto a hard disk, however you choose, it will all operate in similar fashion.

What feature set does OpenElec offer me?

OpenElec is a linux based XBMC install, which means it will boot quick and boot directly into your XBMC.  There is no command line knowledge required to use OpenElec.  They offer builds for AppleTV, Intel ION PC’s, Intel/AMD Processors, etc.  Basically, if you have anything aside from a Mac, there is a distribution available for you.

How do I get started?

  1. First, you must go to OpenElecs site and download the distro for you here.
  2. After you’ve downloaded the proper distro, what you need to do is extract the archive, they suggest using 7Zip as it will extra files.
  3. Once you get OpenElec extracted, you need to insert a USB drive you intend on using for your boot drive. (it should be empty, or at least not have anything on there you don’t mind losing!)
  4. Double click on the batch file named create_installstick
  5. It will ask you for the drive letter, so find that by double clicking my computer and looking at the drive letter. (If you can’t find the drive, it’s probably not formatted, and you will want to do that first.)
  6. The installer will run for around 30 seconds or so, and then report it is complete.  YAY!
  7. Now you can safely eject the USB drive.
  8. Once you’ve done this, insert the usb drive into the machine you intend on using for your HTPC.
  9. You may have to tweak your bios to allow you to boot from the USB drive we have created, or simply select usb from the boot menu.
  10. Once you are booted into the installer, it will prompt you for the install destination.
  11. Select where you want it to be installed, and voila!
Now depending on where you installed to, you may need to update your boot options appropriately, but aside from that you now have a complete XBMC install that you can use on multiple devices and will auto update!
Of course, you’re still going to want to tweak your own OpenElec install to suit your needs, but I digress.

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