Asus Chromebox – Installing OpenELEC (Standalone Setup – No Chrome-OS)

I wrote this guide in 2014 and now in 2018 I find that the add-ons in OpenELEC for scraping Movies etc no longer work. I now recommend installing LibreELEC instead of OpenELEC. In addition I would now recommend a low end Intel NUC over a Chrombox because of ease of installation. The difference in price between the two is not that great any-more.

There is a lot of great documentation available for installing OpenELEC aka XBMC (now renamed Kodi) on a Chromebox – but I wanted a brief summary of the steps I performed should I need to do it again.

I have been running OpenELEC as my media center of choice for quite a while now on a 7 or 8 year old PC. As that PC just died I needed a replacement – something smaller – and something cheaper! The ChromeBox looked like an ideal choice …

These steps remove ChromeOS and install OpenELEC – so consult the documentation (and do not do this) if you prefer a different configuration! You have been warned! Seriously, read the documentation!

Enormous thanks to Matt DeViller for providing the installation script, documentation and support to the community!

For reference I installed OpenELEC on an Asus ChromeBox M004U.

The first step is to enable Developer Mode:

This will erase all user data!

  • Insert paperclip into the small home next to the SD card slot to press the recovery button
  • Turn on the Chromebox and then remove the paperclip
  • At the recovery screen press Ctrl + D to enter Developer Mode
  • Press the recovery button again to confirm

If pressing Ctrl +D does not get you to Developer Mode then you will need to try a different keyboard.

 After about 5 minutes you will see the developer boot screen.

  • Shutdown Chromebox

The next step is to  Disable Firmware Write Protect:

This is optional but will decrease the developer boot screen time from 30 seconds to less than 1 second (faster boot).

  • Remove the 4 rubber feet from the base of the Chromebox
  • Unscrew the 4 screws (under rubber feet)
  • Remove base
  • Unscrew the write protect screw (pictured below):
  • Re-assemble base, screws and rubber feet

300px-Inside-chrome1

The last step is to use the ChromeBox E-Z script to install OpenELEC:

Make sure ChromeBox is connected to the internet for this step.

  • Turn on ChromeBox and boot to ChromeOS – do not log in to ChromeOS
  • Press Ctrl, Alt + F2 to open a command prompt
  • Log in as chronos (no password required)
  • Download and run the ChromeBox setup script with these commands:
curl -L -O http://goo.gl/3Tfu5W
sudo bash 3Tfu5W

cbox-menu

Press 5 to proceed with Standalone Setup – this will update the coreboot Firmware (which means that you cannot easily run  ChromeOS).

This Firmware is only valid for Haswell based Asus / HP / Acer / Dell ChromeBoxes!

  • When prompted insert a USB Jump Drive to back up the stock firmware

Remove the stock firmware backup and insert another USB Jump Drive.

Press 6 to create the OpenELEC install media on the 2nd Jump Drive.

  • Reboot
  • Press the Escape key [ESC]at the boot menu and then select the Jump Drive from the list to install OpenELEC

Pressing Escape more than once will skip the boot menu forcing the ChromeBox to attempt to boot from the hard disk (instead of the Jump Drive).

  • Select Run Installer
  • Choose Quick Install
  • Select Yes and OK as needed in the installation wizard

When installation is complete:

  • Remove Jump Drive
  • Reboot

OpenELEC recommended settings are as follows:

This assumes you are using the default (Confluence) skin:

  • System –> OpenELEC –> System: Automatic Updates:Auto
  • System –> OpenELEC –> Services: Enable Bluetooth:Selected (if using Bluetooth)
  • System –> Settings –> System: Settings Level:Expert
  • System –> Settings –> System–>Video Output: Vertical blank sync:Enabled during video playback
  • System –> Settings –> System–>Power Saving: Shutdown function:Suspend (sets IR power toggle to suspend)
  • System –> Settings –> Videos–>Acceleration: Use VC-1 VAAPI:Selected
  • System –> Settings –> Videos–>Acceleration: Use SW Filter for VAAPI:Selected

In conclusion I have to say that I am quite impressed with how well my Chromebox has handled the job so far – it is a great replacement media center box!

Sources:

http://kodi.wiki/view/Chromebox#Perform_a_Factory_Reset

http://forum.kodi.tv/showthread.php?tid=194362