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

Windows 7 – TV Archive Does Not Have Permissions to Access This Folder

I recently installed Windows 7 in a virtual machine on VMware vSphere so that I could start recording TV shows again with my HDHomerun.

Everything was working fine and all of a sudden I noticed that my recorded TV shows were not being moved to my Windows Home Server (WHS).

When I checked the activity of the TV achive in my Media Center I found the following status: TV Archive Does Not Have Permissions to Access This Folder.

I checked access to the Recorded TV folder on WHS from my Media Center using Windows Explorer and it worked fine. I double checked the user settings and folder permissions on WHS and they were fine too.

I had accessed WHS from my Media Center using another account and figured that might be the cause of the issue. So I set about removing the cached credentials for the non Media Center account as follows:

Press the Windows key and R to open the run dialogue box and then enter: control userpasswords2

Click the Advanced tab and then click the Manage Passwords button.

Locate the IP address for your WHS and then expand the selection and click Remove from vault.

This resolved the issue for me.

Windows 7 Media Center – How to Take Screenshots

If you try to take a screenshot in Windows 7 Media center by pressing the Print Screen key you will just end up with a black image.

Fortunately the fix is just a quick registry tweak away.

First close the Media Center application and then click the Start Orb, type Regedit and then press Enter and navigate to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\
Service\Video

Then just add a DWORD called EnablePrintScreen and change its value to 1.

Close Regedit and then restart the Media Center application.

I tested this on Windows 7 x64 Media Center.

Source: Tech Hail

Windows 7 Media Center – Netflix: Authorization Failure

I tried watch a movie tonight on Netflix on my Windows 7 Media Center box only to be greeted with the following error:

Authorization Failure
Our apologies - We could not authenticate your request.

Looking at a couple of threads on The Green Button here and here I am obviously not the only person experiencing the problem.

I tried several of the fixes posted in these threads but the only fix that worked for me was this:

  • Exit Media Center
  • Open Internet Explorer and click Tools and then Internet Options.
  • Click the Delete button – check all of the check-boxes and then click the Delete button. Click OK.
  • Browse to http://www.netflix.com and sign in.
  • Close Internet Explorer

At this point I started Media Center again and when I clicked on the Netflix icon I was prompted for my Netflix credentials. The only problem was that the Netflix application would not allow me to type anything in to the user-name or password fields.

So I closed Media Center and then opened Internet Explorer again and opened the Netflix site again.

I closed Internet Explorer and opened Media Center again – this time I got a pop-up from the Netflix application regarding authentication – so I clicked OK and then it worked.

Apparently Netflix are talking to Microsoft about the issue so lets hope that they sort it out soon.

Windows Home Server – Problem With WHSBackup.exe

Tonight I decided to take a quick look at my Windows Home Server (WHS) because my recorded TV shows (stored on WHS) were stuttering when played through my Media Center PC. This is something that I had already attempted to tackle here, with demigrator.exe.

What I found was that the WHSBackup.exe process was using 50% of my CPU for long periods of time. A client backup was actually running when I looked and then the WHSBackup service failed when it got to 99%.

I rebooted WHS and then took a look in the WHS Console to discover that no machines had been successfully backed up for 6 days. So I manually set a backup running and it did complete, so I am hoping that the reboot has fixed whatever the issue was, at least for now.

Otherwise the WHS Console reports that all my drives are healthy and my system is up-to-date with Windows Update – so fingers crossed for now!

Windows Home Server: Demigrator.exe Interrupts Media Streaming

Up until quite recently I had Windows Home Server (WHS) installed as a virtual machine on VMware vSphere. My Media Center PC was connected to WHS and I would stream High Definition (HD) content between the two without any issues.

The strange thing is, now that WHS is installed on physical hardware, my HD streams are regularly interrupted by Demigrator.exe on WHS – which is very annoying. This could be due to the fact that my media is duplicated on WHS now that it is not virtualized?

I attempted to fix this last night by installing ThreadMaster on WHS and saw some improvements. In about an hour and a half I only noticed two interruptions to a HD steam with ThreadMaster running on WHS – and only one of those interruptions was bad. Previously I might get 3 or 4 interruptions per hour.

ThreadMaster does not have a GUI and must be manually installed and configured. I will include my initial settings as follows, but I will most likely play around with them to see if I can improve things further:

First download ThreadMaster to your WHS and extract it.

Click Start, then Run and type cmd and then click OK. Browse to the location of the extracted files using the cd command, for example:

cd c:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Desktop\tminst112

Then type install.bat into the command prompt and then press Enter. This will install ThreadMaster.

ThreadMaster is configured through the registry, so click Start and then Run again and type regedit and then click OK. Browse to HKEY_Local_Machine\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\ThreadMaster\Parameters. As you can see there are two Parameters that I have set.

  • CPUThresholdPct is the CPU load threshold per application. This is a global setting and affects all applications, unless specified in the “Application” or “Exceptions” sections. Default: 15%, Valid range 3 – 100.
  • MainSampleTime is the time period used for calculating the average CPU utilization for applications. Default: 30 seconds. Values above 10 seconds accepted.

In the Applications section you can see that I have added Demigrator.exe and given it the value of 5. Here 5 represents the CPUThresholdPct for Demigrator.exe.

I will play with these settings over time, and hopefully be able to view media without interruption, but for now these settings have helped fairly well.

Update:

Since creating this post I have been regularly been adding HD content to my WHS courtesy of a newly acquired HD Homerun (recording .wtv streams from Comcast). All of this content lands in the Recorded TV folder which is set for duplication – sadly I have still been noticing demigrator.exe interrupting my WHS media streams.

My revised solution for now is simply to schedule when demigrator.exe can run, as per the following scripts by GaPony on the We Got Served forums:

DemigratorOff.bat:

@echo off
sc stop "DriveExtenderMigrator"
sc config  "DriveExtenderMigrator" start=  disabled
exit

DemigratorOn.bat:

@echo off
sc config  "DriveExtenderMigrator" start= demand
sc start "DriveExtenderMigrator"
exit

I scheduled these batch files using Task Scheduler on WHS (Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Task Scheduler).