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

xbmcbuntu 11 (Eden) – YouTube Plugin 3.1 Playback Issue

I recently installed the TubeToTV extenstion for the Chromium browser in Ubuntu 12.04 so that I could send YouTube videos from my laptop to my xmbc Media Center. I was surprised when I got a Playback error message.

I soon found that the issue was not with the TubeToTv extension but with the YouTube (3.1) Plugin on xbmc.

Fortunately a kind fellow called anteo had already stepped in to fix the extension – so I can now play YouTube videos on xbmc and use the TubeToTV extenstion too!

The fix is as follows – open a terminal and shh into your xbmc:

ssh user@ipaddress

Use the username and IP adddress of your xmbc.

Retrieve two plugins using wget:

wget https://dl.dropbox.com/u/33024933/plugin.video.youtube.zip
wget https://dl.dropbox.com/u/33024933/script.module.simple.
downloader.zip

Update: The above links are no longer working and so I have uploaded the files to dropbox myself:

Next uninstall the YouTube 3.1 plugin from xbmc and then install the two plugins that you just downloaded.

Many thanks to anteo for the fix!

xbmc – 100% CPU Usage in VMware vSphere 4.x

I installed xbmc (eden) in VMware vSphere this evening to try to learn how to configure my HDHomeRun, so that I can record TV shows on my HTPC.

I found however that xbmc.bin was using almost 100% CPU after installation.

The solution was to edit home/.xbmc/userdata/advancedsettings.xml and add the following:

<gui>
<algorithmdirtyregions>1</algorithmdirtyregions>
<nofliptimeout>0</nofliptimeout>
</gui>

After a reboot my CPU usage was normal – hurrah!

Sources:

http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=126468
http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Userdata

xbmc – Workaround for Lock Settings While Browsing Network Shares

Up until a few days ago I was happily adding sources for media to my xbmc installation.

All of a sudden I was prompted for my password (which I entered correctly) but I was not able to browse shares on my Windows Home Server. Rather I was stuck on a Lock Settings screen that asked for my credentials.

I found that I could manually specify the Windows share to get things working. For example to add a source for the Photos folder on my WHS box I entered the following:

smb://whs/photos

I could equally have entered the IP address of my WHS box instead of the hostname and that would have worked too.

So it is not a huge deal, because it is easy to work around, but it does mean that I have to get up off the sofa to type in the path (and that’s probably not a bad thing)!