Testing and Comparing XBMC, GeexBox and OpenELEC

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Testing and Comparing XBMC, GeexBox and OpenELEC

Postby ClayMontgomery » Sun Dec 04, 2016 2:05 am

I have been testing 3 different distributions of XBMC/Kodi images for WandBoards on my Quad to decide which I will use. I maintain a popular HTPC Guide (based on Kodi) and I plan to add a new section with instructions on how to use multiple WandBoards as clients to stream content from a back-end server (MediaPortal) over a home network. This setup supports full DVR functionality for recording OTA TV as well as all of the other features of Kodi and MediaPortal. My testing includes streaming content from my MediaPortal server, using the EPG, Music visualizations and even IR remote control. All of this works on these 3 distributions.

http://montgomery1.com/htpc/

If you want to use Kodi on a WandBoard, this is a good place to start. Don't worry about the fact that the official websites for Kodi, OpenELEC and GeexBox offer little support for WandBoards. All of these actually run great on WandBoards! And they are easy to install using these pre-compiled images.

The first and oldest image I tested is XBMC 13 on Yocto 1.5 from a developer who led the early XBMC porting efforts to the i.MX6. He maintains an informative blog:
http://stephan-rafin.net/blog/

But his published image is about two years old and it's not clear if it is still being worked on. It has some problems. The CPU usage is very high and the board runs hot. It still uses the old Linux kernel version 3.0.35.

The second distribution I tested is called Geexbox and is available from right here on the WandBoard site:
http://wandboard.org/images/downloads/xbmc-geexbox-wandboard-20150518.zip

GeexBox includes XBMC version 13.2 and Linux kernel version 3.10.53. This image works better than the first. The CPU usage is lower and the board runs cooler.

Finally, I tested OpenELEC 6.0. This includes XBMC version 15.2 and linux kernel version 3.14.36. This is substantially improved over the earlier images and it runs the best so far, with the lowest CPU usage.

http://www.xoddark.com/Public/openelec/build/6.0/OpenELEC-imx6-wandboard.arm-6.0-6.0.0.img.gz

OpenELEC and GeexBox are different projects, but they look very similar. If you know of substantial differences, please comment.

I will update this thread as I do more extensive testing. If anyone knows of other important issues with any of these images or if you know of any other distributions of Kodi that are available for the WandBoards, please share them here.

Regards, Clay
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Re: Testing and Comparing XBMC, GeexBox and OpenELEC

Postby blue_z » Fri Dec 16, 2016 9:29 pm

There's a minimalist build of Kodi 14.2 in the 2nd post of this thread.
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Re: Testing and Comparing XBMC, GeexBox and OpenELEC

Postby vpeter » Sat Dec 17, 2016 4:04 pm

I'm sure LibreELEC with Kodi Krypton would run fine also on Wandboard if someone would add missing pieces to kernel 3.14.79 or 4.4.19 (I do not have this device). Like device tree and wifi stuff. Currently it runs nice on Cuboxi from Solidrun, Udoo and TBS Matrix.

Update: Mhm, maybe I could add this few missing pieces based on xoddark's work... But wondering how many people would be using such image.

https://github.com/xoddark/OpenELEC.tv/ ... _wandboard
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Re: Testing and Comparing XBMC, GeexBox and OpenELEC

Postby Booleano » Mon Dec 19, 2016 8:52 pm

Hi,

fyi it is also possible to have kodi 16.1 on openelec ,
just download beta 7 update from their website and avoid updating kernel, actually I avoided it as i was not sure and had no time to test it.

to me openelec is pretty stable and works well,
i also managed to install domoticz on it and works pretty well.

Regards

B.
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Re: Testing and Comparing XBMC, GeexBox and OpenELEC

Postby Richard » Mon Dec 26, 2016 2:07 am

vpeter wrote:I'm sure LibreELEC with Kodi Krypton would run fine also on Wandboard if someone would add missing pieces to kernel 3.14.79 or 4.4.19 (I do not have this device). Like device tree and wifi stuff. Currently it runs nice on Cuboxi from Solidrun, Udoo and TBS Matrix.

Update: Mhm, maybe I could add this few missing pieces based on xoddark's work... But wondering how many people would be using such image.

https://github.com/xoddark/OpenELEC.tv/ ... _wandboard


It's a cool idea !
I use wandboard DL to watch NBA game via Youtube on OpenELEC-imx6.arm-6.95.3 frequently.
What I do is based on this image made by xoddark:
http://www.xoddark.com/Public/openelec/build/6.0/
Replace the SYSTEM file inside from:
http://openelec.tv/get-openelec/categor ... mx6-builds

I tried to build Libreelec for wandboard.
But there are errors while compiling wandboard device tree files.

It's a great idea to add support for wandboard in linux-4.4-xbian.
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Re: Testing and Comparing XBMC, GeexBox and OpenELEC

Postby ClayMontgomery » Fri Jan 20, 2017 12:48 am

Thanks everyone for the great input. It would be fantastic to get LibreElec running on Wandboard! If someone will volunteer to fix the wandboard device tree files to add support for wandboard in linux-4.4-xbian, I will assist by testing the LibreElec images. The testing I'm doing is more thorough than what most people do. I'm utilizing the DVR features with a MediaPortal server for recorded and Live TV.

I'm writing a new article that will feature one of these images and it will receive a lot of interest once my how-to is published.

I have been testing xoddark's OpenELEC as a Kodi client for MediaPortal for several weeks now and here are my findings so far.
Overall, this seems to be the best Kodi distribution available for the Wandboard - so far. It has an excellent set of features, including Samba, SSH, NTP, TVHeadEnd and support for a lot of IR remote controls.
However, there are some issues that prevent it from running for more than about an hour, as is. Once I corrected these, it now runs much longer without rebooting. But, I want it to run for weeks to consider it stable.

The issues I found and corrected so far are:

1. Redundant MAC addresses. It seems all wandboards ship with the same MAC address (00:1F:7B:B4:0E:E9)? This really screws up Kodi when multiple clients are networked. The solution is to set a different address in u-boot:
setenv ethaddr 00:1F:7B:B4:0E:01

2. IPU errors when playing 1080p video. dmesg shows these errors which cause the HDMI to blink out and eventually crash Linux:
[ 145.602931] imx-ipuv3 2400000.ipu: IPU Warning - IPU_INT_STAT_10 = 0x00080000

The solution is to add the 'dmfc=3' option to the bootargs in uEnv.txt to increase the display FIFO size.

3. IR remote controls fail after an hour or two. Removing these unused kernel modules seems to help:
rmmod ir_jvc_decoder ir_sanyo_decoder ir_sony_decoder ir_nec_decoder ir_lirc_codec lirc_dev

4. Blank lines corruption in the EPG. About half of the EPG text lines are corrupted when scrolling down a page.

5. Lack of channel logos makes the EPG really cryptic. This is resolved by installing my logo collection for North America, but the installation procedure is tedious.

Finally, a note about the thermal aspects. Running Kodi continuously taxes the i.MX6 a lot more than most applications and I think it's essential to have the big heat sink on the Wandboard Quad.
I would be suspicious of using i.MX6 boards that have no heat sink at all, to run Kodi.

I will continue testing and report back again. If anyone has additional information on these issues, or other issues, please share!

Regards, Clay
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Re: Testing and Comparing XBMC, GeexBox and OpenELEC

Postby ClayMontgomery » Fri Jan 27, 2017 7:42 pm

I have decided to abandon the OpenELEC image from xoddark. The IPU issue (#2) is actually more serious than I thought. The solution I described only reduces the frequency at which it occurs, but OpenELEC still crashes within an hour or two of playing video. I think the IPU warnings are really just a symptom of a more serious underlying problem and there does not seem to be any information available about it anywhere. I think this issue only occurs when playing transport streams, as is required with most OTA back-end servers like MediaPortal and NextPVR. It works fine when playing video from websites. I think this is because those are usually not transport streams. I also think this is a problem common to all i.MX6 boards. The problem could be in the 3.14.36 kernel, or maybe i.MX6-specific accelerations of ffmpeg. I don't know for sure. If anyone can shed some light on this please share.

So, I am using the GeexBox image now. It is very stable and has most of the features of OpenELEC.

Regards, Clay
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Re: Testing and Comparing XBMC, GeexBox and OpenELEC

Postby Richard » Fri Feb 10, 2017 2:27 am

Great sharing !

I also run into similar trouble while playing 1080P video in xoddark's OpenELEC.
I will try GeexBox imgae to see if this issue also happens.
I plan to fix wandboard device tree in linux-4.4-xbian, but don't have clear schedule yet.
I think it's the right direction to keep wandboard in the updated i.mx6 devices list in LibreELEC.
BTW, i think the MAC address is burned into the fuses inside the i.mx6 CPU.
The MAC address should be unique for each wandboard.
I just guess if it's possible that the driver doesn't retrieve MAC address in fuses correctly so it sets a fake MAC address for it.

BR,

Richard
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Re: Testing and Comparing XBMC, GeexBox and OpenELEC

Postby vpeter » Fri Feb 10, 2017 8:06 am

Or just prepare everything for linux-3.14-sr kernel - I'm still building images with this kernel. There is already everything setup (from xoddark) I think the only remaining part is to use newer u-boot-2017.01. I already build everything few weeks back but because I can't test it I didn't post it anywhere. Also no one contacted me for a test.
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Re: Testing and Comparing XBMC, GeexBox and OpenELEC

Postby ClayMontgomery » Sat Feb 11, 2017 8:52 pm

I have been running GeexBox for several weeks now and I never see issues #2, #3 or #4.

The MAC address is programmed into the i.MX6's efuses. We used to be able to program those with the imxotp command, but it was removed from u-boot in 2013. I don't know why or what is the preferred way to do this now.

Regards, Clay
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