CoreELEC, install and configure on Android TV-Box

CoreELEC, easily and quickly install and configure this multimedia system on any Android TV-Box or other compatible development board.

CoreELEC is a very attractive multimedia system for all KODI fans who want to get the most out of their Android TV-Box, even the cheapest ones with 1GB of RAM. In this tutorial we will see how to run it for the first time from a USB stick, an SD card or how to install it permanently on our Android Box.

If you are interested in emulators you can turn your TV-Box into a retro machine with EmuELEC, a similar system.

coreelec logo

What is CoreELEC?

The CoreELEC distribution is “Just enough OS for KODI“. With this philosophy we have many advantages over using KODI on Android but also some drawbacks associated with this system.

  • Pros :
    – The system only consumes 100 Mb of RAM
    – KODI fits perfectly to our device’s hardware
    – We have automatic refresh change to avoid the Judder effect
  • Cons :
    – We can not run Android apps

Differences between CoreELEC and LibreELEC

These two specific KODI distributions run on Linux for ARM and offer different features.

  • CoreELEC: Aimed at AMLogic devices, it is compatible with newer hardware.
  • LibreELEC: Aimed at AMLogic, Rockchip, Allwinner, PC and Mac devices, it is compatible with older hardware.

Installing CoreELEC on our TV-Box or board

In order to install CoreELEC in our Android TV-Box or development board we need two files and adjust the configuration correctly to start the system.

Requirements to use CoreELEC

  • TV-Box or board with Amlogic SoC compatible.
    – Amlogic-ne (new Kernel 5.4.125) = S905W2/S905Y4/A311D2/S905X4
    – Amlogic-ng (old Kernel 4.9.269) = S905W/S905Y2/S905X2/S922X/S905X3/S905X4
    Full compatibility list
  • IMG file written to USB or SD card with Rufus or similar for our hardware.
  • DTB file copied to the root of the USB or SD to boot the specific device.

Download CoreELEC

To install the CoreELEC system we have to download an image of the system that we will save on a USB drive or SD card. With this unit we can boot the system, it will not affect our Android system, it is totally safe.

  • Download CoreELEC from its official website.
  • The different options are as follows:
    Stable (latest version, RECOMMENDED)
    Nightly (version under development)
    Legacy (version for older hardware)
  • Inside the version > Stable:
    New Installation (on new USB or SD drive)
    Update (to update existing version, see manual)
  • Click on > New Installation
    – Select Device with your device or generic SOC
    – Select RAM and Ethernet compatible
    – Click on Download.
  • A CoreELEC-xxx.img.gz file will be downloaded and will be used next.

coreelec install

Creation of boot unit for CoreELEC

Once we have the installation program, the CoreELEC system file and the device tree of our device we can create the SD memory or USB drive to boot this system, we run the installation program. If it does not work by USB drive it is recommended to use an SD card, in any case you have to have the fastest unit possible if we are going to use it with this method.

  1. Download RUFUS and run.
  2. Select a fast USB drive or good microSD card
  3. In Boot choice click on SELECT
  4. Select the CoreELEC-xxx.img.gz system file that you have downloaded.
  5. Click START and wait for the process to finish.

coreelec rufus eng

Copy DTB file to CoreELEC root

In order for our USB drive or SD card to boot properly when turning on the TV-Box, we need to copy the appropriate DTB file according to the list above to the root of this drive.

  • Go with the file explorer to our USB drive or SD card.
  • Enter DTB folder.
  • Copy compatible DTB file to the root folder of the USB drive or SD card.
    Name = model SoC Amlogic (S905X2…) + 2g/4g (RAM) + 1gbit (Ethernet)
  • Rename DTB file to “dtb.img.
  • Continue reading How to boot CoreELEC on our TV-Box.

coreelec dtb file

Booting CoreELEC on a Android TV-Box

To boot CoreELEC we have several methods available, basically the two options are by means of the update button of the TV-Box or using Android to launch the Update mode by software.

  • Mode 1: Start the TV-Box with the update button pressed.
    – May be a small hole in the case
    – It can be inside the audio jack.emuelec review n02
  • Mode 2: Use the CoreELEC app for Android that restarts the TV-Box in update mode
  • Mode 3: If we are root from an Android terminal, we do “su” and then “reboot update”

First boot with CoreELEC

After inserting the USB flash drive or SD card and performing the process described above, the logo of our Box will appear, then the CoreELEC startup code should appear in text. If it does not boot, repeat the process with another USB or SD drive.

  • WARNING: It is important to have a fast USB drive or microSD card, the first boot is SLOW. Even if it seems to be stuck at a certain step, be patient and wait.
  • In the setup wizard we recommend to activate the SSH and SAMBA services, we will use them.
  • Not all Wifi and Bluetooth chips are compatible, we may have to use Ethernet.

coreelec boot

Update CoreELEC

There are several ways to upgrade CoreELEC, we are going to explain the ones that seem the easiest to us. This system also performs automatic upgrades of minor versions.

  • By default CoreELEC has auto-update for minor versions, such as upgrading from 10.1 to 10.2.
  • Major versions such as upgrading from 10 to 11 are done manually.
  • It is recommended backup your configuration before upgrading.
  • More information about the upgrade process in the CoreELEC wiki.

Upgrade process using SAMBA local network

  1. Download the CoreELEC image system again.
  2. In the CoreELEC system we have to have activated the SAMBA system as we have said before: System> CoreELEC> Services
  3. Before updating we recommend making a backup at: System> CoreELEC> System> Backup
  4. We enter our file explorer and access the local network, connect with the “Update” folder within CoreELEC
    – Taking advantage of it, we can copy the backup file inside the “Backup” folder
  5. Copy the two files in this folder
  6. Restart the TV-Box and start the system update

Upgrade with USB drive

  1. Download the CoreELEC image or update file and copy it to a USB drive.
  2. Before upgrading we recommend backup the system in: System > CoreELEC > System > Backup
  3. Connect the USB drive to your HTPC and navigate to the /storage/.update/ folder using the Kodi File Manager (you will need to enable the display of hidden files and folders in the Kodi settings).
  4. Copy the update file from the USB drive to /storage/.update.
  5. Reboot to start the update process.

Installing CoreELEC in the internal TV-Box storage

With this process we will completely eliminate Android (WARNING) from our TV-Box and we will have CoreELEC as the only system, this allows us to improve the overall speed of KODI since everything loads much faster in the internal memory. In case we do not like the result we can reinstall Android without problems.

Install KODI Add-ons for CoreELEC

The process of installing add-ons is exactly the same as in any other system with KODI, through the public repositories or by downloading the add-on in particular and installing it manually.

  • ATTENTION: Whenever you download an add-on you must download the Linux version, not the Android version.
    Normally the right version for our SoC is the ARM v7, few TV-Box have 64bit SoC today and equally v7 is compatible
  • Remember that to install add-on manually you have to change: Settings> System> Add-ons = Activate “Unknown sources”

libreElec ins n13

Remote control for CoreELEC

The distributions of CoreELEC that we install are generic for all TV-Box and there are thousands of different remote controls, it is possible that our serial remote control does not work with this system so we have some alternatives.

Tanix TX3 Max review n02

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