OpenELEC is an embedded operating system built around XBMC, the open source entertainment media hub. Home Theatre PCs are known to be hard to install and configure, and it can take a massive amount of time to keep them running. OpenELEC, on the other hand, is designed to be as lightweight as possible in terms of size and complexity, meaning your HTPC becomes no harder to configure than your satellite box or DVD player. With its small footprint, OpenELEC is also ideal for today's small form factor systems, so you won't need a big desktop computer in your living room!
As it is designed to be lightweight, OpenELEC uses very little system resources for processor or memory. With support for Intel's HD Graphics, NVIDIA's GeForce & ION platform, AMD's Radeon & Fusion platform as well as Broadcom's Crystal HD chip, OpenELEC can support high definition content on machines with low-powered processors by offloading video content to the supported graphics cards and decoders. OpenELEC supports a wide range of graphics cards, making it possible to convert your new and not-so-new computers into full featured home theater systems. This means you can now build (or buy) small, silent, even fanless machines to be effectively used as your media center.
OpenELEC has reduced its number of builds for OpenELEC 4.x ("Gotham"), starting with a 'catch-all' build for all Intel/AMD based hardware. Next to the regular installer downloads, we also provide diskimages for Generic and Raspberry systems. Available builds for the following platforms are:
Legacy builds are still available for OpenELEC 3.x ("Frodo"):
If you don't have any suitable hardware or you'd just like to buy a pre-built system, look no further. We have a list of online shops, who sell prebuilt systems and suitable hardware to run OpenELEC - just head over to the Buy A System page.
Good question! You could install Windows or your favourite Linux distribution on your computer and then XBMC on top - and it would work - but it wouldn't be as fast or as easy as OpenELEC. OpenELEC is built from the ground up specifically for one task, to run XBMC. Other operating systems are designed to be multi-purpose, so they include all kinds of software to run services and programs that won't be used. OpenELEC, however, only includes software required to run XBMC. Because of that it is tiny (roughly 150MB), it installs literally in minutes, and, it can boot extremely quickly in 5-20 seconds, depending on the hardware type used.
Unlike other XBMC solutions, OpenELEC is not based on Ubuntu. In fact, it's not based on any Linux distribution; OpenELEC has been built from scratch specifically to act as a media center. That means it doesn't include drivers for things that just won't be used like 3G cards and graphics tablets, for example.
In addition, OpenELEC is designed to be managed as an appliance: it can automatically update itself and can be managed entirely from within the graphical interface. Even though it runs on Linux, you will never need to see a management console, command terminal or have Linux knowledge to use it.
Sounds too good to be true? It's not!