LibreELEC 10 delivers Kodi 19.1 and Raspberry Pi 4 enhancements
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Aug 27, 2021 — by Eric Brown
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The LibreELEC 10.0 Linux distro has been released with Kodi (Matrix) v19.1 media center software. It switches to Python 3 and brings HDR 10 and audio passthrough to the RPi 4.
The LibreELEC project announced the final v10 release of its open source Linux distribution designed for playing Kodi media center software. LibreELEC uses Kodi 19.1, the bug-fixed version released in May of the major Kodi “Matrix” 19.0 release.
LibreELEC, which we last covered in 2016 with LibreELEC 7.0, is a fork of the now defunct OpenELEC, the original just-enough-Linux distro for running Kodi. The lightweight distribution is widely considered the best way to run Kodi on embedded devices because it does not compete with Kodi for resources. Unlike Kodi-fied alternatives such as the Raspbian based OSMC and Xbian, it’s pretty much exclusively designed to run Kodi.
The cross-platform Kodi Matrix 19 is a major upgrade that replaces Python 2.7 with Python 3. Homegrown add-ons have been ported to Python 3, but some third-party addons have not been updated. Kodi 19/19.1 “replaces the old XML metadata scrapers with new default Python for movies and TV shows,” says the Kodi project. “There are also new Python scrapers for music.”
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This latest Kodi offers playback improvements including enhanced metadata handling for library improvements, new tags, new displays, release dates, album durations, multi-disc sets, and more. There’s a new, Matrix-inspired visualization plus improvements to display when fetching files from a web server, among other additions.
The Kodi UI wrappers, called Skins, have been improved, especially for music. There are also improvements to subtitles, security, and personal video recorder (PVR) features.
Kodi 19/19.1 offers a single Linux binary for multiple windowing systems (X11, Wayland, and GBM) instead of three, so you don’t need to choose a different binary based on the target environment. Other OS-specific improvements include AV1 software decoding, HLG HDR, and static HDR10 playback on Windows 10, as well as static HDR10 and dynamic Dolby Vision HDR on Android. For Apple users, iOS 32-bit has been replaced with tvOS.
There is less to discuss with LibreELEC 10.0 since it is only there to support Kodi. The release is available in “stable and good working versions” for Allwinner, Rockchip, and Generic (AMD, Intel, Nvidia) devices, says the project. There are also unstable download options for Amlogic and NXP based systems.
Support for the Raspberry Pi Zero and the original ARM11 versions of the Raspberry Pi have been discontinued and Raspberry Pi 2 and 3 support “are currently not yet feature complete and stable.” The Raspberry Pi 4 version of LibreELEC 10.0 is “in good shape,” but “is not polished yet,” says the project.
New RPi 4 specific features include HDR10 and HLG output and Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD audio passthrough. Improved features include HDMI output up to 4Kp30 and H264 and H265 hardware decoding.
There is no deinterlacing on the RPi 4 hardware decoders, and although 4K50/60 output is supported, there are some bugs when coming out of TV standby mode. In addition, the Hyperion add-on no longer works.
Finally, no matter what software you are using, the RPi 4 tends to drop frames at 4K. You can reduce the problem via overlocking.
LibreELEC 10.0 is available for download. Beta users of v10 will receive automatic downloads, but others will need to install manually. More information may be found in the announcement and download page.
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