Today there are many cheap Android boxes, one of the most common processor is the Amlogic S905 or its more modern variants S905X and S905W. Those Quad-core Cortex-A53 CPUs can run 4K video on Android smoothly. But your Amlogic device is capable of some pretty cool things, one of those is running a full Linux operating system.
In my case I have an X96 Mini, at a price of $40 USD compares excellently against the $35 Raspberry Pi 3. Among others this small device has a fast Amlogic S905W quad-core 2GHz and Mali-450MP GPU, 2GB RAM and 16GB Flash, micro-sd reader, Ethernet & built-in WiFi, 2 USB ports and HDMI/AV output. BTW the X96 mini comes with everything you need as a power source, HDMI cable and IR remote control.
As the purpose I had for this device was to use it for TV streaming I choose to install LibreELEC, but you could run a standard distribution Armbian versions from balbes150 if you like. LibreELEC (short for Libre Embedded Linux Entertainment Center) is a non-profit fork of OpenELEC Linux software appliance TV distro.
LibreELEC is a complete media center software suite for embedded systems and computers, as it comes with a pre-configured version of Kodi and optional third-party PVR backend software. Kodi is one of the most popular media player and for good reason. The open-source program makes it easy to organize local files and watch streaming media on a wide variety of devices, all with the same highly customizable interface and user-friendly features.
Why Use LibreELEC instead of Android?
Free software is a matter of liberty — Think of ‘free’ as in ‘free speech,’ not as in ‘free beer.’ Free software is a matter of the users’ freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change, and improve the software.
Extremely easy to use — As you can see from our installation and setup guide, it’s incredibly easy to get started using LibreELEC. Unlike some Linux ARM-based distributions, it’s pretty much impossible to install LibreELEC incorrectly. Because minimal configuration and setup are required to get started, just about anyone can use LibreELEC.
Kodi comes pre-installed — LibreELEC comes with a specialized, updated version of Kodi pre-installed.
Incredibly fast and lightweight — The LibreELEC OS is as barebones as possible. Essentially every Linux function that’s not necessary for running Kodi has been trimmed away.
The X96 mini will boot from microsd by default so we can install our LibreELEC in dual boot mode, without deleting or modifying the android partition. Although if we wanted we could replace the content of the NAND Flash completely.
The installation process is very simple. All credit goes to KSZAQ’s for this epic port of LibreELEC for S905,S905X,S912 Amlogic TV box’s .
First you will need to download a few files:
KSZAQ’s S905 LibreELEC Port: LibreELEC-S905.arm-8.2–22.214.171.124.img
S905X DTB File for 2GB RAM version: download them here https://sx05.eu/s905/8.2/device_trees/S905X/gxl_p212_2g.dtb
You can copy/flash/clone the above IMG file to micro-sd card (like it is done with mkusb and dd) or using Win32DiskImager.
Open LibreELEC file onto Win32disk and click write to burn the IMG file onto your SD card
Open up your SD card copy the DTB file (gxl_p212_2g.dtb) and change the name of them to “dtb.img”
Insert your SD Card into your device and reboot. If LibreELEC fails to boot locate the reset button, found within a AV port , hold the button, apply power then release button.
While the Kodi installation included with LibreELEC is not exactly the same as the desktop version, it works very similarly.
Here’s a screenshot of the main LibreELEC menu on my TV.
You can install third-party add-ons and official Kodi add-ons just like you would on the desktop Kodi application, so your choices are nearly limitless!