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Installing 'KODI fully loaded' onto a Pi Zero

KODI on the Pi-Zero

What's KODI ?

KODI is the 'new' name for the XBMC multi-media player software that was originally developed for the XBox (and other Linux type systems) and is now also running on Android systems

KODI is just a video/music player = it is incapable of 'decrypting' anything, so must be 'fed' from a DRM free source. This means Kodi itself is useless for viewing encrypted i.e. 'paid for' or 'premium' content
In order to view 'paid for' material, Kodi requires a 'front end' plug-in, which can 'connect to' your (paid for) subscription service (such as Netflix etc) and decrypt the material first.

What does 'Fully Loaded' mean ?

This term has come to mean adding one or more KODI 'plug ins' that allow you to 'search' for 'DRM free' multi-media content - especially for feature films and music - both locally (on your own PC storage etc) and on-line

In other words, you 'load' a 'search engine' for DRM free films and music

What makes this controversial is that it will also search Torrents for DRM free material, and is totally incapable of distinguishing between 'pirated' (ripped) material and that made available for free (such as 'trailers' and adverts for the same Movie)

Is using KODI to view ripped films 'illegal' ?

No, of course not. There is just no way for the user to know, for sure, if what they are viewing is a 'pirate' or not (although if you are viewing one of the 'latest block-busters', not yet released on DVD, you may well have a pretty good idea). So whilst it's not illegal, that doesn't make it 'right'.

The film (and music) 'industry' would say otherwise, however (currently) even knowing you are viewing material that has been 'ripped' (without authoriastion) by SOMEONE ELSE is NOT an 'offence' of any sort
In fact, the 'ripping' of Copyright material, to remove the DRM 'without permission', is not a "crime" (for which you can be arrested) either. It's Breach of Copyright, which comes under Contract Law. This means 'Breach of Copyright' is, in fact, a civil offense, with the 'burden of proof' on the Copyright holder. Any claim for 'losses' would have to be made against the person who removed the DRM - or against any others who acted together with that person to profit from the DRM removal. This, of course, is why FAST can only go after those who can be shown to be making money out of DRM removal.
So, just to be clear = if you install 'decryption' (ripping) software and use it to decrypt Copyright material (without the permission of the Copyright holder), you are indeed committing an offence - but if you install the KODI player and search software (which is NOT capable of decryption) then no 'breach of copyright' can even be possible.
It's also worth pointing out that, in the UK, there is a legal distinction between 'live broadcasts' and movies etc. In the UK, you are actually required, by law, to purchase a 'TV Licence' to view (or record) 'live' broadcasts, irrespective of the service provider (or, since 1st September 2016, if you use iPlayer for anything).
However you don't need a licence to view movies etc. or 'on-demand' ('non-live') BBC programs from other service providers (4OD, Amazon Prime, YouTube etc.) UNLESS you are viewing a show that is being 'broadcast live' (i.e. at a 'specific time' - and that includes repeats of BBC programs shown at the same time as other 'pay per view' customers eg. on Sky).
So you don't even need a TV Licence to use a KODI box (so long as you avoid iPlayer and all 'live TV' broadcasts)

The 'problem' for the Media Industry is that after decades of gouging their customers (we all know that it costs less than 10c to make a $10 CD/DVD) and the use of 'trick' music CD's (designed to be unplayable on a PC) and 'Regional Encoding' restrictions - together with the enforced viewing of 'Piracy' accusations (and adverts) at the start of every film - they have a 'customer base' that, quite frankly, hates their guts.

As a consequence, most users of 'fully loaded' KODI devices just couldn't care less about Copyright and DRM. If anything, they have come to regard the 'ripped' version as the far superior 'product' compared to the DRM infected, Region Restricted, enforced advert viewing, 'piracy accusing' "original".

For my further rants on the subject if DRM, by all means visit my DRM (and the media moguls) page

Using the Pi Zero as a KODI player

To save time (and avoid the need for complicated setup) I paid £9 for a 'KODI image' pre-loaded onto a 16Gb SDHC card from the Pi Hut

The chip came with a 4Gb FAT32 formatted partition containing just over 1.33Gb of files. In the /OS folder I found the 'normal' Raspbian (about 1Gb) plus 2 'LibreELEC' folders which are not present on a normal 'NOOBS' system - /LibreELEC_RPi and /LibreELEC_RPi2 - each about 110Mb. There were also a lot more 'bcm ?.dtb' files in the root.
The remaining 12Gb did not show up in Windows Explorer (and EaseUS Todo Backup failed to show my 'plug in' SDHC reader at all (in fact, EaseUS fails to spot any USB attached device) - which left me in the same boat as everyone else attempting to 'back up' a Pi system SDHC (not knowing what, if any, data exists that's 'invisible' to Windows).

Grabbing an 'image copy' using Win32DiskImager is all very well (although you will end up with a 'mainly empty' 16Gb image file), however (as with all back-ups made using Win32DiskImager) such as image can only ever be 'restored' to a same or larger size chip (and remember - all '16Gb' cards are NOT the same size = most differ by a good few Mb's and the 'cheaper' the card the 'smaller' it really is !)

Rather than end up with a 'mostly empty' 16Gb file that can't be 'restored', I decided to give MiniTool partition manager a try (it's installer, pw10-free.exe, is a only 44.8Mb which is a refreshing change fro the over-bloated rubbish of most 'commercial' offerings) to have another look - and MiniTool 'sees' the 12Gb as 'unallocated space'.

In case MiniTool was mistaken, I then used Disk Internals Linux-reader which, at only 21.2Mb is even slimmer than MiniTool.

Disk Internals Linux-reader confirmed that the space above the 4Gb partition was 'unallocated'.
So grabbing a copy of all the files in the first 4Gb is enough to reproduce the system

In fact, I dug out a 'brand new' 8Gb SDHC, formatted it with SD Formatter to FAT and copied across the files using Windows, whilst storing my (rather expensive) original in a safe place

KODI hardware requirements

Essentially, all you need is a Pi Zero, SDHC system card, means of powering the Pi, a means to connect to the Internet and a micro-to-HDMI cable to connect to your TV. A very useful 'optional extra' is a wireless keyboard (if not, then the Pi can be controlled via your TV's handset)

A simple Pi Zero W KODI system

Stating with the 'Pi Zero W', at £9.60 (+£2.50 postage) is the 'quick and easy' way to get 'up and running' fast

The Pi Zero W may be 'double the price' of the basic Pi Zero, however it has Blue-tooth (which would allow it to be 'connected' to an existing Blue-tooth keyboard) plus built-in WiFi (which means you don't need to add a USB hub if you also want to connect to a dedicated USB '2.4GHz' Keyboard)
Further, connecting to the Internet via WiFi makes it 'portable' (i.e. it's a lot easier to move from one TV to another).
Getting the Pi 'up and running' with WiFi can be a real pain, however a 16Gb SDHC card with KODI pre-installed only costs £9 (from the PiHut), bringing the total to £21.10
To this you need to add either a USB-microUSB power cable at £1 (if your TV has a free USB socket) or an actual 5v USB power supply (about £2.50, eBay), a mini-HDMI cable (about £1, eBay) and a suitable 'Really Useful Box' at about £0.80p.
Adding a couple of £ for bits (screws to mount the Pi etc.) should bring the total to no more than £27.50, which is about half the cost of an (eBay) 'Fully Loaded Amazon Fire Stick', although the 'unloaded' (V2) Fire Stick (which comes with Alexa voice control and a basic remote control) can be had (from Amazon) for £40 (but see below for issues)
Adding a 2.4GHz wireless keyboard to the Pi Zero W will cost you another £5.95 (eBay, but watch out = some sell 'refurbished' units, others don't include the mini-receiver) or at least double that from a Pi distributor. Since the keyboard will come with a standard USB receiver, you will have to add a micro-USB 'insert' (or a micro-USB to standard USB socket 'OTG' cable) for another £1.

Total for a fully functional boxed Pi Zero W KODI unit with keyboard control is thus £9.60 +£2.50 +£9 +£2.50 +£1 +80p +£2 +£5.95 +£1 = £34.35

Original Pi Zero KODI system

If you intend to connect to your Internet via an Ethernet cable, then 'PoE' (Power over Ethernet) is the way to go. This is slower to set up (you have to 'burn' NOOBS using your PC and then wait whilst the Pi installs the Kodi software over the Internet) but will cost a little less.

The original (non-W) Pi Zero costs £4.80 (+£2.50 P&P) to which you will need to add an Ethernet+3USB hub for about £3 (eBay) and a basic (Class 4) 8Gb SDHC card for £2 (again, eBay) = £11.30
For PoE, at your router you need a 12v power block (a 12v 2A can be had for £2.08 (eBay)) and a PoE 'injector' adapter (£1 eBay). To this you need to add the Ethernet cable (£1 for 5m at the local Poundland) and (at the Pi end**) a 12v-5v DC-DC converter (about £3.50, eBay). Total £7.58 + £11.30 = £18.88
**There is no need for a PoE 'split off' adapter at the Pi as you will be wiring the incoming PoE direct from the Ethernet/USB hub port to the DC-DC converter (which in turn is wired to the Pi Zero power 'header' holes).
You will a mini-standard HDMI cable (£1), but there is no need for a micro-USB power cable or OTG adapter = the keyboard receiver can plug straight into one of the hub USB sockets, plus you get 2 'spare' USB sockets for plug-in USB memory sticks. You will, however, still need a 'Really Useful Box' (and screws etc. to hold everything together) for about £2.50. So £3.50 + £18.88 = £22.38.
For the same price as the basic Pi Zero W solution, you can add-in a wireless keyboard (£6), and (at £28.88) this still comes in at less than £30, so again about half the price of eBay 'Fully Loaded' Fire Sticks = and what's more, the wired Ethernet is a LOT more reliable than WiFi (especially the Fire Stick WiFi = see below)

Needless to say, I built the 'cheaper' (in terms of 'build cost') Ethernet/PoE version first, and then decided to build the (cheaper, in terms of the 'build time') Pi Zero W 'portable' version

What about Amazon Fire sticks ?

First, the Fire Stick is unusable without an Amazon Prime account. This means you have to register a 'live' credit card (so that, when you choose to watch 'pay to view' material, your card can be automatically debited, which is perhaps not a 'good idea' if your kids have access to the TV :-) )

You will note, of course, that should the law change on viewing 'DRM free' (ripped) content, anyone using a KODI Fire Stick can be traced via their Amazon Prime account

Next, the Fire Stick hardware (and the default software installed), is 'flaky' at best. Amazon 'feed back' has about 10% of 3 stars or less with many complaints.

The Fire Stick WiFi hardware is very low power - you really need to place your WiFi Router in the same room as your TV. It also has WiFi 'issues' with some Routers, especially the BT Home Hub.
Some users report their 'stick' gets very (very) hot in use, especially if you connect it to it's own power block (rather than power it off a spare USB socket on your TV). There have even been claims of it melting the TV HDMI socket !
In some cases overheating effects playback (this may well be the reason for some of the 'random' WiFi drop-outs and other problems).

If your 'stick' refuses to 'connect' to your WiFi, don't bother wasting your time with the 'Help Desk' (they will refuse to listen to your claims that 'everything else works OK with my WiFi' and will just keep insisting it's the fault of your Router or Service provider), or if it overheats, just send it back.

About 10% of Fire Stick customers run into 'DRM' associated problems.
These include refusing to work with 5-yr-old TV's (due to HDMI 'DRM' issues = for which the 'fix' is to add a 'HDMI splitter' = which will remove the DRM (so no Amazon 'Help Desk' employee is going to tell you about this solution)
DRM is also responsible for the random dropping of your 'paid for' connection to Netflix / Spotify etc. although it seems this is only a problem with subscriptions to non-Amazon services (Amazon Prime is reported to work just fine)

If you fall into the 10%, there is even less point in calling the Help Desk (they will blame the other service provider or your TV). However in this case, installing KODI to play non-DRM material can 'solve' most DRM issues.

What's 'jailbreaking' ?

The term 'jailbreak' was coined to describe user modification of (cheap) games consoles so they could be used as 'normal' Linux computers.

This annoyed the Games Console manufacturers no-end (they were selling the Console at zero - or even negative - profit since they expected to make such massive margins of selling the games (cartridges, later 'custom' DVD's), so they built in all sorts of hardware/software preventive methods.
Arguably, this is when lobbying began to make it illegal to 'modify the system'

Soon the term had been extended to include using a mobile phone (such as an Apple iPhone) on different network to that 'authorised' by the maker (Apple).

However it has also been incorrectly used to describe the loading of KODI onto the Amazon Fire Stick, as if that is somehow 'unauthorised'. The term is beloved of the Media Industry because it includes the word 'jail' and thus suggests you are committing some sort of 'crime' :-)

Under some circumstances, installing software onto a 'computing device' (such as the Amazon Fire stick), can indeed be an offense under the Computer Miss-use Act, i.e. 'Interfering with system operation without authorisation' or 'Modification of a system with the intent to circumvent DRM' (Digital Rights Management).
Since no modification of the Fire Stick 'system' is required to load KODI (the means to load 'add ons' (such as KODI) was built into the Fire Stick by Amazon itself), and you plainly 'authorise' yourself to perform the install onto your own property, you are not performing 'unauthorised modification'.
Note that this may not be the case with all Media Player boxes = installing XBMC on the XBox may well have involved 'unauthorised modification' because Microsoft built the Xbox system to prevent any such installation.
As for the other 'offence', well KODI can not be used to 'circumvent DRM', as KODI has no 'decryption' capability at all !!
In fact the Kodi player is INCAPABLE of playing back any material with embedded DRM = the material must be totally DRM free BEFORE Kodi can play it (i.e. any DRM must have been removed by the person who ripped the material).
Finally, there could be a possible 'conspiracy' charge - that of 'conspiring with others to (profit from) the removal of DRM', however it's hard to see how this can be alleged after the DRM has already been removed (and conspiracy relates to crimes, not offences)

Of course none of the above will stop the Media Industry from continuing to 'suggest' that you will be tracked down by the FBI, fined 'up to' $250,000 and sentenced to 5 years in jail for the 'crime' of viewing 'pirate' (DRM free) movies :-)

If you have never been forced to sit through FBI 'warnings' at the start of a film, then you have plainly only been watching 'ripped' material as only the paying customers of DRM 'infected' DVDs are forced to watch such rubbish

The whole area of Copyright is, as they say 'a bucket of worms'. The problem facing the Industry is that their customers MUST be able legally use equipment capable of decrypting their products, whilst at the same time they are trying to prevent those without decryption boxes from viewing the exact same content !

How to install KODI on the Amazon Fire stick

I include this for those who can't be bothered to build their own Pi Zero system :-

From the Fire TV Home screen, select Settings
Enable both the ADB Debugging and the Apps from Unknown Sources options. If you have the new Fire Stick interface, this is found through Settings -> Device -> Developer Options. If you have the old interface, go to Settings -> System -> Developer options.
Go to System -> About -> Network, and take note of the Fire TV’s IP address
Install ES Explorer by searching for it and installing it from the Amazon App Store
Start ES Explorer and Tools -> Downloads -> Add bookmark` — then add a direct link to the Kodi file for android (At the time of writing this article the link is “http://mirrors.kodi.tv/releases/android/arm64-v8a/kodi-17.1-Krypton-arm64-v8a.apk”. However, check to make sure this is the latest at http://kodi.tv/download ).
Then open the bookmark and it will ask you if you want to open it and then if you want to install it. Click yes for both.

What about Kodi on other multi-media players ?

KODI decrypts nothing, so is not a 'DRM circumvention' tool. However, to install it, you might have to 'modify the (operating) system software'

If you have a 'closed box' unit that was sold to you for the single purpose of accessing some specific source, and only that source (BT's Home Hub comes into this category i.e it is intended ONLY to connect to BT Internet and not some other Internet Service Provider), then 'modifying' it (e.g. replacing the Operating System) to allow it to access some other source may well be an offence under the Computer Miss-use Act.
Assigning yourself 'root' access does not mean you are 'modifying the (operating) system software', unless you have to change some executable code that's preventing this.

NOTE. If you signed a Contract when you purchased the box, and then use that box for some other the purpose not 'permitted' by the Contract, then you are 'in breach of contract' and can be sued for damages

Again, the burden of proof is on those who sue, plus they have to show actual loss

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