Most TV boxes are now sold pre-loaded with Android, but there’s still a fair amount of people who only want to play videos in their box, or only run Kodi, so they may prefer a Linux experience. Some companies provide ready-to-use solution such as ARNU Box Mach 10 64-bit Pure Linux, but in some cases it’s also possible to side-load OpenELEC or LibreELEC, with the main advantage being that it is usually quite cheaper at the cost of being a bit more complicated.
Thanks to a comment by Sabai, I discovered LibreELEC 7.0.0 had been (unofficially) ported to Amlogic S905 TV boxes, and tested one devices such as NEXBOX A95X (S905), WeTek Hub, Beelink S905 Mini MXIII, MXQ Pro 4K, and others. If you own an ODROID-C2 board, you can load another LibreELEC 7.0.0 image.
If you are unsure whether your Android TV box is supported, you should first try the SD card method by copying aml_autoscript, kernel.img, SYSTEM and 2 md5 files to the root of the SD card, and enter recovery. This is all explained in details in the forum post linked above, and this will not affect your Android installation nor data.
If you’re happy with the results, and don’t plan to use Android anymore, you can flash LibreELEC to the NAND/eMMC flash. The procedure is the same as the SD card method, except the files are different, and you’ll have to copy aml_autoscript, factory_update_param.aml and an update zip file containing LibreELEC firmware to the SD card.
The developers have already fixed many bugs, but at the time of writing there are still a few known issues for the TV box version:
- Reboot and poweroff may take a long time or don’t work at all when using Broadcom WiFi
- No multichannel PCM audio
- Jerky playback of some 29.97fps videos and some Live TV channels
- CEC is still a bit buggy
There are also some unsupported features such as SSV6051 WiFi, front LED/segment displays, and built-in DVB tuners.
You can report other bugs on LibreELEC forums. If you’ve tried it on your own Amlogic S905 TV boxes, it might be nice to report success or failure in comments too.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.
As LibreELEC is pure Linux, this means people have Linux running on the NEXBOX A95X? Is this 32-bit or 64-bit?
“install original Android firmware to internal memory to make sure you have a proper device tree” … ah, that’s how one gets a device tree?
there is also openelec support for s805 mk808b+ since 02.2015 http://freaktab.com/forum/tv-player-support/amlogic-based-tv-players/23766-rom-unofficial-openelec-for-mk808b-and-mxq
LibreELEC is probably using framebuffer GPU drivers, but Linux requires X11, so there may be some extra work required if you want to run Debian or Ubuntu on A95X.
Yes, the device tree file is stored into the firmware. I wrote about this @ http://www.cnx-software.com/2014/05/12/how-to-extract-a-device-tree-file-from-android-firmware-files/
“unofficial” isn’t that exciting (in case when that developer gets bored and stops updating).
Is that work going to be merged into official tree and oficially supported?
Not Libreelec and not TV boxes or Amlogic but Openelec port / fork beening worked on for OrangePi
@Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft): I have to disagree with you on the issues at least with @wrxtasy’s build for the C2: The build has excellent multichannel audio support. wrxtasy did a lot of A/V tests for the Wetek.Hub too which uses patches from his C2 build: http://forum.kodi.tv/showthread.php?tid=280406&pid=2361951#pid2361951 I know you copy & pasted the issues list from kszaq’s LE forum thread but he’s doing a universal build for most of these Android TV boxes that has nothing to do with the C2 or Wetek Hub builds you linked. There are still some issues and not all patches are included yet. New… Read more »
I simply copied and paste the known issues in the TV box image thread. I’ll make that more clear in the post.
Does WeTek has an official LibreELEC port? I though it was only OpenELEC.
Now, a LibreElec version for S905x devices would be something. That would make the dream possible:
A cheap device for below 50$ that runs KODI and all kind of video formats smoothly, including 10-Bit HDR 4K output, and even outputs Dolby TrueHD and DTSHD via HDMI to my AVR. So far that is not possible with any android device.
That’s everything my 4 years old 70$ WDTV Streaming Media Player does, eccept for KODI.
@Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft)
OpenELEC has not commited any changes in their git for 2 months. Last I’ve heard was that the one and only left OpenELEC developer was taking a long vacation. I have no idea what WeTek’s Plan for OpenELEC is (I’m not a WeTek employee). I can only say that codesnake (wetek employee) has a build for LibreELEC and OpenELEC in his github for the Wetek.Hub.
WeTek has just told me that WeTek Core and Play are already officially support in LibreELEC, and WeTek Hub will be officially supported in the next release.
@dogh I think S905X is supported by the latest code release from amlogic (4.5.16). At least there is a encoder in amports for VP9 so I’m guessing it is supported. If we manage to get the code into shape it’s not that unlikely to work. But as far as I know no developer has such device so no one is working on it. If you find a Android Box manufacturer that contributes and releases kernel code which is not dumping prizes and doesn’t promote piracy let me know ;). But for less than 50$ that’s really low. You know that… Read more »
@sander you don’t actually need to get your dtb file with kszaq’s LE image. It’s part of the aml_autoscript magic (coming from wetek i believe) which changes your uboot config and loads your dtb from an existing nand rom on your device. That’s also why it’s recommended to have an original android rom on your device, which ensures that your dtb is the correct one and your IR remote.conf is too. I don’t know what happens when you burn the image to your nand, it probably copies your “android” dtb before erasing the nand. As a reminder “dtb” means “device… Read more »
And don’t forget about balbes150 images, and tutorial from RISCy Dude here :
He also provides an ubuntu linux desktop image if you want to test that.
It does not use the aml_autoscript so the process is a little more complicated and you will need to get your device specific update, if it’s not listed you can provide balbes150 with you dtb file so he can add it.
Although his ubuntu image supports multiple dtb so i’m not sure what’s going on and i yet have to test it.
@mdel S905 have separate partition for DTB. My LE builds don’t overwrite it, aml_autoscript “magic” reads the blob and inserts necessary modifications for both SD and NAND installation.
Autoscript “magic” is my work and it and I’ve written it so that users don’t have to care about flashing proper Device Tree.
I must agree, LibreELEC runs great on the C2, it is probably the best board to run it on, 2GB ram and gigiabit.
@kszaq okay i didn’t know it was something new with s905. I’ve extracted mine from the “boot” partition, is it the one you’re talking about or some other partition i didn’t recognize ? i finally managed to extract my uboot env text and i see how aml_autoscript is called from recovery_sd and recovery_usb, i better understand now how things are processed. the “recovery” name threw me off, you can boot in recovery mode but not write anything to the nand and boot an alternate system from your recovery media. Although how does it remember to stay in recovery mode after… Read more »
very nice magic then, sorry i mentioned it was from wetek, i must have misread the git revision title.
i find all that uboot / dtb thing quite fascinating and very nicely designed (from a noob point of view of course).
thx for the comments.
I don’t need the box to decode DTS or any other sound format. That would be the job for my AVR because Denon already payed the license fee. The Media Player just has to pass it through.
You just need to hope that the box doesn’t get stuck in customs. The cheap boxes typically don’t pay for *any* licenses, including HDMI, and often forge certification marks. Just one thing like that makes the box illegal in most countries.
The kszaq generic S905 builds work very well, I have the 004 SD Card build running on a beelink Mini MX v1 (2Gb RAM, 16Gb flash), everything I use works straight out of the box, WiFi etc. Fantastic litlle boxes. Considering these boxes (beelink Mini MX III and other variants with s905 2Gb RAM, 16Gb flash) can be purchased for less that 40 GBP delivered, they represent the best value for money for end users out there. The firmware support from chineese manufacturers is buggy yes, but now that we have very good builds of OpenElec by Alex and LibreElec… Read more »
Yeah, I’m real sure you don’t know jack about what customs does. Even ignoring that, there is still build quality. Some boxes are so cheap because they skimp on important parts, like protection circuits to prevent voltage spikes from killing your TV’s HDMI port (this is a real issue on many cheap boxes). Or even just having components that don’t have weak solder joints. If you still think it’s worth it to save $40, then fine. Most people don’t want to play Russian roulette with their hardware. But hey, what to I know. I’m just a guy who was on… Read more »
Just read what kszaq wrote before you promise everyone unlimited support without the chinese manufactures from LE or kszaq:
Many people ask me which S905 device they should buy. At the moment there is only one device I can recommend: WeTek Hub. You can read more about it on Kodi forum. My recommendation is because of full DRM support in Android, 2-years real warranty, ongoing support and official OE/LE builds plus you support Kodi development with WeTek being main Amlogic code contributor to Kodi and one of Kodi sponsors.
More scaremongering, “Even ignoring that, there is still build quality. Some boxes are so cheap because they skimp on important parts, like protection circuits to prevent voltage spikes from killing your TV’s HDMI port (this is a real issue on many cheap boxes). ” So there must be hundreds of posts online in the forums of people using these boxes having dead HDMI ports on their TV’s right…. hardly any reports i’ve ever seen with this issue, and there are thousands of these cheap boxes out there. But yes, in principle I agree, there will be serveral really poor quality… Read more »
Your anecdotal evidence of how many issues, and what those issues might be, is about as bullshit as it gets. The average user buying a cheap box like this isn’t going on the online forums that you read. I’ve pressed buttons on boxes to only have them snap off the circuit board on the first press. I’ve seen boxes with solder joints that shorted out ports. I’m sorry no one took the time to tell you *personally* about this, but these are real issues. You buy cheap shit then you get cheap shit. If you don’t care then go ahead… Read more »
Shock horror…a wetek employee rubbishing devices because they happen to be cheaper…No vested interest there at all hey… Im sure your familiar with the process of online reviews and feedback ? Plenty of Cheap Amlogic boxes are sold via major retailers Amazon, ebay etc etc, before we even get to the chineese suppliers gearbest, banggood, aliexpress etc, with multitudes of customer feedbck and reviews. The average user actually does post feedback on purchases. Why arent there hundreds of reports of failed HDMI ports on TV’s related to cheap media boxes, using the feedback and review systems on the inline retailer… Read more »
Hi mate I have a Beelink Mini MX III what version of OE or LE would you recommend..?
Sounds like a Beelink employee to me.
I too have never come across exploding HDMI or serious hardware faults and yes users do use eBay guarantee etc.
How many exploding HDMI ports has Cnx-software had?
I’ve never come across such issues, but I’m only using the device for a few days.
I’ve heard in the past that some of the cheapest box are skipping ESD protection which could potentially lead to issue for HDMI or USB. My hardware knowledge is not good enough to evaluate this when I do my teardown, but usually when you see very few capacitors on a board it’s not always a good sign.
Boxes like WeTek Play costs a bit more also because of licenses, and software support.
If the hardware specs were equivalent along with the better support and warranty of the “branded” boxes, it wouldnt be so much of an issue.
But when your paying double the money some times more, for a “branded” device same SOC , with 50 % less RAM and 50% smaller capacity NAND for flash memory it doesnt add up.
The cheaper devices will easily fulfill a lot of normal users needs especially now that there appear to be good quality community builds of openelec and libre elec available.
The newer china boxes also have the S905 Rev C SOC to support 10-bit 2160/50p HEVC properlyn without artefacts and pixelation like the earler S905 SOC.
The MiniMX III is confrmed to have the S905 rev C SOC, by several people who own one on forums.
2Gb RAM / 16Gb NAND should be the bare minimim on any TV box you buy today. Any less than this is pointless unless your spending less than 20GBP / 40USD .
Does anyone have a guide for this. I have a nebox a95x. I can’t seem to find the right files. I download the image from libreelec and it does not have the update zip or the .aml file. Any help will be great.
Ugoos AM1 & AM2 TV boxes also got their LibreELEC port -> http://ugoos.net/blog/ugoos-LibreELEC-release-for-amlogic
Yesterday I tried a S905x Box:
Leelbox MXQ PRO S905x Quad Core 1GB 8GB Flash
For now – everything seems to work.
After toothpick method and first boot:
If SD card is plugged – it boots LibreELEC from SD card – if not plugged it boots original Android firmware. No need to flash internal NAND!
So it’s no problem to switch between both systems.
LibreELEC boots to Kodi within about 10 seconds. Really great!
Thanks for everything 🙂
Could you please send me the link exact picture of your MXQ PROR S905x box?
Also, does following box works?