3 Great Media Center Solutions for Linux

Despite the fact that set top boxes and devices like Chromecast are becoming popular, media center software is still around, especially on Linux. If you have a lot of local media, and you’re looking for a solution, you should consider an appliance-based solution (like a Kodi or Stremio box) rather than an always-on media server solution for your network.

Why choose a local media center tool rather than something like Plex? Simple: ease of use. It’s much easier to install Kodi, Stremio or OSMC and plug in a couple of hard drives and go. There is significantly less know-how required when you go this route in contrast to building a dedicated server and configuring it.

What’s the best media solution for Linux?

media-center-kodi

This is the most popular media center solution on Linux. Previously, it was known as Xbox Media Center but  was then re-branded as Kodi. It supports a multitude of operating systems, not just Linux. Kodi supports local playback of audio and video in a fullscreen application.

Kodi can organize your media library and does it quite well. It organizes your media in three parts: Movies, TV Shows and Music. Mainstream video formats are supported. It can play back your music library in several different codecs: AAC, MP3, FLAC, OGG, WAV and WMA.

Along with local media playback, there is live television support (personal video recorders and popular TV backends like MythTV), support for add-on applications (like Netflix), universal plug-in play, pandora support and even podcasts. If you can think of it, Kodi probably has an application for it.

What’s compelling about this media software, and why you’d maybe want to switch to it, is the fact that you can use it anywhere. It’s great as a local media client or even a remote one. For just about every situation, Kodi just works. The bottom line: this is the standard that competing media center tools have been striving to get to. Kodi does everything, and it does it well.

Here’s a list of features.

  • Add-on support
  • Live TV support (including PVR, MythTV, etc.)
  • Customization (via skins)
  • Universal plug-and-play
  • Remote control support
  • Web interface
  • Pandora support
  • Podcast support
  • Hulu, Netflix and YouTube support
  • Support for all major video and audio codecs
  • Mobile app
  • Linux distribution with Kodi pre-configured as the desktop environment

Kodi is the most well-supported media center currently available on Linux. It has tons of features and is always being improved and updated. If you’re looking to build a decent media box, this is the one to go to first.

media-center-stremio

Stremio is a full-featured media center tool available for Linux and other platforms as well. It comes packed with tons of features and can manage media quite well. Stremio supports managing media files via local drives as well as importing from Facebook.

When you use this media center tool, you’re not just getting a fancy video playback application. You’re getting an entire environment complete with features and settings you’d expect from something similar to that of a box you can buy in a store. Here’s a list of the features you can expect out of Stremio:

  • YouTube support
  • Chromecast-like casting via DLNA
  • Live TV via Filmon TV
  • Netflix support
  • Hulu support
  • Mobile app support
  • Amazon streaming support
  • Premium content available via Cinema
  • Peer-to-peer streaming support
  • Add-on functionality
  • Ability to add music to your library via local drives, Facebook, etc.
  • Automatic subtitles

media-center-osmc

As far as media center software goes, OSMC claims to be one of the lightest ones. OSMC is based upon the Kodi media center, so the technology is largely the same, with some additions. The main reason Open Source Media Center is a viable option is that it works to make media centers more accessible and user-friendly.

Here’s a list of compelling features:

  • Constantly updated
  • Lightweight
  • App support via an App store
  • Remote control support
  • Sorts media based on Movies, TV Shows and Music categories
  • Photo support
  • Support for all major video and audio codecs
  • Based on Kodi, so some features included with Kodi may carry over

If you’ve tried Kodi and determined that you don’t like the way it works or are just are looking to find something lighter and easier, Open Source Media Center is a great choice.

Media centers are getting to the point where they’re just as powerful as Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV that you’d buy in your local technology shop. If what you want is to build your own local media solution, one that would rival commercial solutions, each of the options on this list will be more than sufficient.

What media center solution have you built your media appliance on? Tell us below!

Image Credits: Softpedia, Google Play, Home Theater Life

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