Kodi on Chromebox - What OS/settings/etc do you use?

mvbighead

Diamond Member
Apr 20, 2009
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#1
Well, after living with some apparent bugs for a while, I up and decided it was high time to fix my Chromeboxes. The primary bug I was dealing with involved anything of or relating to deinterlacing. In short, changing the settings often resulted in the picture freezing and skipping and eventually Kodi would crash and relaunch. Beyond that, I for some reason set deinterlacing to always on, and this was KILLING the quality of playback, especially for DVD rips (it was harder to notice in HD content). One scene was on Training Day DVD and the coffee cup in the diner about 8-9 minutes into the movie was not clear at ALL.

So, after some piddling around this weekend, I settled on the following:

Lubuntu 15.04
Kernel 4.4
Intel drivers from: https://01.org/linuxgraphics/downloads

Initially I was running Kodibuntu, which I had patched to 14.04 LTS release. I had come to realize that ALL of my deinterlacing woes were driver related. I had perused the web for drivers, and came upon the link above. It ONLY supports 15.x plus versions it appeared for Ubuntu. I honestly didn't try to find an alternative and moved straight to 15.10, so I may need to consider that if someone has a better suggestion (I honestly would like to run an LTS release but would also prefer to not have interlacing issues).

When I tried 15.10 I could not get the wireless to turn on. I had updated several different things trying to get the wireless to work, but no matter what suggestions I followed, the wnic would not turn on. I moved to 15.04, and the wnic was immediately present and working.

Kernel 4.4 upgrade (Install steps - http://linuxdaddy.com/blog/install-kernel-4-4-on-ubuntu/) was installed because the standard kernel in 15.04 (3.18 I believe) would not allow the use of HDMI audio. I had seen a few articles eluding to this, so I just went with the latest and greatest kernel, and HDMI audio immediately popped up.

Those Intel drivers more or less started this all. I did at one point run Kodi without them (can't remember on which version), but I had noticed the CPU was running steadily above 80%. After installing those drivers, I was more consistently seeing 20-40% CPU load during playback.

Only thing now is Lubuntu is not configured anywhere as nicely as Kodibuntu. When Kodi crashes, it crashes to the desktop. Using the remote CAN work if you're on the desktop and can highlight and click the Kodi shortcut. I did configure Kodi to auto start, so on that front a reboot is painless. I just need to optimize what happens if it crashes and I need to bring it back up. I'd prefer it just restart Kodi, but haven't dug into that yet.

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Beyond my how to above, I am curious if anyone else out there has a better way. Thus far, I can now toggle deinterlacing settings without a crash, though in some of my testing with different version it may be a little iffy. I did get a crash at one point, but fairly sure it was on 15.10.

Just curious what others are doing. I have to say, I've definitely spent some time in Linux, but I really feel like they have a LONG way to go. I don't feel like I would see anywhere near this amount of grief if it was simply running Windows. I realize a good chunk of this is probably Intel's fault, and perhaps I wouldn't have all of this crap with an Nvidia card... I dunno. I just want to get this to a point where everything is simply happy.

Perhaps I should just go back to OpenElec? My only trouble there is that it didn't seem I was getting the new features there, as it was always sticking to the older versions of Kodi... but I didn't try very hard to get Kodi updated either.
 

mvbighead

Diamond Member
Apr 20, 2009
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#2
Anyone care to share what OS they're running on their Chromebox and whether they're seeing any issues with it?
 

mvbighead

Diamond Member
Apr 20, 2009
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#5
Appreciate the links.

I will say, I did come across those. Only trouble I have is they cover Intel GPUs but not specifically the issue I am having with the Wifi card. When time allows, I may mess with one of my boxes as I have a Nexus Player as a backup for Kodi at that TV. If I can get 15.10 and all that guy mentions PLUS wifi, I'd be in business.

At the time this weekend, I simply wanted to get my TVs back up so I could watch football.
 
Nov 20, 2005
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#6
Just to add to this, I use 14.04 (via Kodibuntu) on my Chromeboxes with these backported drivers:

https://launchpad.net/~xorg-edgers/+archive/ubuntu/ppa

You also need the Kodi PPA then to update to the newest version:

https://launchpad.net/~team-xbmc/+archive/ubuntu/ppa

Then I don't have to do a lot of hacking because Kodibuntu does most of it for you (so no pulseaudio) as long as I only update the files in the PPA and not a full dist-upgrade.

I would say give Openelec a shot on a Chromebox for sure. Their most recent stable release is pretty recent (it has 15.2 which is what I use everywhere) and they do all kinds of additional tweaks, some of which are pretty nice. Like advancedsettings buffer tweaks (that I have stolen) and some Chromebox specific tweaks that I wish I could remember right now because one of them was so important I copied it too. Plus you get a nice GUI for the wireless.

I would start with Openelec and combine it with those Kodi settings from the above post and go from there. Openelec is a quick install.
 

mvbighead

Diamond Member
Apr 20, 2009
3,793
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76
#7
Just to add to this, I use 14.04 (via Kodibuntu) on my Chromeboxes with these backported drivers:

https://launchpad.net/~xorg-edgers/+archive/ubuntu/ppa

You also need the Kodi PPA then to update to the newest version:

https://launchpad.net/~team-xbmc/+archive/ubuntu/ppa

Then I don't have to do a lot of hacking because Kodibuntu does most of it for you (so no pulseaudio) as long as I only update the files in the PPA and not a full dist-upgrade.

I would say give Openelec a shot on a Chromebox for sure. Their most recent stable release is pretty recent (it has 15.2 which is what I use everywhere) and they do all kinds of additional tweaks, some of which are pretty nice. Like advancedsettings buffer tweaks (that I have stolen) and some Chromebox specific tweaks that I wish I could remember right now because one of them was so important I copied it too. Plus you get a nice GUI for the wireless.

I would start with Openelec and combine it with those Kodi settings from the above post and go from there. Openelec is a quick install.
I did use OpenElec at first, and it was definitely stable. Thing is, if I recall, it won't support Netflix plugins and things of that nature (if I remember correctly). I haven't yet gotten to that myself, but I was hoping to get there once I get these things solid.

I may still go back to OpenElec... but if I can get Netflix going, it would be nice.
 

mvbighead

Diamond Member
Apr 20, 2009
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#9
Good point. The only way to get Netflix on Openelec is Playon.

I remembered something today. Give this a shot:

https://www.distroshare.com/distros/get/62/

Then update Kodi to 15.2 via repo.
I know I stumbled across this at one point, but as it wasn't 15.10/15.04 that I was going with at the time, I dismissed it. May be giving it another go... last night was seeing some terrible video wonkiness that was cured by a reboot. In short, any major changes in the picture resulted in major distortion and blockiness. It was almost like it was related to signal loss, but it continued for so long that I knew it had to be a driver issue.
 

LoveMachine

Senior member
May 8, 2012
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#10
Something just sounds weird here. Before you started playing with the newer 15.xx builds, what were you running before? Anything 14.04.3 (the KodiBuntu build that's based on Lubuntu, and HugeGreenBug's distro is just a slightly tweaked KodiBuntu) shouldn't have any major video related bugs. And if you used one of the 15.xx setups as described in the links above and set the deinterlacing settings as Fritsch recommends, there shouldn't be any video corruption, especially on DVD level videos.

I'm by no means a Linux expert, so this isn't meant to sound condescending, but are you sure there isn't a hardware problem like a faulty HDMI connector or EDID/handshake problem somewhere in the Chromebox/AVR/TV chain?

A simple experiment: Download a recent stable Openelec 6.0 build onto a USB, boot and run live off the USB, set the video settings as described in the Kodi Chromebox wiki, and play the same files. If you are still getting corruption, it's likely NOT a software issue.

EDIT: Whoops, just realized you said you were running KodiBuntu before. Disregard that question. But, it still stands that there shouldn't be an significant issues with deinterlacing if you were you using the settings suggested above, even with 14.04. At most, a kernel bump to 3.19.6 with the last LTS should be the only major change beyond apt-get update/upgrade. The only interlacing problem I've ever had is with some 1080i PBS shows that stutter slightly for a few specific ads at the start of a show. But never any corruption issues like you are describing.
 
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mvbighead

Diamond Member
Apr 20, 2009
3,793
0
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#11
I don't think there were any significant issues running Openelec, but that was some time ago. My only issue was it was the Netflix (which I have not begun to try yet anyway).

With Kodibuntu 14.04.3, toggling interlacing settings would result in the video pausing, skipping, and usually Kodi crashing to the menu.

With Lubuntu 15.10, no wifi.

With Lubuntu 15.04 (current), I just recently noticed oddities in the image quality. Interlacing was completely off, so it wasn't that. A reboot cured the issue.

All in all, I am quite certain the hardware is fine as the majority of the problems encountered are that of the system crashing/etc. I could simply go back to Openelec, and I very well might, but I was hoping to get a bit more flexible of a box.

In addition, I have two Chromeboxes, and by and large what happens on one happens on the other. 15.04 was looking promising, but it appears that after being powered on for a while something happens during playback. Last night's instance was while watching an HD recording from MythTV (Chicago Fire). After reboot, the problem vanished.

At this point, I feel like most of my issues are that between Intel and Ubuntu. I have to find the perfect driver to get this to work right apparently, and what I have tried so far was close, but needs further change I guess.
 

LoveMachine

Senior member
May 8, 2012
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#12
Just in case, from the Demi-God himself, Lord Fritsch:

KODI settings
System->Settings->System->Video Settings:
Vertical Sync: Let Driver decide

System ->Video->Acceleration:
Enable HQ Scalers for scaling above: 20%
Allow hardware acceleration (VDPAU): off
Allow hardware acceleration (VAAPI): On
Use Mpeg-2 VAAPI: Yes
Use Mpeg-4 VAAPI: if you like
UseVC-1 VAAPI: on
Prefer VAAPI Render Method: on <- This version has the banding fixed, so enable that setting to save CPU cycles with 100% quality.
Adjust Refreshrate to match video: On

System -> Video -> Playback
Sync Playback to Display: On if you don't use passthrough and Off if passthrough enabled (* This makes no sense when you want to use passthrough, why? Read: http://forum.kodi.tv/showthread.php?tid=...d2107461). In current versions (Jarvis) passthrough is disabled by us if users wants to Sync Playback to Display to care for people that refuse to read.
Adjust display refresh rate to match video: On Start / Stop

While watching a SD(!) video, that is accelerated by VAAPI, e.g. mpeg-2 or h264, click the film role and choose: Deinterlace: Auto (Never set this to ON it will harm for everything that is not interlaced) Deinterlacing-Method: VAAPI-MCDI (PREFERRED SETTING FOR CHROMEBOX) or VAAPI-MADI (Sandybridge) and VAAPI-BOB (BYT), Scaling Method: Lanczos3 Optimized and choose save for all files. Remember to do this only in combination with the above "scaling above" for 20%. This Lanczos3 Optimized filter is too heavy for BYTs, here you might - depending on the file - choose Bilinear.
 
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mvbighead

Diamond Member
Apr 20, 2009
3,793
0
76
#13
Just in case, from the Demi-God himself, Lord Fritsch:

KODI settings
System->Settings->System->Video Settings:
Vertical Sync: Let Driver decide

System ->Video->Acceleration:
Enable HQ Scalers for scaling above: 20%
Allow hardware acceleration (VDPAU): off
Allow hardware acceleration (VAAPI): On
Use Mpeg-2 VAAPI: Yes
Use Mpeg-4 VAAPI: if you like
UseVC-1 VAAPI: on
Prefer VAAPI Render Method: on <- This version has the banding fixed, so enable that setting to save CPU cycles with 100% quality.
Adjust Refreshrate to match video: On

System -> Video -> Playback
Sync Playback to Display: On if you don't use passthrough and Off if passthrough enabled (* This makes no sense when you want to use passthrough, why? Read: http://forum.kodi.tv/showthread.php?tid=...d2107461). In current versions (Jarvis) passthrough is disabled by us if users wants to Sync Playback to Display to care for people that refuse to read.
Adjust display refresh rate to match video: On Start / Stop

While watching a SD(!) video, that is accelerated by VAAPI, e.g. mpeg-2 or h264, click the film role and choose: Deinterlace: Auto (Never set this to ON it will harm for everything that is not interlaced) Deinterlacing-Method: VAAPI-MCDI (PREFERRED SETTING FOR CHROMEBOX) or VAAPI-MADI (Sandybridge) and VAAPI-BOB (BYT), Scaling Method: Lanczos3 Optimized and choose save for all files. Remember to do this only in combination with the above "scaling above" for 20%. This Lanczos3 Optimized filter is too heavy for BYTs, here you might - depending on the file - choose Bilinear.
Thanks. I did at one time see that and apply many of those settings, not sure I did it this last go round.
 
Nov 20, 2005
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#14
I would love a sample of the problematic content to run through my own Chromeboxes.
 

mvbighead

Diamond Member
Apr 20, 2009
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#15
I would love a sample of the problematic content to run through my own Chromeboxes.
I am 99.9% sure that the content is fine. I can view it on other devices without a hitch, and a reboot of either Chromebox seems to clear up any issues I am having currently.

The problem that occurred the other day was definitely a glitch of some sort in the Chromebox, as the pixelation was occurring around the edges of images which is not something I have seen before with signal issues or anything else really. I'd have to have used a camera to try to catch it, but as soon as I rebooted the problem was gone whereas prior it was happening every 5-10 seconds, mainly whenever the image changed significantly on the screen.
 

mvbighead

Diamond Member
Apr 20, 2009
3,793
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#16
EDIT: Whoops, just realized you said you were running KodiBuntu before. Disregard that question. But, it still stands that there shouldn't be an significant issues with deinterlacing if you were you using the settings suggested above, even with 14.04. At most, a kernel bump to 3.19.6 with the last LTS should be the only major change beyond apt-get update/upgrade. The only interlacing problem I've ever had is with some 1080i PBS shows that stutter slightly for a few specific ads at the start of a show. But never any corruption issues like you are describing.
This is what I am starting to wonder. A kernel upgrade fixed a different issue for me on a later version, and I am not perfectly linux fluent so I didn't try that on the LTS release prior to just jumping into 15.10. I thik I am going to go back to the LTS release and perform a kernel upgrade and see what I get. I didn't quite realize that the kernel had fixes on the driver end quite so much, and rather than inject a bunch of specialized drivers, I should probably simply rely on the kernel.

That, or follow other suggestions in this thread.

And funny you mention PBS, as I have see that issue some there as well. Gotta have PBS as they have great cooking, DIY shows and kids shows!
 

mvbighead

Diamond Member
Apr 20, 2009
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76
#17
Good point. The only way to get Netflix on Openelec is Playon.

I remembered something today. Give this a shot:

https://www.distroshare.com/distros/get/62/

Then update Kodi to 15.2 via repo.
Just downloaded. That'll be my starting point for this next go around. Just have to get back home, which this weekend is proving to be difficult in making happen.
 
Nov 20, 2005
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#18
Just downloaded. That'll be my starting point for this next go around. Just have to get back home, which this weekend is proving to be difficult in making happen.
It should have the correct drivers and kernel by default. Curious how it works for you.
 

mvbighead

Diamond Member
Apr 20, 2009
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#19
It should have the correct drivers and kernel by default. Curious how it works for you.
Got it installed on both boxes. Was working great... but then started noticing pretty bad chopiness on both a recording of Mentalist and the Closer. Turned off deinterlacing, problem was gone.

Strongly considering trying OpenElec on one box and seeing what I get there. Not sure, but I thought I saw something somewhere about updating the driver that controlled hardware based deinterlacing, but not seeing it on the HugeGreenBug's distro notes, so it might have been something else.
 

mvbighead

Diamond Member
Apr 20, 2009
3,793
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#20
Found this article: http://forum.kodi.tv/showthread.php?tid=165707

If you are running a Baytrail NUC or a 847 Celeron NUC or comparable - choose Scaling: Bilinear and Deinterlace-Method: BOB

Tried that and it worked fine for one (the Closer at 720p). The other was choppy with those settings and it was standard def.

All I know is, I would like to set one option for deinterlacing and not have to toggle for every different video. I am under the impression that VAAPI should work, but I seem to get hit or miss results with different videos.
 
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
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#21
Found this article: http://forum.kodi.tv/showthread.php?tid=165707

If you are running a Baytrail NUC or a 847 Celeron NUC or comparable - choose Scaling: Bilinear and Deinterlace-Method: BOB

Tried that and it worked fine for one (the Closer at 720p). The other was choppy with those settings and it was standard def.

All I know is, I would like to set one option for deinterlacing and not have to toggle for every different video. I am under the impression that VAAPI should work, but I seem to get hit or miss results with different videos.
Have you tried the VAAPI adaptive deintetlacing? I know Openelec can do it.. Its the best possible option.
 

mvbighead

Diamond Member
Apr 20, 2009
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#22
I've pretty much tried all of them with mixed results. One thing is fine, another isn't.

For kicks, I pulled out the Raspberry Pi I had bought a while back and loaded the same SD episode of Mentalist... no problems. I toggled through the interlacing settings, and aside from waiting a few seconds for it to catch up between toggles, it simply worked.

I have no idea why all of sudden I've started to have so many issues with this setting, but I guess I need to try openelec and see what happens there.
 

mvbighead

Diamond Member
Apr 20, 2009
3,793
0
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#23
Well, now I am all out of ideas. Just installed OpenElec on one of the Chromeboxes, and I get the same thing.

How is it that the file can properly deinterlace on my Fire/FireStick/NexusPlayer/Raspberry/etc, but on something with Intel video it craps out?

Is there a new BIOS or something that I might be missing? Ugh.
 
Nov 20, 2005
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#24
Well, now I am all out of ideas. Just installed OpenElec on one of the Chromeboxes, and I get the same thing.

How is it that the file can properly deinterlace on my Fire/FireStick/NexusPlayer/Raspberry/etc, but on something with Intel video it craps out?

Is there a new BIOS or something that I might be missing? Ugh.
It doesn't make sense. The Fire devices do it all in software.

Have you tried that? Turning off VAAPI in settings and forcing the software decoder?

If a Fire device can do it a Chromebox can.
 

mvbighead

Diamond Member
Apr 20, 2009
3,793
0
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#25
It doesn't make sense. The Fire devices do it all in software.

Have you tried that? Turning off VAAPI in settings and forcing the software decoder?

If a Fire device can do it a Chromebox can.
Yep, you're right. Turning off VAAPI kills the problem. I am sure it is ideal that I be able to use VAAPI for quality/etc, but for whatever reason, it hates those files.

In the process of trying to load a box with a GeForce 210 I have laying around to see if it goes any better with that using VAAPI. I would assume all of my other boxes are using software deinterlacing, which is why they are not having a problem... right? I figure that is what you mean by that.
 

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