Raspberry Pi 3 with Kodi, Netflix, Spotify Connect, Hyperion and RetroArch

I’m currently using an old Mac Mini from 2009 as my media center. I’ve updated it recently with more RAM and an SSD but it has its problems with Bluetooth, regardless my used bluetooth card or USB adapter. Before this setup I’ve used a Raspberry Pi 3 with LibreElec which I’ve now reactivated successfully.

I’m using the Mac Mini for hearing Spotify, watching Netflix and Sky Go Connect, SNES Emulator with Xbox 360 and PS3 Gamepads and of course Kodi as media center in combination with Hyperion on a Raspberry Pi 1 as Ambilight clone. I’ve had to replace all this functionality with the Pi 3, but luckily it is possible!

I’ve started with LibreElec (8.0.2 stable) and installed it on the Pi 3. I had to copy the necessary Kodi files for setting the used sources and mysql database, so that I get my existing library and its viewing status.

Hyperion was easy to install via HyperionRemote. I only had to enable guest control for external resources in Kodi, so that Hyperion could properly shut down the backlight while the main menu is being displayed.

The SNES emulator can be used on LibreElec using the Kodi add-on Gamestarter. Just follow the GitHub instructions.

My Xbox 360 Gamepads where installed without problems. I just had to connect them via the USB adapter and pair them with the adapter. They are usable in Kodi as well as in Gamestarter without further configuration. I think that PS3 gamepads will probably behave similar.

The Bluetooth Mac Keyboard and Trackpad can also be paired with the Pi 3 via LibreElecs system settings. This allows a better search since you don’t need to use the onscreen Keyboard.

For Spotify I’ve just wanted the Pi 3 to appear as a Spotify connect speaker. The mobile apps and my other machines in the network are a better solution to select the music I want to hear, so I just wanted the Pi 3 to appear as a target. The Librespot provides this cool feature and also enables you to add easily Spotify connect to other rooms in your house with just a Raspberry Pi. Just search in the add-on for Librespot and install it. After a restart its active. Spotify connect is available immediately and stops automatically once a movie is started. It will be available again once the movie is really stopped (being paused is insufficient). Connecting to Librespot is really fast and works even better than with my Heos speakers!

Netflix is a completely different beast. Netflix is relying on a library called WideVine which handles the DRM. Google created a version for Chrome on ARM devices and some LibreElec and Kodi developers found a great way to integrate all this into the next version of LibreElec 9 and Kodi 18. So you need to update to  LibreElec 9 alpha. Copy the downloaded update file for Raspberry Pi 2 and 3 and put it into the update folder of your Pi 3. Now just restart and you’ll get the new version. However, be sure to make a backup of your library, just in case anything doesn’t work as expected!

You’ll now need the WideVine libs, you can install them with this command on your Pi:

You’ll now only need the plugin.video.netflix add-on. Once it is started you’ll be asked for your Netflix credentials. If you enter everything correctly you’ll have all the options of Netflix displayed as nice library entries in Kodi. Really comfortable if you ask me! It even works directly with the Hyperion Ambilight which is a cool feature. I was able to use 720p without problems, 1080p is too much for the Pi 3 to decode only in software.

Now with LibreElec 9 you’ll have problems starting RetroArch via Gamestarter. Luckily there’s a version for LibreElec 9 which you can just install and update your existing add-on.

 

Congratulations! You’ve got now a Rasperry Pi 3 with Kodi 19, Hyperion Ambilight, RetroArch Emulator, Xbox 360 Gamepad support and Spotify Connect. Only thing not working is Sky Go Connect Ticket, due to a missing browser and probably DRM related issues. But since I’m just using it for 3 months to see Game Of Thrones I can workaround this with connecting my MacBook to the TV.

Slow SMB transfers in Mac OS 10.12.2

I’m using a 802.11ac WLAN to connect to my Synology NAS. With the last Mac OS 10.12.2 update the network performance was catastrophic when I tried to access the NAS via SMB. At first I thought this might have been caused by the WLAN connection but even with a Gigabit LAN connection my transfer rates were around 3-5MB/s.

After a short search online, I’ve a few hits describing the actual problem:

Apple uses their own version of SMB and enabled client signing to mitigate against Man in the middel attacks. Therefore all connections underly this signing process and are way slower.

Therefore I’ve disabled client-signing on my mac using this command:

This will write this content

 

to the file /etc/nsmb.conf. After you’ve set this value you need to unmount all samba shares. If you’ll reconnect now, you’ll witness a much better performance, starting with faster loading of network shares.

You can revert this change with

 

A few things you’ll need to keep in mind when deleting your Yahoo and Flickr account

Yahoo was hacked. Again. This time I left Flickr forever.

If you want to delete your Flickr and Yahoo account, you have to keep a few things in mind:

  • The Yahoo account deletion page will require your current password.
  • If you used the flickr app for 2 Factor Authentication, you’ll need to disable it. Otherwise you cannot use your Yahoo account password to delete the account.
  • If you want to save your pictures from Flickr, go to the camera roll. Select every image you’ll need and then you can select download. There is no need for any special tool.
  • If you delete your flickr account first, you’ll automatically create a new flickr account once you’ve open the flickr page again. But don’t worry, this new account will be deleted automatically once you’ve deleted the Yahoo account.
  • Uninstall all apps on your computers or mobile devices linked to Yahoo.
  • Uninstall any WordPress plugins linking to Flickr.
  • Remove any links to Flickr, e.g. in ifttt.

I’m considering now uploading my pictures to 500px. It is sad to leave Flickr, I always liked the groups and the sheer amount of inspiration and ideas.

Installing Mac OS Sierra (10.12) on a MacbookPro 5,5 (Mid 2009)

Mac OS Sierra was released yesterday. However, our good old MacbookPro 5,5 (Mid 2009) isn’t officially supported anymore. Luckily, there are people who figure out what is necessary to patch the official installation so that it can be installed again 😉

I’ve backuped the Macbook and gave the given instructions a try. Instead of reinstalling everything I only updated from El Capitan to Sierra. After the first restart, the Macbook shut down, as it didn’t found a valid boot partition.

So I rebooted again to the patched installation media and ran the proposed „macOS Post Install…“. I’ve selected my type of Macbook and let it patch. Additionally I’ve ran the „Force Cache Rebuild“ command and rebooted.

The Macbook booted to Sierra 🙂 However, the FaceTime camera wasn’t detected and I wasn’t able to get it working again. Since there was a „Legacy USB Support injector“ I think this might cause the problem. The FaceTime camera is connected internally over USB so it seems to have some problems.

I don’t think this is a big problem. You’ll probably get this somehow fixed with a little time and patience. However, since I’m running a real Mac hardware (and no Hackintosh), I don’t want to fiddle around with such basic hardware problems.

Therefore I can only recommend you to leave your Macbook on El Capitan (10.11) as the largest supported OS. Seems that Apple wants to get rid of devices older than 7 years, even if they are still doing great (with a SSD and 8GB RAM).