On summer 2016 I started to find many references to Kodi on the internet and found a bit difficult to get a full understanding of what is a media center, a Kodi add-on, a media center distribution, an add-on repository or a TV box and find the differences among them.
This post tries to explain the various concepts surrounding Kodi and other media centers.
Concepts related to Kodi
A Media Center is an application that allows to play media content. This content may be located on your hard disk or on the internet, so the media center connects automatically to different servers and acts as a middle layer that exempt us to worry about which are these servers.
Examples of media center is Kodi, Plex or Boxee.
Kodi (formerly know as XBMC) is a free and open-source media center application. Due to its popularity and adaptability it is the most used media center and most TV boxes from different brands integrates it.
You can find instructions about how to install Kodi on different platforms here.
Media centers can be run on a personal computer or in devices that are directly connected (or integrated) on TVs to display its content. These devices are called TV boxes.
These TV boxes contain at least a media center application as default. Many of them are compatible with Kodi due to its popularity and open source adaptability.
Examples of TV boxes are Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV or NVidia Shield. All of them contain Kodi application already installed or there are instructions on the net to install it.
You can also create your own TV box using a Raspberry Pi device.
Media Center Operating System
TV boxes should contain an operating system that gives support to the applications that run on it.
For example, Apple TV runs tvOS, Amazon Fire TV runs Fire OS and NVidia Shield runs Android TV.
Actually, Android TV is an operating system for TV devices though some people confuse it with the TV device itself. This operating system is present in many TV devices from different brands or even be integrated on the TV itself.
There are different Linux distributions designed to be installed on Raspberry Pi devices when the purpose is to convert it on a TV box. Some of these operating systems are Xbian, OpenELEC or OSMC (former Raspbmc). All of them include Kodi preinstalled as default media center.
A Kodi add-on contains connections to different servers, e.g. TV channels. Through a Kodi add-on we connect to the media content.
To install a Kodi add-on, a ZIP file should be download and imported from Kodi application. There are some webs that can be used as add-on catalog, like SuperRepo or TVAddons.ag.
Add-ons can also be installed through Kodi repositories.
In order to ease the manual download of add-ons and prevent us from downloading files on our computer, Kodi allows to add online repositories that include multiple add-ons that are updated periodically.
Some of the most popular repositories are SuperRepo, Fusion or XFinity.
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