Installing KODI on Xubuntu 20.04

Submitted by charm on Sat, 07/03/2021 - 19:46
KODI open source home theatre software as installed on Xubuntu 20.04

The KODI wiki is an excellent place to start for information about KODI, however the install instructions do not work on Xubuntu 20.04.

If you're new to Linux when something doesn't work it can be extremely frustrating. Here's how I added the Team KODI PPA and installed KODI.

Steps to install KODI on Xubuntu 20.04

Step #1 - Open a terminal prompt. In Xubuntu Linux you can type the word Terminal into the whisker menu in the top left corner.

Finding the terminal program in the Xubuntu whisker menu
Type the word 'terminal' into the Xubuntu whisker menu.

Step #2 - Purge any KODI instances you might have installed either through the software centre or from the Xubuntu repositories. The version of KODI in the *buntu repositories is almost always out-of-date. To purge the old KODI instances type:

sudo apt purge kodi*

Step #3 - Install the software-properties-common package, a collection of scripts that makes working with Personal Package Archives (PPA)'s easier. PPA's are a way for a programmer, or team of programmers (in this case the Team KODI programmers) to provide you with up-to-date versions of software when a Linux distribution (such as Xubuntu/Linux Mint/etc. might not.). You have to be careful adding PPAs since PPA's could be used to inject bad software on your system, but in this case because the PPA is coming from Team KODI there is a higher level of trust than some random web page. To add the software-properties-common package type into the terminal:

sudo apt install software-properties-common

Step #4 - Add the Team KODI PPA. The KODI wiki suggests you should type sudo add-apt-repository -ysP team-xbmc/ppa. Typing this into a Xubuntu 20.04 terminal resulted in the following error:

add-apt-repository: error: no such option: -P

Instead, I found the following command worked:

sudo add-apt-repository -ys ppa:team-xbmc/ppa

Part of the issue with the command on the KODI wiki is the P is -ysP, but Xubuntu 20.04 also doesn't seem to like the PPA without the word ppa and a colon in front of the team-xbmc/ppa repository.

Step #5 - Run updates on your system by typing the following into the terminal:

sudo apt update && sudo apt -y upgrade

The first part, sudo apt update, fetches the list of software that has been updated from all your package sources (the Ubuntu repositories and any PPAs you might have added, including the Team XBMC PPA we just added). The && tells the terminal there's another command to be executed after, that command is sudo apt -y upgrade, the command that actually pulls each program's updates from the Internet and installs them. The -y "switch" is used so you don't have to type y (yes) to upgrade. If you just type sudo apt upgrade the terminal will ask you to type y (yes) or n (no). It's a small extra step that saves time in the long run.

Step #6 - Install KODI

By the time you've reached this step you've: purged any old versions of KODI from your distribution provider (Xubuntu/Ubuntu), added the software-properties-common software to help with PPAs (Personal Package Archives), added the Team KODI PPA, installed updates (for all software on your computer), and finally installed KODI on your Xubuntu Linux system.

Optional Steps

Install music visualizations for KODI

The KODI wiki mentions that one of the shortfalls of the Ubuntu/Xubuntu/Kubuntu/Lubuntu repository is that the installation of KODI doesn't include music visualizations that are included with repositories for other distributions like Fedora Linux. Music visualizations provide a nice on screen display while your mp3, flac, wav, or other audio file collection is playing. In order to install the music visualizations you'll need to have added the Team Xubuntu PPA described in step #4 above, then type into a terminal the following command:

sudo apt install kodi-visualization-goom kodi-visualization-projectm kodi-visualization-shadertoy kodi-visualization-spectrum kodi-visualization-waveform kodi-visualization-fishbmc

This installs the goom, projectm, shadertoy, spectrum, waveform, and fishbmc visualizations. Note: on the KODI wiki they suggest the last package is named xbmc-visualization-fishbmc, but I found that this wasn't the case, it's kodi-visualization-fishbmc.

Install some extra KODI screensavers

The Team KODI PPA version of KODI includes the following screensaver options: None (default), Black, and Dim. The None option is set as the default. I like to change the screensaver to dim the screen. Leaving it as None causes Xubuntu to invoke it's own screen blanking program, and the Black setting makes it appear that the computer is either off, or not working.

Access the screensaver menu by clicking the Options cog icon in the top left of the KODI menu (the icon below the O and the D in the word KODI), then click the Interface square, and finally the Screensaver tab on the left hand side.

If you'd prefer to have an active screensaver that displays pictures or other graphics install the kodi-screensavers-rsxs package by typing:

sudo apt install kodi-screensaver-asteroids kodi-screensaver-asterwave kodi-screensaver-biogenesis kodi-screensaver-greynetic kodi-screensaver-matrixtrails kodi-screensaver-pingpong kodi-screensaver-pyro kodi-screensaver-shadertoy kodi-screensaver-stars

Again, you have to complete step 4 before you can install the kodi-screensavers-rsxs package because it's coming from the Team KODI PPA not the Ubuntu/Xubuntu software repositories.

Install audio decoder codecs for more esoteric music files

If you were a teenager or child in eightes you probably remember the Commodore 64 well. While it was really popular for gaming, it was also well known for it's "musical SID" chip, and as a tool for creating game .sid music files. It's pretty easy to add audio support for .sid files. As with previous optional commands, completing step #4 is a necessity since the support software comes from the Team KODI repository. Install sid support by typing:

sudo apt install kodi-audiodecoder-sidplay

A few popular choices are listed on the wiki at however once you've completed step #4 you can get a list of even more audiodecoder plugins just by using apt search:

sudo apt search kodi-audiodecoder

You may want to use the | more or | less command at the end of the command because there are more plugins than can fit on a 1920x1080 screen. Note: the pipe | symbol is usually made by pressing SHIFT plus the \ key, but some keyboards may put it elsewhere. The pipe | symbol is not a small letter L, but a particular symbol.

KODI add-ons

Unfortunately there are a lot of people profiting by selling promises that "KODI is the greatest thing on earth since you can get almost any movie or television show for free." What these profiteers don't mention is what they're selling are add-ons to KODI that are not recommended nor recognized by the team that develops KODI.Typically these add-ons work for a month or two until the site hosting the torrent scrapers gets taken down. Sadly people blame the KODI project, when the project has nothing to do with the add-ons, sites, or implementation.

When KODI is freshly installed it comes with no add-ons. As the name implies, add-ons, are added on to KODI after the fact. Over 800 add-ons recognized by the KODI team that can be found here:

Among my favourite add-ons are:

  • Programs - The Library Auto Updater - which lets you set an interval to automatically scrape the data for your movie, television, and audio collection. This is handy if you're regularly adding new movies and don't want to manually update whenever you add new content.
  • Videos - Crackle - Lets you legitimately watch a selection of movies and television shows from Sony's Crackle network.
  • Videos - TED Talks - Lets you watch TED talks from around the world.

At the time I'm writing this post KODI is up to version 19. Prior to version 19 my all-time favourite add-on for KODI was the Programs > Movie Quiz add-on, which created quizzes based on your stored movie and television shows. Sadly this add-on doesn't appear to be available for KODI 19. However, the add-on selection keeps growing and changing, so I'm sure at some point another add-on will come along that does something similar.

Hopefully this was a helpful first step towards a KODI adventure. Are you using KODI, or is Plex more your cup of tea?