Stream Amazon Video in LibreELEC with InputStream

Milhouse Test Builds

After restarting, you will have Kodi 17 with LibreELEC 8.0. As mentioned before, this version of Kodi has a completely new interface. In spite of its brand new appearance, it still works well with the relatively modest computing performance of the Rasp Pi. Consequently, you will have to get accustomed to a few changes.

Before getting started, you will have to coach the system along a bit. The LibreELEC distribution does not include the Widevine library. Instead, using a small script, you will need to download the library from the Internet and then install it. Milhouse provides the relevant installation instructions in the section captioned Additional Testing Notes found at the end of the contributions in the Kodi Forum [12].

Installation is easiest when you log on to the Rasp Pi with ssh root@libreelec. The password for the root user is libreelec. Next, you should execute the commands from Listing 2. The Windows user can work with an SSH client such as PuTTy [16].

Listing 2

Installing Widevine

$ wget http://nmacleod.com/public/libreelec/getwidevine.sh
$ chmod +x getwidevine.sh
$ ./getwidevine.sh

The script automatically loads the chromium-widevine plugin from the Internet, extracts the libwidevinecdm.so library from the archive, and moves the file to the corresponding locations in the LibreELEC filesystem (Figure 5). This enables the Rasp Pi to play back video streams that have been encoded with Widevine. The corresponding Kodi add-on is now all that is needed to put the finishing touches on the Kodi media center.

Figure 5: The script in Listing 2 installs the Widevine library on the LibreELEC system.

Amazon Prime Video for Kodi

The Amazon Prime Instant Video add-on for Kodi continues to be available via the Kodi Forum. Installation is performed with the Kodi repository that the programmer has put together. You can install the Kodi add-on by downloading the repository.sandmann79.plugins.zip file from the GitHub repository [17]. You then move this file via the network connection, smb://libreelec/Downloads (or \\librelec\Downloads), to the LibreELEC Rasp Pi.

Next, you should check the language setting on the LibreELEC Rasp Pi. To do so, you open the Kodi Settings menu, which is symbolized by the cogwheel located at the very bottom of the sidebar. In this menu, you will be able to select the language of choice, as well as keyboard layout language, by going to Interface settings | Regional | Language. The default language for the keyboard is English QWERTY, which you may need to deselect.

After dealing with the language setting, open System Settings and activate the Unknown sources under the Add-ons option so that Kodi will accept add-ons from other sources (Figure 6). In order to see this option, you will need to switch the display to Advanced or Expert. Kodi provides a warning about this action because not all add-on developers perform their work with the best of intentions.

Figure 6: The option for installing add-ons from unknown sources needs to be enabled before it will work.

Now it is time to look at the add-ons via Kodi's main display screen. There, you can open the Add-on Browser option in the header bar. Once the option for Install from zip file is selected, a file browser opens. From there, you can navigate to the repository.sandmann79.plugins.zip file, which was copied earlier from the relevant directory.

On completing this activity, you will see the Sandmann79s Repository in the Install from repository menu option. This lists two plugins for Amazon Prime Video as Amazon and Amazon VOD under the video add-ons. The two plugins are different, although both extensions lead to the same result.

The Amazon plugin creates a local database with the Amazon offering of films and TV series, thereby accelerating the load speed for the page. Remember to update the database regularly by activating the Automatically Update Database option in Settings or by calling the context menu from the Movies or TV Shows entries in the main menu and then selecting the Database Update option.

The Amazon VOD plugin, unlike the Amazon add-on without VOD, does not create a local database. The submenus for films and TV series are always freshly downloaded from Amazon, so updating the database is not necessary.

After installing the add-ons, both of which can be installed for purposes of testing, you should not yet go directly to Run, but instead go to the Configure option (Figure 7). There, the Playback with should be switched to InputStream under General (Figure 8). Settings that were previously necessary, such as the language for the Amazon account or the playback quality, don't need to be selected. Afterwards, you can call up the add-on either directly from the overview or from the settings.

Figure 7: After adding the Sandmann repository, the Amazon add-on should be installed through Kodi add-on administration.
Figure 8: Switch the playback methods in the settings to Input Stream.

Each Amazon add-on lists the movies and TV shows that are offered (Figure 9). You need to enter login data for Amazon, but remember that you assume a risk in doing so. Both Milhouse and Sandmann have been active with Kodi for a long time. The source code for the software is open source. The add-ons do not store login data, just an authentication cookie. Even so, you have no guarantee that the security measures won't be breached.

Figure 9: The Amazon website offers quick access to interesting films if they are added to your watchlist.

If you open a category, you will see that the contents are displayed as if it were a locally installed video source. Kodi shows the cover for each title, a description, and the length of the film. Move among the selections using the left arrow key. Once the video is started, there is a short pause and then the stream opens.

This only works with films that belong to you; that is, they are included in your Amazon Prime Video membership or you have purchased them. The player offers a lot of functions similar to Amazon Fire TV or the Amazon Fire TV stick. You can fast forward through films, select subtitles, or change the sound track if the film also offers these options.

In general, the Milhouse test builds for LibreELEC 8.0 work well, as does the Amazon add-on that is adapted for InputStream. The media center software displays nothing that would raise eyebrows despite its recent release, with one exception: Video Disk Recorder (VDR) add-ons do not yet work at the time of publication. Therefore, if you want to use a Kodi Rasp Pi as a personal video recorder (PVR), you should wait.

Otherwise, Kodi continues to be a convenient playback platform for local content as well as content accessed via the Internet. The redone Kodi skin works perfectly on the RPi2 and even better with the faster RPi3. The new system feels faster in many situations than OpenELEC 6 and Kodi 16. The Amazon add-on makes for an additional video source, which works consistently since improvised solutions have gone by the wayside thanks to InputStream and Widevine for ARM.

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